At the town hall meeting between Cantabridgians and Sommervillens, Inman Square was, by all accounts, on the list of items to be discussed. But the meeting was sidelined by a heated argument on alcohol sales before the two parties ran out of oil for their lamps, and Inman Square was forever stuck in no man’s land between the two cities. Luckily for you, this undefined geographical area houses a lot of great restaurants, including a wine bar with solid small plates, a seafood spot with mustard ice cream, and a dive bar with daily hot dog specials. Here are 13 of the best places to eat and drink in Inman Square.
Clam chowder and lobster rolls may be the Revere and Adams of the New England seafood world, but you won’t find either one of those at Puritan & Company. What you will find, however, are some pretty unique dishes like swordfish pastrami with mustard gelato and phyllo-wrapped cod with bacon chowder. The creativity extends to the seasonal dessert menu as well, which has featured things like sticky date pudding with mascarpone ice cream and rose cheesecake. So the next time your visiting friends tire of hearing about the Midnight Ride, you know where to go.
You would expect only good things from a restaurant run by the team behind Sofra and Sarma, and for the most part, you won’t be let down here. There are excellent meze dishes like quail kebob and spinach falafel, and you’ll be thinking about the ginger ice cream with rose chocolate for weeks afterward. The only thing that you’ll be disappointed with is the number of weeks it’ll take to snag a reservation.
There are two compelling reasons to go to Muqueca. First, their namesake stew - a simmering seafood dish made with coconut milk, garlic, and coriander - is great for almost any occasion, but perfect in the seasons not named summer. Second, they make a plantain lasagna, which sounds unusual but is actually more memorable than any lasagna in the North End. The rest of the menu also has lots of Brazillian staples like feijoada and bacalao, making up the other 32 reasons you should check this place out.
We’re still trying to figure out why there’s underwear hanging on a clothesline in the dining room at Dali. But decor aside, there’s a very large tapas menu we like with classics like croquetas and gambas al ajillo. While it may not be the best tapas spot in the city, we guarantee that you’ll have a lot of fun at dinner - especially when your group is passing around a porrón pitcher filled with cava and pouring shots from 11 feet away. Now that we think about it, the underwear is starting to make a lot more sense.
Things that are supposed to be reliable in life - cars, significant others, banks - let you down the most. But at Bisq, you can always rely on a seat at the hidden bar in the back, despite it being one of the most interesting places for small plates in the city. There are churros made from vidalia onions, ceviche topped with quinoa, and adobo shrimp and grits on the menu. You could also call ahead and reserve a whole suckling pig dinner for a large group, or for yourself the next time your car breaks down.
There’s a nightly $60 seafood-centric prix fixe menu at Loyal Nine, which isn’t just one of the best deals in Inman Square, but also the whole city. You’ll be served course after course of the day’s catch, in all styles from raw to fried to smoked. The restaurant also doubles as an all-day café, with great breakfast and lunch sandwiches - it’s the perfect place for those “sick” days that you take when you need a break from your co-workers.
Every neighborhood needs a good sandwich shop, but sadly there aren’t many places serving jerk chicken on sourdough bread with scotch bonnet pineapple glaze and ginger mint yogurt ranch. You’ll find that, and a lot of other stellar choices, at All Star Sandwich Bar. All of the sandwiches are also large enough to split between two people - take advantage of that and save room for the excellent daily cheesecake specials.
Trina’s is a retro-ish restaurant in Inman Square that feels like a dive bar, and that’s reason enough to come here. But there are also good cocktails (we like the one with black tea-infused bourbon and ginger cognac), a hot dog special every day, and a solid brunch spread on the weekends. If you prefer a sports bar to a dive bar, Parlor Sports is right next door, and it shares the same kitchen with Trina’s.
There are floor-to-ceiling windows at the front half of the Broadsheet space, which makes it the coffee shop equivalent of a UV-light therapy lamp. There’s also a variety of breakfast and lunch options like coconut muesli and kofta meatball sliders to boost your mood, as well as some good coffee. During the week, it’s a great place to hang out or get work done, but it can get very busy on the weekends.
Approximately 85% of the menu at Casa Portugal is centered around seafood, so if you’re afraid of anything that can breathe underwater, it’s probably wise to stay away. But for those of you who are currently humming “Under the Sea,” where the seaweed is always greener, you can celebrate the fact that the food here is consistently great. The bacalhau and grilled shrimp are some of our favorites, but it’s hard to go wrong with any of the other seafood choices. There’s also an affordable selection of good Portuguese wines, with bottles starting at $30.
Olé is the only Mexican restaurant in Inman Square and it celebrates that by rolling around a made-to-order guacamole cart with legitimately excellent guac. There’s a pretty tasty lobster quesadilla and some good taco options on the menu too. Better yet, the restaurant also has a take-out counter specifically for the lunch crowd, with prices not much higher than you would find at a certain red pepper restaurant chain.
Some days we want the sandwich equivalent of Mad Max: Fury Road, and that’s when we head to All Star Sandwich Bar for sandwiches as excessive as guitar-shredding on a garbage truck with 215 speakers. Other times, we just want a more simple and utilitarian Sleepless in Seattle meat-bread combo, and that’s when we go to Darwin’s. All the bread is baked in-house, and the other ingredients are super high quality, so you’ll leave as satisfied as the 68th time you watched Tom Hanks argue with his kid about whether to meet an engaged stranger. We recommend the Magazine sandwich with roast beef and sun-dried tomato-pesto mayo.