WE LOVE OUR STUDENTS — we do. They make this town what it is. But Heavens, there are a lot of them, and when they clear out each summer, this old Hub is two shades away from a ghost town. But it’s not all bad (for one thing, it makes that drive down Comm a whole lot more reliable): it means that for at least a little, all the obscure bookstores, hole-in-the-wall music shop gems and $1 pool tables are ours. So we canvassed our student interns, roamed the town and came up with eight student hangouts we kind of completely love.
With reporting by Hannah Sheinberg, Alyssa Betker and Katherine Brooks
Student Crowd: Boston University undergrads, plus graduate students from its nearby Communications and Management schools.
Why: Incredible Thai soups (seriously: just try the sweet lime soup and tell us you’re not briefly transported to Nirvana), completely customizable noodle dishes, and it’s close enough to Fenway to make for the perfect post-game nosh spot.
Where: 627 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, 617-536-3100, noodlestreet.com.
Conor Larkin’s Grill & Tap
Student Crowd: Northeastern undergrads with a smattering of science grad students escaping the nearby labs.
Why: Two-thirds Irish tavern, one-third dive bar: Cheap pitchers, Guinness-marinated burgers, unbelievable cheese fries, and $1 per game pool. $1 per game pool!
Where: 329 Huntington Ave, Boston, 617-867-0084, facebook.com/conor_larkins_grill_tap.
Raven Books [Cambridge]
Student Crowd: Harvard book lovers of every make and model.
Why: Brilliant basement niche with a carefully curated and ever-growing selection of scholarly used books on everything from Anarchism to Historiography.
Where: 52-B JFK St, Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-441-6999, ravencambridge.com.
Espresso Royale [Commonwealth & Gainsborough] & Pavement Coffeehouse
Student Crowd: Boston University, Northeastern and Berklee College plugged into laptops for hours at a time, often with noise canceling headphones.
Why: Owned by the same crew, these cafes serve uniformly outstanding coffees — Pavement in particular, with its slow bar (hand-poured drinks) and rotating roster of high-end roasters like Ritual and Intelligentsia — plus eccentric bagel sandwiches (Ham Hell, anyone?) and a strong wifi signal.
Where: ERC at 736 Commonwealth Ave and 44 Gainsborough St, Boston, espressoroyaleboston.com; Pavement at 1069 Boylston St, Boston, 617-236-1500, pavementcoffeehouse.com.
Student Crowd: Tufts students wandering out for the night.
Why: Kickin’ bar at night with the occasional open mic night, a full Irish breakfast option (including rashers!), and old-world ambience that makes it one of Boston’s true Irish pubs.
Where: 247 Elm St, Somerville, 617-776-6896, theburren.com.
Student Crowd: Boston University undergrads.
Why: A solid European-style café with pitas and flatbreads, Angora’s popularity really stems from its frozen yogurt, which it was serving long before any of the current fro-yo stops stepped in. Despite the competition, it’s still at the top with mix-in options like Nutella, fruits and brownies. Oh, and they deliver.
Where: 1024-A Commonwealth Ave, Boston, 617-232-1757, angoracafe.com.
Miracle of Science Bar + Grill
Student Crowd: MIT students in search of good food and cold beer.
Why: Geek-chic, with a food menu spread over a periodic table, juicy burgers, Toscanini’s ice cream (and if you want more, Toscanini’s itself is right next door), plus a lesser-known though surprisingly excellent breakfast menu that includes items like Brazilian grilled steak & eggs and chicken-jalapeno sausage wraps.
Where: 321 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, 617-868-2866, miracleofscience.us.
In Your Ear! [Boston]
Student Crowd: Boston University music geeks of any year.
Why: An easily overlooked college town hole in the wall (rather, hole in the ground: basement location), In Your Ear! has been trading on both its ridiculously well-stocked vinyl collection and its owners’ profound knowledge of the local music scene for nearly thirty years now.
Where: 957 Commonwealth Ave, Boston 617-787-9755, iye.com.