High art, low key: Davis Square is a hot spot

by Beacon Staff • February 15, 2006

Next time you are bored of shopping on Newbury Street again, or want to pass the time on a lazy Saturday, Somerville's hub is sure to have something for you.,Davis Square, just 20 minutes from Emerson College, is bouncing with college students that reflect the qualities of Somerville's eclectic mix of shops and tasty eateries.

Next time you are bored of shopping on Newbury Street again, or want to pass the time on a lazy Saturday, Somerville's hub is sure to have something for you.

For the college student who loves to find treasures in someone else's trash, there is Goodwill, where you are almost guaranteed to find a deal.

If fashionable and trendy is more your style, head over to Poor Little Rich Girl, a vintage boutique that boasts chic designer dresses at thrift store prices. If you are in the mood for high-end couture, Black Blues and Cibeline Inc. will have something for you.

Katie Greenlee, a sophomore international relations major at Tufts University, however, warns about the prices. Greenlee, a native of Kaneohe, Hawaii chose Tufts for its East Coast location but was pleasantly surprised to find access to both big city shopping in nearby Boston and the boutique aspect of Davis Square.

"I have gone to [those boutiques] before but I am not the type to spend $400 for a blazer," Greenlee said.

The stores' sales are definitely worth a look-it was recently advertising merchandise marked down 40 to 60 percent.

For the nature lover, there is Chinook Outdoor Adventure, which carries gear such as hats, boots and jackets.

With all the shopping Davis Square has to offer, one is sure to work up an appetite. When it comes to dining, there is once again something for everyone. If you are looking for Indian cuisine, try visiting Diva, which serves a traditional vegetarian Indian meal with features such as raita, rice pullau and poori.

Sauce is another find in Davis, with dinner ranging from $5 to $18. There is a huge bar that is home to many gigantic TVs and the menu includes lobster risotto and Sicilian spinach strudel. The customer should be warned, however, that Sauce is also known for its small plates.

Johnny D's Uptown Restaurant offers a "Jazzy Sunday brunch that is the coolest if you can ever go," Justin Sumner, a junior international relations major at Tufts University said. For some college students, waking up in time for brunch on a Sunday is difficult, but Sumner thinks that it is worth the effort to crawl out of bed for the tasty food and atmosphere evoked from the jazz music played while you eat.

There is also Anna's Taqueria, which is a favorite among college students for its "cheap Mexican and intensely fast service," Brad Fowler, a sophomore political science major at Tufts University said.

Another student favorite is The Joshua Tree, which is known for its chic bar atmosphere and large plasma televisions. Also, there is a local favorite Mike's Restaurant, known for its "good cheap beer," Jeffrey Cruise, a senior civil engineering major at Tufts University said. It is the place to go for "pizza and pitchers," he said.

Another local favorite worth checking out is Redbones Barbecue. It has become a favorite of many for its "down-home-style Southern food," according to its Web site, and it is known for their ribs which can be served sweet, hot, mild or with vinegar.

Mardis Gras at this popular spot is sure to satisfy your need for Southern fried food. On Feb. 28, Redbones will pay tribute to New Orleans with crawfish boil, jambalaya, red beans and rice, and 'po boys.

Many students also go to Benny Blanco Barbershop to find culture: according to Cruise, there are "nice talkative ladies" who cut hair. In addition, there is Femia Salon, which is a good option for highlights or a trim.

"I did not expect that such an eclectic mix of establishments would be in the same place," Laura Dadap, an Emerson freshman acting major, said of Davis Square. "I could waste hours there." Dadap traveled to Davis Square a few months ago in search of something different and said she really liked the suburban atmosphere Davis has to offer.

One of the most appealing parts of Davis Square to the college student on a budget might be the Somerville Theater. Matinees only cost $4 a person and all other shows top out at $6.50.

The theatre, which screens new releases, is also home to concerts and shows, with Kate Clinton playing Saturday, Feb. 18 at 8 p.m. and Pink Martini on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. Clinton, an award-winning lesbian comedian, is stopping at the Somerville Theater on her 25th anniversary tour. Pink Martini is a 12-piece mix between "a 1930s Cuban dance orchestra, a classical chamber music ensemble, a Brazilian marching street band and Japanese film noir," according to their Web site.

"The building itself is great," Stephen Clemmer, assistant residence director at the Doubletree Hotel said of the theatre. "The live shows are excellent, and they showcase local performers who are usually amazing musicians and artists."

He said he thinks of the theatre as a place where "pop culture and local culture can coexist, you can catch a Hollywood movie or a local show."

Davis Square is an oasis to be discovered and offers up a different atmosphere than Emerson's daily grind.

For a break from downtown Boston's bustling city life or the exorbitant ticket prices at Loews, the roundtrip $2.50 MBTA fare is well worth the trip.

Davis Square is accessible by the MBTA Red Line at the Davis Square stop.