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Somerville/Davis Square: 3 Superlative Dishes?

Jolyon Helterman Aug 20, 2011 01:07 PM

After almost 10 years of living in the Leather District and in the South End, we're relocating to a place just off Davis Square. Exciting!

I've covered the city's dining scene enough during various writing stints to be fairly well versed in what the right *spots* around this neighborhood (or so I think...). What might help even more (and what might make this thread not so eye-glazingly basic for anyone willing to chime in), though, is to hear from fellow Chowhounds what some of those superlative *dishes* are—you know, those crave-worthy plates so good you might sit at the bar and order that and only that, even if the rest of the menu is less memorable.

Got 3 recommendations within walking distance (or a quick drive) of Davis Square, to steer me toward? More, less, anything.

Here are 3 that I already love, and I haven't even started truly digging in:
(1) Buffalo shrimp at Redbones
(2) Pork belly with pickled grapes at Foundry on Elm
(3) Mushroom pizza at Posto

Thanks in advance.

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Redbones
55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

Foundry on Elm
255 Elm St, Somerville, MA 02144

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  1. l
    LeoLioness RE: Jolyon Helterman Aug 20, 2011 01:21 PM

    Smoked bluefish cakes, gnocci with short ribs banana bread puddingat Highland Kitchen.

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    Highland Kitchen
    150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

    6 Replies
    1. re: LeoLioness
      Jolyon Helterman RE: LeoLioness Aug 20, 2011 02:02 PM

      yum, forgot about HK: that blackened catfish po'boy is to die for

      1. re: Jolyon Helterman
        b
        bear RE: Jolyon Helterman Aug 23, 2011 10:22 AM

        I'd add the pappardelle bolognese and the fried chicken dinner to that excellent po'boy at HK.

        1. re: Jolyon Helterman
          s
          somervilleoldtimer RE: Jolyon Helterman Feb 20, 2012 06:40 AM

          +1

        2. re: LeoLioness
          enhF94 RE: LeoLioness Aug 20, 2011 03:21 PM

          Fried oysters, when they have 'em, at HK (though sometimes they're underseasoned). Also, I like the HK cheeseburger.

          veggie special of the day at Qingdao.

          Boston's Best Blue at Sound Bites is a nice dish, though I rarely order it. I also like Jimmy's Moroccan Eggs, but be warned, it's watery-oily. Still, sunny-side-up eggs, two servings of veg and an interesting dish is awfully nice if I want a big breakfast that will last me a while.

          But I'm pretty meh on Davis food these days. Maybe because of nearness, but there are very few dishes here I crave. Or restaurants, for that matter.

          -----
          Sound Bites
          704 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144

          1. re: enhF94
            Beachowolfe RE: enhF94 Aug 20, 2011 10:23 PM

            I hated Davis square dining before you did.

            1. re: Beachowolfe
              enhF94 RE: Beachowolfe Aug 21, 2011 03:49 AM

              The places I hate are pretty obscure; you've probably never heard of them... ;)

        3. g
          Gabatta RE: Jolyon Helterman Aug 20, 2011 01:45 PM

          Pizza at Flabread. Mopsy kaluha pork or anything their home made tomato sauce.

          1. h
            hckybg RE: Jolyon Helterman Aug 20, 2011 02:28 PM

            Chonqing Chicken at Zoe's, Beacon Street south of Porter. Fried chicken, fried garlic, fried ginger, fried chili peppers...

            6 Replies
            1. re: hckybg
              chickendhansak RE: hckybg Aug 22, 2011 08:53 AM

              +N

              Peanuts too.

              BTW on Foodler it was renamed "Chicken Chong Style" during a recent menu refresh. Got a fright before I noticed that.

              1. re: chickendhansak
                jgg13 RE: chickendhansak Aug 22, 2011 07:43 PM

                I noticed that the menu changed somewhat dramatically recently. I had a similar fright as many dishes moved around :)

                Speaking of, I tried ordering oneo f the preserved pork (assumed this is la rou) from the hunan section - they were all new to me. They called up saying they were out, and would I prefer *insert some american chinese dish here*. After much labored negotation due to language barrier I got something or other. Anyone know if they actually regularly have this or does "we're out tonight" mean "we don't have this"? I've seen the latter happen at other places before.

                1. re: chickendhansak
                  h
                  hckybg RE: chickendhansak Aug 23, 2011 04:25 PM

                  As usual, you have the best taste. I'm ashamed I left out the peanuts, they complete the symphony.

                  Thanks for mentioning the menu change, I would have had a heart attack if I'd opened the menu and not seen it.

                  1. re: hckybg
                    chickendhansak RE: hckybg Aug 24, 2011 05:35 AM

                    Well maybe we jointly have the best taste in one thing. I haven't had better in this style elsewhere yet. :)

                    I don't know if they changed it on the printed menu but definitely on the Foodler one. Another thing I liked seems to have disappeared from Foodler, which was a fried mushroom dish with pine nuts. I think it was oyster mushrooms chopped into little bite-size pieces and fried in a batter coating.

                    1. re: chickendhansak
                      h
                      hckybg RE: chickendhansak Aug 24, 2011 08:23 AM

                      Maybe one of the Chinese speakers on this board can help figure out what that is and cross-check it with the Chinese side of the menu. I've never had that but it sounds excellent. I'm sure they can make it for you even if it's not on the menu, the issue is being able to identify it for the staff. I'll never forget the day I ordered Chongqing Chicken at the restaurant and got Kung Pao. I guess the new waiter was working an interpretation in his head, but I sent it back.

                      I first had something like Chongqing-style chicken at one of Peter Chang's restaurants in DC, before he moved on. And then something similar at another place in the DC suburbs, Joe's Noodle House, which they called three-pepper chicken (green, dried, and Szechuan peppercorns). Always good!

                      1. re: hckybg
                        chickendhansak RE: hckybg Aug 26, 2011 03:33 PM

                        I've looked it up from an old printed menu and it was "Stir-Fried King Oyster Mushroom with Pine Nuts" from the vegetables section, no. 166 on the old menu. A quick scan suggests no analogue in the new vegetables section (print version).

              2. KWagle RE: Jolyon Helterman Aug 20, 2011 03:43 PM

                Quesadillas (not burritos) filled with meat (not veggies, beans or rice) from Anna's, unwrapped immediately and eaten while still crispy on the outside.

                (There's nothing remarkable about a steamed burrito, vegetables or rice, or a soggy tortilla. But they cook their meats well, and the griddle-fried quesadilla is very pleasantly crispy on the outside.)

                Flatbread's base pie is certainly excellent. Their meat toppings are unimpressive.

                Zoe's has done well at a number of spicy dishes over the years, but it's not really in Davis. If you're willing to go that far, also try Zocalo in Arlington. Qingdao produced good but not great food a few years ago, but I haven't been back since the remodel. I'd probably pick Zoe's.

                And, I think I have to try that pork belly sometime.

                20 Replies
                1. re: KWagle
                  t
                  teezeetoo RE: KWagle Aug 20, 2011 04:55 PM

                  tuna poke and crispy duck confit at gargoyles.

                  1. re: KWagle
                    h
                    hckybg RE: KWagle Aug 20, 2011 08:14 PM

                    You got me curious, so I mapped Zoe's to Davis--0.7 miles! Not too bad. I've walked from Davis to Inman, my neighborhood, a bunch of times so wasn't sure if I had a skewed perspective on the distance.

                    1. re: KWagle
                      chickendhansak RE: KWagle Aug 22, 2011 08:50 AM

                      Yes, hugely into the quesadillas as of the last couple of months and as you say, to be eaten immediately. This is the way to enjoy Anna's best.

                      1. re: KWagle
                        j
                        joth68 RE: KWagle Aug 22, 2011 08:59 AM

                        I suspect many of the anna's haters have never gone for the quesadilla. I get mine filled with everything that i normally would in a burrito. Half toungue/Half carnitas is sublime.

                        1. re: joth68
                          l
                          LStaff RE: joth68 Aug 22, 2011 09:39 AM

                          Don't understand your haters comment. If you want a burrito, but don't like the burritos they make or don't want to eat all that cheese, a quesadilla probably isn't going to change your mind. Also folding the tortilla and putting it on a grill (which will add more flavor, yes) vs. steaming and rolling it won't change the fact that their carnitas is usally too salty, steak often has no carmelization/flavor, black beans are often not cooked through, don't drain the meat or beans from the holding liquid enough, or that their service is unfriendly and rushed and are reluctant to listen to your requests. I don't think I have ever requested cilantro there without receiving some kind of dismissive eyeroll, head shake, or harumph.

                          1. re: LStaff
                            j
                            joth68 RE: LStaff Aug 22, 2011 12:30 PM

                            I'm pretty sure they put the same amount of cheese on the burrito as they do on a quesadilla unless you specifically ask otherwise. They also roll their quesadillas into a burrito shape so it is not like you are getting the typical flat folded over thing. Service can be rushed but other than that i've never had a problem with special requests. I almost always have them chop up a habenero for me and they are always happy to do so. I do agree with you that the steak (and chicken) leave something (a lot) to be desired but find the carnitas, toungue, and pastor to be completely delicious.

                            1. re: joth68
                              chickendhansak RE: joth68 Aug 22, 2011 02:12 PM

                              I think since the quesadilla is the same 10" tortilla as the standard burrito, the amount of cheese is about the same as for a super burrito -- maybe a whole slice instead of one cut down the middle lengthways. It's hard to tell as the one I go to (Porter) prepares the tortilla and cheese combination for the tortilla ahead of time, and so slap an already folded tortilla on the heat to get it going before filling. So I only see the cheese after it's been melted and the tortilla unfolded to fill.

                              Elsewhere recently someone complained about drainage of wetter items (beans, some of the meats) and I think that's a genuine risk at Anna's when they are busy -- sometimes even when they aren't -- but overall, the service seems efficient, not unpleasant, most of the time.

                              As for special requests, quite often I see people itemising the specific vegetables they want from the grilled vegetables, and that doesn't seem to bother the staff. I've seen people ask for some vegetables along with their meat, too -- making the preparation even more labour intensive, and they seem OK with that as well.

                              1. re: joth68
                                opinionatedchef RE: joth68 Aug 22, 2011 10:27 PM

                                the pastor is terrif/ as good as the best in the Mission in San Fran. and the chile verde.

                                so, joth and hondo, they roll their quesadillas like a burrito?so the only diff is that the quesadilla is griddled crispy in lard? man, if that's what you're saying, i'm headed over v soon. i had no idea. and btw,like you and others above, i have never ever seen attitude there.

                                1. re: opinionatedchef
                                  j
                                  joth68 RE: opinionatedchef Aug 23, 2011 08:04 AM

                                  That is exactly what i'm saying. Just ask for everything that you would normaly get on a burrito. They don't default to putting rice on. The ends aren't sealed quite as tight as the normal burrito so they are slightly more prone to leakage. Best to leave the foil on and peel back as you eat.

                                  I myself thought anna's was super overated unti i jumped on the quesadilla bandwagon.

                                  1. re: joth68
                                    opinionatedchef RE: joth68 Aug 23, 2011 11:49 AM

                                    thanks. will follow suit. (but remember, it's still all in the fillings.)

                              2. re: LStaff
                                s
                                Spike RE: LStaff Aug 23, 2011 06:59 AM

                                I actually agree w/ you on this Anna's location (posted a while about it). Chicken is pretty bland too.
                                Just to make sure it was location, I tried the Anna's in Coolidge Corner..same chicken burrito...lots more flavor in the chicken. So, not sure why, but the Davis Square location is terrible :-P
                                I did try a chicken quesadilla at Davis a while back and it's better than the burrito..only because the fried tortilla gave it more flavor ;-)

                                p.s., for the OP's question....tuna poke/duck confit at Gargoyle's and monkfish/swordfish at Out of The Blue...

                                1. re: Spike
                                  Boston_Otter RE: Spike Aug 23, 2011 08:09 AM

                                  Wow, if the Davis location is "terrible" then the other Annas must be serving up the finest Mexican chow in Boston! I love the chile verde and al pastor at Davis, though the service can be weirdly deaf. "Can I have fresh avocado on that?" [dude reaches for the guac] "No, I mean the actual avocado (I point to the avocado next to him and the sign that says Ask For Fresh Avocado Slices)" [dude sort of stares at me and puts guacamole on it]

                                  1. re: Boston_Otter
                                    opinionatedchef RE: Boston_Otter Aug 23, 2011 11:47 AM

                                    ha!; my first chuckle of the day; thanks. in all seriousness, try saying ' por favor, aguacate; no guacamole; gracias'. those guys really appreciate it when someone speaks spanish with them. that's <ahgwaCAHT>

                                    1. re: Boston_Otter
                                      s
                                      Spike RE: Boston_Otter Aug 23, 2011 01:01 PM

                                      FWIW, I did try carnitas (pork) before the chicken. It was really dry and bland (the small container of it seemed to be an indication of the popularity), and I did ask for spicy salsa (the chile verde IIRC). Then I tried two chicken ones in following weeks with the thought that they had more turnover since they seemed more popular so they had to be good....nope...bland and maybe slightly better than Chipotle...but at least it wasn't dry :-P

                                2. re: joth68
                                  hondodog RE: joth68 Aug 22, 2011 08:10 PM

                                  Anna's quesadillas are special in that they are griddled in lard. There's only one other place I know of that does that (well, "did that" is more appropriate cuz the other place closed about 8 years ago) and my my my I do love a tortilla with some cheese in it griddled in lard. Gives it a crust and a taste which is unique. And nummy. Can't understand why more places don't do that.

                                  As far as attitude goes, well, I ain't never got any at Anna's. I always order some jalapenos in my quesadilla and whats cute is: if I haven't been there for months, and then come back, without asking, they know to put the jalapenos in the quesadila. Never seen a glimmer of an eyeroll to me or anyone else. Yes, some of the folks behind the counter don't listen so well, but I'd never attribute that to rudeness...

                                  1. re: hondodog
                                    j
                                    joth68 RE: hondodog Aug 23, 2011 08:07 AM

                                    boca grande does this as well although somewhat less successfully. They do not wrap their quesadillas as tightly as annas though so it ends up being more of a fork and knife type of dish. I've only been once but if were to go back I'd prob ask them to give it a tighter wrap or maybe get it to go so it could be eaten in hand.

                                    1. re: joth68
                                      chickendhansak RE: joth68 Aug 23, 2011 02:08 PM

                                      At the Porter Anna's, they seem to have a clean griddle onto which they flick a few drops of liquid that sizzle and steam for a split second before they drop the pre-prepared, folded tortilla on it.

                                      I'd always assumed that was water, to ensure the tortilla doesn't burn and retains areas here and there of moisture. The tortilla is never greasy, but it certainly is tasty. I suppose it could be lard but I'd never thought so.

                                      1. re: chickendhansak
                                        hondodog RE: chickendhansak Aug 23, 2011 10:55 PM

                                        My note was about the Davis Anna's. Can't speak to what they do at Porter as I've not visited that location. At Davis, they dip the quesadilla in the lard, then toss it on the griddle; no sizzle of a rapid boil.

                                        1. re: hondodog
                                          chickendhansak RE: hondodog Aug 24, 2011 05:38 AM

                                          Interesting. The situation is the reverse for me as I've never been to the Davis one. It's possible the tortilla meets the lard in advance, but maybe it is a difference between the locations after all. The tortilla still ends up crispy and browned in spots.

                                      2. re: joth68
                                        j
                                        joth68 RE: joth68 Aug 24, 2011 07:57 AM

                                        My experience is at the davis location as well. They keep a tub of liquid lipid warming on the grill and the tortilla gets a little dunk right before it goes on.

                                3. opinionatedchef RE: Jolyon Helterman Aug 20, 2011 09:21 PM

                                  Cubano at Dave's Pasta- easily equal to Chez Henri's(they strike me as the same recipe).
                                  Tuna Tataki at Gargoyle's (if it's been retained since Jason Santos left there to open his Blue Inc.)
                                  CROQUETTES -HOUSE SMOKED HAM, FONTINA CHEESE, TRUFFLED AÏOLI at The Independent
                                  Ana's Pastor Burrito

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: opinionatedchef
                                    greenzebra RE: opinionatedchef Aug 22, 2011 09:19 AM

                                    Second Dave's cubano. Also the artichoke and arugula sandwich at Dave's

                                    1. re: greenzebra
                                      p
                                      Parsnipity RE: greenzebra Aug 23, 2011 12:17 PM

                                      Smoky Spicy Turkey at Dave's

                                      1. re: Parsnipity
                                        digga RE: Parsnipity Aug 23, 2011 04:40 PM

                                        The Korean short rib ravioli at Dave's are crazy good...this coming from a Korean non-red meat eater. They were ridiculous in soup. Are they still available?

                                        Also, Yoshi's just re-opened, I think. We had a grilled whole fish there a few years ago that was fantastic. (Our friends who knew the owners did the ordering...It was really an impressive spread.)

                                        1. re: digga
                                          f
                                          fantundo RE: digga Aug 23, 2011 05:16 PM

                                          I'm also a big fan of the Korean short rib ravioli. They make them as a special, so you can't predict when they are available.

                                  2. l
                                    LStaff RE: Jolyon Helterman Aug 21, 2011 08:48 AM

                                    Its a shame that Redbones Chili Verde took a dive (at least the last 3 times I ordered it) as it used to be crave worthy but the broth just became one dimensionally salty/watery. Catfish sandwich is still crave worthy to me though.

                                    1. enhF94 RE: Jolyon Helterman Aug 21, 2011 02:09 PM

                                      Oh, I just remembered: spaetzle at Foundry on Elm.

                                      Though I just checked the website to see which variety (side dish or entree) I preferred, and it's not on the website, so maybe it's gone.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: enhF94
                                        p
                                        phatchris RE: enhF94 Aug 21, 2011 03:30 PM

                                        If you like the spaetzle at Foundry try the spaetzle at Sel de le Terre, much better IMO.

                                        1. re: phatchris
                                          enhF94 RE: phatchris Aug 22, 2011 04:26 AM

                                          I do like spaetzle, and hadn't found it anywhere else. Thanks.

                                          1. re: enhF94
                                            s
                                            somervilleoldtimer RE: enhF94 Feb 20, 2012 06:45 AM

                                            Was that the spaetzle with ham and hazelnuts?

                                            1. re: somervilleoldtimer
                                              enhF94 RE: somervilleoldtimer Feb 20, 2012 08:56 AM

                                              I eventually tried both, and while it was a while back, I think I liked this one better. I remember I liked the less fatty-tasting of the two, and while ham and hazelnuts have decent fat, the other is cheese and butter or something, which *seems* fattier. But my memory is vague, so maybe try both :)

                                      2. greenzebra RE: Jolyon Helterman Aug 22, 2011 09:18 AM

                                        Boiled fish in fiery sauce at Qingdao Garden.
                                        Paca soup, mucver, and Sultan's Delight at Istanbul'lu (really, anything at Istanbul'lu - I have yet to find a dish there that isn't chow-worthy)
                                        Bacon & Egg pizza at brunch at Posto.

                                        -----
                                        Qingdao Garden Restaurant
                                        2382 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: greenzebra
                                          m
                                          Madrid RE: greenzebra Aug 22, 2011 10:25 AM

                                          going to go for that brunch pizza!

                                          I love the pulled pork at Highland Kitchen...but I'm from the eastern NC vinegar sauce contingent.

                                          I live really near Vinny's at Night and I'm not a fan of everything but the eggplant parm and pork with vinegar peppers I do like, lots. As well as the tiramisu. The mesclun salad is also very good.

                                        2. Boston_Otter RE: Jolyon Helterman Aug 22, 2011 10:25 AM

                                          I'm not seeing the pork belly on Foundry's menu; is it a special?

                                          I'll give a shootout to the banh mi and the roasted corn chowder at Foundry, both surprisingly excellent.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: Boston_Otter
                                            Jolyon Helterman RE: Boston_Otter Aug 23, 2011 06:22 AM

                                            I had it several months ago, no it's no longer on the menu :(

                                            1. re: Jolyon Helterman
                                              Boston_Otter RE: Jolyon Helterman Aug 23, 2011 06:34 AM

                                              Boo. I love Foundry, but they recently changed bartenders and chefs, and lost a bunch of excellent dishes and drinks in the transition.

                                              1. re: Boston_Otter
                                                enhF94 RE: Boston_Otter Aug 23, 2011 06:50 AM

                                                They also fixed some critical HACCP problems, I hear.

                                                1. re: Boston_Otter
                                                  opinionatedchef RE: Boston_Otter Aug 23, 2011 11:36 AM

                                                  didn't know about this. any more details?(where chef went; new chef aboard yet?though the menu has changed, are you still happy w/ the food?) btw, in case you also are an Independent fan, is that talented chef still there?thanks much

                                                  1. re: opinionatedchef
                                                    Boston_Otter RE: opinionatedchef Aug 23, 2011 11:44 AM

                                                    Never been to the Independent, so can't comment there. And all I know about the staff changes at Foundry are offhand comments from servers about missing dishes or drinks ("Our new bartender doesn't do that drink" or "Got a new cook who doesn't do that dish"). I never went to Foundry much when they first opened, honestly, so all I know is that the dishes I've had there lately have been very good (corn chowder, cheese plate, banh mi, calamari) and that while some friends of mine mourn the changes in their poutine, fries with gravy & cheese on them don't make or break a restaurant for me :)

                                            2. chickendhansak RE: Jolyon Helterman Aug 22, 2011 02:15 PM

                                              I really enjoyed the Foundry's choucroute garnie, which I think they are still doing as a special on Tuesdays.

                                              1. j
                                                joth68 RE: Jolyon Helterman Aug 23, 2011 08:17 AM

                                                Redbones:
                                                Fried Jalepenos
                                                Jerk Beef Sandwich (caution: very spicy!)

                                                Posto:
                                                Mushroom Polenta
                                                Chicken Mousse

                                                Istanbulu:
                                                Anything with eggplant

                                                Flatbread Pizza:
                                                Pulled Pork pizza
                                                Brownie Sundae

                                                Delivery: Chili Garden - Double Cooked Pork Belly(!), Cilantro/Pepper Salad, Ma Po Tofu

                                                -----
                                                Redbones
                                                55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

                                                9 Replies
                                                1. re: joth68
                                                  p
                                                  Parsnipity RE: joth68 Aug 23, 2011 12:19 PM

                                                  I think the fried pickles at Redbones, which include a smattering of fried jalapenos are the definition of crave-worthy. I've never seen anyone order straight up fried jalapenos, though.

                                                  -----
                                                  Redbones
                                                  55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

                                                  1. re: Parsnipity
                                                    enhF94 RE: Parsnipity Aug 23, 2011 01:18 PM

                                                    Had those Redbones fried pickles last night. I find them a near-miss since the batter is under seasoned compared to the pickle. A little more salt in that batter would be a great way to say "fried pickle" instead of "tasty pickle with bland coating."

                                                    -----
                                                    Redbones
                                                    55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

                                                    1. re: Parsnipity
                                                      j
                                                      joth68 RE: Parsnipity Aug 26, 2011 07:46 AM

                                                      woops meant fried pickles with jalapenos. I might ask for a straight up order of fried jalapenos next time tho!

                                                    2. re: joth68
                                                      Boston_Otter RE: joth68 Aug 23, 2011 02:11 PM

                                                      I've never ordered from Chili Garden... is it superior to Qingdao?

                                                      1. re: Boston_Otter
                                                        KWagle RE: Boston_Otter Aug 23, 2011 04:34 PM

                                                        Chilli Garden in Medford is one of the best Sichuan restaurants in the area, and unlike most of the others has a lot of non-hot dishes on the menu. I was going to say "one of the best on the east coast" but Sichuan Pavilion is also excellent and has a good non-hot side. I think CG has a much more subtle hand with flavors--their food always seems a bit more complex than their competitors. I haven't been to Qingdao in years but CG is far better now than CG was then.

                                                        -----
                                                        Chilli Garden
                                                        41 Riverside Ave, Medford, MA 02155

                                                        1. re: Boston_Otter
                                                          j
                                                          joth68 RE: Boston_Otter Aug 24, 2011 07:50 AM

                                                          For my preference, Chili Garden is superior to Qingdao. Quingdao is still draws me in for their dumplings and cumin lamb which is forgettable at CG. For serious sichuan though, Chili Garden rules. Avoid the americanized side of the menu at all costs, they don't even try to do it well.
                                                          Recomendations-
                                                          Apps: pork tripe, Beef Toungue with peppercorn oil, cilantro/green pepper salad, rabbit
                                                          Mains: double cooked pork belly, ma po tofu, dry diced chicken with chili pepper

                                                          I haven't dug as deep into the menu as i would like because I don't get it that often and crave the dishes above when I do.

                                                        2. re: joth68
                                                          j
                                                          joth68 RE: joth68 Aug 26, 2011 07:49 AM

                                                          Wanted to add Fish & Chips at PJ Ryans which has very good pub food and one of the better versions of F & C that I've had in the area. MUCH better than the Burren's version.

                                                          -----
                                                          Burren
                                                          247 Elm St, Somerville, MA 02144

                                                          PJ Ryan's
                                                          239 Holland St, Somerville, MA 02144

                                                          1. re: joth68
                                                            r
                                                            rknrll RE: joth68 Aug 26, 2011 08:06 AM

                                                            Have you tried The Druid's?

                                                            1. re: rknrll
                                                              d
                                                              David_A RE: rknrll Feb 22, 2012 09:23 AM

                                                              This is shocking to me. PJ Ryans has terrible food.

                                                        3. yarm RE: Jolyon Helterman Feb 20, 2012 07:38 AM

                                                          Three Somerville establishments not mentioned yet -- a quick drive from Davis. Closer to Union Square

                                                          1) Dalí - Setas al Ajillo ("meaty" mushrooms)
                                                          2) Journeyman - tasting menu (menu changes regularly)
                                                          3) Bergamot - I have only had their late night menu and dessert

                                                          http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/

                                                          1. m
                                                            monocleandahalf RE: Jolyon Helterman Feb 21, 2012 02:16 PM

                                                            Another vote for Anna's, Redbones, and Flatbread. I also had a black truffle ice cream in Davis once that I really enjoyed but I can't remember where it was...

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: monocleandahalf
                                                              opinionatedchef RE: monocleandahalf Feb 22, 2012 12:45 AM

                                                              it was at Gargoyles. You can get it at Jason's new place, Blue Inc. I agree- it's a real killer.

                                                              1. re: opinionatedchef
                                                                s
                                                                somervilleoldtimer RE: opinionatedchef Feb 22, 2012 07:09 PM

                                                                Oh, I HATED that ice cream at Gargoyles! But loved everything else I ate there.

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                                                              pollystyrene RE: Jolyon Helterman Feb 21, 2012 06:23 PM

                                                              I agree with the OP about the mushroom pizza at Posto. I'd only add the chocolate caramel bread pudding at Foundry. Why does Inman Sq., without as much as a T stop, have such momumentally better food than Davis?

                                                              12 Replies
                                                              1. re: pollystyrene
                                                                yarm RE: pollystyrene Feb 21, 2012 09:02 PM

                                                                Lower rent? More need to draw people there?

                                                                Davis is a student trap (as well as for the 20 somethings in the neighborhood). It only has to be good enough. And many of the places there are busy enough not to need to draw people there by spending more energy and effort on the food and drink. I am still waiting for a good cocktail bar to come to Davis, and not one that just goes through the motions.

                                                                1. re: yarm
                                                                  yumyum RE: yarm Feb 22, 2012 09:59 AM

                                                                  "It only has to be good enough" is exactly right Yarm. I find that is pretty spot on about all the Davis and close enough to Davis places. With the demise of Gargoyles, I'm looking for someone to open an Area 4 / Catalyst type place in the hood (this is what I had hoped the Foundry to be but it doesn't do it for me.) Five Horses Tavern deserves a look for bar food (I wasn't thrilled with my dinner there but I also ordered dumb things) and Posto is also "good enough" and sometimes even quite good. Haven't tried Saloon, Orleans sucks, Flatbread only goes so far, and Mikes, Joshua Tree and the like? Well, c'mon. The only place I can think of that is close and very good is Istanbu'lu, a short 10 minute walk up to Teele Square. And we'll have to see how the painted Burro is. Bottom line is that when I have friends in town who want to go out to eat great food, Davis isn't where I take them. I'm a total Somerville fangrrl, so that makes me sad.

                                                                  1. re: yumyum
                                                                    greenzebra RE: yumyum Feb 22, 2012 12:09 PM

                                                                    I think this undersells Davis a bit, yumyum. Certainly, there are some clear holes in the dining scene at Davis, and there are a lot of terrible-to-mediocre places. But the Davis/near-Davis area has clear strengths too: Tibetan (House of Tibet Kitchen, Martsa on Elm), authentic Chinese (Qingdao Garden), eastern Mediterranean (Istanbu'lu as already mentioned, Cafe Barada, Greek Corner), pizza (Posto, Flatbread - which, while it has its limitations, is good for what it is), and beer (numerous places have great beer lists even if the cocktail programs are lacking). It is true that few of these are true destination places - I would include Istanbu'lu in that category, possibly Qingdao Garden and the Tibetan places, and if you can get a big enough group together the pig roast at Posto is definitely travel-worthy.

                                                                    A lot of the new openings in Davis from the past couple of years (Saloon, Five Horses Tavern, Foundry) have been disappointments in my opinion, selling themselves as something that they don't really quite succeed at. Saloon is a great example of this - it is a very nice space with a great-looking bar and an ambitious cocktail program that doesn't (in my two visits) live up to its hype. It is not terrible (it is no Joshua Tree), but it doesn't compare with the better cocktail programs in Boston, and given the demographics of Davis it will likely be packed anyway and have no incentive to improve.

                                                                    1. re: greenzebra
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                                                                      gourmaniac RE: greenzebra Feb 22, 2012 12:18 PM

                                                                      GZ, your dining radius seems to extend well into Porter Square, North Cambridge and Teele Square and if so I would add the Porter exchange Japanese stands and Masala and Guru the caterer as well. As for Davis Square, I agree with yumyum that given its potential and nearness to a T stop, it's not a destination. I tend to go to MacKinnons to shop for meat and maybe get an italian sub from Sessa's but that's about it.

                                                                      1. re: greenzebra
                                                                        yumyum RE: greenzebra Feb 22, 2012 12:53 PM

                                                                        I don't think of places like Quinddao Garden and Greek Corner as in Davis. I realize I made the initial stretch by including Teele in Davis, so it's tricky. Suffice to say that there are SOME gems in the immediate area, but much more food that is just "good enough".

                                                                        Packed with no incentive to improve describes Foundry to me as well. Dumb Tufts Students! (sez this proud Jumbo)

                                                                        1. re: yumyum
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                                                                          gourmaniac RE: yumyum Feb 22, 2012 01:39 PM

                                                                          not dumb...just gustatorially challenged (sez this Jumbo teacher) :) To the main point, i think its the T station proximity and related high rents. e.g. The 3 block radius near Broadway and Medford punches well above weight and this area has a similar student population.

                                                                          1. re: gourmaniac
                                                                            yumyum RE: gourmaniac Feb 22, 2012 06:42 PM

                                                                            Believe me, when I was a Jumbo I was happy with Espresso steak and cheese subs at 3 a.m. We all evolve. :-)

                                                                            1. re: yumyum
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                                                                              gourmaniac RE: yumyum Feb 24, 2012 06:52 AM

                                                                              You're the most evolved hound I know and I always look forward to your posts. RE students and food that is good enough, I used to feel that way about Harvard Square though it has improved and still think BU is a food wasteland until Kenmore.

                                                                        2. re: greenzebra
                                                                          greenzebra RE: greenzebra Feb 22, 2012 01:16 PM

                                                                          Ha, I guess when I say "Davis" I mean a 10-minute walk from my house, which includes pretty much all the places I mentioned. Reading back over my list, it does seem like there is a clear lack of good places in the center of Davis itself. Maybe the rents are just too high for a place like Qingdao or Istanbu'lu to survive in Davis proper (case in point: Namaskar, which used to be pretty good Indian but has been kind of on a downhill slide, closed recently).

                                                                      2. re: yarm
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                                                                        pollystyrene RE: yarm Feb 22, 2012 12:18 PM

                                                                        All good points, you guys. It makes me sad, too, Yumyum. I live in the burbs but am in Davis a lot and consider it my 'hood away from home. I thought the same thing--Istanbul'lu (and True Bistro) try hard and succeed from most accounts, but aren't in Davis proper. I guess it's kind of a catch 22. Davis has a lively vibe, which is great, but therefore a captive audience. It's like a gritty version of Newbury Street, I guess.

                                                                      3. re: pollystyrene
                                                                        greenzebra RE: pollystyrene Feb 22, 2012 08:31 AM

                                                                        I'm sure some of it is the combination of higher rent, the student popular, and more convenient access, which means you don't need to be as good to get people to come eat. But Cambridge is also a way friendlier city to restaurants than Somerville is - it is much easier to get a liquor license in Cambridge. At one point Ten Tables was looking to open in Davis Square, but declined because no liquor license was available and ended up in Harvard Square instead. Also, Dave's Fresh Pasta is trying to open a wine bar but has so far not succeeded in getting a liquor license.

                                                                        1. re: greenzebra
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                                                                          somervilleoldtimer RE: greenzebra Feb 22, 2012 07:11 PM

                                                                          You know, I've had some pretty good fish at Out of the Blue, so don't forget about that. But is it amazing or just pretty darned good? I'd say the latter, which may end up proving your point.

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