You Gotta Eat, 2009 edition

Fletcher has LOTS of visitors coming through this spring.  Admitted applicants, those on the wait list, and even those who haven’t started the application process are turning up at the School.  We certainly don’t want our guests to go hungry, so I’ve asked my admissions pals to add to their 2008 picks and provide even more ideas for where you can have a good lunch or dinner while you’re in the area.

Long-term blog readers are already aware that Admissions staff members share an interest in cooking, exploration of different cuisines, and, well, eating.  So the one blog contribution request that I can count on to generate discussion in the office is when I ask for restaurant recommendations.  And here goes:

Kristen writes:  One of my favorite local restaurants is less a restaurant and more of a destination. Porter Exchange is a collection of (mostly) Japanese restaurants and food stalls in a lovely art deco building from the 1920’s that originally was Sears & Roebuck store. It now houses a motley collection of commercial and educational establishments, including Lesley University and a gym. If you’re having a hard time imagining this place, you’re not alone. The first time I stumbled upon it, I felt like I had fallen into an alternate universe. But now I know, it’s just once of those quirky places that a city like Boston fosters. AND, it’s the best place for fast, inexpensive, delicious Japanese (and more) food in the area. Ramen, sushi, mochi, udon noodles … it’s all there, along with divine Japanese-inspired cream puffs.

Coincidentally, Roxana covers the “and more” to which Kristen refers with her choice, which is located in the same building.  She says: Tavern in the Square is a great restaurant and bar located in Porter Square. Its menu ranges from distinctively good all-American comfort food like burgers, wings and country chicken pot pie, to a few surprises like sirloin au poivre, walnut-encrusted salmon, and white truffle mac & cheese that add flare for the “foodie” in your group. I like Tavern in the Square not only for the food but also because it’s easy to get to, great for watching sporting events like the World Cup, Red Sox games, or the Super Bowl, and it has an energetic atmosphere.  There’s also a Tavern in the Square located in Central Square if you’d like to venture a little further away from campus. Highly recommended to relax after exam week.

Sticking to the same geographic theme, Peter suggests:  In Porter Square (one stop from Davis Sq. on the T), directly across Mass Ave. from the T station, you’ll find two of my favorite Cambridge hangouts: Toad & Christopher’s.  Sparsely decorated with only a few ceramic toads behind the bar and a small, purple neon “toad” sign marking the entrance, Toad is a small pub, with a tiny stage, offering live music seven nights a week.  While the music tends toward roots and Americana (a friend likes to joke that the descriptions of most of the bands invariably use the adjective “swampy”), there are occasional forays into funk, jazz, and rock — and there is never a cover charge.  The bands are mostly local, with some smaller, touring bands passing through, and the occasional unannounced visit from a well-known musician (Eddie Vedder dropped in to play a few songs once).  Right next door, and owned by the same people, Christopher’s is a local pub/restaurant that’s been around for over 25 years.  With tasty and somewhat unique pub fare, a great selection of beer on tap, and a cozy atmosphere with a fireplace and local artwork decorating the walls, it’s a great place for brunch, or to grab a drink and a bite before heading next door to catch a band.

Kate declined to be limited to a single restaurant, and gives us a regional burrito round-up: Since moving to Boston five years ago, burritos have become a staple in my diet, and there are many casual dining spots around the Somerville/Medford/Cambridge area where I can pick one up.   It seems whenever I am craving something filling, fast, and inexpensive, I end up in one of these places. I am not alone in having burritos as my go-to food, as many Bostonians will be able to recommend their favorite burrito place.  One Boston burrito fan has taken his fascination with burritos to the extreme and writes a blog about his experiences at local restaurants. While I have not eaten as many burritos as that guy, I have eaten at all the places near Tufts.  If you are looking for something beyond a traditional burrito, I would recommend Boloco.  Boloco is close to campus on Boston Ave, and it offers a variety of options.  As a vegetarian, I love that I can add tofu to my wraps. My favorite burrito spot is Anna’s Taqueria which is a local chain throughout Boston.  I frequent the Davis Square location and enjoy the way they manage to mix their ingredients together so that in every bite I get a little cheese, rice, beans, guacamole, and sour cream — yum!  If you are a loyal Chipotle fan you will be happy to know that there is one in Davis Square.  While a Chipotle burrito satisfies my cravings when I am out of town, in Boston you’ll always find me at one of the local joints instead.

Personally, I had a number of local restaurants in mind, but I’ve decided to go in a different direction with my own pick:  Mugar Café.  Admittedly, it’s not the ultimate Boston-area destination, but it’s super-local (i.e. within our building), cheerful, and filled with Fletcher students.  An added bonus is the lovely staff.  Just the other day, students were emailing out the news that it was the birthday of Giovanna, one of the Café’s long-time staff members, who greets everyone in a melodious blend of English and Italian.  In their notes, the students called on their peers to “Give a little lovin’ to the one who makes you feel like the FAVORITE grandchild every day!” Another noted “the warmth of this adorable Italian mamma.  I am sure that she will be moved to be wished ‘auguri’ by all of us.”  So I recommend that you join Fletcher students and their favorite adopted grandmother for lunch at the Café.  You can always head to Porter or on a burrito search for dinner.

That’s this year’s round-up!  Whether you venture to Davis or Porter Square, or just stay within the welcoming walls of The Fletcher School, we hope our recommendations will keep you from wondering where to pick up a good meal during your visit!

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