The Best Restaurants in Davis Square

By Emily Millian
10/18/2022
The Best Restaurants in Davis Square

Once a predominantly blue-collar community filled with triple-deckers, Davis Square has undergone some major transformations in recent decades. Accessible right off the Red Line, with Tufts University nearby and attractions like the century-old Somerville Theatre, Davis is lively, culturally diverse, and home to an eclectic mix of small businesses. Next time you’re hungry or thirsty in this vibrant Somerville neighborhood, check out our picks for the best restaurants in Davis Square.

Spoke Wine Bar

Spoke wine bar
Credit: Chris McIntosh

A rare tale in restaurants: a local wine bar closes, only to later reopen as a new and improved version of itself. That’s the story of Spoke Wine Bar, which tragically shuttered in December 2016 after three years in service, and was revived six months later by former employee Mary Kurth. Ever since, the small-but-vibrant dining room has continuously been home to dozens of by-the-glass offerings, low-octane cocktails, and a seasonally focused menu of small plates by award-winning co-chefs, Paul Butler and Kelcey Rusch. Along with an eclectic selection of European wines, visitors can expect to be surprised by dishes such as Fresh Cherry and Whiskey Glazed Duck Hearts; Grits with popcorn, peanuts, and eggplant mole; and playful desserts like Corn-Shiso Sorbet with puffed rice.

Tsurumen 1000

Tsurumen 1000
Credit: Brian Samuels Photography

Chef Masuo Onishi opened his Davis Square ramen shop after more than a decade of experience in Osaka, Japan, with the intriguing idea of only being open for 1,000 days. With an end date set from the start, the goal was to continue to master the craft of ramen and share it with anyone who walked through the door. Well, those 1,000 days have come and gone, and while the closing date has been tossed aside, the goal has not: Tsurumen 1000 is committed to quality and authenticity. Noodles, broth, and sauces are prepared from scratch daily for each meticulously crafted bowl. The Signature Shoyu, for example, features thin noodles and clear chicken broth with soy sauce tare; while the Maze Soba gets flat noodles and chicken oil and garlic sauce, each with its own set of toppings. For a taste of Osaka, Tsurumen 1000 is for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday (note: it’s closed between 2:30 and 5 p.m.).

Revival Cafe + Kitchen

Revival Cafe + Kitchen
Credit: Chris McIntosh

Revival Cafe + Kitchen is a favorite in Davis from breakfast straight on through lunch, with coffee from local roaster George Howell, teas from MEM Teas (headquartered right across the street), and house-made comfort food. Pastries like Zucchini Cardamom Muffins, Chocolate Tahini Bread, and assorted cookies are a treat, and Revival also makes fresh bagels and English muffins for a lineup of egg sandwiches. The lunch menu of salads and sandwiches includes several vegetarian options, such as Mrs. Sweet Potato (a whole wheat wrap with roasted sweet potato, sweet potato hummus, apple, spinach, and sherry vinaigrette). Fried chicken fans will want to visit on a Friday for a special with buttermilk-brined fried chicken thigh. Currently, the Davis location of Revival is offering window service with outdoor seating decked out in street art.

Dragon Pizza

Dragon Pizza | The Best Restaurants in Davis Square
Credit: Chris McIntosh

Dragon Pizza is more of your classic slice shop—but also so much more than just that. Serving New York-style pizza, this spot has a full bar and a cool, retro vibe with music always jammin’ and large cassettes plastered on the walls. The pizza is crispy and foldable (do as the New Yorkers do), and creative topping combinations—like chili-maple syrup on the Maple Bacon Cheddar or Szechuan-style braised chicken on the Kung Pao Chicken—are available as full pies or by the slice, which is a nice option, especially around lunchtime. Be sure to peep the wine list along with good local beers and an impressive amaro list, as well. 

Shirley

The Best Restaurants in Davis Square
Credit: Chris McIntosh

“Eat more sunshine”? We’re intrigued. This new spot’s tagline describes something beyond the five flavor elements—sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami—like the taste of joy and comfort. Take the Crispy Bacon and Delicata Squash sandwich, with local smokehouse bacon, first-of-the-season winter squash roasted with local honey, and slicked with jalapeño aioli, all tied up to-go with the sweetest little bow. A spin on the fall favorite, the Apple Cider Donut Muffin, is made with local flours and cider as well as maple sugar and cinnamon from Cambridge’s Curio Spice Co. The small menu changes daily, but it always offers something special. Originally a pop-up in Bow Market, Shirley has put down roots in a small shop in the heart of Davis Square. Take your treats to one of the area’s outdoor spots and soak up the sunshine.

Nine Bar Espresso

Nine Bar Espresso | The Best Restaurants in Davis Square
Credit: Chris McIntosh

Perfect for that on-the-go cuppa joe, Nine Bar Espresso pours window-service drinks on the main strip of Holland Street, across from the Davis Square T station. Coffee and espresso drinks feature the local roaster Gracenote Coffee, pastries are brought in daily from A&J King Bakery in Salem, and egg sammies are made in-house. Whether you’re commuting or having a leisurely walk along the Somerville Community Path, a coffee pick-me-up from Nine Bar Espresso is always a good call.

Sugidama Soba and Izakaya

Sugidama Soba and Izakaya
Credit: Chris McIntosh

Situated within the Davis Square Plaza on Elm Street, Sugidama is a cozy Japanese tavern with an extensive menu. House-made soba noodles are served both hot and cold; we love the bowl of Sukiyaki, a super-umami soup topped with smoky-salty pork, soft tofu, scallion, and a poached egg. Beyond the noods, there’s plenty more to choose from, such as sushi and yakitori (grilled skewers). Beef-Enoki yakitori is a wonderful textural combination of short rib and mushroom. The Scallop Hokkaiyaki appetizer, meanwhile, is literally fire: a dish of baked scallops with crab stick, mushroom, and roe, it’s brought to the table aflame. Cocktails, like the Ume Highball, use top-shelf spirits but top out at just $13. Open for weekday lunch and dinner nightly, constant crowds prove it’s always a good time to visit Sugidama.

Dave's Fresh Pasta

Italian sandwich from Dave's Fresh Pasta
Credit: Brian Samuels Photography

Back in 1999, Dave Jick started rolling out pasta dough and laid the foundation for a booming business. More than 20 years later, Dave’s Fresh Pasta has expanded its offerings to other freshly prepared foods, sandwiches, spreads, charcuter, cheeses, wine, and other artisan items. While the fresh pasta is, of course, the reason to venture over, it’s the sandwiches that really keep us coming back. Prosciutto and Fig and the Pesto Chicken are both delightful. The Brazilian Hangover Helper—topped with mortadella, provolone piccante, red onion, dill pickle, hot peppers, and mayo—is just the remedy after an overindulgent night out in the neighborhood. On the edge of Teele Square in Davis, Dave’s Fresh Pasta has become a Somerville staple. 

Posto

Posto food
Credit: Chris McIntosh

The heart of this Davis Square restaurant is the crackling, 825-degree oven that crisps up the crusts of bubbling, Neapolitan-style pizza. But Posto serves up more than just wood-fired pies: antipasti, handmade pastas, grilled meats—and craft cocktails, too. When it comes to ingredients, there’s no compromise on quality, from the San Marzano tomatoes comprising red sauce for the likes of the Spicy Meat Lovers and fried Eggplant pizzas, or Posto’s very own fiore di latte mozzarella cheese made in-house every day.

Life Alive Cafe | The Best Restaurants in Davis Square
Credit: Brian Samuels Photography

Appealing to vegetarians and omnivores alike, Life Alive Cafe strives to be an “urban oasis” for plant-based nourishment and a comfortable place to relax. It’s never quiet, however: The 75-seat Davis Square cafe is literally (and figuratively) buzzing with not only local residents and Tufts students, but also blenders whirring for smoothies and açaí bowls. We can’t deny finding renewed energy in Life Alive’s wholesome warm grain bowls, such as the Adventurer, loaded with red beets, broccoli, kale, fresh corn, tofu, roasted almonds, and sesame and tamari-ginger sauces atop quinoa and cheddar rice. This colorful creation fits right in at the newest outpost, a technicolor hangout spot with cozy nooks for studying and outdoor dining.

Dakzen bowl
Credit: Brian Samuels Photography

From the moment Dakzen introduced itself to Davis Square, the Thai noodle house has been a crowd favorite. With some of the best Thai food in the area, Dakzen takes on classic takeout dishes like Pad Thai and spicy, basil-scented Khao Grapow with big, bold flavors. We can’t get enough of their steaming soups, like the spicy Tom Yum Noodles and Khao Soi, a tangy, creamy, sweet, and savory version of the traditional Northern Thai curry dish. Standout Bangkok-style street food snacks like Sai Va (authentic Thai andouille sausage) satisfy late-night cravings daily until 2 a.m.

Opa Greek Yeeros

Opa Greek Yeeros
Credit: Chris McIntosh

There’s authentic Greek fare in Davis Square: Find it at Opa Greek Yeeros. This casual taverna nestled on Highland Avenue is centered on the classic pita sandwich (spelled phonetically here, rather than “gyro”). The open kitchen is outfitted with large, vertical spits from which chicken, pork, beef, and lamb can be beautifully shaved off. Try it souvlaki style (on a skewer) or tucked into a fluffy pita with crispy fries, tzatziki sauce, tomatoes, red onion, and fresh parsley. There is more traditional fare on the menu, like Chicken Avgolemono Soup and Horiatiki Salad (the classic combo of tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, green peppers, feta, and olives)—but if you order nothing else, do not skip on the Loukoumades: plush, honey doughnuts made to order.

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