Scout’s Honored 2016: Food & Drink

highland kitchenYou voted Highland Kitchen's staff the best in the city... and gave them some other winning nods, too. Photo by Jess Benjamin.

Yeah, we know these are the winners you’ve been waiting for. The city’s best eats, as voted by Scout Somerville readers, are rounded up here!

Looking for the best places to shop? You can find those here, and the finest service providers in town are listed here. Into the arts? Somerville’s best venue, gallery and more are all here.

RESTAURANT IN BALL SQUARE
BALL SQUARE CAFE
BALLSQUARECAFE.COM | (617) 623-2233
Ball Square Cafe has long been a haven for breakfasters around the city. Regulars swear by the scones and fruit-topped waffles, and visitors are always impressed by owner Mike Moccia’s friendly management style—especially when he hand-delivers hot drinks to the scores of patrons who line up outside in cold weather. Pancakes and french toast, granola and oatmeal, sandwiches and wraps—and seventeen different omelettes on the menu—there’s something for everyone at Ball Square Cafe.

RESTAURANT IN MAGOUN SQUARE
OLDE MAGOUN’S SALOON
MAGOUNSSALOON.COM | (617) 776-2600
With more than two-dozen beers on tap and some of the city’s most satisfying appetizers, we’re not sure why you wouldn’t visit the eponymous Olde Magoun’s Saloon, the square’s best restaurant. The Saloon boasts an expansive bar and ample seating for groups, not to mention epic sports decor and TVs showing any game you could want to watch. It’s the perfect place to sidle up to the bar with old friends—or to make some new ones.

RESTAURANT IN TEELE SQUARE
RUDY’S
RUDYSCAFE.COM | (617) 623-9201
We’ll meet you for margs and taco skins at Rudy’s any night of the week. Voted best restaurant in Teele Square three years running, this Tex-Mex cafe is a much-loved local eatery. If you’re there for drinks, Rudy’s impressive tequila offerings can be sampled with a “tequila flight” of three selections. The nachos—oh, the nachos!—are some of the best Somerville has to offer, and the friendly waitstaff and laid-back atmosphere will have you feeling right at home.

RESTAURANT IN ASSEMBLY ROW
EARL’S KITCHEN AND BAR
EARLS.CA | (617) 666-1790
Earl’s has more than 50 locations throughout Canada, but Somerville is lucky—our local iteration is one of only a half dozen in the US. Dinner and drinks at Earl’s pairs perfectly with an evening movie at Assembly’s AMC or a walk along the Mystic River, but the food and drinks are good enough to make it a singular destination all on its own. Come for the sangria, stay for the truffle fries.

RESTAURANT IN UNION SQUARE
BRONWYN
BRONWYNRESTAURANT.COM | (617) 776-9900
The best restaurant in bustling Union Square for the second year running, German restaurant Bronwyn is a unique, cozy spot featuring schnitzel, pretzels and sauerkraut—not to mention bier. Their patio is perfect for late summer dining, and attentive servers are on hand to guide you through the Central and Eastern European-inspired menu if you want recommendations. For improved posture and extra Medieval feast vibes, grab a seat in one of the throne-style chairs in the back dining room.

RESTAURANT IN EAST SOMERVILLE
LA BRASA
LABRASASOMERVILLE.COM | (617) 764-1412
Taking the title of best restaurant in thriving East Somerville is La Brasa, where the wood-burning stove is king and Mexican fried rice is a must-order. Drawing on the neighborhood’s energy and diversity, owner Daniel Bojorquez cultivates a sense of community around food. La Brasa presents monthly markets with local vendors, hosts pig roasts for special occasions like New Year’s Eve and will be handing out samples during East Somerville Main Street’s September 13 Foodie Crawl. Bonus: Check out La Brasa’s newly opened sibling eatery, the Italian spot Fat Hen, in the restaurant’s former market space.

RESTAURANT OVERALL
RESTAURANT IN DAVIS SQUARE SERVER: NINA
FOUNDRY ON ELM
FOUNDRYONELM.COM | (617) 628-9999
Plenty of amazing new restaurants have opened their doors in Davis since Foundry on Elm made its debut. But Foundry still reigns supreme. It’s a neighborhood staple drawing in everyone from Tufts students gearing up for a night on the town to couples dropping in on date night after catching a film at the Somerville Theatre. The honey-drizzled grilled cheese, the poutine, the dry spice-rubbed wings—everything is prepped with care from artisanal ingredients and served up by lovely locals like Nina.

flatbread

Photo by Jess Benjamin.

KID-FRIENDLY RESTAURANT
FLATBREAD
FLATBREADCOMPANY.COM | (617) 776-0552
There’s probably not a more kid-friendly equation than pizza-plus-bowling, and Flatbread has both mastered. Big booths and plenty of tables make it easy to come here with a large group, and kids are welcomed to grab crayons and draw while they wait for their food to come out of the huge, stone oven. The kiddos might not care, but moms and dads can feel good knowing that the pizzas are topped with locally-sourced ingredients, and the regular benefit nights mean that some proceeds go towards local schools or organizations. There’s also a great beer selection for the grownups, along with super specials that keep things interesting.

BEST BREWERY OR DISTILLERY
BEST NEW BUSINESS
BEST BARISTA: JARED
WINTER HILL BREWING COMPANY
WINTERHILLBREWING.COM
Not content to simply be the best new business in Somerville, Winter Hill Brewing Company went ahead and swept four categories in 2016—including one you might not expect. While the brews are unbeatable, the bar bites sublime, the Winter Hill grilled cheese so gooey and crispy you’ll wish you could put away more than one, the eatery’s cafe has proven just as formidable during daylight hours. Well, maybe formidable isn’t the right word. Jared is a pretty friendly guy. But the Counter Culture coffee and espresso sure are unrivaled, and the baked goods—often delivered by their pals at Somerville Bread Company and Union Square Donuts—are the perfect a.m. pick-me-up.

BEER PROGRAM
FIVE HORSES TAVERN
FIVEHORSESTAVERN.COM, (617) 764-1655
Suffering from beer boredom? With more than 100 different beers on the menu—37 on the rotating taps, 120 in bottles and cans—Five Horses Tavern can fix that. This ain’t your standard beer bar, either. You’ll want to enjoy that pint with unforgettable entrees like the Kentucky-fried cornish game hen or smaller plates like cast iron cornbread or buffalo fried oysters.

highland kitchen

Photo by Jess Benjamin.

SERVICE STAFF
BRUNCH
RESTAURANT NOT IN A SQUARE
HIGHLAND KITCHEN
HIGHLANDKITCHEN.COM | (617) 625-1131
Walk into Highland Kitchen—where you’ll be promptly greeted by a grinning hosting team and a taxidermied deer head—and relax: You’re in good hands. Southern-inspired comfort food, seasonal specials and great cocktails are served up by the friendliest staff Somerville has to offer, even when the space is jam packed (so, all the time). No reservations, so there’s always a wait, but it’s well worth it. Spend some time hanging at the bar, and HK’s excellent bartenders will set you right up with a drink and help you find a seat. Go for bluegrass brunch on Sundays and work your way up and down the menu—and don’t forget to start with a Bloody Mary.

BAR EATS
COCKTAILS
BARTENDER: DEREK MCCUSKER
SALOON
SALOONDAVIS.COM | (617) 628-4444
Hiding underneath the hubbub of Davis Square is Saloon, a stylish speakeasy featuring craft cocktails and must-try bar bites like Devils on Horseback (dates, feta and bacon—‘nuff said!), charcuterie boards and fried treats like pickles and potato wedges. The subterranean space is the place in Davis to grab a quick snack (or three or five), pair it with the city’s best cocktails and soak up some of the coolest vibes Somerville has to offer.

TAKEOUT
EAT AT JUMBO’S
EATATJUMBOS.COM | (617) 666-0000
A Tufts favorite (naturally), Jumbo’s has something for literally everyone. There are devilishly hot dishes (the atomic burger), veggie options (tofu tenders) and more than 40 flavors of wings. And here’s a fun, environmentally-friendly fact: Their cooking oils contain no trans-fats and are recycled to make bio-fuel and other renewable energies. Order from their extensive menu, pick up the snacks yourself or enjoy free delivery—and a night off from the kitchen!

OUTDOOR DINING
RIVER BAR
RIVER-BAR.COM | (617) 616-5561
The ideal spot to sit back and sip a tasty cocktail while taking in Assembly Row’s hustle and bustle is River Bar, home of the city’s best outdoor dining. Perched by the Mystic, River Bar boasts great views, comfy lounge areas and fire pits for cooler nights, plus a more traditional covered bar area with huge windows for an indoor-outdoor feel. Grabbing a seat by the fire pit? Go for the walnut-topped wings—they’re perfect for fall evenings after a long day spent back-to-school shopping.

lyndell's

Photo by Jess Benjamin.

BAKERY
LYNDELL’S
LYNDELLS.COM | (617) 625-1793
There may be an embarrassment of riches along Broadway in Ball Square when it comes to eateries, but don’t skip Lyndell’s. There’s a reason they’ve been around for almost 130 years—the city’s best bakery takes a classic approach to baked goods, with customer favorites like half moon cookies and Boston cream pies. Whether you need a beautifully prepped dessert tray for a special occasion or a quick pick-me-up after work, Lyndell’s has you covered with breads, pies, pastries and specialties.

BUTCHER
MCKINNON’S
MCKINNONSMARKETS.COM | (617) 666-0888
It’s not often that reasonable prices and high quality point you to the same place, but at McKinnon’s Meat Market, that’s exactly what you’ll find. With lower prices than many chain groceries, not to mention a staff that knows their meats inside and out, McKinnon’s is the best spot in Somerville to get your steaks, ribs, wings and more. Don’t pack up the grill just yet.

BREAKFAST
NEIGHBORHOOD RESTAURANT AND BAKERY
NEIGHBORHOODRESTAURANT.COM | (617) 623-9710
Long a ‘Ville favorite, Neighborhood is back this year to defend its title of best breakfast in the city. From the atmosphere (summertime seating outside under the patio’s glorious grapevines) to the menu (generous portions, healthy whole wheat options and, of course, that famous cream of wheat), this homestyle Union Square institution is a must-visit if you haven’t been yet. The lines here are notoriously long, and doors open at 7 a.m., so get here early and help yourself to some sidewalk coffee while you wait.

taco party

Photo by Jess Benjamin.

VEGAN OR VEGETARIAN
TACO PARTY
TACOPARTYTRUCK.COM | (617) 764-0683
It’s sometimes tough for vegans and vegetarians to satisfy a taco craving without losing some of the heartiness (and protein) found on most menus. But never fear: Taco Party is here! Taco Party, which started as a food truck but has settled down in Somerville, is still speedily serving the vegan Mexican fare craved by devoted customers. The crispy fried tofu taco is the best place to start, but we guarantee you’ll want to come back and work your way through other creative offerings like chimichurri tempeh and chorizo seitan.

COFFEE SHOP OR CAFE
3 LITTLE FIGS
3LITTLEFIGS.COM | (617) 623-3447
Add 3 Little Figs to the list of Somerville spots where it’s well worth waiting in line. From drool-worthy baked goods to sweet and savory toasts, unmissable homemade granola with greek yogurt and satisfying sandwiches, 3 Little Figs can elevate your breakfast and lunch game. The espresso drinks are tasty and impeccably, carefully crafted, even when the space is packed on weekend mornings (and, often, weekday mornings).

SWEET TOOTH SATISFIER
UNION SQUARE DONUTS
UNIONSQUAREDONUTS.COM | (617) 209-2257
Here’s a great mistake to make: following Union Square Donuts on Instagram. One look at a box packed with maple bacon donuts, vegan blueberry jam doughies and the best Boston Creme donut you’ve ever sunk your teeth into, and you’ll find yourself dropping everything and heading to USD before you even know what happened.

CATERING
CUISINE EN LOCALE
CUISINEENLOCALE.COM | (617) 285-0167
For the last decade, the “locavores” at Cuisine en Locale have been providing the people of Somerville with nutritious, sustainable, farm-fresh food. With all-local ingredients that help support the growth of farms and farmers across Massachusetts. You can feel good using their catering services for BBQs, brunches, baby showers or weddings. And hey, you don’t have to take our word for it—CEL’s list of supporters includes famous fans like Amanda Palmer and Built to Spill’s Brett Nelson.

CHEAP EATS
PLACE TO PEOPLE WATCH
MIKE’S
MIKESONDAVIS.COM | (617) 628-2379
If you sit at Mike’s long enough, you’ll see every kind of person imaginable hustling through Davis Square while enjoying quality drinks and grub. And you can sit here for a long time, too, thanks to the fact that Mike’s has a full bar and one of the deepest menus in Somerville. Grab a flight of beer and something to eat—we recommend the prosciutto and fig flatbread or the homemade rice ball, but you really can’t go wrong—while you watch people weave through the heart of Davis Square.

This story originally appeared in our September/October print edition, which is available for free at more than 220 drop spots throughout Somerville (and just beyond its borders) or by subscription.

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