We’re getting a head start on the 2020 lists with our favorite neighborhood spots that comprise the best of Somerville/Cambridge — including best bar, best restaurant, best bookstore, and more.
It wasn’t easy. Camberville is rich with local gems for exceptional food and drink, unique art, and world-class live music. BUT, if we had to pick the best of Somerville/Cambridge, it would look something like the list below.
Read on for our selections.
The best of Somerville/Cambridge 2020
Sophisticated yet laid back, Backbar has some of the most creative craft cocktails around, each inspired by a work of literature. From the Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince (a magical concoction of apple brandy, manzanilla, cardamom, and bergamot) to the Much Ado About Nothing (a robust and herbal blend of Jim Beam Black, Benedictine, and Rosemary), Backbar brings the whimsy — and the delicious — to Union Square.
If you’re not sure what you’re craving, Backbar also offers an option for “Writer’s Block.” Share your drink preferences with the expert bartenders, and they’ll mix up something special just for you.
Distance from Metro9: 0.7 miles
This critically acclaimed restaurant has retained its unpretentious neighborhood vibe despite its significant achievements. Bergamot’s “progressive American cuisine” pairs fresh, local produce with ingredients from around the world — and you can tell the talented kitchen has fun creating each dish. Choose a creative cocktail or a selection from wine list supporting small producers and sustainable practices, and enjoy the welcoming atmosphere and exceptional service.
Distance from Metro9: 1.3 miles
When it comes to food, picking the best of Somerville/Cambridge is nearly impossible — so we chose two!
Nestled in Union Square, CasaB is everything you’d expect of a restaurant run by two former architects. Stylish and sophisticated, the shiny white décor is offset by a “living wall” of plants, all in an atmosphere of sleek minimalism.
CasaB’s tapas-style menu has strong culinary roots in Spanish Caribbean cuisines (think Puerto Rico and Colombia’s Atlantic Coast), drawing further inspiration from many other Latin American countries and Spain. The cocktail and rum bar also features many classic Latin American cocktails, as well as some unique creations, completing this modern interpretation of the traditional Spanish tasca.
Distance from Metro9: 0.7 miles
Metro9 is within walking distance of 7 craft breweries, and we love them all. But Slumbrew (or Somerville Brewing Co.) is a name you’ll see atop many best of Somerville lists, including our own, because it truly embodies the spirit of this neighborhood.
In a funky warehouse setting, enjoy one of the house beers — they range from the delightfully traditional to wildly experimental, in the best way possible. Light bites and nightly activities (like trivia or comedy) regularly draw a community of locals that adore this neighborhood gem.
Distance from Metro9: 0.2 miles
This charming independent bookstore features a warm atmosphere, an extensive selection for children and adults, plus a café with frequent author events and musical performances. The staff is made up of dedicated and passionate readers with a variety of literary tastes and experiences.
A popular feature of the store is the “Ideal Bookshelves,” where staff members curate books they believe define them as people and as readers. They also have a consignment program, in which self-published local authors have the opportunity to sell their works in the store.
Distance from Metro9: 2.2 miles
Best Art Gallery
Located in a converted cannery and bakery, Brickbottom is always full of eclectic, exciting new art. The space opened in 1987 as one of the nation’s first and largest artist-developed live-work buildings. Since then, Brickbottom residents have volunteered their time, energy, and effort to make the Brickbottom Artists Association what it is today — a vital community arts organization in Somerville’s thriving contemporary art scene.
Distance from Metro9: 0.6 miles
Smile’s passionate, expert massage therapists practice authentic Thai massage and healing techniques. If you’ve never had a traditional Thai massage, it’s a must-try. Techniques are perfected through thousands of years of Thai traditions and use hands, feet, knees, and elbows to apply deep muscle compression, mobilize joints, and move you into yoga-like stretches. Short version: it will cure what ails you.
Distance from Metro9: 0.7 miles
Best Music Venue’s
Thunder Road is where the cool kids hang out, right in Union Square. With great sightlines from all over the club and amazing lighting, the full stage offers an ideal music-viewing experience. Or hang out downstairs, affectionately referred to as “The Walnut Room,” and play a game of pool while your favorite band performs upstairs. Their beer menu is down to earth but definitely includes something for everyone. Local tip: The Bearly Dead, a Grateful Dead tribute band, plays every Wednesday night and are definitely worth your while.
Distance from Metro9: 1 mile
Best Coffee Shop
For coffee… and waffles… and wine — we cross the Cambridge line to visit Curio Coffee, just a few steps from Lechmere. That’s right. This cozy little shop not only pours a delicious cup of joe but also serves up creatively topped Liège waffles by day and by-the-glass natural wines and comfort-food snacks several nights a week.
Espresso drinks brewed with Counter Culture beans, hot chocolate crafted with Taza Chocolate cacao — it’s the kind of café that cares deeply about the quality of its offerings… and you can tell by the taste. Add an edgy ambiance and friendly staff, and you have our pick for best coffee shop in the neighborhood.
Distance from Metro9: 0.3 miles
The Somerville Theater has been a fixture of Davis Square since 1914. It was originally designed for stage shows, vaudeville, opera, and what was then a new fad: motion pictures. Nowadays, this nostalgic venue hosts indie cinema, concerts, and special events. If you’re even slightly a film buff, check out the special events and film festivals.
The best part is that you can enjoy a movie while munching on fresh popcorn drenched in real butter and sipping a glass of wine or beer. During the holiday season, the theater hosts a beloved Somerville tradition: “The Slutcracker,” a burlesque and dance theater production that’s funny, sexy, queer, beautiful, and feminist.
Distance from Metro9: 2.6 miles
Best Place to Live
We might be biased, but a best of Somerville/Cambridge list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the most creative condos in the neighborhood. Metro9 is located right on the Somerville, Cambridge line, putting it in an easy walk from Kendall Square, Lechmere Square, Union Square, and Inman Square. In addition to an easy commute, you’re never far from dozens of unique restaurants, coffee houses, pubs, and taverns. In fact, these spots that make up the best of Somerville/Cambridge are right in your backyard when you live at Metro9.