Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
Mar 8, 2014 02:29 PM

Coffee shop on the water

Not really a chow question--but I like writing in cafes and diners--and am looking for a space out of my usual neighborhood (Cambridge).

I'm thinking Revere Beach or South Boston, some place on or near the water where I could sit for a couple of hours for the price of tea and pastry.

Thoughts? Suggestions? all welcome...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. We just had lunch at Gather this sunny afternoon in the seaport area. Food was nothing to write home about (short-rib pizza, tuna tartare - big mistake for ordering it - and a deviled egg) but the space was light-filled and chill and we were in the mood to be near the water. The other, larger side has lots of tables specifically made for working. I think they're cool with people lingering, working, drinking coffee/tea/beer/wine. Not sure if they had any coffeeshop type snacks.

    We may return in warmer weather for a drink and small snack since it's off the beaten but easy pre- or post-ICA.

    11 Replies
    1. re: digga

      Thanks, all.

      I'm looking for a space inside, not to sit on a bench outside (for this particular project--I'll definitely shelve those other suggestions for a time when I want a harbor stroll.)

      I'm looking for someplace humble, by which I don't just mean cheap (that too!) I just work better in places that have more of a working class or student vibe. It doesn't have to be pastry--could be a bowl of pho. But it needs to be a place where people wouldn't mind my sitting for a couple of hours.

      It needs to be on public transit--I don't have a car, but wouldn't want to drive for this particular excursion, even if I did.

      I'm still wondering about the first two neighborhoods I mentioned--Revere and South Boston. Thoughts?

      thanks to you all--

      1. re: femmevox

        The only place in the "real" South Boston is Sullivan's. But again, no inside seating that I'm aware of. For being on the water, Boston has a dearth of places to eat or drink or whatever right on the water.

        1. re: mtm7654

          No inside seating at sullivans. Decent cheap coffee, breakfast sandwiches and one heck of a harbor view.

        2. re: femmevox

          Sound weird, but I wonder if Harpoon Brewery would mind you sitting in the beer hall nibbling on pretzels and sipping beer while working? I've only been there on the weekends so I don't know how crowded it is during the afternoon on a workday.

          Another option is the BPL in Copley. They have both indoor and outdoor seating. I've never gotten anything from their cafe, but the courtyard is peaceful.

          Another possibility ( again no idea if it would work) is the MFA ( of course there is the cost of admission if you can't get a library pass)The cafeteria or the small cafe near the gift shop or the tables in the courtyard.

          No idea if any of these will work, just brainstorming.

          1. re: viperlush

            Did you see the part about "on the water"?

            1. re: Steve L

              I did. And I also saw that the OP wants to be inside, near public trans, not in Cambridge and where people wouldn't mind them sitting for hours.

              But I do apologize to the OP for thinking of places outside of their criteria. I didn't intend to waste their time.

            2. re: viperlush

              What about the ICA? Call to see if you have to pay the admission fee to use the cafeteria. That would be a great water view.

              1. re: libertywharf

                And I think the ICA also gives library passes if paying an admission is an issue.

              2. re: viperlush

                The MFA, BPL and ICA cafeteria are all great suggestions (FYI, you don't have to pay admission to sit in the ICA cafeteria). I work in them from time to time, but I'm probably going to run into people I know at all three. I was looking for something further afield from my usual haunts (almost like a completely different city, but without my having to leave) but it might be that what I'm looking for doesn't exist. Or maybe it does and I just have to go to Revere and wander around...

                1. re: femmevox

                  Wonder if there's a cafeteria at the Aquarium...... The Gardiner and the BPL cafe- is a No i guess?
                  The Atrium cafe at the PEM in Salem- is a wonderful light filled space where you could sit forever w/ no one bothering you (I believe) but it's not a hustle bustle scene.

                  You might still be able to walk in, sans student card, to the large MIT cafeteria on Mem Drive...Ditto for the various eating places in the Student Center.

              3. re: femmevox

                Gather is part of District Hall, which is a city-run "Innovation Center." There's a coffee shop called Brew around the corner, but you can also just go and and sit and work in the lounge there. Free wifi and you can stay as long as you want. It's geared towards Boston's startup/freelance community but it's open to the public and you don't even need to buy anything.


                It's close to South Station/the Silver line, right across from the ICA. Pretty sure there's a water view.

            3. fv, i don't know if you ever go afield, but The Landing in Marblehead- has a big deck on the harbor and is a nexus for alot of locals. Open all day, i believe (but check that.)

              OT but you might really enjoy one of the extra features on the animated film DVD, "The Rabbi's Cat". The feature follows the artist/director who daily goes to a different Parisian cafe to write and draw. ((Fun film too!)

              5 Replies
              1. re: opinionatedchef

                The Landing will not allow you to sit on the deck for a few hours with a tea and pastry.

                1. re: 9lives

                  well darn. thx for the correction. i just had in my head that it was a locals hang out place and not the regimented place you're describing. I've never been, myself. We always take our lunch up to Fort Seward . Sorry, fv.

                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    The bar area seems to be a locals hangout.

                    The deck seems to attract more vIsitors to Town.

                    I wouldn't call it overly regimented. It's a prime waterfront dining spot that wants customers to dine and spend money., not buying a pastry and sit for a few hours...sort of like most restaurants as opposed to a SBUX or Thinking Cup/cafe type place.

                    There is a SBUX on Near Lewis Wharf on Atlantic Ave/waterfront that would be well suited for a few hours of sitting/relaxing. No water view from the cafe proper but a few steps away, and plenty of benches.

                    1. re: 9lives

                      I came to the same conclusion of the SBUX yesterday--see my post below.

                      1. re: KevinJF

                        I should have read the whole thread.

                        Great minds think alike..:)

              2. It's unclear whether you want a water view and/or outdoor space. If you just want to be near the water, the Starbucks on Atlantic Ave/Commercial St/Lewis Wharf in the NE/Waterfront fits the bill.

                If you actually want to sit outside on the water, you can amble down to Christopher Columbus Park (or one of the many benches along the Harborwalk) or grab a bite or drink at Joe's American or the Fairmont.

                1 Reply
                1. re: KevinJF

                  Ok, the harbor walk from the northern ave bridge past the courthouse is a great idea. I believe Strega has a cafe complete with pastry.

                2. This is not your typical chow response but in the seaport district you can get coffee from the dunks and walk to the end of the commonwealth pier. There are several benches out there. The view is of the whole harbor including the tobin bridge and Logan.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: libertywharf

                    i think key to the OPs search is a cafe/peopled environment, but i'm sure she will comment eventually.

                  2. Not a coffee shop, but you could nurse a beer at the Sail Loft.