All dine-in service has been banned in the state of Massachusetts to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. While I naively thought that the governor’s proclamation only applied to bars and restaurants, in actuality the shutdown extends to all eateries–cafes included. Cafes are a place of community and commerce. While we all make at least a small purchase for entrance, we tend to extend our welcome far past our final sip of coffee to socialize with friends or clack away on our laptops. With the social distancing policy, cafes too have shut their doors to visitors. I want to take the time now to highlight a few places around Boston (I didn’t include any downtown spots) worth checking out if you’re in the area…post-pandemic that is.
Tatte Bakery & Café is a Boston-area chain that was founded in 2007 by a self-taught Israeli pastry chef. Each Tatte location has the same white tile interior and scrumptious assortment of handmade pastries, breads, and dishes. If I had to choose one cafe that I most closely associate with in 2019, I would hands-down select Tatte. My favorite order is the muesli bowl (more here), which is a labneh yogurt base with granola, berries, honey, nuts, and sesame seeds. Honestly, compared to other places on this list, the coffee offerings are not very special. Also, for the remote worker, most Tatte locations are too crowded, noisy, and are wanting for plug outlets.
Evergreen is certainly a diamond in the rough. Located just steps away from the Green St. subway station on the Orange line, Evergreen Eatery & Café sits along parking lots, small businesses, and a few residences. Evergreen is divided into two sections—a diner-style restaurant and a takeout stand. On my weekend morning visit, I found the restaurant to be crowded, but as a solo diner I was quickly ushered to a bar stool. Admittedly, this location is a ‘restaurant’ rather than a café as it offers table service. However, the wide selection of juices, smoothies, pastries and coffee products makes this location stand out in a lineup of either restaurants or cafés.
Quincy, Massachusetts is a city located in the metropolitan area of Boston. While Quincy has a unique look and identity, it is connected to Boston, like a vein is to the heart, by the subway system (known as the “T”). Oceans Coffee sits on one of the city’s main streets and is only a short walk away from the center. Quincy has the largest concentration of persons with Asian origin in Massachusetts. The most prominent nationality represented in Quincy is Chinese and the cultural imprint is proudly represented in the city. Oceans Cafe is a small but elegant establishment that offers regular cafe fare including breakfast sandwiches and coffee, but also some oriental treats. One item that I regret not getting was the ‘red bean latte.’ I enjoy the red bean flavor having tried it in a mooncake ages ago, however, I was craving caffeine at the time and did not want risk ordering out of my comfort zone. The chai tea latte was like nothing I had ever tasted before! It was sweet and cinnamon-sugary like a liquid graham cracker. The food, on the other hand, was simple. I ordered a bagel with egg and cheese and got just that (pic above). The cost was on par with the quality, which made the meal…fine!
I once did a trek through Roslindale and although I believe this to be cute community, it is certainly not a hub for cafes. On one of my trips to the area, I spent some time at Fornax Bread Company. While the bread is superb, everything else was average. I tried the quiche, which was average tasting, although I have had better for the same price. When I asked for the wifi password, the friendly woman behind the counter said that it was only used for the credit card machine. Lastly, a word of warning, the restroom is located at the back of the bakery and one has go outside and around the corner to access a the tiny water closet.
Forge, like the Tardis, is bigger on the inside. Located in the corner of a parking lot with a non-discrete sign, the cafe has a spacious interior with plenty of seating, an ice cream bar, and a wide-open window into the kitchen. With plenty of tables (high, low, communal, and bar) this location is a paradise for meetings as well as solo work. Also, the cafe serves a savory monkey bread, which is salty, flavorful, and quite frankly, out of this world!
Now that the edges of my world have shrunk dramatically in response to the coronavirus pandemic, I appreciate even more how much freedom I had to mill around and linger at cafes around my city. Every day is unique, and all time is precious, so I will not dwell too much on what I cannot have. However, I do certainly look forward to getting back out there and experiencing all that Boston has to offer when our world makes it to the other side of the coronavirus curve.
Until that time, Dear Reader, have fun inside!