A Bazaar of Flavors

Dear Reader,

Do you have a favorite coffee shop that you frequent? I have a top few that I rotate between. Having a regular haunt takes the guesswork out of your day. At best, it can be a convenient time-saver, however, at worst, it can trap you into a repetitive cycle. I so frequently get breakfast from the same shop that the cashiers either know me by name or by order. The predictability of this can be a comfort. However, if there is any sort of negative deviation in the routine, for example, an unusually long wait, my usual order is unavailable, or the food is not prepared to the expected standard, then it sours my day in a disproportionately large way. 

It is a bad feeling when the start of your day has gotten off on the wrong foot. When little things like a sub-par breakfast make me grouchy, I fear that I am well on my way to becoming a crotchety older person. To prevent this (or at this point “combat this”), every once and a while I break routine and do something completely different. So, over the weekend, instead of treading down my normal path, I set out to visit the Sofra Bakery & Cafe in Cambridge.

Sofra, Cambridge, MA, winter 2020

Sofra sits on a street corner in a largely residential part of Cambridge near the Mt. Auburn cemetery. Seating is limited and the tiny cafe area is packed with people crowding tables, waiting for their orders, and shuffling to see the menu or picking up a to-go item. I managed to get to the cafe within the first 30 mins of opening, which allowed me a small window to claim a seat at a bar overlooking the street before the masses swarmed.

Sofra is a Middle Eastern/ Mediterranean cafe. Items on the menu include Turkish coffee, tzatziki, baba ganoush, Syrian shortbread, walnut baklava, and much more. I ended up ordering a sahlep, which is a hot milk-based, herbal beverage with cinnamon. The liquid was thicker than eggnog and sweet with a floral taste. I also ordered a granola dish which was mixed with an orange flavor and topped with labneh yogurt. All menu items seemed to be created and prepared with care and attention. I’m sure that I will find myself back again to sample other unique selections.

In addition to their menu options, the shop is also stocked with prepared items like jam and honey. The atmosphere is cozy and eclectic. Before the morning rush, I could clearly hear the overhead music playing, which was an enchanting vocalization in a foreign language (perhaps Turkish??). Even in this small space with the door continuously flapping open, the shop was warm and familiar.

This small neighborhood cafe is well-worth a visit. Sojourns like my one to Sofra inspire me to continue to venture to areas outside my own. Dining or shopping “downtown” has become synonymous with an upscale experience. However, joints like Sofra show that the city is scattered with high-quality gems. The next time that I plan to dine out, instead of flocking to the city, I will look towards the outskirts.



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