NFT Boston Inman Square

Inman Square

Essentials
Inman Square is an almost-hidden treasure at the center of the Cambridge/Somerville vortex. But its older, cozy Cantabrigian apartments are slowly being converted to condos, which means the secret is getting out. Folks from the rest of Boston are increasingly finding their way to Inman, particularly when they're hungry.

Sundries/Entertainment
Eats and treats. Choose from over 100 beers at Bukowski's, relax with a classy cocktail at Trina's Starlight Lounge, or get the best of both worlds at Lord Hobo. Sample farm-to-table Mediterranean fare at Oleana or homestyle Southern cookin' at Tupelo. Tour the famous See more.

>Taza Chocolate, sift through threaded treasures at The Garment District, then sit in a hot tub at Inman Oasis and call it a day.

Transportation
Can't get there by T, but it's easy enough to hop a bus or take a short walk from the Central or Kendall Square T stops. Parking is for the adventurous, though there are a couple of public lots. The neighborhood is a cyclists' mecca -- drivers, take heed.




         


This Neighborhood Featured in...
Beautiful Boston & The Pizza Within

By Emily Doutre
Pizza: It's not just for Italians anymore. Thin crust, garlic-stuffed, charred, magic or imported from California (the tomatoes, that is), Emily Doutre's tried them all and now she's reporting. Deal with it.

Read More...
Literary Boston

By Kevin Spak
Boston: Some call it the cradle of literary civilization, some just call it... uncle. Don't worry. Kevin Spak will set you straight.

Read More...
When the Weather Outside is Frightful

By Sarah Shemkus
Winter in Boston: Scourge of God or Beauteous Overlay Inspiring Indoor Activities? Only Sarah Shemkus can tell.

Read More...

On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Andrew Palmacci
Photo:  Andrew Palmacci

Outpost 186
Whether you know it or not, Tennessee Williams' iconic, post-war A Streetcar Named Desire--first performed in 1947--is part of our cultural fabric. With lines like "I've always depended upon the kindness of strangers" and male lead Stanley Kowalski (a role originated by Marlon Brando) yelling his wife's name, you've probably got a few of the show's winners committed to memory. Enter Continuity Theatre and Dance Company, who are staging a production (in which I have a part) at the intimate gallery/performance space the Outpost 186 near Inman Square in Cambridge. The close confines will underscore the immediacy of the play’s populist portrayal of life in New Orleans and the clash of cultures when a woman (Blanche DuBois, played by Jessica Tandy in the original) arrives to visit her sister, who's shacked up with her husband. In the small apartment, card games run wild, neighbors scream and argue, an old woman selling flowers passes by, and--yes--plenty of booze is consumed. So, come out and support local theatre and check out a cool art venue (tickets are only available at the door, for $12, Friday through Saturday nights, April 22 - 24 at 8pm). In the meantime try to keep your cool, something Stanley can't seem to do. Stella!!!



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Trina's Starlight Lounge
By all accounts, I really should be sick of this whole retro bar and restaurant trend that's been popping up the last few years. But I'm not, because each new place keeps putting its own spin it. After studying the beer list at the hip '40s Southern diner that is Trina's Starlight Lounge, I was at first unimpressed. (Yeah, Miller High Life is ironic and hip, but it also tastes like battery acid so you’re going to have to try harder to win over this beer snob.) Then I realized that I was looking for the cool in all the wrong places. I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried a cocktail instead: the Adirondack, with butter infused bourbon and maple syrup. Then I ate the cheese fries, the chicken and waffles with hot pepper syrup, and the apple cheddar press. And I get it now! Any dum dum can get good street cred with a retro décor and a big, hip beer list. But the real winners are the ones that know what they’re doing both with the cocktail shaker and in the kitchen. And Trina is one of these winners.



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Tupelo
Tupelo has caused me to fall in love with two Southern institutions that I previously did not care for, and for that, it must be commended. Grits: the name alone was never appetizing to me. Nor was the consistency. I like polenta, but mainly as a mixer. Tupelo, however, finally won me over with grits two ways: cheesy and fried. The latter comes as little squares in appetizer form and could hold its own against the almighty tater tot. The former serves as a bed for the fried catfish entree (though it is also available as a side order), and is a match made in heaven for the house cured tomatillos that accompany it. The other culinary providence of the South that I now love is fried green tomatoes. I didn't think I could love the tomato any more than I already do, but...DAMN. Trouble is, they're not a regular menu item. Just something the chef apparently whips up from time to time, at the suggestion of our waiter. Who brought them to us. FOR FREE. And then I died and went to heaven.



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Lord Hobo
I'm ashamed to admit, I never had a chance to visit the fabled B-Side Lounge before it closed its doors last year (nevermind that I lived in Inman Square. I said NEVERMIND!). But its recently opened replacement, Lord Hobo, has got to be an adequate proxy at the least. I know it's not the cheapest place and the long, high top tables aren't always the greatest if you don't want to be social with strangers and yes, it does get crowded and loud, but that's only because it's so awesome, everyone wants a piece! And the beer list seems to have been plucked from my very dreams: Green Flash, a long list of Belgians, Founder's Breakfast Stout (perhaps the Holy Grail of beers!), and 27 other beer snob-approved brews. The booze list could stand on its own as damn near perfect (along side the 39 wines and 24 cocktails), but as if it were not enough, the fries--your choice of truffle, curry, or gravy--are fabulous and this Lord Hobo sure does know his way around a cheese plate--a nice surprise coming from a hobo. I know LH has some big shoes to fill from B-Side, but I think it has succeeded. It just doesn't wear sneakers anymore.



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

The Friendly Toast
There was a time not so long ago when Kendall Square was deadsville on the weekends. But the Portsmouth, NH import, The Friendly Toast, is looking to change that. With a hip, affable wait staff, decor that looks like it's straight outta the nearby Garment District, a bitchin' menu, and 24 hour service on Fridays and Saturdays, The Friendly Toast is exactly what Kendall needs to make it the after hours alt spot it's been begging to become. Beer choices are, thankfully, substantial enough to keep you there for an extended evening, and breakfast is available all day long (and what a breakfast selection it is!). I recommend The DGGC (Damned Good Grilled Cheese), which truly lives up to its name and makes you want to go back the next day for another and another. Check out The Friendly Toast, because if it closes, I will die inside and I will blame you for it.



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Muqueca
I must confess that, despite myriad recommendations, I passed over Muqueca for many years for two silly reasons: 1) long wait on weekend nights and 2) no booze. As a result of this foolish hesitation, I must now also confess that I am a dumbass. Muqueca is definitely worth the wait for one of their dozen tables, no matter how long you're standing outside, no matter the season. Definitely check out their titular dish, Muquequa, a Brazilian style seafood stew (which can be prepared vegetarian style upon request) with cilantro, tomato, and onion, served over rice but brought to your table still simmering in a hot clay pot. And damn, if this place doesn't have the best plantains I've ever tasted in my life. So perfectly fried with crispy edges, they walk the line between hearty side dish and dessert. But how can they compensate with no alcohol? By way of an awesome juice bar. With fruit juices like banana, pineapple, papaya, passion fruit, coconut milk, acai, cupuacu, graviola, and acerola, your tastes buds are treated to a whirlwind tour of the rainforest. I'm embarrassed for postponing my visit so many times. There's no excuse for passing this up.



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Julia Child's Home
Boston has certainly had its share of celebrity residents throughout history. You've got your Kennedys, your Adamses, Paul Revere, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. But did you know that Julia Child lived in Cambridge for nearly half her life? A large yet unassuming house at 103 Irving Street outside Inman Square was home to the Lady of the Ladle herself. It's worth a trip for those with culinary interests, but the building is still currently a private home and there are no markers documenting the significance of the house. But the part of the house most associated with Mrs. Child, the kitchen, was dismantled and moved to the Smithsonian in 2001, so there's not much to make you wish you could go inside anyway. It's still a fun tidbit to include if you like giving out-of-town visitors a walking tour of Boston, especially because Julia Child's house is directly across the street from the birthplace of poet e.e. cummings and is two houses down from the home of 19th century philosopher and psychologist William James. Move over, Beverly Hills: Boston is way overdue for its own star map.



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Hungry Mother
When most people hear the words 'Southern food,' they immediately think barbecue. But there's a whole world of delightful home cooking rooted in southern Appalachia that is often overlooked by many above the Mason-Dixon. Providentially, the folks at Hungry Mother are giving Bostonians a crash course in REAL southern vittles: boiled peanuts, collard greens, catfish, grits, and a steady presence of sorghum. The menu is of modest length, but as a result, every dish is lovingly created with the utmost care and attention, and you can literally taste it. Southern hospitality is free, and also goes to show that our hosts are truly embracing the entire Southern experience. It's not just a lame gimmick. And they sure know how to relax, too: check out the numbered cocktail list for some radically original mixes, like the sorghum mint julep (no. 3) or the Ezra Brooks bourbon, sweet tea, and Luxardo limoncello (no. 10). To boot, you really never feel like they're just trying to turn tables here; the check won't arrive until you drink your last drop. Combine that with prices that are far from astronomical, and I already feel welcome. And I'm gonna stay for a while.



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Bowl & Board
Why is it so hard to find a decent kitchen supply store that is not Williams Sonoma, Bed Bath and Beyond, or a giant department store? After I'm finished giving my insolent can opener a much deserved beating, the last place I want to go for a replacement is a big, ghastly shopping mall that will make me sort through aisles of fondue sets, bacon degreasers, and soup tureens that people put on their wedding registries and never use. If you like to cook, shopping for tools should be fun. I would lose my mind without Bowl and Board. Unlike a giant houseware chain store, I can actually think while I'm in Bowl and Board and rest easy knowing that they've got all the basics I'll need, in an organized fashion at that. Do I want a silicon basting brush or a natural one? Should I get a bamboo or hardwood cutting board? Bowl and Board also carries other housewares that people actually want, like tension rods, wood baskets, knobs, drawer pulls, hooks, curtains, clocks, frames, rugs, and bathroom stuff. And they don't make you root through a mountain of deviled egg plates and dinette sets to get there.



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Oleana
Oleana is a good place to go when you've had enough of the rich, butter-laden fare you find so often in fine dining. It's also a good place to visit when you're in the mood for something original and unusual. The cuisine can be best described as Mediterranean with a Turkish influence. Don't equate that to the more typical fast food ethnic fare common throughout the city; you'll find no gyros here. Likewise, this is a not a fusion restaurant, designed to spoon-feed exotic tastes to the timid tongue. Oleana is different--and better than that. There is a noticeable presence of lovely exotic spices in most dishes, but it's not so overpowering as to leave any doubt regarding the freshness of the food. In fact, the marriage of fresh local produce and creative recipes is quite literal in the case of Oleana: Executive Chef Ana Sortun is the wife of Farmer Chris Kurth, owner and proprietor of Siena Farms in Sudbury. So right off the bat, you know that Oleana is the real deal when it comes to a business that not only loves food, but knows food.



Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Ryles Jazz Club
Located in the hepcat corner of Cambridge known as Inman Square, Ryles might be the best local spot where you can slowly sip a few brews and listen to some pretty damn amazing artists scat, riff, and bebop their way through the night, or if you're more in the mood to dance, you can head upstairs to the second floor for your atypical bumping, grinding, and even lessons. Now, it's not just music. They do serve food as well, and based on what I've seen it looks to be pretty decent food. I confess I've never eaten, but the looks on peoples' faces as they consume looks pretty indicative of a meal enjoyed. The room itself, and thus the acoustics of the music are what you're here for and they deliver. Local and national artists both share the stage, so every night gives you a good shot of hearing something new. The only thing I dislike about the space is that one entire wall of the joint is windows, breaking that dark, dank underground feel you want for your club. You jazz fans out there owe yourselves a trip, and if you try the chow, let me know if it's any good.



Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Ole Mexican Grill
Ole Grill, just off the main drag in Inman Square, might have the best pre-dinner spread in the Boston area. 'Pre-,' you ask? I'll explain. First of all, the standard chips and salsa arrives with the table, and on first bite, the liquid smoke they add to their salsa made me want to drink it. That's still nothing compared to the guac. The guacamole weighs in around 9 bucks, but it's so worth it, you'll have no problem ordering two. It helps that someone brings the avocados to your table, and makes it fresh in front of you, but the one-two combo of the salsa and guac pretty much guaranteed a stellar meal. Unfortunately the entrees, after such a strong opening, end up being only decent. They're very well made, delicious plates, but they end up feeling like the kid in the teen movie who studied foreplay, but can't seal the deal on the main event. Ole might best be served as the tapas spot you bring a large group to. Grab a few pitchers of sangria, order the pozole, and drink a glass or two of salsa. Pre-dinner for eight? Yes please.



Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

The Druid
Having turned 21 in England, I find myself drawn to pubs, where the average patron is there to sit, drink in a serious manner, and enjoy music and conversation. Some days you're in the mood for a bass thumping bar, but for those of you looking for the low key alternative--Druid might be worth a look. Inman Square manages to draw a huge number of people in with the stretch of fantastic restaurants lined up along it, so Druid, in its tiny mellow corner tends get strolled by and disrespected. You dig trivia? Like most chill pubs, they'll hook you up. Digging on some Irish music? Tuesdays and Fridays are your night, broheim. I personally just like a spot that you can roll into, sit at the bar with some crazy dude eating a hamburger with a fork and knife on one side, and a couple having a beer with their kid in a stroller behind them on the other. Hell, if you're in Inman, you're cruising for food anyway, so pop in here for a quick pubbing. Worst case? You get beer.



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

The Garment District
Contrary to the female stereotype, I hate clothes shopping. Drag me to American Eagle and watch me go from calm to irate to major freakout in less than 5 minutes. But take me to the Garment District in Kendall, and I am overjoyed for the duration of the outing. Featuring new, used, and vintage clothes in a 45,000 square foot space spanning two floors, the Garment District provides hours of entertainment and consumer bliss, even for the crankiest shopper. The first floor greets you with the Dollar-a-Pound slag heap on one side, and unbelievable costume rentals on the other. After you've picked your jaw up off the floor, head up the metal stairs to check out new clothes from brand names and local designers, used clothing running the gamut from office appropriate to club worthy, uniforms, textiles, shoes, and vintage covering the past 5 decades. It is as if every single American fashion trend from the past 50 years has exploded inside a converted warehouse, making it quite hard to leave empty-handed.



Posted By:  Stuart Kurtz
Photo:  Stuart Kurtz

Punjabi Dhaba
It's good, cheap Indian food. Don't go for the atmosphere or gourmet delectables, 'cause they don't have much or many. But go if your wallet has a lock on it, and you still like Northern Indian. The chatt is good as an appetizer. It's yogurt with diced onions, tomatoes, and chickpeas. There's a banana variety that sounds intriguing. The layered Paratha breads are good for dipping in mint chutney, onion chutney, or tangy tamarind sauce. The fish Masala in tomato cream sauce is $6.95. You'd pay $10.95 at another place. The scene: Try to ignore the preoccupied rowdies behind the counter. Ditto the dirty plates in perpetuity. You may like the Bollywood-style music videos on the monitor or you may not. But there's no attitude here at all. Don't go on special occasions.



Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Giant Bird of Death
I'm no ornithologist, but I'm pretty sure that's not a pigeon. If you travel through Kendall Square, you might see this beast hanging out with a flock of the aforementioned flying bags of disease. Did some ambitious MIT student decide to try that old Jurassic Park bit and bring back a damn velociraptor? Lucky for me, as I got closer and closer, snapping loud pictures with lots of flash, FOUR separate people stopped to warn me to keep my distance, as Captain Feathers here has been known to attack people who get too close. Imagine Grandma feeding the pigeons in the park and this thing slinks up and goes for her talons up? Safe at home, I decided to be a good hipster and consult my own digital field guide. Google seems to think that it's nothing more sinister than a turkey, otherwise known as the most boring and least dangerous deli meat known to man. Sometimes you look for adventure down the street, and you get the heart healthy alternative to ground beef. I still say: Warn your stale-bread toting relatives to keep a respectful distance from the Kendall Square Turkey. It is descended from dinosaurs, after all...



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Taza Chocolate
Unless you were raised during the Depression, you probably enjoy treating yourself to a taste of the finer things in life. This may mean French wine, Italian shoes or Japanese bluefin tuna. But in terms of chocolate, the very best now comes from none other than Somerville, Mass. Its name: Taza. Its mission: to provide the highest quality, stone-ground chocolate, using organically grown, fair trade cacao beans. Plus, buying chocolate from Taza gives you an extra boost of social consciousness because you're also buying local. But when you do so, you must understand the various flavors available. There's the 60% dark, which is described as their "mellowest" product, but still blows Hershey out of the water. This is followed by the 70% dark and the 80% dark. But their most unique chocolate is the Chocolate Mexicano, which contains just three ingredients: roasted cocoa beans, cane sugar, and cinnamon stick. And kids, I'll tell ya: that's all you need for awesome chocolate. Anything more would dilute the purity of the flavor. Going for about $6, you certainly are treating yourself. But when you find yourself buying on a weekly basis, realizing that you may have stumbled upon a suitable substitute for sex, you'll wonder why it's not illegal.



Posted By:  Alex Steed
Photo:  Alex Steed

1369 Coffee House
Get over the cheesy music and paintings of Angelina Jolie (?) on the wall. And get over standing at the register while the young things stand around and talk to their bespectacled friends, casually getting around to helping you out. And get over the fact that there is no credit card limit because they don't take credit cards. Get over the fact that it's tiny and there's really nowhere to sit. And just move on, come to think about it. Embrace your annoyance because all of those facts about this place are wholly annoying and somewhat regular. The teas are good, but I am not quite sure how redeeming this is. Suffice it to say: It is one of the only places in the area to sell caffeinated beverages without subs. So maybe they can do whatever they want?



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Gentle Giant Moving Company
Even if you are moving to the awesomest apartment ever, moving is and always will be an exasperating ordeal, especially when you’re on a budget. Suddenly you are forced to stuff, jam, and ram all your earthly possessions into small cardboard cubes, and then pray that their contents survive the journey. In addition to whatever you’re paying for your new place, the purchase of moving supplies can add nearly $100 to the project, if you look to the obvious sources of Staples, UPS, etc. Luckily a local moving company called Gentle Giant sells all the supplies you’ll need at insanely low prices. They also offer free delivery for purchases of $40 or more! Durable 3.1 cu. ft. boxes will only run you $2.25 a piece, but you can also purchase used boxes for even less. (And it’s nice that they want to save trees, too.) Packing tape is just $2.50 and bubble wrap is only 50 cents per foot! That’s cheap enough to buy some extra for yourself to pop as a form of stress relief, when you’re living in your cube world, waiting for your U-Haul to arrive.



Posted By:  Alex Steed
Photo:  Alex Steed

Heavy's
The guys at Heavy’s have a great place on their hands. Not being a big cap guy, I don't necessarily know what makes this place better than any other independently owned cap joint, but its independence does make it a compelling option over Lids (which I can only imagine is staffed by the same sort of bleach-highlighted, skinny, white, big-chain wearing d-bags that work at any other corporate cap store I've been to). The guys who run this place are great, their selection is huge, they've got a fine selection of Bob Marley merchandise and it's well worth stopping in once you've had your fill of barber shops, liquor stores, sandwich places, travel options, and other outer-Cambridge mainstays.




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