Suspended midway between Somerville subway stops, Union Square isn't the easiest of neighborhoods to reach on public transport, but it's definitely one of the most rewarding. A combination of T rides, bus hops and good old leg power delivers the curious visitor to a wonderland of well-crafted ales and gifts, unique activities—check out The Tango Society of Boston below—and buzzing nightlife.
Named after its use as an early mustering site for Union soldiers during the American Civil War, Union Square is now a place where curly mustaches are sighted, following a steady embrace of gentrification and the hirsute aesthetic often associated with that. Charm, imagination and creative energy are all major components of the modern Union Square identity.
One day (projected by 2021) the Green Line Extension will open up Union Square to hordes of additional visitors but until that time make the extra strides to get there and enjoy the special neighborhood character that only splendid isolation, letterpress printing and bespoke cocktails can confer.
Sublime Donuts and Veggie Curries
Restaurant hopping in Union Square is likely to reveal flavors you never knew existed, from the blackberry-basil-lime revelation at Union Square Donuts to the top-notch vegetarian Indian delights at Dosa 'n Curry and the upscale café offerings at Juliet (the house tea blend with saffron syrup is wonderful).
Union Square Donuts: 20 Bow St., 617.209.2257; Dosa 'n Curry: 447 Somerville Ave., 617.764.3152; Juliet: 257 Washington St., 617.718.0958
Crafty Beer and Basement Tracks
Fancy a Smuttynose Vunderbar pilsner or a Newburyport Meltaway IPA? Look no further than The Independent. For superbly crafted cocktails in apothecary-cum-gallery surroundings, head straight for Backbar, and if you're looking for a classy basement party with vinyl-spinning DJs, mosey on down to Brass Union.
Backbar: 7 Sanborn Ct., 617.718.0249; The Independent: 75 Union Square, 617.440.6022; Brass Union: 70 Union Square, 617.623.9211
Find Your Wheelhouse
You don't have to be a graphic novel geek to get lost in the expertly chosen literature at Hub Comics, but it helps, and if you're in need of a unique, beautifully-crafted gift or letterpress card, Loyal Supply Co. is bound to see you right. Cyclists: get fixed, repaired and kitted out at Somervelo.
Hub Comics: 19 Bow St., 617.718.0987; Loyal Supply Co.: 21 Union Square, 617.996.6930; Somervelo: 361 Somerville Ave., 617.628.0328
Tango for Cash
If the phrase "nine-hour tango seminar" fills you with excitement, then head straight for The Tango Society of Boston with optional rose clenched between your teeth. Third Life Studio round the corner offers a globally diverse variety of performances and recitals, while music venue Thunder Road has a "pop icon brunch" on Sunday.
The Tango Society of Boston: 16 Bow St., 617.699.6246; Third Life Studio: 33 Union Square, 617.628.0916; Thunder Road: 379 Somerville Ave., 617.776.7623