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Porter Square

It seems silly to dedicate a “wandering” to Porter Square in Cambridge, when it’s a neighborhood where folks live, shop, work, go to Lesley University, and access the MBTA every single day. But though I’ve passed through it several times, I’ve never actually stopped to check out what’s there.

My first stop was a haircut at Floyd’s, which I don’t think is technically in Porter, but like a 6-mintue walk away. Thankfully there was no wait at 11 am, and I got in and out pretty quick. Then it being an unusually nice spring morning, I walked down Mass Ave to Cambridge Common (the park, not the restaurant), orienting myself, passing Lesley University and Harvard Law School along the way.  

After chillin in the park a bit, I walked back up to Porter Square T stop to meet Aisha for lunch. and along the way I passed a huuuuge line at Bagelsaurus. What is Bagelsaurus? I don’t know but it has a cool name and I guess it’s popular on a Sunday at brunch time.

Though it was only a 15-minute walk at most, I was hurting for caffeine by the time I met up with Aisha. We got coffee at Bourbon Coffee, which was full yet eerily silent as just about everyone in there was studiously working away on a laptop. It must be a student hangout? We decided to drink our coffee outside in the fresh air and hustle-and-bustle, where MBTA shuttle busses kept coming and going (the Red Line is under construction, but isn’t it always). A group of pigeons swooped down on us, causing Aisha to scream and me to laugh and so we decided we should move on to our next destination.

Which was Porter Square Books! Yay books! I’ve heard of the bookstore before many times but had never been there. If I had, I would’ve known that they have a cute little cafe inside, where I could’ve gotten coffee instead. Live and learn. The bookstore was small and busy but I loved the independent vibe and their themed displays. They have some awesome jigsaw puzzles and greeting cards too. Along the way to-and-from the bookstore, we passed by a Henry Bear’s Park toy store, which was weird, because I basically live across from an HBP in Ipswich and had never seen another one before.

We had planned to get lunch at either the Shaking Crab or Cambridge Common (the restaurant, not the park this time), but instead went to Christopher’s across the way, and I’m so glad we did. We got in right away, sat by a window, and they were still serving brunch. Christopher’s has a dark pub feel, but tall windows, cool art, and bloody marys served in a goblet, essentially. I got an avocado omelet because, frig it, I was already being full-out-hipster today anyway. The omelet was so yummy, as were the home fries and toast and the peach gin-and-beer drink that was a risky choice but weirdly delicious – and all fairly priced for Cambridge, I thought. We also had an awesome view for people watching on Mass Ave. One very fashionable woman in all pink was taking photos of the Porter Square Hotel that was beside us.

Happily full we went to Star Market so I could pick up some fruit. I don’t remember the last time I’ve been to a “Star Market” – maybe never? It’s just Shaws, right? The store is in the back of the shopping plaza that Porter Square Books is in. There’s also a Michael’s craft store attached. Books, crafts, toys, food… what else do you need? Vitamins maybe (there’s Cambridge Naturals for that) and maybe some booze (and there’s the liquor store).

Overall impression: Porter Square feels kind of strange, but not in the way of being intentionally so. It has some great spots – like the bookstore and Christopher’s – but the gentrification (or some other phenomenon of building up, pushing out?) is very obvious. It feels like an “in-between” place, primarily for students and shopping, and maybe for folks with young kids. There’s a big Target there that I’m told is fairly new. I’d maybe like to go to Porter again, but probably only for the bookstore or if I’m craving an avocado omelet (I’m telling you, it was otherworldly).