Somerville is a popular city with many neighborhoods, including Davis Square and Union Square where we run our food tours. With close proximity to Boston and nearby Cambridge, Somerville covers 4.2 square miles and has roughly 75,000 residents. The city of Somerville is quite diverse which makes it an exciting place to live, and it is surrounded by the area’s top colleges including Tufts University and Lesley University. Founded in 1842, Somerville was once a part of Charlestown and often is referred to as the “City of Seven Hills” although there are actually 15 hills with 10 being the most prominent. Its food scene is rich and dynamic, with lots of entrepreneurs starting and testing new concepts here, and many different cuisines are represented from Nepalese to Greek to Spanish to Peruvian to Ethiopian.
There are many famous residents of Somerville including: Mary Sawyer from the poem Mary Had A Little Lamb, Barack Obama who lived here during his Harvard Law School days, H.P. Hood the dairy man, and Captain Kidd. In addition, during the American Revolution, Paul Revere ran to Somerville during his infamous Midnight Ride. A famous monument near Davis Square is Powder House, the oldest stone building in Massachusetts, and was used to store gunpowder until it was sold to the Tufts family in the 1800’s and also once housed storage for pickles! Another memorable historic landmark is Prospect Hill, where the first new flag of the United Colonies was raised by George Washington on January 1, 1776 – the reason why it’s called Union Square was because it was a recruitment and mustering site during the American Civil War for the Union armies. The country’s first millionaire lived in Somerville, Elias Hasket Derby.
One of the area’s other claims to fame is that Archibald Query invented marshmallow fluff while living in Somerville. Similarly, root beer was invented by Dr. Russell Cronwell who also founded Temple University and at one time called Somerville his home. In other firsts, the first residential telephone line was in Somerville, with phone numbers 1 and 2! On the other side of town from Davis Square, Assembly Row has become the home to some fun outlet shopping. It is called Assembly Row because Ford Motor Company once had an assembly plant at that location. Now check out our favorite spots in both Davis Square and Union Square in the tabs below!
Oat Shop (22A College Avenue, Somerville)Traditionally, oatmeal is prepared at home in a conventional way, but Oat Shop elevates oatmeal to a whole new level with inventive flavors, steel cut overnight oats, and sweet and savory options which are equally popular here. Owner Alan left his job in corporate finance to pursue his passion of putting healthier food in the mouths of commuters to students alike.
What to orderNo two flavors are the same, and we are partial to seasonal offerings, apple pie oatmeal, and sriracha egg oatmeal. Yum!
Mr. Crepe (51 Davis Square, Somerville)A local hangout since 1999, Mr. Crepe is right next door to Somerville Theater in the Holmes Building and serves all kinds of yummy beverages as well as sweet and savory crepes.
What to orderWe love their raspberry iced tea and coffee drinks as well as fluff crepe, which is oh-so-Somerville (and love the free wi-fi!)
Ball Square Cafe (708 Broadway, Somerville)Although they have an infamous rivalry with the place next door, for us there is no question — we love Ball Square Cafe. With lines around the block on weekends, there’s no mistaking good quality and hearty cooking.
What to orderIf you are a fruit lover, try their pancake delight, which is a heaping plate of fresh fruit on top of a scrumptious pancake.
Opa Greek Yeeros (374 Highland Avenue, Somerville)Have you ever really eaten authentic greek food? Maybe, maybe not! After all, the owner George explains that greek salad shouldn’t have lettuce inside! George grew up in Somerville, and he loves Davis Square. And we are happy he’s here!
What to orderWe love their gyros so much, and we order those every time. Packed with flavor, organic meat, french fries, and delicious tzatziki made with George’s mom’s very own Sophia’s Greek Yogurt, these gyros are the best we’ve ever had. We also love their yummy Nescafe drinks and “galactic booty call” dessert.
Flatbread Pizza & Sacco’s Bowling (45 Day Street, Somerville)Oh yes, candlepin bowling is every bit as fun as you’d think it is. And this incredibly generous and community-minded crew is as philanthropic for local organizations as it is talented in the kitchen.
What to orderWe are partial to their incredible “carne” and “veggie” flatbread pizzas that change up their ingredients every week — with a healthy dose of local ingredients that are displayed on the menu. We also love their huge salads and selection of local craft beer and cider.
Q’s Nuts (349 Highland Ave., Somerville)Do you ever walk down a busy city street and smell that glorious smell of roasting nuts wafting through the air? Now imagine what it would be like to visit a full-fledged flavored nuts factory — and you’ve got the brain child of Beth and Brian Quinn who make the most masterful snack creations around.
What to orderAlthough they’re cooking up new flavors all the time, we love the bananas foster, chocolate lavender and garlic basil sage.
Spindler Confections (2257 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge)Owner and chocolatier Jeremy Spindler has definitely fine-tuned his craft. Spindler has its own Boston candy museum inside its beautiful shop, and they sell all kinds of hand-crafted chocolate with ingredients of the highest quality as well as local items of every variety to delight their guests.
What to orderAny of the magnificent chocolate — we especially love their peanut butter chocolate cups! If you’re adventurous, try the maple fluff candy and the root beer floats made with local Tipping Cow ice cream.
Davis Square Donuts & Bagels (377 Summer Street, Somerville)A newcomer to the Square in 2017, DSD&B have proven their food chops by offerings unique flavor combinations in their handcrafted, oversized donuts and bagels. Owner George has lived in Somerville his whole life and commissioned a special art mural inside the shop of the local scene.
What to orderTheir Somerville Cream donut has our namesake for a reason because of their strawberry marshmallow fluff frosting (fluff was invented in Somerville) and is a winner on our food tour!
Curio Spice (2265 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge)Owner Claire has traveled around the world, and this gorgeous store has a profound aesthetic remniscent of a “curiosity” cabinet. Specializing in spices of origin and also intricate spice blends that she sells to high-end restaurants, you’ll never know what will inspire you when you walk into this meticulous shop.
What to orderWe are partial to Curio’s unique spices such as pink peppercorn and Aegean salt, but we also love their creative DIY kits such as a make-your-own vanilla bean extract or deluxe pickling kit.
Rosebud Diner (381 Summer Street, Somerville)What’s better than eating in a dining car? Rosebud’s incredible diner is actually a historical landmark, and their food is top notch. Serving pan-American fare that touches upon Southern, Thai, Italian, and classic American, whatever you order at Rosebud is scrumptious. And it was a notorious Whitey Bulger hangout.
What to order
Rosebud is known for its award-winning pie, and we are partial to their delicious rotating breakfast skillet and yummy BBQ.
Sugidama Soba(260 Elm Street, Somerville)Located in what used to be Davis Square’s first major commercial block called the 1874 Clarendon Block, our neighborhood Japanese izakaya feels very authentic in decor and menu with a variety of imported items, yummy ramen and noodle bowls that are made in a big cauldron with freshly made noodles, handcrafted sushi rolls, yakitori grilled meat skewers & small plates.
What to order
We are partial to their Japanese melon drinks, yakitori, and delicious warm soba with buckwheat noodles that’s perfect for a cold night.
Meju Korean Kitchen (243 Elm Street, Somerville)In the heart of Davis Square is this creative Korean kitchen with a beautiful, sleek interior. Right next door at 255 Elm Street is where Person Davis who is the namesake of Davis Square lived.
What to order
Their delicious bi bim bap crackles in its stone pots, and we also love their kbbq short rib steamed buns with cream cheese and pickles. All the noms.
Rosebud Diner (381 Summer Street, Somerville)Who doesn’t love a hidden speakeasy? Walk right into the heart of the Medina building in Davis Square (founded by Joseph Medina) and you may miss Saloon because there isn’t a sign. Look below the Rockwell Theatre, and you’ll be glad you found this popular spot which sits at the home of Person Davis, the founder of Davis Square.
What to order
Saloon is a nighttime-only establishment that opens at 5pm and is the perfect spot to grab a Downeast Cider at the bar with some of their delicious poutine or rodeo burger made with a brisket blend.
Mike’s (9 Davis Square, Somerville)Although Mike’s a staple that anchors Davis Square, there actually is no Mike! Owner Maria’s dad worked there years ago, and she took over in 2007. Using recipes from her grandma’s cookbook, Mike’s is a neighborhood destination.
What to order
Skip the food and come for the Sam Adams and Tuesday night trivia.
The Burren (247 Elm Street, Somerville)
The Burren is one of our favorite hang-outs in Davis Square. In the “back” section, you can hear all kinds of interesting and eclectic music acts. We love their Sunday music brunch and have even heard Japanese klezmer perform here!
What to order
Besides all kind of cheap drinks, The Burren is known for their Irish breakfast which is quite tasty.
Somerville Theater (55 Davis Square, Somerville)In 1914, Joseph Hobbs built the Somerville Theater and you can still see the words Hobbs building on its exterior today. At that time, it was the social center of the area and included a 1200 seat theater, a bowling alley, billiard room, cafe, and 750 seat meeting hall with dance floor. The most famous actor in the Somerville Theater in the early 1900s was Ray Bolger who played the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz. In the 1930s, the building was redesigned into the Art Deco style that it has today and housed lots of vaudeville before it showed silent films.
What to order
Today, the theater currently houses the infamous Museum of Bad Art downstairs, which has really funny captions — it’s free to see with your price of a ticket. The theater also has current events such as silent films with a live piano accompaniment on Sundays every month, classics (like Jaws), 70MM premieres, and live theatrical and comedy shows.
Union Square Donuts (20 Bow Street, Somerville)USD has a loyal, cult-like following, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t friendly. With their special brioche dough that’s not *too sweet*, these guys have perfected the donut — and we’re happy they’re in the neighborhood! Seasonal flavors have included everything from carrot cake to Fluffernutter to chocolate zucchini. Owner Josh founded the company in a kitchen incubator nearby, which speaks to the uplifting, entrepreneurial spirit of Union Square.
What to orderWe’ve been known to inhale a vegan cinnamon sugar or sea salted bourbon caramel donut or two or three or four…
Bloc Cafe (11 Bow Street, Somerville)Ever ate a snack inside a bank vault? On our food tour of Union Square, you can! With a nod to its past, Bloc Cafe incorporates many design elements of its origins as a bank – from 1910 when it was the Somerville National Bank to 2007. Bow Street used to called Milk Row or Somerville Ave. until the 1830’s when the “U”-shaped section was renamed.
What to orderTry their croissant which they have crafted meticulously at their sister-cafe Forge Baking company or any of their high quality coffee beverages.
Momo N Curry(431 Somerville Ave., Somerville)Momo is a steamed dumpling with origins in Tibet and also enjoyed in Nepal, which is in Southeast Asia. This shop is located across the street from Market Basket, the area’s most popular supermarket and The Old Milk Row Cemetery, which is the first and only pre 20th century burial ground located in Somerville.
What to orderwe love the fusion in this restaurant between Nepalese and Indian cuisine. Try the saag paneer momo with tomato sauce and free chai.
Ebi Sushi (290 Somerville Avenue, Somerville)Owner Jose loves Somerville and has mastered the art of sushi and other japanese delicacies. This local favorite is a great place to go if you’re new to the neighborhood. Everything is fresh and delicious.
What to orderSit at the bar and ask for chef’s recommendations. We particularly love the Somerville Roll and House Vegetarian Roll.
Nu Cafe (195 Washington Street, Somerville)With recent construction, Nu Cafe is in the basement of a renovated apartment complex right near the heart of Union Square. They offer innovative, healthy options that taste great amidst a comfortable decor.
What to orderOur favorites include the vegan mayan bowl (pictured) and also their good morning smoothie.
Taza Chocolate (561 Windsor Street, Somerville)Take one whiff of Taza Chocolate’s Somerville factory, and you know you’ve entered a dream come true for any chocoholic. They offer tours as well as educational classes year-round; check out their calendar online for timing.
What to order
Definitely try Taza’s Stone Ground chocolate, made in the style of Mexican chocolate where they grind cacao beans using hand-carved granite millstones.
Somerville Chocolate (14 Tyler Street, inside Aeronaut Brewery)Owner Eric’s family has lived in Somerville dating back to the 19th Century. Unlike Taza, Somerville Chocolate operates a tiny bean-to-bar operation inside a very cool Somerville brewery called Aeronaut. Eric sells at limited retail locations and also has a chocolate CSA. He has fine-tuned his craft, and it’s his passion.
What to order
Most of their chocolate is dark, single-origin cacao and has a simple list of ingredients: cacoa and vegan sugar. We love their smoked chocolate bars, which are wrapped in an old map of Somerville.
Gracie’s Ice Cream (22 Union Square, Somerville)Located on the corner of Washington St./Somerville Ave., Gracie’s is named after the owner’s daughter Gracie who lives in Somerville and often helps dream up new flavors. Gracie’s is proud to be carrying on the tradition of serving homemade ice cream in the area alongside Christina’s in Inman Square and Toscanini’s in Central Square.
What to order
The flavors at Gracie’s are king with everything from salted whiskey to poptartpourri. Most importantly, try a fluff cone (pictured.)
The Independent (75 Union Square, Somerville)Established in 2001, The Independent is a local pub that anchors Union Square and is a local hotspot for first dates to late-night rendezvous.
What to orderTheir bartenders are all-stars and can be sure to recommend a new, delicious beer for locals and visitors to try.
Aeronaut Brewery (40 Tyler Street, Somerville)There’s probably no better place than Aeronaut to capture Somerville’s hip community spirit and creativity. Hosting a variety of community events, Aeronaut is an ever-expanding brewery that was founded in 2013 by three housemates, making it Somerville’s first craft brewery in over a century. Aeronaut is housed in the loading bay of an envelope factory which today also hosts other community buildings such as Artisan’s Asylum and Brooklyn Boulders. The team operates a “Yeast Lab” in which they develop new, interesting beer flavors you can sample. There is also a retro video game section for the young at heart!
What to orderTry a flight, and you can even pay homage to another one of our favorites, Somerville Chocolate through “cocoa sutra” which is brewed with Eric’s cacoa nibs.
Bantam Cider (40 Merriam Street, Somerville)Fresh, crisp apples always reminds us of New England, so there’s no better place to host a cidery taproom! Using the best quality local fruit, Bantam Cider’s mission is to use all-natural ingredients and develop creative and distinctive blends.
What to orderTheir tap room offers a flight of cider ($10) – definitely try the Americain, and snack on yummy pretzel rods while you discuss flavors.
Somerville Grooves (26 Union Square, Somerville)Anytime we are in a new city, especially as “hipster”-friendly as Somerville, we like to check out their record stores. Somerville Grooves may not be a large record shop, but they have good quality vinyl at reasonable prices and a great selection.
What to order
Check out local artists who sell vinyl here as well.
Somerville: Affiliate Discounts With Food Tour Purchase
Taza Chocolate Tours (561 Windsor Street, Somerville)Invites you to their “Intro to Stone Ground Chocolate” tour with $3 off the tour ticket using the code “BEATPATH” at check-out so ticket prices will now be $5 each. Enjoy!
Gracie’s Ice Cream (22 Union Square, Somerville)Mention food tour for a free upgrade to Fluff cone with the purchase of ice cream
Q’s Nuts (349 Highland Ave., Somerville)Show food tour tickets confirmation email to receive 10% off any purchase within six months of the food tour date; valid at Somerville store only.
Opa Greek Yeeros (378 Highland Ave., Somerville)Show same-day food tour tickets confirmation email to receive 20% off any purchase that day.
Tom’s Bao Bao (84 Winthrop Street., Harvard Square, Cambridge)Show your food tour ticket confirmation email to receive 10% off any order within 7 days of the tour. Not valid on combos.
Bloc Cafe (11 Bow Street, Somerville)Mention food tour to receive a free coffee with the purchase of a bag of Intelligentsia coffee.
Red Apple Farm at the Boston Public Market (100 Hanover Street, Boston)Mention Off The Beaten Path Food Tours to receive 10% off any item including their famous apple cider donuts.
Cambridge School of Culinary Arts (2020 Mass. Ave., Cambridge)Invites you to ignite your culinary passion and use the special code OFFPATH15 for 15% off any single-day cooking class
Acupuncture Together (2464 Mass. Ave., Cambridge)Invites you to show your food tour ticket confirmation email for $5 off your first or follow-up treatment within seven days of the food tour ($30 first visit (regularly $35-55) or $15 follow-up (regularly $20-40))
Camberville Dog Treats Invites you to use code “cdttour” for 15% off all natural dog treats made in Camberville on their website.
Rhode Island Red Food Tours Invite you to try a food tour of Newport or Providence, RI and use code “RIMAFOODIES” for 10% off the booking fee. We’ve been on their food tours, and they’re wonderful too!