The Best of Boston: My First Year in Food

by Erin Gill

As my first year of college is coming to a close, I am incredibly thankful to have spent the semester in Boston at Northeastern, where students and faculty are getting tested for COVID-19 multiple times a week. I have felt extremely safe during my time on campus, but I would be joking if I said it wasn’t difficult to think of activities to enjoy in my free time. While I have gotten much more creative at making my own fun, I always seem to default to getting food with friends. Few things make me feel better than chatting with friends over a tasty meal, and doing so has been a go-to activity for me throughout the pandemic. At this point, I have been in Boston for nearly six months and have found some fantastic spots for food that I would like to share. This list of my favorite places includes everything from the best study spaces to fancy dining locations.

Let me start with my favorite study spots near campus. Sometimes all I need to get out and be productive is to head to a coffee shop. I have spent countless hours sitting in Caffè Nero doing school work. While their coffee and food are great, their work vibes are immaculate. I highly recommend going if you’re someone like me who prefers to get out of their room to study. Another spot I enjoy heading to for studying is Farmer’s Horse Coffee. It is a quaint spot on Massachusetts Avenue that I discovered this semester. It can be hard to find a spot to study sometimes, but they have outdoor tents which are lovely on a sunny day. I love their bacon, egg, & cheese bagels and chicken pesto sandwich, as well as their chocolate chip muffins. Yum!

Because of COVID-19, many of my favorite coffee places are shut down for in-person seating, prohibiting me from studying there. I tend to save these kinds of locations for grab-and-go situations. Tatte is my favorite place for meeting with friends over coffee. Since it is right on campus, it is easy to take food and drinks somewhere else to sit and enjoy. I could eat their bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwiches all day long. Their avocado toast is excellent, and you can’t go wrong with any of their pastries. Pavement is my favorite place for the day after a late night out. I usually go with the classic – cream cheese on an everything bagel. Recently, though, I got adventurous and tried their tequila sunrise bagel, which was great for a change if you’re looking for something a little more extravagant. No matter where I get my coffee, I usually always go for a plain latte, hot or cold, based on the weather. When I am craving something special, though, my favorite coffee is Blue Bottle. Their New Orleans iced coffee has a perfectly satisfying hint of sweetness.

When I need to order a quick meal, I usually head somewhere on Huntington Avenue. I typically grab a salad from Sprout or a burrito bowl from Amelia’s. Anything from Poké Station is always yummy, too. If I am working diligently and am on a time crunch, ordering Sweetgreen is what I typically need to keep powering through my work.

This semester, I have spent more time exploring Cambridge, usually when my friends and I are looking for a day out on the weekends. We have found a few cool spots so far. Brunch at Cafe Luna is perfect for a casual sit-down meal. I tried their “Kitchen Sink” meal, which was the perfect mix of sweet and savory breakfast foods. Another slightly more fancy brunch spot is Russell House Tavern, which my friends and I enjoyed. On one of my days in Cambridge, I went to Mike’s Pastry. I got one of their classic cannolis with chocolate chips, which are to die for. North End enthusiasts would probably shame me for not going to the authentic Italian area of town. That is on my mind for another day, though, trust me!

When you have a reason to celebrate or if you simply want to treat yourself, I have a few ideas for you. Serafina, an Italian restaurant on Newbury Street, is a fantastic place for dinner. You can’t go wrong with any of their pasta dishes or pizzas. Earl’s is another brilliant option that has a wide variety of food options. While everything I have tried was excellent, their truffle fries are next level. Barcelona in the South End is another restaurant that I love to go to. Their tapas-style dishes are perfect for sharing with friends. The patatas bravas are a must-order. Finally, Basho on Boylston Street is a fun option if you want something with an Asian flair. I have tried their dumplings and sushi, which I enjoyed immensely.

If you have a sweet tooth like me, you know that no list of food establishments would be complete without options for dessert. So, don’t worry – I’ve got you covered. Recently I tried Boston Burger Company, and their milkshakes were terrific! Ironically, I haven’t tried their burgers yet, but I would recommend going for a fun night out. Suppose you’re looking to grab something after a nice dinner. In that case, getting rolled ice cream from “I CE NY” is a unique and aesthetically pleasing experience. Last, but certainly not least, is JP Licks. It is the best spot when you’re craving something sweet. I have tried their ice cream cakes and sandwiches, but a simple cup or cone of ice cream often hits the spot best, no matter what time of day.

So, there you have it – some of my favorite spots for food in Boston. I write this list humbly, knowing that I have barely even scratched the surface of all the incredible places that Boston has to offer. There is so much more that I cannot wait to try! However, I hope that this list of my current favorite places might be of use and bring joy (and delicious food) to other students and Bostonians during this pandemic!