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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, March 2, 2024

36 Hours in Camberville

Davis Square, a neighborhood just 15 minutes walk from Tuft campus, has faced gentrification in the past few years. The square is pictured on Oct. 19, 2017.

Boston is famous for its landmarks like Fenway Park, the Public Garden and the North End, but anyone stopping through the Hub should pay attention to what’s happening north of the Charles as well. The Camberville (Cambridge and Somerville) area is home to some of the best museums, restaurants and shops. So if you’re a student taking your parents around town, or if you’re a parent trying to stay clear of your kid during the chaos of move-out, jump on the Red Line and check out what’s happening from the Tufts campus to the Longfellow Bridge.

Day 1

Last Night in Davis, 6 p.m.

We’ve all done Davis Square, but what better way to close out the Tufts experience with a final night out at one of the area’s lesser-known restaurants? On your way from Tufts' campus, stop in at Tu Y Yo in Powder House Square for slow-cooked Mexican dishes beyond the familiar Tex-Mex staples. Favorites include the Tacos de Chapulines ($14), which are crispy shells stuffed with grasshopper — yes, grasshopper — and a spice blend, and the Mole Colorado Tlaxcateca ($18), a chicken dish with a rich mole sauce, pumpkin seeds and peppers. End your meal with a slice of avocado cheesecake and you’re ready for the walk down College Avenue to Davis Square. Finish the night with a movie at the Somerville Theatre, opened in 1914, and enjoy one of the local beers on tap while admiring the ornate main theater, which hosted vaudeville showsover a century ago. While you’re there, be sure to check out the Museum of Bad Art in the basement, which hosts a range of pieces “too bad to be ignored.” If the movie ends early, or if your night is just kicking off, head to Saloon, a speakeasy-style barhidden below the consignment shop Thrive, to indulge in a cocktail, or stop at Mike’s for a pitcher of beer.

Day 2

Put on your walking shoes! 10 a.m.

New York generally steals the competition in terms of bagels, but the Boston area has a few spots that can keep up. Bagelsaurus, located on Massachusetts Avenue a few blocks from the Porter Square T stop, has bagel sandwiches worth lining up for. Arrive on the early side to get a table and try the Classic Jumbo sandwich on an everything bagel ($6) — adding the roasted tomatoes is a must as well. After you’ve filled up, enjoy a stroll down the street and stop in at WardMaps for MBTA paraphernalia and vintage maps for the geography enthusiasts in your life. It’s less than a mile from there to Harvard Square, but if you need blister tape there’s a CVS at the end of the rainbow. Stroll through the Yard — and consider taking a tour if you want the full experience — but either way make sure to stop by Harvard Book Store and explore the extensive selection of used books in the shop’s basement. Or if you need to do some gift shopping, head over to Black Ink on Brattle Street for an array of Boston-themed books, toys, glassware and more.

Tasty and Tasteful, 1 p.m.

Next stop is the brunch-lunch-coffee-hybrid spot that has taken Instagram feeds in the Boston area by storm in recent years. Whether you’re looking for a pastry, a good espresso or lunch, Tatte Bakery & Café on Massachusetts Avenue has you covered. Order at the main counter downstairs — you can’t go wrong with the Balakani roasted eggplant sandwich ($9) — but head upstairs to the coffee bar for a more peaceful experience away from the crowds. After you’ve finished up your latte, head down Quincy Street to the Harvard Art Museums ($15 adults, $10 students) for a museum experience less overwhelming than the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. With galleries centered around an expansive atrium courtyard, the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger and Arthur M. Sackler Museums house an extensive and impressive collection of works from around the globe while maintaining the atmosphere of a smaller museum.

Tapas on the town, 7 p.m.

Next stop on the Red Line is Central Square — a neighborhood at the intersection of gentrification from the more historically upscale Harvard to the northwest and the tech start-ups of Kendall to the east, bringing with it surging rents and the displacement of longtime residents. Like Davis Square, Central has emerged as one of Greater Boston’s most desirable neighborhoods, featuring a plethora of new bars and restaurants. One such restaurant is the Little Donkey on Massachusetts Avenue, which serves a global array of small plates ($10-$20) from James Beard Award-winning chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette. And for after-dinner drinks, Central has a variety of options. Try The Middle East for a regular line-up of live musicians, or if you’re searching for a craft cocktail, head across the street to the hidden Brick & Mortar — located adjacent to Central’s famous Graffiti Alley. If you’re willing to walk a little farther for a pint, Lamplighter Brewing Co. on Broadway has a wide selection of craft brews — and you can even bring your own food!

Day 3

Tech bites, 10 a.m.

Depending on how your night out in Central went, you might benefit from a hearty breakfast at The Friendly Toast near Kendall Square the next morning. The retro-style diner, surrounded by the labs of some of Boston’s largest biotech firms, offers breakfast, brunch and lunch fare for any eater. The menu includes staples like the classic egg-in-a-hole ($8), along with more off-the-wall options, such as the formidable Sklarmageddon ($14) — an omelette “built to kill” with sausage, bacon, ham and maple sour cream. If you’re looking to walk off your breakfast, MIT has architectural icons like the Frank Gehry-designed Ray and Maria Stata Center on Vassar Street, as well as the massive neoclassical dome of Maclaurin Buildings for you to search for while you wander across its campus. The best views you can get, of both Cambridge and Boston on the other side, are from the water. Take out a kayak from Paddle Boston on Broad Canal Way and get out on the Charles!

Enjoy your time in Camberville, and if you have time, venture over to Inman and Union Squares for even more!