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Beyond Boston Avenue: Odds and Ends

Welcome back, fellow eaters.  As even the best meals must eventually come to an end, so too must this series.  I hope you have enjoyed trying some new places, acquiring a taste for new foods (or satiating your already expansive palate), and are spreading the word that good food is within reach of both body and pocket.  In this last article, I’ll highlight some of the places I love that don’t fit neatly into any of the previous categories I’ve written about.  Look out for my new series starting in February, which will focus on creating simple, delicious food at home.

Dave’s Fresh Pasta

Just like a warm chocolate chip cookie, Dave’s is one of those exciting pleasures that never gets old.  As both upscale grocer and food provider, Dave’s excels in delivering high quality food.  The sandwiches make for an interesting and delicious lunch ($6.95-$8.50), and often change each day (try the eggplant if they have it).  Prepared salads, local beer & wine, fresh bread, and specialty cheeses also populate the shelves, and tastes are often available.  However, the single best item is the fresh ravioli of many varieties ($4.99/lb for cheese to $12.50/lb for lobster), which can be plopped in some boiling water for five minutes at home for a cheap, delicious meal.  Additionally, they sell homemade pasta sauces that you can use to pair with the pasta you have bought (~$4.95/8oz).  I don’t think the sauces are anything extraordinary and prefer to make my own, but they are good and certainly convenient.  Also, check out their printable online coupons: http://www.davesfreshpasta.com/coupons.html

81 Holland St, Somerville; 617-623-0867

Mon-Fri 11am-7:30pm; Sat 11am-6pm

Greek Corner

I was introduced to GC by my housemate earlier this year, and it is everything it should be: cheap, delicious, and convenient.  Although I am not well-versed enough in Greek cuisine to comment on its authenticity, I am well-versed in tasty food, and this place passes my rigorous test (Is the sound of eating louder than the sound of talking? Yes.  If there is food left on the plate but I am full, do I finish it? Yes. Pass!)  The soups are excellent, with the Greek standard avgolemono always on the menu, and a soup of the day ($2.95/$4.25 cup/bowl for each).  For appetizers, I generally split the sampler plate for two ($10.95), which comes with nine appetizers, such as grape leaves and taramosalata (red caviar blended with bread and spices), and alternatively functions well as a full meal for one.  The specialty sandwiches all emanate deliciousness, and come on fantastically soft and tasty Greek pita bread, with either the lamb souvlaki or roast lamb ($6.25 for both) standing out.  If only they delivered…

2366 Mass Ave, Cambridge; 617-661-5655

Mon-Sat 11am-10pm; Sun 12pm-10pm

Sofra Bakery & Cafe

Fact: Sofra is the best recent addition to the Boston area eating scene.  Created and run by Ana Sortun, chef/owner of Oleana, it specializes in middle-eastern inspired foods and sweets.  What’s the best part?  Every dish is fantastic and reasonably priced (nothing crosses the $9 mark, and most is less).  The shakshuka (poached eggs in tomato sauce) is smooth and curried, an interesting take on the original, which is usually chunky and not curried (although heavy on cumin).  The mezze bar offers many of the most interesting dishes, including an outstanding beet tzatziki and whipped feta with sweet and hot peppers.  I am clueless as to what spoon sweets are, but I know that I love them. And the cookies!  I could die for these cookies.  The molasses ones are rich and chewy.  The chocolate earthquake is perfection in the form of a chocolate cookie.  I could go on, but I’d really just be repeating the whole menu here.  Dammit, now I’m hungry.

1 Belmont St, Cambridge; 617-661-6131

Mon-Fri 8am-8pm; Sat 8am-6pm; Sun 8am-3pm

Toscanini’s

I hate to break it to you*, but if you think JP Licks is great ice cream, then you officially qualify as an amateur when it comes to frozen concoctions made from cream and sugar.  Get to Central Square (or Whole Foods or Dave’s Fresh Pasta, where they sell it by the pint) and try what the New York Times has called the “best ice cream in the world”.  I think they exaggerated, but Toscanini’s is damn good.  Their flavors are interesting and usually intense; the texture is creamy and smooth; the ambience is pleasant.  You can try whatever special flavors they have, but ultimately if it’s available, your choice should be Burnt Caramel.  Many things in food and taste are subjective, but in this particular instance there is an objective winner.  If you order Burnt Caramel and all your friends get different flavors, and you try all of theirs, you will not be jealous.  They might.

*total lie, I really enjoy destroying your illusions

899 Main Street, Cambridge; 617-491-5877

Daily, 8am-11pm (usually)

Chinatown

Maybe it’s just my love of all foods Asian that makes me throw this in the mix, but I hear way too many Tufts students saying how they never really go to Chinatown here.  You is missin’ out!  Yes, without a car it is kind of a pain in the ass to get there.  But unlike some other things involving pain in the ass, it is very much worth it.  From delicious banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches, ~$2.75 each) to incredible fresh seafood cooked just right (ie, with lots of ginger and scallions and/or black bean sauce), from satisfying weekend dim sum (Chinese brunch tapas) to late night dining amongst crowds of young inductees to inebriationland (yes, I have had to wait for a table at Grand Chau Chow at 2am), Chinatown is the shit.  So get over there.

*Note: for those of you who may be confused, Chinatown is not the name of a restaurant.  It is a neighborhood.  Also, if you are in that group of confused people, you may be unaware that you have led a very sheltered life.  FYI.

Chinatown, Boston

Daily, early in the morning until very early in the morning

-Jared Olkin

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