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Natalie Schaefer


Written by
Natalie Schaefer

Ideally, you should try to learn as much as you can when traveling abroad. But when you get home, don’t be the person who complains that he can’t drink Starbucks anymore after going to Italy, and who apologizes (sort of) for wearing a Speedo to the beach because he “just got used to the Mediterranean lifestyle.” That person sucks. Instead, take the lessons learned from your cross-cultural immersion and combine them to create a new, worldlier self. In other words, try to be more like Pagu, a Japanese-Spanish restaurant in Central Square.

Pagu’s concept is simple. Take two things the world already loves - Spanish and Japanese food - and bring them together. But the real beauty of Pagu is that you don’t end up thinking of this food as fusion at all. You just think of it as really, really good.

The menu here is varied, but not so large that you’ll be overwhelmed. The biggest section is vegetarian small plates, and they’re creative enough to even satisfy your friend who thinks eating lentils is a personal failure. But every section of the menu is worth exploring. The pinxtos are tiny little bites that you’ll wish were bigger, the land and sea dishes are where the fusion might actually work best (as with the chorizo tortilla with togarashi), and there are plenty of things that you’ve seen before - but not in the way that Pagu does them, like the bao infused with squid ink. You may end up ordering everything on the menu, asking if there are any secret dishes hidden in the back, and then applying for a job in hopes that they’ll be able to make even more great food with a little extra manpower (for once, you won’t be lying when you say you’re a highly motivated self-starter, because that motivation will be more ikura bread).

Natalie Schaefer

You won’t just want to bring friends here to help you eat the entire menu. Pagu is a big, fun space and, since it’s in one of Boston’s better nightlife neighborhoods, it’s a great place to go with a group on a Saturday night. This is especially true if you opt for one of the single best group dining experiences in Boston: the pig roast. Gather a group of at least 10 and order in advance, and Pagu will prepare a whole suckling pig for you. If you don’t have that many friends, don’t worry - Pagu’s specials regularly feature dishes made from the remnants of recent roasts. And yes, ramen broth made from the carcass of a suckling pig is amazing.

When done right, cultural mashups have led to the creation of some of humanity’s best music, unique art, and most important scientific achievements. Pagu’s avocado bread with Spanish peppers and togarashi might not be quiet as impactful as the Persians discovering Greek mathematics and then inventing algebra, but it’s approximately a million times better than your friend who’s back from Florence and now corrects your pronunciation of prosciutto. Don’t invite that guy to your pig roast.

Food Rundown

Jamon Iberico

It’s made from pigs that are fed nothing but acorns and, even though you’ve probably never eaten an acorn (you weren’t that weird kid at the bus stop, were you?), you’ll actually be able to taste it.

Pan, Avocado, & Ikura

Avocado makes everybody happy. But what makes an avocado happy? Turns out that the answer is salmon roe (ikura).

Cheesy Wafflato

This is a waffle made with potatoes and not, as you no doubt assume, a waffle appetizer mixed with locks of Demi Lovato’s hair. That’s a good thing, because it’s quite tasty, and Demi’s probably been through enough as it is.

Curry Crab Croquetas

It’s Indian, it’s Spanish, it’s New England, and it’s awesome.

Squid Ink Oyster Bao

Ever heard the saying “the oyster bao is darkest just before the dawn?” We haven’t either, but, we’re trying to tell you that this jet black bao looks cool as hell and you should eat it.

Guchi’s Midnight Ramen

Things that happen at midnight are automatically interesting. Unfortunately, Pagu closes at 11, but that’s not a problem in this case, because this pork and umami oil ramen is good all the time.

Lobster Roll

Not amongst the best lobster rolls in the city, but the avocado instead of mayo is an interesting touch.

Cedar Campfire Black Cod

This cod is served on an actual smoking piece of cedar wood. When you smell it, please resist the urge to immediately drive up to Vermont and pitch a tent in the forest. Dining and dashing isn’t cool.

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