I’ve lived in or near Davis Square for seven years or so now. People tell me it’s the place to be. I don’t really see it any more, but I guess that’s ok. I’m still here more because I’m lazy than because I particularly like it.
You, however, are likely one of those people who hear about Davis and think it’s an exciting place to go out for food and drinks. You’re mostly wrong, but whatever. I know the scene and I’m about to school your ass on Somerville’s hippest (hey, it’s relative) neighborhood. Finally, my alcoholism and laziness have joined forces for the greater good!
Save It for the Third Date
Posto has easily the best food in the square. Pizza, pasta, a supposedly impressive wine collection–it’s a great date spot, but it doesn’t have much of a bar scene.
Spoke Wine Bar is small, cozy, and oddly classy in a way that isn’t obnoxiously pretentious. I mean, yeah, it’s still kind of pretentious, but it’s tolerable. Spoke’s solid menu of small plates and surprisingly decent beer list make it a good place to stop for a snack. If you’re a single dude, don’t go there by yourself unless you’re in the mood to have an array of yuppie couples look down at you and lonely cat ladies ogle you like you’re their latest knitting project.
Too Nice for You
Everything at Saloon just flat out costs too much. You won’t have a bad meal, but it’s not the sort of place you just drop into randomly. Lack of cellular service (it’s in the basement) is a huge negative.
The Rosebud American Kitchen and Grill is a place I typically avoid on principle. It fills a space that used to be a diner and a semi-attached dive bar. A recent remodel turned it into just another cookie-cutter “nice” restaurant with overpriced entrees and $12 cocktails that just happens to have an interesting front facade–in other words, it’s a total waste of a perfectly good diner car. The food’s good, though, and it’s worth stopping in for the pie alone.
Only If You’re Watching the Game
The Joshua Tree is the neighborhood’s premiere sports bar. Granted, choosing the best sports bar in Davis is kind of like picking out your favorite toenail, but whatever. It does the job. Just make sure you’re out of there before the Tufts rush around 10 on Friday and Saturday nights.
Do yourself a favor and hit the Painted Burro. Some of the entrees are a little expensive for what they are, but you can’t go wrong with a couple tacos and a margarita. They’ve also got quality karaoke on Tuesday nights.
Five Horses fills the neighborhood’s beer bar niche. The food can be very hit or miss, but they’ve got good tater tots and a bigger beer list than anywhere else in town. Their regular door guy might just be the nicest person in Somerville.
Orleans is that place you go when you’re over thirty and want to hang out with other people your own age. Then you go to Orleans and realize it sucks so you head to Sligo Pub and hope everybody in there thinks you’re 24.
Avoid The Foundry unless you’re an attractive lady who can get both the bartenders’ attention and a few bucks off the inflated tab. The service sucks otherwise and the food and drinks don’t make up for it. They have good bread and butter, if that’s any consolation. Please don’t go just for the bread and butter.
Want some cheap booze with no bullshit? Itching to play some Buck Hunter? Don’t care about the quality of the pisser? Sligo Pub is perfect for you. Don’t bank on food unless you grab a burrito at Anna’s on your way. Rising rent prices and an ongoing invasion of stuck up douche bags is ruining the neighborhood, but there’s still one last bastion of High Life-pounding, Fireball-shooting sanity in Davis Square.
Update: The Places I Missed in My First Draft
Guess you know how I feel about this spots, huh?
The Burren can be fun if you really, really want to slum it with a room full of Tufts kids dancing to reasonably well-covered hits of the 80s and 90s. Otherwise it’s nothing special.
Redbones and specifically its basement level, Underbones, would’ve been in consideration for the Just Right section but probably wouldn’t have made it. The beer selection’s top notch, but it’s a dark, cramped space that tends to get a little too crowded with the sort of amateurs who don’t do well in dark, cramped spaces. Most people like the food, but I’ve never been a fan.
Flatbread Company belongs in the date spot category with an asterisk. The food’s solid and it’s all made from locally sourced ingredients. The beer list is loaded with brews from the area and they make some fun cocktails. And there’s bowling! Two things hold it back a bit for me, though, both related to said bowling. First off, it’s far too loud. Secondly, nothing is more disappointing than gearing up for an evening of candlepin and finding out there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get a lane before closing time. When this place gets busy–which is often–it’s not worth the wait.