In honor of our first edition of Scavenge the Square, this month we feature Somerville’s Union Square. One of the oldest commercial areas of the city, Union Square is host to number of community institutions, including Somerville Community Access Television, the Police Department, and of course, the iconic Prospect Hill Monument.
You may not know, but Union Square is deep-rooted in American history. The name of the district comes from the square having been used as a recruitment and mustering site for the Union Army during the Civil War. Prospect Hill and the neighborhood was of great strategic importance in the Revolutionary War. It is said that George Washington first raised an early version of the U.S. Flag, called the Grand Union Flag, on Prospect Hill, on January 1, 1776. That’s why every new year, Somerville celebrates the raising of the American flag right in the Square.
Today, Union Square is a diverse community with businesses representing its history and its future. The Square is home to new innovations and collaborative spaces like Fringe, the Design Annex, and Uniun Warehouse and just a bit outside of the square, Artisan’s Asylum and Brooklyn Boulders Somerville. Union Square sticks to its roots with immigrant businesses like Internacional Foods and Reliable Market. It’s also become its own foodie hot spot with Journeyman, Bronwyn and Casa B, all located in the same building. Walk just up Somerville Avenue and you’ll find Machu Picchu, Bull McCabe’s and A4 Pizza Bar. Union Square is also home to breakfast favorites Bloc 11, and Sherman Cafe. And of course, Union is home to the annual Fluff Festival (What the Fluff?! Yes. We said it.) and the ArtsUnion series.
In addition to the dining and creative spaces, the Square also has a variety of sustainable transportation services. Hubway has a station in there, and Metro Pedal Power is located right next to Fringe Union, offering “eco-friendly solutions for last mile delivery in urban areas.”
Finally, funky retail abounds with Hub Comics, Somerville Grooves and Capone Foods. So come and visit the square on January 25 for the first hunt of our Scavenge the Square series, and then come back. You will always have something to explore in the neighborhood. Check out photos from our Union Square album.
Food Spotlight: Union Square Donuts
16 Bow Street, Somerville
We first came across Union Square Donuts when they were solely working the market circuits around town. That first bite of Maple Bacon Donut at the Somerville Local First Local is for Lovers market in December 2012 was so good we rushed for more – but they were already sold out! Now they have a brick and mortar shop right in the heart of Union Square. Stop in for a quick bite and some coffee, or visit them at one of many area markets or pop-ups on the go.
Spotlight: Creative Spaces! The Green Room
62 Bow Street, Somerville
Non-food additions to the neighborhood have created an ever more exciting atmosphere, and creative spaces are popping up all over. The Green Room is one of the newest spaces to the Square. Two Somervillians wanted a space for Somerville’s creative community to sing, play and make art. So they made one. The Green Room is a great space for private and group lessons, meetings, and small recitals. Included is a ceiling-mounted projector, a baby grand, and a PA system with five channels. Need internet for your event? No problem – they’ve got wireless.
Spotlight: Fitness! Be in Union Yoga
440 Somerville Ave, Somerville
Sometimes we all just need to relax a little. Be in Union Yoga believes that yoga is for everyone. A great philosophy, we think! Bringing together mind, body and soul, the studio hosts about half a dozen classes a day for all abilities and ages. Check out Be in Union’s website for regular specials and stretch away.
Spotlight: Union Square Non-Profit Community
The Square is home to the Somerville Community Corporation, The Family Center, and the Community Access Agency of Somerville. Right next to Brooklyn Boulders is Groundwork Somerville, creating sustainable communities, youth jobs, and community planning opportunities. If you are looking for a new volunteering opportunity, check out these great organizations!
Union Square Main Streets (USMS), is a group that works to “create a vibrant neighborhood by enhancing the Union Square business district and surrounding neighborhoods through active community collaboration.” USMS hosts a variety of events, including the Fluff Festival, the square’s farmers market, and walk-in movies in the parking lot. The Board of Directors of USMS is an impressive group of residents, business owners and community activists. Included in this A-Team is the owner of The Independent and Precinct Bar, Kenneth Kelly; Anja Bresler of Prospect Hill Academy; and Kat Rutkin of Somerville Local First.
Kendall Square may now be known as the headquaters of Twitter Boston, Amazon, and Google, but it once was the home to a huge variety of industrial companies. Kendall Square is part of the East Cambridge neighborhood and was originally a salt marsh on the Charles River. In 1793, the West Boston Bridge (now known was the Longfellow Bridge) was constructed and provided the first wagon route from Cambridge to Boston. In 1810, the Broad Canal was dug, providing a little seaport, and the Kendall Square subway stop was opened in 1911.
As a result, in the 19th and early 20th century, Kendall became home to distilleries, electric power plants, soap and hosiery factories, and the Kendall Boiler and Tank Company (the square was named after the company). In 1915, MIT moved from Boston to its new Cambridge campus, where is has been ever since.
Besides the startups, venture capitalists, biotech and high tech companies, Kendall Square is home to variety of residents and smaller businesses. There are long standing restaurants such as Blue Room, Friendly Toast and Cambridge Brewing Company, and newer spots like Abigail’s, Firebrand Saints, Westbridge, Meadhall and the upcoming Commonwealth Restaurant. In addition to the restaurant scene, Kendall boasts an ice rink and kayak landing. There is something for the outdoor adventurer, techie, and the food lover here in Kendall Square. View our Kendall Square photo gallery.
Cambridge Center Roof Top Garden
4 Cambridge Center Garage, top floor
Cut through the new Google Arcade, take the elevator and enjoy one of Kendall Square’s hidden gems – the Roof Top Garden. The garden is a great place to eat lunch, enjoy a view, and get away from the hussle of the Square. The garden has benches and tables and has a variety of views of the neighborhood.
Kendall Square Canoe & Kayak and Ice Rink
Broad Canal (kayak) & West Kendall Street (ice rink)
Did you know that Kendall has a Canoe and Kayak rental area? Walk down Broad Canal past EVOO and Za and you will see the canal filled with kayaks and canoes. Charles River opened the Kendall spot a few years ago and provides rentals from early spring to late fall. The group also provides skyline and harbor tours as well as catering options for large groups.
Right down the road from the canal, a summer patio becomes a winter ice rink. Kendall Square Community Ice Skating offers ice skating on a refrigerated and Zamboni-maintained surface, skate rentals, lessons, and a snack bar to warm any cold feet at the end of your skate. Learn more about the rink here.
One Kendall Square, Lower Floor
State Park is the newest concept coming from the folks behind Kendall Square’s Hungry Mother Restaurant. This new bar, across the street from HM, will offer pinball, pool, shuffleboard, and a jukebox. The menu will be filled with fun items like pulled pork sandwiches, fried chicken, and an all-magnum wine list. State Park is slated to open in November.
One Kendall Square, lower level, near Blue Room
Belly is one of newer additions to the One Kendall Complex. Developed by the folks behind neighborhood faves like Central Bottle and Blue Room, Belly celebrates great wine and charcuterie. Belly offers a wide array of delicious salumi and spreads and a few main courses, including an “arm and a leg” of lamb. Belly likes to play games, too – on Sunday nights, Belly offers game night and Monday nights are “3 Blinds Night” where you must guess the wine. And if you like what you taste, all wine offered by the glass or bottle at Belly can be found at Central Bottle.
287 Third Street
Xylem is a modern gift shop, located on the Third Street corridor of Kendall Square. Xylem provides an assortment of wonderful gift items. Want a fun Pi pizza cutter or a Star Wars mug? Perhaps a fun kids toy, new earrings or birthday card? All can be found at Xylem. Stop by – you never know what you will find!
318 Third Street and 205 Broadway
It just seems like yesterday when the first Tatte opened up along Third Street, and now we have another one on the other side of the Square, near the Garment District. Tatte Bakery offers an array of baked goods from croissants to specialty tarts. In addition to traditional pastries, Tatte offers cakes and pies, gift packages and a diverse lunch and dinner menu. Visit a location today!
Squeaky Beaker Cafe
675 West Kendall Street
Squeaky Beaker Cafe comes from the operator of the local East Cambridge Spot 2nd Street Cafe. Anthony Miller, the owner, opened Squeaky Beaker to offer fresh, non-prepared food at a reasonable price. The Cafe offers a great variety of specialty sandwiches, as well as the ability to make your own. In addition to breakfast and lunch options, Squeaky Beaker also offers Christina’s Ice Cream and daily dinner-to-go specials. Next time you are in Kendall for lunch, check this place out.
9 Broad Canal Way
Cambridge Spirits is the newest addition to Kendall Square. Located along Broad Canal, the store provides a variety of craft beers, wines and local spirits like Bully Boy and more. Cambridge Spirits also offers a free weekly wine tastings on Thursdays from 5pm-7pm.
This month we venture out to Magoun Square in Somerville. The Square is located at the intersection of Broadway and Medford Street, just east of Ball Square. Fun historical fact – the Square was named after the family of John Calvin Magoun, who was married into the Tufts family lineage.
Today, Magoun Square is home to a vibrant residential neighborhood, with a growing local business scene. Old favorites, like Modelo Bakery, On the Hill Tavern, and Olde Magoun’s Saloon are now joined my new neighborhood faves, like Daddy Jones and the upcoming PennyPackers. There is something for everyone in this unique Somerville square. Click here for our photo gallery.
Olde Magoun Saloon
518 Medford Street, Somerville, MA
Anyone who lives or even visits Magoun Square knows the neighborhood hangout, Olde Magoun. The Saloon has over 28 taps of local and imported craft beer and a weekly rotating cask of local ale, each one served in its own distinctive glass. The bar also has a great pub menu featuring traditional and creative burgers, signature sandwiches, and classic pub favorites like nachos and fish & chips. The Saloon is a great spot to meet up with friends, try the newest local ale or play some great trivia on a Tuesday night.
Modelo Butcher Shop
501 Medford Street, Somerville, MA
This butcher shop is one of the newest spaces in Magoun Square. The shop offers a variety of high-cut meat, chicken wings and more. Most notably, the shop offers a wide range of grocery goods – a great “one stop shop” for dinner. Check it out next time you are in the neighborhood.
508 Medford Street, Somerville, MA
One of the oldest spots in Magoun is the Model Bakery. The bakery offers fresh Brazilian food and a variety of bakery goods, like the famous cheese bread. Breakfast is offered all day long with a free cup of coffee too. Definitely worth a stop while exploring the Square.
K-2 Wine & Beer
500 Medford Street, Somerville, MA
K-2 Wine & Beer opened almost a year ago in the Square and has been a hit ever since. The liquor store offers a wide variety of affordable beers and wine, and offers weekly specials. Kegs are available by special order, too. Don’t forget to stop by their Friday night wine tastings from 5-7pm!
509 Broadway, Somerville, MA
You know you are really a Somerville resident when you have ordered from Wang’s. The storefront might be small, but the offerings inside are not. Wang’s offers an affordable array of well-made Chinese food. Wang’s is open late on the weekends and offers both take out and delivery. Call them up at: (617) 623-2982.
525 Medford Street, Somerville, MA
Daddy Jones is one of the new neighborhood hangouts to hit the Square. Opened by Somerville resident Dimitra Tsourianis, the restaurant features a variety of all American favorites (our favorite: Mac & Cheese) to traditional Greek-inspired treats from the owner’s family. Cocktails are offered in funky old-school cocktail glasses and the beer menu features some fun, local craft brews. The restaurant features old school 80s shows like Alf and Cosby Show, while also featuring the Red Sox game at the bar. Bonus is that is Dimitra is always around, and is very involved in the local community. A must for those exploring Magoun Square.
This month we visit Ball Square in Somerville. The neighborhood is at the intersections of Boston Ave and Broadway, right up the street from Powderhouse Square and Tufts. Back in the day, Ball Square was home to the Willow Jazz Club that started the career of some contemporary jazz musicians. Today, Ball Square is home to a lot of classic Somerville institutions like Sound Bites, the original Lyndell’s, Pescatore, Blue Cloud Gallery and Victor’s Deli. Ball Square is also a planned stop on the MBTA Green Line extension. For our photo gallery of Ball Square, click here.
735 Broadway, Somerville, MA
Angeltronics is a great little find in the center of the square where you can get your PC or mac fixed right up! He moves quickly and with extreme agility to get you back on track. AND he can oft times retrieve those darned files you forgot to backup when your good ‘ole computer crashed. Stop in and say hello after you grab a cup of coffee from True Grounds.
Ball Square Fine Wines and Liquor
716 Broadway, Somerville, MA
Winner of “Best Wine Shop” by Boston Magazine in 2011, Ball Square Fine Wines & Liquor is a staple in Ball Square. The shop offers a wide variety of craft beer, wine array of wines and tons of fromage. Ball Square Fine Wines and Liquor also has a tasting room and offers free weekly beer and wine tastings on Fridays. As you walk in the store, look to your right to see the great wine ideas they have for you at an extra affordable price. Each crate has an index card with wine and pairing details. An extra bonus of service – if you join their free club, they provide you with an in-store tracker that allows them to look up your past purchases – something that always comes in handy after drinking a bottle of wine over the Voice.
The Book Shop
694 Broadway, Somerville, MA
The Book Shop is a new welcomed addition to Ball Square. The store is a family owned and operated business that offers a variety of used and new release books, CDs and children’s puzzles. This is a great place to stop by if the library is out of your favorite book, or to grab a series of gifts. The store also has a calendar of author readings, including Dennis Lehane on Wednesday, May 15th at 7:00pm. Stop by and check it out!
Eat at Jumbo’s
668 Broadway, Somerville, MA
Since 2009, Eat at Jumbo’s has been a community asset in Ball Square – not just for providing delicious snacks, but for its support of local community groups and displaying local artists in the cafe’s walls. Eat at Jumbo’s provides free delivery for its affordable and delicious pizzas, wings, sandwiches and much more! Next time you have the boys over to watch the game, make sure to order from Jumbo’s. And an added bonus – the owner is on the Board of Somerville Local First, one of our fav organizations!
720 Broadway, Somerville, MA
A Ball Square staple, the original Lyndell’s has been making Somerville residents happy since 1887 and is on it’s 5th generation of ownership. Lyndell’s offers cakes, bread, cookies, pastries, muffins – you name it! A favorite – their famous black and white icing cookies.
Blue Cloud Gallery
713 Broadway, Somerville, MA
Blue Cloud Gallery is local gift shop that sells local artisan ware. The store has been in the Square for over 12 years and has a great array of woodblock prints, jewelry, pottery and photographs all made right in the area. We think their video says it best!
704 Broadway, Somerville, MA
Can you really say you have lived or even visited Somerville without going to Sound Bites? Yeah, we didn’t think so. Sound Bites is a destination diner that has been serving Ball Square for over 20 years. Whether you are waiting in line for Sunday brunch or grabbing a drink at their new bar, Sound Bites has something for everyone. And remember, if you can’t get in on Sunday, Sound Bites is actually open at 6:30 a.m. Monday – Saturday.
717 Broadway, Somerville, MA
True Grounds is a coffee shop with a mission. They believe that ‘community is at the heart of a good coffee shop,’ and foster that sentiment every day! They host weekly musical events (including one of our favorite kids’ musicians, Jeff Jam), special tastings, art by and for locals, locally-produced products such as Taza Chocolate, and their food is to die for. They are also certified as a Sustainable Business with SBN, are a member of Somerville Local First, and are just truly awesome people. Beware, the wi-fi is shut off on Saturday and Sunday mornings! Stop by and enjoy this comfy, great spot.
158 Boston Ave, Somerville, MA
With an overflowing menu of traditional Italian, and not so traditional dishes, it’s no surprise Pescatore is the 2008 winner of Best of Boston Best Seafood, Affordable. Just go in for one meal, and it will be easy to taste why. We were lucky enough to taste the Caprese antipasti – the buffalo mozzerella is delicious! We followed that up with a huge portion of Chicken Piccata. Let’s just say that it was a great night. Pescatore is open Tuesday-Saturday from 4:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m., Sundays 4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. and closed Mondays.
Stinky’s Kittens & Doggies Too
110 Bristol Rd, Somerville, MA
Now we can’t forget our four-footed friends?! Stinky’s has a cute name, yes, but also a wide variety of organic, natural and local foods and treats for your pets. In addition to treats and toys, they also provide several services for our best friends, including grooming of cats and dogs and pet sitting. AND they deliver – it doesn’t get much better than that! Finally, they are community-minded and a proud member of Somerville Local First.
Welcome to our first Around the Block post, featuring Inman Square in Cambridge. We’ll highlight old haunts and new places, but we know we can’t cover every spot. So if we are missing your favorite place, let us know!
Inman Square is a great example of both Somerville and Cambridge – it’s fun, funky and multicultural. Sitting right on the border of Somerville and Cambridge, Inman Square is home to the first Legal Seafoods and S&S Restaurant where a movie theater once stood. Inman is home to gems like Stellabella Toys, Olé & Olecito, Ryles Jazz Club, Rosie’s Bakery, City Girl Cafe, 1369 Coffeehouse, Bukowski Tavern and much more. For more info about the Square, check out the Inman Square Business Association (ISBA), an active group of local business that puts together great annual events such as Inman Square Movie Night, Shop Inman by Moonlight and others. For a photo gallery of our stops in Inman Square, click here.
Address: 1309 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, M.A.
Since 2003, Boutique Fabulous has been delighting Inman Square with fun and unique gifts, clothes and specialty furniture. Need something for a baby shower? Check. Wedding shower? Check! A 60s outfit for your Mad Men party? Check. Your boyfriend who wants brain ice cubes? Boutique Fabulous has it all! The coolest feature – Somerville, Cambridge signs for your home and your own Inman Square T-shirt. Next time you are in the Square, stop by and say hello.
Christina’s Spices & Specialities
Address: 1255 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, M.A.
There is always an ongoing debate about whether you like Christina’s Ice Cream versus Tosci’s, but one thing we think we all can agree on is Christina’s Spices and Specialities selection. Whether you are looking for Anson Mills’ grits, black salt or ash noodles (something Pardis grew up with) – Christina’s has it! And get psyched for their new addition coming soon to Inman Square – Christina’s Baking Annex (a purveyor of quality pastry and confectionary ingredients). This new store will be located in the old Oona’s Outpost at 1297 Cambridge Street.
243 Hampshire Street, Cambridge, M.A.
Take a serene little path off Hampshire Street and you will get to Inman Oasis. Inman Oasis offers both message therapy and hot tubs in a Feng Shui designed wellness center that provides the ultimate in relaxation. Check out the spa’s website and social media feeds for monthly specials and discounts on the community hot tub!
Puritan & Company
Address: 1166 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, M.A.
One of the new hot spots in Inman Square is Puritan & Company, the new restaurant from James Beard semi-finalist Chef Will Gilson. The menu is new england seasonal cuisine, featuring an oyster and charcuterie bar, with starters that include homemade sausage and other hearty meals.
There is a large bar and the drink menu features a nice selection of local beers from Somerville Brewing Co, Bantam Cider and Cottrel Brewing Co. Oysters are $3 piece, starters range from $11-$15, entrees from $17-$29. Reservations are recommended. Puritan & Co is open Tuesday-Sunday, opening at 5:30 p.m.
Clover Food Lab
1075 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, M.A.
This Clover location is known to many as Clover HUB. A key part of the operations of all the Clover locations, Clover HUB is the commissary or prep kitchen for many of the food trucks and also is a pick up location for the CSA Program that Clover started for its customers. Clover HUB, similar to the Harvard Square location, has a beer license and features local beer like Pretty Things and Berkshire Brewing Company. Right next door, Clover has constructed a little shop for local purveyors to sell their items on a seasonal basis. Right now, grab a pickle from local Grillo’s Pickles.
1064 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, M.A.
Hub Bicycle is a woman owned bike shop catering to great service and quality products. Whether you are looking for new gears or an awesome Bern helmet, Emily the owner and her staff are happy to help. Next time your bike is in need of a tune up, make sure to come to Hub Bicycle for all your needs.
Trina’s Starlight Lounge
3 Beacon Street, Somerville, MA
Trina’s Starlight Lounge is one wonderful Somerville restaurant to get 2012’s “Best in Boston” hot dog, take in the 1st ever Industry Brunch on Mondays, or to just wind down after work with a delicious cocktail. Just over the border in Somerville, Trina’s has some of the best comfort food in the area. But don’t take our word for it – stop by anytime from 5pm-1am and get delicious brews, fried chicken (some of the best in the country, we’re told), or some delicious mac and cheese. Kitchen’s open til midnight for all you late night ramblers.