Compared to higher profile neighbors like Cambridge’s Harvard and Central squares, Davis Square has defied urbanization and gentrification. Situated in northwest Somerville, Davis has no Gap or Crate & Barrel; instead, individually owned shops and funky boutiques serve a bohemian community that roams the square’s many cafes, restaurants and bars.
Built in 1914, the Somerville Theater (55 Davis Square) hosted vaudeville and opera performances, with motion pictures initially a sideline. It remains a vital movie and live music venue and recently added the Museum of Bad Art (MoBA) to its basement. Davis also houses country music-oriented Johnny D’s (17 Holland St.), and local bands play the old Rosebud Diner (381 Summer St.). The square is home to the nationally renowned recording studio, Q Division (363 Highland Ave.), too.
Davis is always buzzing: Cafes are packed with laptop toting residents; bar life from The Burren (247 Elm St.) and Diva Lounge (248 Elm St.) spills onto the red-brick street. There’s every kind of food from Indian to Italian, but Gargoyles (219 Elm St.) has risen as a great food destination and its kitsch, fun Sunday Disco Brunch is a hangover haven complete with glow sticks.
“I love owning a business in Davis Square,” says Sara Ross, who opened Kickass Cupcakes (378 Highland Ave.) in 2007. She recently expanded, adding the Dairy Bar, which sells all-natural gelato, ice cream, milk and cheeses. Ross lives in Dorchester, but jumped at the chance to base her business in Davis Square. “It’s like being a member of the city’s coolest club.”