NFT Boston Winter Hill / Union Square

Winter Hill / Union Square

Essentials
Here you'll find remnants of Somerville's working class neighborhoods, City Hall, the charming Italian Renaissance Revival central library donated by Andrew Carnegie, and Prospect Hill, where America's first flag was raised in 1776. Still, lively and diverse Union Square continues to grow into an extension of Davis Square, with farm-to-table restaurants, hip boutiques, and outdoor film series.

Sundries/Entertainment
Perpetually up-and-coming, Union Square has a thriving dining and drinking scene, outdoor arts festivals, and a weekend farmers market. Go Peruvian at Machu Picchu, Mexican at Cantina la Mexicana, or farm-to-table at See more.

>Journeyman. For libations, try The Independent or Backbar.

Transportation
A pinwheel of converging roads -- including the city's oldest, Washington Street -- Union Square remains inaccessible by subway. Whether friend or foe of the long-proposed and postponed Green Line extension, most will agree that driving here is for the birds. Instead, hop on the 86, 87, or 91 bus and get ready for a bumpy ride.




         



On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Neighborhood Restaurant & Bakery
If you make a point to sleep as late as possible on the weekends (of which I myself am often guilty), chances are you're missing out on the breakfast of a lifetime. Boston is indeed ripe with amazing breakfasts, but the best is The Neighborhood. In addition to all the entree stuff, The Neighborhood makes just about everything else in house: jelly, syrups, breads, wines, soups, cream of wheat, and sauces. (They probably don't grow their own coffee, but that's about it.) Every breakfast comes with coffee or tea, juice, cream of wheat or fruit, toast, and a homemade pastry. I repeat: this stuff comes WITH your entree, before you even get to the main event. They have a specials list that's about 20 items long, and everything is awesome and huge and costs around $10. Some of the stuff on there is so big, I would actually enjoy watching someone try to finish everything in one sitting without losing consciousness--the Portuguese breakfast comes to mind: three eggs, cod cake, shrimp cake, meat cake, linguica, morcela, and home fries. Get up before noon on a Saturday and come to The Neighborhood. You're gonna need a nap afterwards anyway.



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Grand
When the T finally comes to Union Square in 2045, man, is it going to rock! This underappreciated corner of Somerville is chock full of awesomeness, and its newest retailer, Grand, is no exception. (And the Shepard Fairey original mural on the side of the building, recently restored by the artist himself, should be your first clue.) In what I think can be described as Magpie meets Anthropologie, Grand presents apparel, home decor, and gifts for those of us who like to surround ourselves with something different, something handmade, something that is truly unique and original. Ikea this is not. And despite the one-of-a-kindness in most everything featured in the store, the prices do not reflect the exceptionality of the pieces. That is to say, it's very reasonably priced, which makes this place a goldmine in my book. As their motto suggests, there’s really no place like it.



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Sweet Ginger
There's a big difference between average Asian food and average American food in that the latter can really suck big time if you go to the wrong place at the wrong time. But pretty much any form of average Asian food is still delicious because of the general properties of Asian fare: high sodium, lots of spice, and deep fried bliss. Sweet Ginger's Thai food is basically average Thai, but still manages to be a cut above the rest without reflecting this in its prices. I love crab rangoons, even the frozen kind at the grocery store, so I don't discriminate. But if YOU do, you'll probably appreciate the rangoons at Sweet Ginger: they're a little sweeter and have a hint of curry powder in them. The curries are fabulous, as well, and they make lots of magical dishes with crispy basil. Service is quick and friendly, despite the longer lines on the weekend. The one downside is that they don't serve booze, but after stuffing your face with this much delicious Thai, alcohol would just be the straw that broke the camel’s back and made him pass out at the table.



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Ronnarong Thai
When I eat Thai food, it's hard to limit myself to just one or two menu items. I want to try everything! And now I can, because some savvy--no, genius--restaurateurs have brilliantly combined the deliciousness of Thai cuisine with the logic of tapas. The result: Ronnarong. Everything is delicious and creative, from drinks to desserts. But the tapas in the middle are the best. There are literally layers of flavor that unfold in your mouth with nearly every menu item. I highly recommend the curry cakes, which offer a nice heat in addition to fresh, unique flavors. Also, Ronnarong has complimentary shrimp chips. They're like Asian pork rinds, and I need to find out where I can buy these in bulk because they’re extremely addictive. In short, Ronnarong is one of the best new restaurants I've visited in a while. And I just know they're gonna kill when the Green Line extension makes it way to Union Square, if they can just stick it out until 2045...



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Cantina La Mexicana
I recently got into a discussion with a few of my friends regarding the general rule of thumb that if you want good food of a certain ethnicity, eat where those of that ethnicity eat. So, in the case of this Radar, if you want good Mexican, eat where the Mexicans eat. Wanna know where the Mexicans eat? They eat at Cantina La Mexicana & TaQueria La Mexicana in underrated Union Square. The TaQueria side is stripped down take out, while the Cantina side is a cute, straight outta Mexico dining room. Everything's worth a taste here, but the masses can’t seem to get enough of the flautas (aka taquitos). Cantina La Mexicana truly is a hidden gem in Boston, an area where it's generally difficult to find good Mexican fare. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the upcoming Green Line extension through Union Square brings only good tidings to the Cantina, and not another lousy Anna's Taqueria.



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Leone's
To get good Sicilian style pizza in Boston, you don't necessarily have to head straight for the narrow sidewalks of the North End. You just have to find a place run by people who understand that Sicilian means more than just "square" and recognize that good Sicilian pizza is an art unto itself. I have found such a place, far from the crowds and tourists looking for Paul Revere's house, on the cusp of Winter Hill, called Leone's. I don’t know exactly who Leone is, but he does conjure a mean Sicilian. Nice, well rounded sauce, well executed cheese, and perfectly thick yet crispy crust, minus the attitude, pretension, and prices you might find elsewhere. I can't say Leone's Sicilian is better than Galleria Umberto in the North End, but it will pass the pisan inspection. And, unlike Galleria Umberto, Leone's is open for more than 4 hours a day. Just remember one thing: at Leone's, you order by the tray (one tray equals about 18 pieces). If you forget this and order, say, 2 trays, you’re going to end up with 36 slices of Sicilian. Not that there's anything wrong with that.



Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

J & J Restaurant & Takeout
The sign outside reads J & J Restaurant, but when you walk in, it looks more like a tiny grocery store. However, when you walk around the simple barrier between the store and the restaurant, you see why this place is so great. It's a small, comfortable restaurant that serves up great Portuguese food, and, as a bonus, they also have a liquor license so you can enjoy a few glasses of wine with your Bacalhau or some deliciously grilled meats. If you don't want a full plate, and would rather have a sandwich, don't take a seat in the restaurant, head to the counter when you first walk into the store, and order away. Every sandwich is huge and costs less than $6.




Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Union Square
One great thing about living in Boston is that there are so many different fairs and festivals going on throughout the year. But with so many to choose from, how are we to know which fests rock and which fests suck? I can tell you that despite its location in oft-overlooked Union Square, the What The Fluff? Festival is one definitely worth checking out. Celebrating Somerville resident Archibald Query's 1917 invention of marshmallow creme (better known as Fluff), the What The Fluff? Fest packs live music, Fluffy treats, games, and art into an all-too-brief four hour period. Between the $1 Fluffernutter sandwiches, Rice Krispie treats, special Fluff editions of Toscanini's ice cream and Kick Ass Cupcakes, AND the Fluff Fear Factor roulette wheel (don't ask), your blood sugar level will be skyrocketing before you know it. I'm not kidding, folks. Luckily Union Square pubs like The Independent and Precinct Bar offer Fluff inspired cocktails such as the Fluffy Irishman to take the edge off.



Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

Machu Picchu
One of my favorite things to do is eat cheap & tasty food and drink beer. When I first moved to Boston, there were not too many places do this. Few of the cheaper places had liquor licenses. Now, it seems that I can get both of these at a number of places around town. One of the newest is Machu Picchu Charcoal Chicken & Grill. It might sound familiar since this is run by the same people who own the Machu Picchu, which is located pretty much next door. At the chicken joint, you can't get the cerviche like you can at the more expensive restaurant, but you can get chicken, and lots of it. While there are many options on the menu, stick with the chicken since that is what they do best. Their yucca fries are also delicious. You don't get many fries for the price, but having the dipping sauces for your chicken makes up for that. If you are looking for something to drink besides beer or wine, make sure that you try their Chicha Morada (which is made from purple corn and pineapple).



Posted By:  Leah Bagas
Photo:  Leah Bagas

Bloc 11 Cafe
Dear Starbucks, please don't be mad but I have been going behind your back. I still love your almond lattes (when you have almond syrup in stock, that is) but I have a better coffee spot now. It doesn't mean I love you any less, but Block 11 is just so good. Their mint hot chocolate tastes like a liquid Andes Candy. They have all kinds of concoctions and treats just like you do, Starbucks, but it the atmosphere is better. There are plenty of places to sit and tip-tap on your laptop but they also have a fireplace and some old bank vaults that you can sit in! Starbucks, you don't have a warming fireplace, old bank vaults, or an upbeat, fresh atmosphere. In short, you have been downgraded in my latte-loving heart.



Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

Fasika Ethiopian Restaurant
It's been a long time, but I’m still mourning the fact that Fasika is no longer on South Huntington Avenue. I know the restaurant only moved a few miles away to Somerville, but it means that I lost one of my favorite restaurants in walking distance of my apartment. Fasika is the best Ethiopian restaurant in the area. There’s no denying it. A few people have argued that a certain place in the South End is better, but the people who say this don't know what the hell they are talking about. This unnamed place is about twice as expensive as Fasika and the food is bland in comparison. So, go to Fasika tonight. If you have never had Ethiopian food, I recommend getting one of the combination platters since those will allow you to try almost everything on the menu except for a few of their higher priced items (which you can always get on another visit). Don't forget to order one of their Ethiopian wines.



Posted By:  Leah Bagas
Photo:  Leah Bagas

Pizza Palace
It will probably come as no surprise that the Pizza Palace is owned by Greeks. In fact, I think my family is probably the only Greek family who doesn’t own a pizza parlor. However, if there is one thing Greeks know, aside from the Olympics, bouzouki and democracy, it is pizza. The Pizza Palace might as well be on Mount Olympus. That is how tasty it is. The quest for a great pizza is not easy; almost a heroic journey, but when you discover that one shop that stands above the others, you will hold it in your heart like Narcissus holds his mirror. There are no frills and it isn’t enchanting to sit and eat at a table but when you want a quick dinner and are craving pizza, don’t be a malaka. Go to the pizza palace and get a pie and some baklava.



Posted By:  Leah Bagas
Photo:  Leah Bagas

Sometimes you need to buy a plant to liven up your drab apartment and sometimes you need to buy flowers to show the person you love that you are sorry for acting like a dick. Well, no matter if you need flowers for mommy or plants for the garden you always thought about having, Ricky’s Flower market is the place to go. The best part about Ricky’s is not the variety of plants and flowers but actually the beautiful décor. Sure they have a warehouse filled with plants, but you can barely find the entrance thanks to all the gorgeous flora and fauna lurking outside. While you may feel like you’ve stumbled upon a secret garden in the middle of the city, the real charm lies in the fact that Ricky’s was once an old gas station. With its chaotic post-apocalyptic look–it seems like the plants just decided to take over–Ricky’s is quite a hidden gem. And while they may sell almost every kind of plant, it’s a good thing they don’t sell any Audrey II’s or we would be in trouble.




Powered By Subgurim(http://googlemaps.subgurim.net).Google Maps ASP.NET

See Winter Hill / Union Square...
Restaurants (18)
Nightlife (4)
Shopping (10)
Landmarks (2)