Beacon's Boston: sip, sit, and shop in these spots

by Christina Bartson / Beacon Staff, Anna Buckley / Beacon Staff, Stephany Christie / Beacon Staff, Aren Kabarajian / Design Director, Jackie Roman / Beacon Staff, and Rebecca Szkutak / Beacon Staff • September 3, 2015

Crepes, coffee, and comfy couches to covet

If you like carefully crafted espresso drinks, Brie, the Eiffel Tower, Nutella, puns, folding or rolling your food, or any combination of these items—this café is worth a visit. Francophiles and foodies can find a cozy sanctuary at The Paris Creperie, tucked away on Harvard Street in Coolidge Corner. The Creperie offers a crepe of the month, usually based heavily on a pop culture reference (August’s crepe was “Omlette You Finish” featuring Kanye, Taylor, and Sriracha-cashew aioli), hosts creative events like having one of their employees wear a Marie Antoinette costume on Bastille Day, and cooks up high-quality food that will satisfy your savory and sweet tooth.

— Christina Bartson / Managing Editor

Boston Common Coffee Company makes this city feel like home. Few things are more comforting during midterms than a homemade (that means no artificial flavoring like the big chains) pumpkin spice latte and slice of chocolate zucchini bread. It’s also got plenty of spots for you to hide away with a book or get some writing done, never mind people-watching Downtown Crossing’s crowd. If you’ve got early Thursday classes, I recommend getting up early to get one of BoCoCoCo’s donuts - new flavors come out each Thursday. When the weather is nice it’s the perfect opportunity to take advantage of one of the lunch specials. A side salad and sandwich combo gives a hearty quantity for a great price and makes for a good companion on the Common.

— Jackie Roman  / Opinion Editor

Fresh smells of fragrant coffee and a neighborhood feel make 1369 Coffee House a great spot in Cambridge. This lively café has been in business since 1993, and although their prices on the chalkboard menu may have changed, the charm remains. With old fashioned lamps on wooden tables and inspiring artwork on the walls, it’s the perfect place to chat with an old friend or caffeinate while writing your next paper. 1369’s drinks go far beyond your average cup of joe, as they feature up to two dozen varieties of coffee from around the world. To cool down, go for the frozen mocha slide, or an Vietnamese Iced Coffee. In those colder Boston months, go for one of their house blended dutch hot chocolates, with a fresh baked cookie on the side. Their Mexican hot chocolate packs a punch with chipotle, while their Almond Joy has coconut flavors just like the candy  swirled into their homemade cocoa. 1369 actually sports two locations, but the one in Central Square (rather than Inman Square) is a block away from the Central stop on the Red Line.

— Aren Kabarajian / Design Director

 

Park it in these green spaces

 If you're looking to escape the city chaos but only have a Charlie Card to do so, Jamaica Pond is your saving grace. Located off the Stony Brook T stop on the Orange Line, the pond is a mecca for nature lovers, sun bathers, and quiet thinkers alike. You can walk the perimeter of the pond, or find a quiet spot at the edge of the water to strum your guitar or catch up on your reading. The umbrella of trees is thick enough and the pond large enough that you'll forget, if only for an hour, the stress of forging your way to class down busy Boylston during rush hour. Not to mention that if you get hungry, J.P. Licks, Fomu, and Grass Fed are all within walking distance on your way back to the T.

— Anna Buckley / Managing Editor

The Charles River Esplanade is a fan favorite for reconnecting with oneself and the city. It sounds corny, but sitting on the dock at the Esplanade and watching the sun go down over the Boston cityscape is a spiritual experience. During the day, this is a good place to plan a picnic, go for a run or throw around a frisbee. Plus, the playground never gets old. The Esplanade also has winding paths that provide a beautiful view of the Boston Harbor. If you've got any visitors in town, this is probably the best way to get them to fall in love with the city. When standing on the Esplanade you've got the cool breeze from the harbor, the sounds of the city and the feeling that you've found the right place.

— Jackie Roman / Opinion Editor

 

Thrift stores: Low cost with a high inventory

Located near Harvard Ave off the B Line, Buffalo Exchange allows you to trade in your current clothes for up to 50 percent store credit, or 30 percent of their retail value in cash. They also offer an extensive amount of both vintage and fairly new garments. This store is more expensive than Goodwill, but donations are chosen carefully by staff to ensure that they are trendier and in excellent condition. If you are lacking inspiration for a new outfit, check out their blog, The Hub, which is constantly being updated with new stories advising readers how to look great at a low price.

Also located off the Harvard Ave T Stop, Urban Renewals is for the more diligent, patient thrift shopper. There are no fitting rooms, and they only accept cash, so be prepared before you go. This store, which stocks 1,000-10,000 new items daily, is perfect for a shopper on a budget, as t-shirts range from 99 cents to $3.99 apiece. And, everyday, certain colored tags mark items that are 50 percent off. Be warned, however—the immensity of the store and the low prices can keep you shopping for hours. Make sure you choose to browse here on a day when you don’t have any responsibilities.

Boomerangs donates much of their profits to the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts. Boomerangs sells everything from clothes to home decor and appliances, and their prices are less expensive than some alternatives. If you can’t find what you need, one of the other three Boston locations is sure to  have what you’re looking for. And, if you want to help out the cause but are looking for more high-end furniture and garbs, check out the Boomerangs Special Edition boutique in the South End.

If you’re a thrift shopper with a knack for vintage, western, and punk clothing, then Rick Walker’s is the place for you. Only a short walk from Emerson, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by how distinctive Walker’s is: A pet rooster greets shoppers at the door, and the employees behind the cash register always look like they just walked off the stage after performing the final show of their headlining tour. Walker’s sells genuine leather jackets and vests, Navajo jewelry, 90s designer vintage, authentic cowboy boots, and vintage concert pins. This store is not for shoppers on a shoestring budget, but for shoppers willing to spend a little extra for priceless goods.

The Garment District is probably the most well-known thrift store in the Boston area. A five-minute walk from the Kendall/MIT Red Line T Station, The Garment District has seven departments to appeal to all of your needs. Home to an enormous costume selection, the store is perfect for getting a Halloween costume for cheap. The upstairs floor of The Garment District holds thousands of clothes categorized by decades, starting with the 50s and ending with the 90s. Lastly, the by-the-pound section located on the lower level contains mounds of clothes all for $1.20 a pound.

— Stephany Christie / Deputy Lifestyle Editor