Somerville's Union Square has been up-and-coming for a while, but with the Green Line rolling in by 2017 (finally), the Square is busier than ever. Luckily for us, that should mean more good restaurants added to an already strong showing.
But what about right here, right now -- which current neighborhood eateries stand out? We decided to find out, and then rank them for your dining convenience.
7. Buk Kyung
What you’re getting: Jajangmyun and jabchae
Buk Kyung is not young, hip, or like what you expect Union Square to be these days. In fact, the interior is rather plain and the walls are painted a muted, “'70s” yellow. But you can't always judge a place by its repurposed barn doors and collection of vintage beer cans, and BK still prepares some of the most authentic Korean food in the Boston area.
6. Brass Union
What you’re getting: Choripan and the Esqueleto cocktail
There aren’t many restaurants in the Square that have both great cocktails and a solid dinner menu, let alone serve them to you while you play Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, shuffleboard, or Jenga. Maybe it’s nostalgia, but this is certainly a good way to spend an evening, not to mention a great place to bring a date.
What you’re getting: Ceviche de pescado and Seco de Carne a la Norteña
Machu Picchu is a festive sit-down spot touted by locals as the Peruvian gem of Union Square. Its native Peruvian owner, Rosie Cerna, cooks traditional and authentic dishes like the seco de carne (marinated beef with rice and beans) and lomo saltado (juicy sirloin with onions and tomatoes) alongside her own creations like the Pollo Chan-Chan, which's essentially a chicken roulade stuffed with shrimp, spinach, and cheese.
What you’re getting: Peruvian charcoal chicken
Anytime you’re in Union Square and happen to smell the smoky aroma of charcoal goodness, it’s Machu Chicken. "Flavorful," "tender," and "crispy" are all words that have been used to describe Machu’s famous Peruvian “pollo a la brasa,” or charcoal chicken. And at $10 for half a bird, it's a win-win for everybody.
3. Casa B
What you’re getting: Albondigas and Tabla de Ceviches
Sometimes what’s chic doesn't taste good (see: shoes), and what tastes good isn’t chic (see: hot dogs). That is not the case at Casa B, where delicious and fresh Spanish and Caribbean tapas are served up in a stylish, white mod setting. Frequenters swear by the albondigas -- organic beef meatballs in guava and tomato sauce.
What you’re getting: Currywurst and schnitzel
House-made sausages, schnitzel, and German beer, what could be better than that? Enjoying them whilst sitting outside, of course. Bronwyn’s regional Eastern European menu (along with its classic biergarten decor and deck!), brings just the right amount of Bavaria to the heart of Somerville. FYI: be on the lookout for Playska, Bronwyn’s more casual, eat-in/takeaway Eastern European sandwich shop opening in Inman Square in September.
What you’re getting: Chef’s choice (includes a vegetarian option)
If you’re up for food that's innovative, interesting, and inspiring (and don't mind an $85 price tag), then Journeyman is the best of the best. Four chefs whip up daily changing tasting menus from bok choy with pickled rose petals and roasted yeast broth to a veggie-inspired potato cake topped with a dusting of vibrant red beet & honey powder. Dinners are ticketed and can be snagged one month in advance, right here.
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1. Journeyman9 Sanborn Ct, Somerville
2. Bronwyn255 Washington St, Somerville
3. Casa B253 Washington St, Sommerville
4. Machu Picchu Charcoal Chicken & Grill25 Union Sq, Somerville
5. Machu Picchu Restaurant307 Somerville Ave, Somerville
6. Brass Union70 Union Square, Somerville
7. Buk Kyung9 Union Sq Ste A, Somerville
A bold first-time endeavor from a husband-wife/historian-sociologist duo, Journeyman serves a fixed weekly menu of locally sourced grub paired with biodynamic wines in an intimate 14-table, 36-seat old pasta sauce factory.
This cozy Union Square restaurant serves up modern twists on traditional and authentic German fare (borscht, massive bretzels, every wurst imaginable). And, in true German fashion, Bronwyn offers dozens of beers (by the liter, boot or bucket) from all over central Europe and New England. Owner Tim Wiechmann was aiming to imitate the atmosphere of a European dive or hostel with this location, and he totally nailed it with its nearly medeival look (dark, heavy wooden tables, worn-leather bar stools, rustic red and blue walls).
You might make Casa B your second home (get it?) after spending some time in this dual-level resto that serves their interpretation of traditional dishes from the Spanish Caribbean, most of which is meant to be shared and eaten sans utensils.
The smell of charcoal grilled chicken should guide you to Machu Chicken, where you can get chicken that is simultaneously juicy, smoky, and crispy. The price ($10 for half a chicken) only makes it better.
This festive spot is serving traditional Peruvian food, like beef with rice & beans and sirloin with onions & tomatoes. Native Peruvian and owner Rosie Cerna also adds some dishes of her own to the menu, like her take on a chicken roulade.
At Brass Union, the front, tavern-style setting gives way to a funk/soul lounge in back, which boasts vintage table-top video games, board games, life-size Connect Four, and a 14-foot shuffleboard court.
Koreans say Buk Kyung is as close to authentic Korean food as you get in Boston. The restaurant specializes in Chinese-influenced Korean dishes, evident in its community-sized plates and signature jajangmyun, or soybean-paste noodle. The restaurant’s no-fuss yellow décor and tag-team husband-and-wife duo further confirm that it serves the real-deal Korean.