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Bohemian Davis Square

Compared to higher profile neighbors like Cambridge’s Harvard and Central squares, Davis Square has defied urbanization and gentrification.

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.”

 
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