The Best Restaurants In Somerville

The hottest restaurant neighborhood in Boston that’s actually its own city.
Spread of Spanish tapas at Dali

photo credit: Linda Campos

There’s a reason that people who move north of the Charles River suddenly stop commuting into Boston proper. It’s because Somerville has some of the best restaurants around, and it’s where we bring people when they complain that there’s no good food in Boston. 

Even though Somerville is its own town encompassing multiple neighborhoods, it’s still very much a part of the city. And these days, it’s more accessible than ever (thanks to the MBTAs newest stations opening). So hop on the train/bus/car and explore a Peruvian spot with the best ceviche in town, piping hot English muffins that make up a top-tier breakfast sandwich, and an old-school tapas joint that’s the most maximalist restaurant we’ve ever encountered.


photo credit: Natalie Schaefer



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Sarma is the most thrilling choose-your-own-adventure palace of seasonal produce. Bring a friend or three because you’ll want enough help to make it through their extensive menu of vegetable-forward meze in their colorful dining room. Some of our favorites are familiar dishes that get remixed with unlikely ingredients—we’re talking about you, halloumi poutine with celery root fries and manti served in a potato leek soup. Servers also come around with specials, and you should definitely prioritize any of those, especially if it’s the karaage-style chicken. They also have a really interesting wine list, which features pours rarely seen around town (hello, Armenian and Lebanese bottles).

A meal at Celeste has us feeling like those cartoon characters who pass out and literally see stars. That’s thanks to their ceviche and frothy pisco sours. While we adore the many iterations of ceviche, the one at Celeste is in a league of its own with a passion fruit-infused leche de tigre that adds a fruity, sweet dimension to the seafood. Your perfect order includes the mixed seafood ceviche, the avocado causa, a passion fruit pisco sour, and the lucuma mousse dessert. Dinner is a party in the best way, hosted in a tiny dining room that looks like someone took retro ’50s dining chairs and flatware and set them up at a diner on the moon. Make reservations in advance, because the small space fills up fast. And be ready to take a pisco shot with your waiter at literally any moment.

Spoke is the kind of restaurant that automatically makes a neighborhood cooler. Their combination of a great wine-by-the-glass list, snacky plates, excellent cocktails, knowledgeable staff, and intimate space pretty much guarantee you’ll have a good time. And that’s whether you’re alone taking down a plate of the mini sunchoke donuts with powdered leeks, or on a promising date tasting a couple of different pours and flexing some wine knowledge (that maybe the staff taught you the last time you were here). Pretty much anything on the menu is delicious, vegetable-centric, and often the perfect drinking accompaniment, like the milk-braised cabbage or tagine bean dip. It’s an excellent spot to wind down on a weekday after work, but for the weekends, make a reservation.

Mamaleh’s or Zaftigs might be Boston's go-to Jewish and kosher restaurants, but it’s time to add Lehrhaus to that list. They do food from the Jewish diaspora, so you’ll see Mexican and Ethiopian dishes, no meat, but some really excellent fish. The combo of thinly sliced herring, labneh, and acidy pickled peppers on the tartine is like the best whitefish salad ever, and plates like filling lentil-stuffed delicata squash will make any meat truther question everything. The space is half restaurant, half library, and they also host book signings, live music, and cooking classes. So come by on a weeknight for a cocktail made with arak, or sign up for a class that’ll teach you why Phish has a rabid Jewish fanbase.

Bow Market has tons of food options and scarves and organic soaps for sale—it’s all there. But until now, it’s never quite had a perfect Vietnamese date spot that pumps disco. The tiny space is shrouded in plants, seats maybe 25 people, and glows in purplish light, so naturally, it’s a good place to consider falling in love. But it’s the food that’ll keep you coming back—the Vietnamese dishes can hang with any of the top places in Field’s Corner. The menu changes often, with dishes like duck confit gyoza, a light but satisfying shrimp vermicelli, and local fish tartare that, depending on the day, might be dressed with lemongrass. They take reservations, but you can still walk in for a casual dinner (for now).

You ever have one of those days where everything goes wrong and all you need is one small win to turn it all around? We’re talking about times when you forget the Sox are playing so you’re stuck under a 19-year-old townie’s armpit on the T on the way home. Tsurumen provides the reset you’re looking for. The classic order is the pork shoyu, but for those rainy days when you’re really in need of a cure-all, go with the soul-restoring chicken paitan. Whichever ramen you do choose, make sure to add on the perfectly custardy onsen egg. The place is full of regulars who have their order already memorized, which makes total sense the second you taste their chewy homemade noodles. Just be prepared for a (quick) line on the weekends.

Union Square has been missing a place like June Bug. Somewhere that’s a step up from a slice shop, where you can drink a glass of skin contact wine and have a fluffy, expertly charred Neapolitan pizza. The oval bar is where you want to be, rubbing elbows with regulars who live a block away, and finding common ground over spreadable sausage. Order the Like A Pepperoni, which swaps nduja for cold cuts. They also have really good salads—because, you know, balance—that don’t feel like an afterthought, especially the Kitchen Sink with perfect cheesy croutons.

Highland is the standard for a lazy weekday dinner, and the kind of restaurant that everybody wished they had around the corner from their apartment. Yes, there’s a jukebox. Yes, all their cocktails are $12. And you better believe there are delicious Southern-focused classics like a spicy jambalaya with cornbread and an impressive blackened catfish po’boy. It’s also a prime spot for vegetarians—focus on the veggie jambalaya, black bean burger, and the buffalo fried brussels sprouts. It’s always lively and a little bit loud in here, and the walk-in-only policy and a late closing time cement them as our favorite spot in this part of Somerville.

On the weekends, Dakzen has a longer line than the Dunkin’ near your office at 8:55am on a Monday. Deservedly so, because it’s the best spot in the neighborhood for Thai food before heading to some speakeasy in Davis Square. The line moves fast, though, and so does service once you’re inside. Focus on the “street snacks” section—there’s bouncy rook chin tod, which are delightfully chewy fried mixed-meat meatballs served with a sweet-and-savory sauce, and crunchy goong ma khamp, a.k.a. fried whole shrimp over crispy wonton strips that soak up the dish’s savory-sweet tamarind sauce. They also do some of the better pad thai (not too sweet) and spicy khao gra pow in town.

photo credit: Linda Campos



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Dali is over the top, entirely too much, and a pretty perfect place for family dinners (biological or chosen). It feels like a party started here in the ‘80s and has been raging ever since, and the proof is in the three decades’ worth of tchotchkes lining the walls, including a giant golden bedazzled fish skeleton and a clothesline of undergarments hanging between an interior archway. It’s the kind of maximalist old-school tapas spot that cranks out classics like gambas al ajillo with the most garlicky olive oil you can imagine, buttery sweet plates of jamon iberico, and a seafood paella that’s smoky, spicy, and floral (from the saffron) all at once. Some red wine sangria and flan for dessert are no-brainers. Always make a reservation, because there are no slow nights here.

Trina’s Starlite Lounge has all the makings of a diner without actually being one. Let’s be clear: this is a good thing. They do great hot dogs, mac and cheese, and fried chicken dinners, all in a grungy-cool dark space filled with pinup photos from the ‘40s. It’s best for drinks on the weekends (get the espresso martini) and for brunch on Sundays and Mondays, when they crank out top-tier plates of eggs, hashbrowns, and chicken and waffles.

If you’ve been looking for a place to bring your tight-knit group of friends for a casual night of good beer and hearty dishes, look no further than Bronwyn. The dining room is filled with old-school ornate steins stored above dark medieval furniture, and it’s one of the greatest places to sip some light haus bier, snack on warm pretzels, and order smoky sausages and crispy pork schnitzel. Aside from that, they’ve got 16 wines all available by the bottle or glass that are really good, too. And yes, it will be busy here in October.

Vinal Bakery in Union Square serves up the best egg sandwiches in Somerville. The biggest differentiator is their homemade english muffins—these aren’t the leathery pucks you’d find at a corporate conference breakfast spread. Rather, they come out of the oven piping hot with a perfect crust and moist interior, kicking the ass of the stodgy rolls at Target next door. The Miss Maple egg sandwich is easy to love, with its sweet spread of maple butter, as is the more classic Sausage McVinal. We often stock up on a four-pack of english muffins to try all their flavors (the oat sesame and anadama are especially good, but pay special attention to their rotating seasonal flavors, like the potato chive or corn jalapeño). Just know two things: they tend to sell out before noon on weekends, and you should plan to eat your breakfast at one of Union Square’s many public parks, since seating is limited.

Rincon has hands down the best Mexican food in Somerville. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu here, like the rich cabeza tacos and large bowls of pozole, but there are two clear standouts: the citrusy, deeply savory cochinita pibil tacos and their sweet cinnamon horchata that’s almost as thick as a milkshake. The staff are warm and friendly, and it’s a pretty ideal place for a quick lunch or weekday dinner.

Hotbox Pizza in Bow Market makes fantastic South Shore bar pizzas with pillowy crusts and creamy cheese blends. The spicy pickle pizza—their most popular and one that blows our mind every time we try it—pairs exceptionally with their secret dipping sauce (spoilers ahead: it’s honey mustard). Give their seasonal pizzas a try, like the springtime pie that combines asparagus and red peppers with the creamiest, meltiest cheese blend. They have options for your vegetarian and vegan friends too, and happen to stay open late on weekends, making them the spot you’ll find us after a night out around Union Square. Hotbox is one of the many delicious vendors in Bow Market, so plan for a casual, outdoor seating situation.

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