For our second installment of ‘Know Your Squares,’ we’ve chosen to stay close to home and cast a spotlight on Porter Square. Home to a large number of hungry and over-caffeinated Lesley students, Porter has a distinctly young vibe, and a bustling academic community. Interestingly, Porter Square is also home to large number of Boston’s Japanese community, which has developed largely because of the Shops at Porter – an area which, as of August 2011, became home to many traditionally Japanese stores and restaurants. Read on to familiarize yourself with another one of the Greater Boston Area’s unique urban areas.
Much like Davis or any of the other squares to be featured in this series, Porter is home to many delicious restaurants, hip cafes and one-of-a-kind shopping experiences. First, let’s talk about food. Christopher’s is one of my favorite places, due largely to its amazing, ever-changing beer selection and the kitchen’s tasty spin on American pub fare. In a massive display of confused irony, I love to grab an order of Buffalo Tofu before ordering the delicious English “Burgah.” The Newtowne Grill is an always popular Italian destination, whether you’re looking for a busy bar atmosphere or a more family friendly venue. As previously mentioned, Porter Square’s large Japanese community provides Cambriville residents and visitors with a traditional taste of Japan. Whether you’re in the mood for sushi or noodles, Bluefin is a great option. Maybe you’d rather peruse a larger, broader menu – Ittyo has you covered. There’s little opportunity to go wrong in a place as foodie-friendly as Porter Square. You’ll come hungry and leave happy (no, it does not bother me that I stole IHOP’s slogan – it’s better suited for Porter, anyway).
So, you’ve filled your tummy and are looking to wind down over a cup of coffee. Where do you go? Cafe Zing in Porter Square Books is always a safe bet, while Bourbon Coffee is always serving fresh java from Arabica beans that have been grown in Rawanda for more than a century. Then you have Simon’s and 1369 – both great options for a fresh cup, as well. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can swing by Tapicha and pick from a full menu of Japanese bubble teas. I promise, they’re delicious.
Not in the mood to satisfy your tastebuds? I’m not sure why you’d ever opt not to eat, but Porter Square has plenty for you to do, too. Porter Square Books is a must-see. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this fall, PSB is an amazing independent bookseller that hosts local and national authors multiple nights per week. A super helpful and enthusiastic staff will be waiting to greet you and you can grab a cup of java at the previously-mentioned Cafe Zing while you take stock of the shelves. If you’re not a bibliophile, you’ll want to a) become one because bibliophiles are the best and b) stop by Mudflat Gallery to view the work of 47 different mudflat artists. What does this mean, exactly? Essentially, this amazing little gallery is a showcase for clay artists. And, let me tell you, there is some amazing stuff being shown. Also in Porter Square is Tokai, a great Japanese gift shop, as well as Lesley’s book store, which is an awesome place to stop and show your support for Cambridge’s own. Finally, there’s the Japonaise Bakery which features baked goods, snacks and ice cream…and I know that’s not technically “shopping,” but you’ll certainly find plenty to buy.
And there you have it. Another edition of Know Your Squares come and gone. Don’t worry, we’ll be back next week with another installment. If you’d like to see a post on a specific square, give us a Tweet or write on our Facebook wall. Otherwise, I’ll always enjoy being your resident Cambriville/Metro travel guide.