Beyond Somerville: A Jaunt to JP

Like many other people I know who live on the Somerville side of the Charles River, I sometimes go days, or even weeks, without crossing over to the other side. And going all the way to Brookline or Jamaica Plain? Forget about it! The seven miles separating my house from those destinations often seems like an insurmountable hurdle of traffic, delayed Orange Line trains and hazardous bike routes. So when a friend wanted to meet for lunch in JP, I seized the opportunity to play tourist in my own city.

I’m certainly no expert on JP, but I did have a very fun afternoon exploring this enclave and what I saw got me excited to return here again soon. My only really experience with the area was trekking to Allandale Farm a few years ago for our Community Supported Agriculture box each week. (It’s a terrific little farm well worth a visit if you’re in the area!)

My recent afternoon in JP started at Ula Cafe, which is located in a large building called The Brewery (not to be confused with the Sam Adams Brewery, which is located behind it). I was pleased to find ample parking there and everywhere in JP really, quite a change from the Somerville/Cambridge parking situation!

Ula Cafe reminded me a lot of Bloc 11 or Diesel Cafe, with seasonal sandwiches, salads and soups accompanied by tasty pastries and coffee drinks. I opted for the Ula Salad topped with curried tofu salad. It was quite similar to my regular Bloc 11 order and I loved every bite. I got a popover (pictured above) on the side after learning they were fresh from the oven and quenched my thirst with a refreshing iced coffee. Ula was packed at lunchtime, but our orders came out promptly and we were happy to find a cool seat indoors (there is also outdoor seating).

After lunch, I decided to wander over to the Sam Adams Brewery. I’d heard that the tours were kind of weak, but I opted to jump on the one leaving in about 10 minutes. Besides the construction noise, the tour was good (not sure why so many people are negative on it). Anyone who has been on a brewery tour or two knows how beer is made, so that portion can seem repetitive, but our guide gave us nice tasting details on the beers we tried (Boston Lager, Summer Ale and Whitewater IPA). Also, it’s apparently totally fine to bring dogs and kids on the tour, so don’t leave them at home!

After the tour, I headed toward Centre Street, a commercial hub in the neighborhood. I stopped by City Feed and Supply, which called to me in so many ways. The menu of freshly prepared sandwiches and baked goods looked excellent and I will definitely be trying some of the menu items the next time I’m nearby. I opted to pick up a yogurt and some fruit for a snack, which I enjoyed at a nice window seat overlooking the street. I even spotted some Somerville products at the market (Mem Tea and Slumbrew)!

I wandered around Centre Street, which is peppered with restaurants and shops, for a bit before heading to the Arnold Arboretum. You can stroll the 265-acre Arboretum for free from sunrise to sunset every day of the year. There’s parking available on the Arborway outside the Arboretum and around the Arboretum’s perimeter. A visitor’s center can provide maps, brochures and staff to help guide your visit.

That’s all I had time for in JP, but I’m sure there’s so much more to explore and I’m looking forward to a return trip!

What are your favorite things to do across the river?

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