All good things must come to an end. A crappy but all too true cliche.
Two weeks ago today Sam and I left our apartment at Assembly Row in Somerville for the last time. For nine months it had been our home away from home. The decision to rent this little, modern one bedroom in a brand new building was a bit (hugely) impulsive, although having a second place or living in the city is something Sam & I have wanted to do for years. Almost 10 years of 2 plus hour car-train-walk commutes, each way, had grown more than tiresome and we were feeling a bit out-of-sync with our peers in the ‘burbs. The whole reproduction/tiny human thing and whatnot. We decided to put travel on hold for a year, embarking on a different sort of adventure, the kind with a lease. Shortly after we moved in, I decided to leave my corporate job and enroll in pastry school. My philosophy is that you’re in the pool or you’re out of the pool. May as well go all in. I envisioned a year of the best of both worlds, city living in Somerville and country retreat in Glosta. Discovering whether we were city mice or country mice would, in theory, help us figure out our next move. It pretty much turned out that way. I won’t say what we decided, I don’t want to give away the ending.
We LOVED Somerville. It is a vibrant city that is diverse in it’s people and it’s neighborhoods, but in a way that everyone feels welcome. There’s a fun vibe. Sure it’s rapidly becoming gentrified, but (trust me) it’s still got that rough around the edges feel in more than a few places and the city’s residents (both lifelong and newbies) are taking great care to continue to foster a sense community. You cannot beat the location, central to Boston and Cambridge via the orange line or bus and easy access to Rte. 93 for commuting to the ‘burbs, heading down the Cape or up north to Cape Ann. There’s so much I could say about our time in the city, much of which I have documented here, but I live for lists. I can be in the middle of three personal and four professional disasters and nothing quite soothes the mind like a tidy to-do list, and a drink, of course. For the sake of brevity I’m going to stick with places in Somerville proper.
Best Food, Casual
- Three Little Figs – Breakfast sandwiches to die for and amazing pastries like the dirty chai muffin and apple cider doughnut muffin. Great coffee. Strong, not bitter.
- Ball Square Cafe – Best breakfast in Massachusetts and the friendliest waitstaff and owner ever. Plus self serve coffee and heated awning for cold weather waits.
- Sweet Ginger – We’ve never had better Thai food and they deliver. Discovered very late into our stay. So sad.
- Dave’s Fresh Pasta – Working man’s gourmet market. Fresh pasta (duh!), fabulous pre-made food, dessert bars so good you wonder why you bake your own and lots of fresh produce. But here’s the thing, everything is delicious and it’s reasonably priced. It’s so awesome that I just don’t get why every city and town in Massachusetts can’t have a Dave’s/
Best Food, Date Night
- Sarma – Mediterranean tapas style food is the best way I can describe, but Sarma is so much more. I did a spring/summer internship at Sofra and Sarma has common owners, as does Oleana, but it was on our to try list long before I had my employee discount. Two of the best meals we had this year. The flavors of the food are amazing, space is lively and service is great. Parking is a challenge but it is so worth it.
- Highland Kitchen – Great food, great beer list, great music at three levels too loud. Our favorite “neighborhood” place where you’d see families, couples, groups and everyone else.
- Rosebud Diner – An old diner that was revamped to a “new” American restaurant with southern influences and pie. Oh god, the pie. Fried chicken, buffalo brussell sprouts, a roasted cauliflower entree and turtle pie. The perfect meal.
- Trina’s Starlight Lounge – Highlife sign. Dark, wood interior. Adorable waitresses with blue hair and tattoos. Reasons enough to go but the fried chicken and waffles is too good to share. And the mac & cheese, GTFO good. Voted best Hipster Bar by the Improper Bostonian, they were kind enough to let us old folks in, preppy clothes and all.
- AMC Theater – Advance tickets for this movie theater is a must. Reserve early enough to get the two seats off to the side. Two recliners and half walls, plus a side table = feeling like you’re the only ones in the theater. Now that is priceless.
- Mystic River – A book, a movie, a uniquely Boston body of water. The sunrise and sunsets over the banks of this city river convey the sense that you’ve arrived and that anything is possible. That you’re at the gateway of something special. Sounds corny, but take a stroll and you’ll see. *Castle Island in South Boston is perfect for this as well and has the added bonus of junk food at Sullivan’s and parking.
Somerville, you’ll be missed. Maybe we’ll be back some day. We’ll certainly visit.