If “The Menu” (2022) taught us anything, it's that food is an art. From Davis Square to Cambridge and even into Boston, the Tufts area has some incredible food offerings. Here are some of our Arts writers’ favorite spots.
Carl Svahn: Kelly’s Diner
Kelly’s Diner is dirty, and that’s what’s great about it. The tint of the 1953 metal dining car purchased in 1996 by the Holmes family and refitted into one of Somerville’s premier breakfast and lunch locations is still shining, even with some added rust on its sides. The interior is a simple and focused layout of a countertop and series of booths with a kitchen in the back. The menu is large, but simple and affordable, with all the cheeseburgers, fries, eggs, pancakes and just good old-fashioned cakes you can (probably) afford. Its focus leaves no room for the unexpected, so leave all that at the rusted metal door. But the servers are friendly, the smell of bacon is always in the air and the coffee never stops. To put it simply, it’s pure magic.
Natalie Bricker: Sugidama
If you do nothing else this semester, please at least go to Sugidama and order the “Million Dollar” roll. I promise you will not be disappointed. I also highly recommend the “Spicy Crispy Mango Tuna” roll … I know, you may be skeptical upon first hearing these words paired together, but I assure you, it’s a wonderful mix of flavors. I felt like Remy in “Ratatouille” (2007) when he’s having hallucinations of the strawberry and cheese flavors mixing — it’s seriously a transcendental experience. Think I’m exaggerating? You’ll just have to try this roll for yourself. Please don’t let the special maki roll prices scare you away; these rolls are so worth it. Sugidama’s prices are very reasonable compared to other sushi restaurants in the area. They have a large menu with everything from seaweed salad (very fresh, one of my favorite appetizers) and desserts (including a gorgeous matcha cake and green tea mochi!). Sugidama’s environment is lively and bright, and they’re moving soon to a more ideal location in Davis Square. This spot is perfect for a date night or dinner with a big group of friends. (Insider tip: if you order enough sushi, they serve it in a fun wooden boat.) Sugidama is my favorite spot in Davis Square and I will not stop trying to convince everyone I know to go try it!
Megan Reimer: Oasis Brazilian Steakhouse
The Oasis Brazilian Steakhouse is located on Main Street in Medford. It features a cozy, diner-style environment specializing in traditional Brazilian barbecued meat dishes, fajitas and desserts. Right next door is Oasis Cafe & Bakery, where you can order different types of deli meat sub sandwiches or wraps. The portions are pretty big, and what I love about their sandwiches is that they always taste fresh. I tried a few specialty desserts and pastries while I was there, which included Pão Francês com Queijo, which is a baked cheese bun. My friend, whose father lived in Brazil in his youth, knew about delicacies like Pão de Queijo and put me on them. We also tried Guaraná Antarctica, a Brazilian soft drink with a unique cherry flavor. It is similar to Sprite but more sweet and fruity. The cakes are decorated in 2014-style galaxy mirror glaze, in purples, blues and pinks, and look incredible. I highly recommend coming to Oasis to try something new or if you're looking for a tasty sub, wrap or burger. An array of Brazilian candies complements the pastries and deli-style section of the restaurant. For anyone who likes to discover new sweets and treats, this is the perfect place for you.
Aaron Gruen: Prik Nam Pla
I was sad to learn that Kor Tor Mor would be closing last year, but a new Thai place has moved into their former location. Prik Nam Pla, located in Davis Square, arrived late last year — and I’m glad to report they don’t disappoint. In fact, the restaurant’s proximity to campus, substantial portions and bold flavors have earned it a spot in my weekly repertoire. Their Pad See You and Pad Thai are both superb, but my favorite dish was their Panang beef. While less saucy than iterations from other restaurants, the dish’s deeply umami and spicy beef had me begging for more. Be sure to try one of their rice dishes too; their Kai Tod, or crispy chicken thighs, was adorned with a mountain of crispy shallots and sweet and sour sauce. Round out your meal with an order of Gyoza and a Thai Iced Tea for good measure.