Krystle Feher works the bar at the German-infused Bronwyn in Somerville's Union Square. / Credit: Erin Baldassari
The slightly less-famed half of the ever-bustling Camberville, Somerville has grown in recent years far from its one-time name, Slummerville, into a hot destination with an identity all its own. Farmers’ markets, festivals, retail opportunities and more await, but the best thing to do in Somerville? Eat. With high-end chefs increasingly looking to Somerville as a location for upscale restaurants, there’s a wealth of options to choose from.
Start in Union Square, which has recently become a real rival to Davis Square as the town’s most happening square. If it’s early in the day Thursday-Sunday, do not stop anywhere else first; go straight to Union Square Donuts (16 Bow Street, www.unionsquaredonuts.com), because they’re probably about to sell out. The donut peddlers operate out of Café Tango and offer a range of enormous gourmet donuts. These are not the Dunkin’ Donuts glazed that the rest of the city lives on. We’re talking maple bacon, brown butter hazelnut crunch and sea salted bourbon caramel donuts.
Once you’ve recovered from breakfast, head over to Bronwyn (255 Washington Street, www.bronwynrestaurant.com), which offers up a menu of German-inspired delicacies. Sample house-made wursts, a range of German beers and their trademark giant pretzels. You may have to ask your waiter for clarification on a few items (unless you grew up eating Reibekuchen and smoked Debrezinerwurst), but the end results are always worth it. The beer soup (or “biersuppe,” in Bronwyn parlance) is a real highlight. A blend of cheddar and beer, it’s the perfect way to warm up on a chilly evening. Speaking of beer, there’s also a patio (called, of course, a “biergarten) to drink it on in the summer months.
Union also hosts one of the area’s only Peruvian restaurants, Machu Picchu (307 Somerville Ave, www.machupiccuboston.com). Dine on traditional Peruvian fare like Choclo Peruano, “a classic food of the Andes” that’s actually corn on the cob melting with queso fresco. The whole menu breaks down exactly what you’re eating and where in Peru you can find it, like the Causa Limena, (potatoes layered with chicken salad) which is a famous coastal dish.
Lest you think we don’t advocate dining in Davis, Punjabi Grill (236 Elm St, www.punjabigrillma.com) should be your next stop. Cambridge and Somerville both host a wealth of great Indian restaurants, and Punjabi, right in the heart of Davis, is an excellent place to sample some samosas and a hearty order of Chicken Tikka Masala. If pizza is more your speed, the renovated Sacco’s Bowl Haven (Saccos, 45 Day St ), the bowling alley/pizzeria serves flatbread pizzas cooked in a massive wood stove with a side of pre- or post- meal candlepin bowling.
Nestled between Union and Davis, the always-hopping Highland Kitchen (150 Highland Avenue, www.highlandkitchen.com) has evolved into one of the city’s top hangouts, with fried chicken and tiki Mondays, karaoke Wednesdays and a bluegrass brunch on Sundays. A healthy cocktail menu provides some explanation for the constant crowd at the bar.
If all that eating is making you avoid your scale, head over to Assembly Sports Club (5 Middlesex Avenue #203, http://assemblysportsclub.com) in the newly revamped Assembly Square to get your Zumba on. With the warmer weather, the outdoor boot camp is likely to also be a big hit, and you can work off that extra winter weight you’ve been carrying.