Food-wise, there is more to the city than the Warren Towers dining hall and CampCo fruit salads. Here, we raise a glass (of the finest Tavern in the Square drinkables, of course) to the best our little Back Bay neighborhood has to offer – from burgers to salads. Next week, we’ll look at some other businesses we’re thankful for; for now, head to one of these establishments and dig in.
Best café: Japonais Bakery and Café
1032 Commonwealth Ave.
Let’s say, hypothetically, you’re a college student who likes to get really drunk on the weekends while eating greasy food. Big assumption, we know. But, if so, perhaps when Sunday rolls around you like to make things a little bit lighter. Café Japonais is the perfect Sunday meeting place for next-day gossip and hangover nursing. You can get a good espresso and the best croissant in the whole damn city – without the awful crowds of Espresso Royale.
One runner up? The amazing, rich, insanely tasty coffee at Blue State, the Agganis-area shop that unfortunately loses a lot of points for its soulless atmosphere. It’s not a Coldstone Creamery anymore, guys – can you change the décor into something a little cozier?
Best Delivery Pizza: The Upper Crust
888 Commonwealth Ave.
Ok, we feel kind of guilty about recommending The Upper Crust. Google “the Upper Crust labor dispute” to see one reason why. But, our solidarity for the working man aside, we find it hard to resist this ubiquitous chain. It’s one of the few places at which we can consistently find New York-style pizza (albeit a little on the greasy side). And it not only has free delivery, it has over 50 kinds of toppings and specialty pizzas. Slices cost about $4 and pies run from $13 to $30.
Best Hangover Cure: T Anthony’s
1016 Commonwealth Ave.
Instead of concocting a Pepto-Bismol and Tums cocktail, try breakfast at T Anthony’s. Their $4 omelets and $4 pancakes are hearty, and T’s Big Breakfast (two pancakes, two eggs, coffee and meat for $5.80) is sure to detoxify any liver.
Best Ice Cream: Emack and Bolio’s/JP Licks
Various locations, including Newbury Street
The writers of this story were in vehement disagreement over the neighborhood’s best ice cream spot. Though we both agreed there were better ice cream places farther afield in Boston – Christina’s, LIzzy’s, Toscanini’s – in walking distance of BU, we favored these two chains. One writer appreciated the creative flavors of Emack and Bolio’s; the other preferred the creaminess of JP Licks (in particular a certain, perfect flavor called “Oreo Cake Batter”). Who’s the winner? All of us, of course.
Best Sushi: Kayuga
1030 Commonwealth Ave.
Prices for sushi range from $6 to $10. With varieties such as Red Sox Maki (lobster, avocado, cucumber and spicy mayo) and BU Maki (eel, crabstick, avocado, cucumber, spicy mayo, cream cheese and teriyaki), Kayuga is both affordable and delectable – with a likable dab of local pride. The atmosphere is fun as well – your meal will not go by without hearing patrons chanting and slamming down Saki while playing traditional Japanese drinking games (at least, we think they’re traditional…).
Best burger: Tasty Burger
1301 Boylston St.
This new burger joint, right behind Fenway, blows UBurger out of the water. While the quality of the patties themselves is about the same, Tasty Burger’s smart toppings (we love the Big Kahuna Burger), entertaining service and hip style are a world apart.
Not convinced of its coolness? Let’s make our case. First of all, Tasty Burger serves beer – good beer. Big plus. Secondly, there’s the fact the place is an homage to Pulp Fiction – there’s even a giant Samuel L. Jackson poster on the wall. Finally, it all takes place within a retro, refurbished garage – all adding to its retro diner meets hipster bar feel. It’s the rare burger place you could actually take a date to.
Best healthy option: The Otherside Café
407 Newbury St.
It’s nothing fancy – just sandwiches, salads and some cheap brunch. It’s a little gross and grimy in a self-consciously cool way – but hey, the eats are good, the music is great and they always, always have some thoughtful vegetarian, vegan and even raw food options. It has style and a sense of humor – one of their recent specials was called “Ham Solo on Chewbacca,” proving beyond a doubt that a hipster’s just a nerd who shops at American Apparel.
Best grocery store: Super 88
1 Brighton Ave.
Basically, you have to ask yourself this: do you just want groceries? Or do you want an adventure? Shaws or Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s can get you whatever you need to eat – at a cost. But you can get most of what you need at Super 88, too, for a whole lot cheaper. It’s worth it just for the experience – getting a bubble tea while you stroll the aisles, taking a chance with some weird-looking fish candy, deciding whether it’s worth risking your life over one of the “manager’s specials” on produce. It’s amazing what you can get there – from incense and art to pots and pans.