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the alternative guide to boston

September 26, 2017

B O S T O N. The first city that I fell in love with - the first city that I chose to live in. And it was for a reason. The season changes are so drastic that it feels like a new place four times a year. Different people, different vibes, same New England traditions. It’s also clean and small enough to explore on foot, yet full enough that the exploration never ends. Some of the best colleges and universities in the world are here meaning this city is buzzing with students, startups, diversity, and passion. It’s difficult to not feel inspired when walking down the historic streets and passing the picturesque brownstones that know so much. There is no doubt that winter can be harsh, but there's a reason the locals stay. Summer and fall are so unimaginably blissful that they pull you back year after year. 

 

This is not a guide for those looking to know more about this city's connections to American history or a guide on where to find the best sports bar to watch the game (though I'm sure those exist and are terrific). This is a guide for those looking to experience a different layer to Boston and its surrounding areas - Where I meet my friends to catch up over good coffee, purchase locally made gifts for my loved ones, enjoy sustainably sourced eats by rad chefs, and spend time outside. I hope you enjoy the alternative guide to Boston:

 

boston public library

boston public library

F A V O R I T E  N E I G H B O R H O O D S

 

South End: My favorite neighborhood due to its tiny local shops, tasty eateries, and charming brownstone-lined streets

 

Beacon Hill: The federal-style architecture is stunning – Especially Acorn Street (one of the last true cobblestone streets)

 

Back Bay: Popular shopping streets, Newbury and Boylston, are located here along with the beautiful Boston Public Library, Charles River esplanade, and Boston Public Garden

 

Union Square, Somerville: A short bus ride outside of the city brings you to this small square packed with local finds - Including the best Saturday morning farmers market!

 

Cambridge: A city of squares – Harvard, Central, and Inman being my favorites

 

Fenway: Quickly becoming more than the neighborhood with the ballpark, many startups and locally owned businesses are starting to set up shop here

 

Seaport: Boston’s innovation district with can’t miss views of the city

 

East Cambridge: An under-the-radar neighborhood with some of my favorite food and coffee gems 

 

Coolidge Corner, Brookline: A super local and hip little neighborhood with cute shops, an independent cinema, and affordable eats

 

C O F F E E

 

Curio Coffee: 441 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02141

 

Would you believe me if I told you I truly went here almost every morning? The Counter Culture iced coffee is bold and the Liège style waffles (only food item on the menu) are worth traveling off the beaten path for

 

Tatte Bakery & Cafe: Multiple locations

 

The founder, Tzurit Or, is a self-trained pastry chef from Israel. She has taken her world-renowned pastries from a Boston farmers market stand to eight stunning locations. Bring your camera and appetite because the interior is breathtaking and both the food and pastries are insanely delicious - The almond croissant and tomato tart tatin being my favorites

 

Gracenote Coffee: 108 Lincoln St, Boston, MA 02111

 

This tiny espresso bar in Boston's Leather District knows quality coffee. In fact, they won "Best of Boston" the last two years in a row! A beautiful interior and cashew milk cortado await

 

Loyal Nine: 660 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02141

 

Highly seasonal food sourced from New England farmers and artisans with a stunning interior. Everything is served on the founder's handmade ceramics!

 

Barrington Coffee: Multiple locations

 

If you find yourself needing a caffeine fix in the Seaport District, I recommend this lovely spot

 

Longfellows: 284 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

 

This buzzing coffee shop is actually located within Lamplighter Brewing Company making the space and menu quite unique. You can find five coffees and teas on tap as well as my favorite plant shop directly next door

 

Forge Baking Company: 626 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

 

My favorite bread in the Boston-area, killer croissants, and a newly opened ice cream bar - What's not to love?!

 

Broadsheet Coffee Roasters: 100 Kirkland St, Cambridge, MA 02138

 

This small batch coffee roaster recently opened its doors and the hype is real. Lovely space, coffee, and eats

 

 tatte bakery

 tatte bakery

 curio coffee

forge baking company 

gracenote coffee

gracenote coffee

loyal nine

 loyal nine

 loyal nine

loyal nine

loyal nine 

S H O P  L O C A L

 

Olives & Grace: 623 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02118

 

This shop may be small, but it is filled to the brim with handmade items, local snacks, and  l o v e  starting with the owner, Sofi. You will know her when you see her because she truly lights up the space with her passion for the makers, South End community, and neighborhood dogs (follow her Instagram Stories - You won't regret it!)

 

Niche: Multiple locations

 

I may be biased as I used to be the Social / Brand Manager here, but ask any local and I'm sure you'd hear the same - Stepping into one of Niche's beautiful locations is an automatic mood boost as each space is filled to the brim with unique plant friends, handmade ceramics, and knowledgable employees. The Inman Square, Cambridge location is right next to Longfellows (see "Coffee") and the South End, Boston location is a shop away from Olives & Grace (see above) - a win either way

 

Follain: Multiple locations

 

My transition to clean beauty was made simple by Follain's dedication to only carrying products that pass their five-step approval process (read more about that here). Breathe deep. The scent of each storefront is therapeutic and the interiors are dreamy

 

December Thieves: Multiple locations

 

Winner of "Best of Boston" for three years in a row, this edgy boutique carries a highly curated assortment of  jewelry, homewares, and slow fashion items

 

Heist: 51 Charles St, Boston, MA 02114

 

This whimsical space is the sister shop of December Thieves (see above) and equally as unique 

 

Queen of Swords: 17 Hawkins St, Somerville, MA 02143

 

This recently opened space is worth traveling to Somerville for. Tucked away on a quiet street near Union Square, the women behind Forêt Design Studio decided to launch this storefront to inspire and empower. They carry items from female entrepreneurs as well as products that support important causes 

 

Loyal Supply Co: 21 Union Square, Somerville, MA 02143

 

Just around the corner from Queen of Swords (see above) is this husband and wife-owned design firm and "supplies for life" shop. The space is sunny with a fun design, unique products, and the cutest shop dog named Huckleberry 

 

Craft & Caro: 23 Drydock Ave, Boston, MA 02210

 

Recently opened in Boston's Innovation and Design building, this location is worth the trek if you're looking for handcrafted men's lifestyle goods in a beautiful, open space and unique area in Boston's Seaport

 

Bodega: 6 Clearway St, Boston, MA 02115

 

Ok. Even if you're not in the market for highly curated streetwear, this store is just fun to walk into. Located on a side street in Boston's Back Bay, you must walk into a questionable convenience store toward the vending machine in the back. I'll let you discover the rest

 

Myrth Ceramics: No storefront, but several of the above carry their pieces 

 

This ceramics studio is owned by husband and wife, Eric & Abigail Smallwood, who create these hand-thrown stoneware vessels in their Alston-based studio. Unique and stunning pieces - click here for a list of their stockists!

 

deWolfe Leather Goods: Online 

 

Made with local materials and minimalist designs, i've never seen leather products like Gina deWolfe's. The story of how her business came to be is one of triumph and can be read here

 

Artemis Design Co: No storefront, but a list of stockists can be found here 

 

After an inspiring trip to Istanbul, Milicent Armstrong began designing these stunning shoes and bags from repurposed Turkish carpets while living in her South End apartment

 

Curio Spice Co: 2265 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140

 

The cutest, light-filled shop featuring rare, sustainably-sourced spices from around the world 

 

Boston General Store: 274 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

 

Located in charming Coolidge Corner (see "Favorite Neighborhoods"), this shop carries both functional and sustainable products made to last a lifetime

 

Flock: 2265 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140, Verenigde Staten

 

A mother-daughter owned shop featuring bohemian-style clothes and accessories conveniently located in between some of my favorite restaurants

olives & grace 

olives & grace 

olives & grace 

olives & grace 

follain

follain

follain

niche

niche

niche

queen of swords 

queen of swords 

 queen of swords

 queen of swords

 queen of swords

queen of swords 

E A T  L O C A L

 

Pizza

 

Area Four: Multiple locations

 

Picco: 513 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116

 

The Salty Pig: 130 Dartmouth St, Boston, MA 02116

 

Coppa: 253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

 

Markets

 

Boston Public Market: 100 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02108

 

Siena Farms South End: 106 Waltham St, Boston, MA 02118

 

Formaggio Kitchen: Multiple locations

 

Bricco Salumeria & Pasta Shop: 11 Board Alley, Boston, MA 02113

 

Cafés and Bakeries

 

Tatte Bakery & Cafe: Multiple locations

 

Forge Baking Company: 626 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

 

Sofra Bakery: 1 Belmont St, Cambridge, MA 02138

 

Bagelsaurus: 1796 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140

 

Italian 

 

Coppa: 253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

 

Giulia: 1682 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

 

Tacos

 

Lone Star Taco Bar: Multiple locations

 

Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar: 271 Dartmouth St, Boston, MA 02116

 

Korean

 

Kaju Tofu House: 57 John F. Kennedy St, Cambridge, MA 02138

 

Kimchi Kitchen: 847 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02141

 

Japanese

 

Shojo Boston: 9 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

 

Cafe Sushi: 1105 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

 

Uni: 370A Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

 

Little Big Diner: 1247 Centre St, Newton, MA 02459

 

Hojoko: 1271 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02215

 

Spanish

 

Toro: 1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

 

Barcelona Wine Bar: Multiple locations

 

Greek

 

Kava Neo-Taverna: 315 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

 

BBQ

 

Sweet Cheeks Q: 1381 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02215

 

Turkish

 

Sarma: 249 Pearl St, Somerville, MA 02145

 

Sofra Bakery: 1 Belmont St, Cambridge, MA 02138

 

Oleana Restaurant: 134 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02139

 

New American

 

Sycamore: 755 Beacon St, Newton, MA 02459

 

Shepard: 1 Shepard St, Cambridge, MA 02138

 

Townsman: 120 Kingston St, Boston, MA 02111

 

Branch Line: 321 Arsenal St, Watertown, MA 02472

 

Smoothies / Juice / Vegan

 

Pressed Boston: Multiple Locations

 

Mother Juice: Multiple Locations

 

Life Alive Urban Oasis and Organic Cafe: 765 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

 

Whole Heart Provisions: 487 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

 

JUGOS: 145 Dartmouth St, Boston, MA 02116

 

Miscellaneous

 

Little Donkey: 505 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

 

M.F. Dulock Pasture-Raised Meats: 201A Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

 

Roxy's Grilled Cheese & Burgers: 485 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

 

Sweets

 

Union Square Donuts: Multiple Locations

 

Blackbird Doughnuts: Multiple Locations

 

FoMu Ice Cream: Multiple Locations

 

Honeycomb Creamery: 1702 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

 

H A N G  L O C A L

 

Charles River Esplanade

 

This three-mile path runs along the Boston side of the Charles River and is beautiful year-round. I recommend a good book and picnic under one of the trees

 

Boston Public Library Courtyard: 700 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116

 

When visiting this historic library, be sure to step out onto its courtyard in the center. Filled with marble, gardens, and locals sipping tea while reading, it's a must-see when visiting Boston

 

SoWa Open Market: 460 Harrison Ave, Boston, MA 02118

 

Part food truck, farmers market, and makers market - This is the spot to hit up weekend mornings. Open every Saturday and Sunday from April - October

 

A4cade: 292 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

 

Area Four and Roxy's Grilled Cheese (see "Eat Local") collaborated to create this retro arcade bar complete with game tokens, fun drinks, and of course grilled cheese!

 

Lawn on D: 420 D St, Boston, MA 02210

 

This outdoor event space is located in the Seaport and is pretty much a playground for adults. Complete with lawn games, glow in the dark swings, and a bar - It's perfect for both summer days and nights

 

Kendall Square Rooftop Garden: 4 Cambridge CenterCambridge, MA 02142

 

Follow the signs at this parking garage and you'll be led to an unexpected mini green oasis

 

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: 25 Evans Way, Boston, MA 02115

 

This museum is the extensive private art collection of Isabella Stewart Gardner and is centered around her lush and vibrant courtyard - Another green oasis in the city 

 

Institute of Contemporary Art: 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA 02210

 

My favorite museum in Boston - This space offers constantly changing exhibits, stunning views of the harbor, and weekly events 

 

Massachusetts Avenue Bridge

 

This bridge connects Boston to Cambridge and is a great walk on a warm day. My favorite view of the city both during the day and night

 

Time to explore,

Liz

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