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The Tavern in the Square

Not every bar automatically puts oranges in the Blue Moons. Good sign number one. This place is big enough so that it’s rarely annoyingly crowded, and has cool people working there, and serves excellent food including brunch on the weekends (the “biggest brunch buffet in town,” actually, on Sundays). And it has flat screen TVs, and throws its huge floor to ceiling front windows open as long as the fickle weather permits. If you’re not a general fan of bomp-bompin music (or the clientele who dances to it), avoid this place late night on the weekends—or just tuck yourself into a corner and fire up a sampling of their expertly crafted cocktails to dull the pain. The lunch/dinner menu includes everything from burgers to fajitas to fish & chips, and there isn’t a bad dish among them. The Tavern’s blue walls and dim lighting (and generally chill people) contribute to its overall good vibe. I wonder how much they charge for rent …

• American-New • Central Square / Cambridgeport • Map it • Print it • Send to a Friend • More Info

El Oriental de Cuba

El Oriental de Cuba has recently re-opened after an arsonist set the place on fire. For many of us, the year long wait for them to open was a painful one. Luckily, the food is just as good as ever. While many people love their Cuban sandwich ($5.50), I find it to be the second best in the city. (I will let you know who has the best Cubano in a later radar.) I always start a meal there with a mango milkshake ($2.50). You cannot compare their milkshakes to something that you get at JP Licks. You just have to try it to know what I am talking about. I usually start with a Mofongo (mashed garlicky plantains with pork rinds), and, then, for the main dish, I either get the Allas de Pollo (crispy chicken), which requires a lot of hot sauce, or a steak sandwich ($4.95). I end the meal with a Café con Leche. However, next time I go on a Saturday, I am going to try the daily special, the Drunken Goat ($12.50).

• Jamaica Plain • Map it • Print it • Send to a Friend • More Info

India Art and Music

India Art and Music is one of those treasure box stores Newbury Street was once known for before recent the infiltration of boring chain stores. There are lots of reasons to stop in. Get a one of a kind henna tattoo, pick out a dazzling Indian dress (or sare) that will secure your spot as the most fabulously dresses woman at any party you might go to, or search through the incense, trinkets, religious booklets, and fabulous handmade jewelry. If you are in the mood for a story, ask owner Subhash Sehgal about his bike trip around the world in the ‘70s. He’ll pull out his scrapbook and provide you with endless wonderful tales.

• Back Bay (West) / Fenway (East) • Map it • Print it • Send to a Friend • More Info

Jacob Wirth

Unlike the Irish or Italians, Germans immigrants didn’t dramatically alter the identity of Boston. Forgotten German Corner way out in Roxbury now has a Venezuelan Restaurant and a Lebanese Social Society, in addition to a home for elderly Germans. The German pub, Jacob Wirth, then is an anomaly, and a remnant of the once thriving immigrant communities that made up the South End. You’re unlikely to Sprechen zie Deutsch here, unless you bring your own Germans, but you can choose from many fine Bavarian brews while admiring the large 19th Century bar and eating schnitzel. Of note, are the banging piano sing-alongs on Friday night—an odd but lively way to kick your weekend into high-gear.

• German • Downtown Crossing / Park Square / Bay Village • Map it • Print it • Send to a Friend • More Info

Fresh Cheese

I’ve never had a sandwich as good as they make at Fresh Cheese over in Boston’s North End. I always just say, “Gimme a good mix with every’ting!” in my phony “I’ve been working in the Big Dig” tough guy voice. And they do—hots, a few types of salami and ham, and big thick slices of a couple of their cheeses. It seems like it’s always slightly different, but always perfect. You don’t even have to flatter them too much before they start loading you up with free samples. It’s the kind of shop that gets passed down to the next generation, and there’s no telling how long they’ve been there. They are closest to the Haymarket T stop, and a couple blocks west of the much busier and touristy Hanover Street. In addition to the lovely sandwiches, they’ve got a good deli case of Italian cheeses, hanging salami, cured meats, and olive oils.

• Food-Cheese|Food-General Gourmet • North End / Faneuil Hall • Map it • Print it • Send to a Friend • More Info