Our Favorite Downtowns: Somerville

With more than 20 new businesses setting up shop in the past year, downtown Somerville is on the way to becoming a great shopping and dining destination.

The Division Street pedestrian plaza in Somerville hosts a farmers' market and gatherings like this yoga class.
The Division Street pedestrian plaza hosts a farmers' market and gatherings like this yoga class.
Photo by Ron Wyatt

Downtown Somerville is on its way up. More than 20 new downtown businesses have opened this year, adding to the town’s reputation as a food and shopping destination.

“Somerville is at a crossroads,” acknowledges Beth Anne Macdonald, executive director for the Downtown Somerville Alliance. At the eastern end of Main Street (Route 28), the early-20th-century Beaux-Arts courthouse stands as an impressive relic of Somerville’s past; at the western end, a vast empty lot—where stores and townhomes are to replace an old shopping center—represents the town’s future. For about six blocks in between, downtown Somerville packs in more than 45 restaurants and 75 specialty stores. Many are located on Division Street, a cobblestoned pedestrian plaza. Division Street attractions include the sweet-tooth worthy Carol’s Creative Chocolatez and a weekly farmers’ market, Thursdays, 11 am to 4 pm, June through November.

Mickey Young, who moved to Somerville in April, appreciates the convenient shopping and friendly atmosphere. “I’ve met more neighbors in Somerville in the first three months than I did in my last town in 25 years,” says Young.

WHERE TO EAT: Wolfgang’s Steakhouse (from former Peter Luger headwaiter Wolfgang Zwiener) recently opened at the western end of Main Street, elevating the dining scene. Ethnic eateries abound, including Origin Thai; Yutaka Hibachi Steak House and Sushi Bar; Kyma, for Greek cuisine; and Da Filippo’s for rustic Italian. Tapastre offers tapas, 22 draft beers on tap, and happy hour. Savor has soups, salads, sandwiches and plenty of outdoor seating. Dragonfly Music & Coffee Café is part coffee house, part musical-instrument store.

WHERE TO SHOP: With more than 100 vendors, Somerville Center Antiques claims to be the state’s largest antiques center. For mens’ modern fashion and accessories, head to Evolve Clothing Gallery. The Design Studio has luxury furnishings and design services, while Lloyd’s Outlet offers name-brand furniture at outlet prices.

DON’T MISS: Somerville is big on events, including local art exhibits throughout the year and an annual Oktoberfest. The flagship event is the annual Tour of Somerville, which draws bicyclists from all over the country every Memorial Day weekend.

THEN AGAIN: The downtown is still on its way up, and some of the shops have a slightly tattered feel.

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