Davis Square has been burping up some major gastronomic changes of late: the local branch of Picante, home of the fatty burrito and the delectably goopy super-nacho, lost its lease after more than a decade; the bubble-faced Diva Lounge finally looks ready to open; even the corner Store 24 just amped up its flavored-coffee stock. But the most welcome alteration to the Square-scape is the brand-new Bhoja Café, a sunny coffee-and-sandwich bar owned by the same family that runs the tasty Tibetan restaurant, Martsa’s on Elm, next door.
With its yellow-walled pantry with a handful of tables, an espresso machine, and tea canisters, Bhoja looks from the outside like any other coffee-moored outpost, a species already abundant in Davis. While you can certainly get the standard single espresso ($1.75) or a frothily sweet cappuccino ($2.35), the café sets itself apart with its made-to-order sandwiches. There’s the mango mushroom ($6), an exotically clever combination of marinated portobello mushrooms, fried tofu, red peppers, caramelized onions, and mango chutney. Even better is the vegetarian delight ($6.25), a glistening stack of fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichoke-heart chunks with a pesto drizzle. But the five-star yum-after-yum-after-yum selection is the Maharaja ($6.25), a grilled wrap of hickory-smoked chicken, lettuce, tomato, cilantro, sour cream, tandoori paste, and lime dressing (we had them hold the red onions). The tandoori/cilantro amalgamation is tangy, but not overpowering — like an Eastern riff on Southern barbecue.
Bhoja also capitalizes on something that’s been missing as a take-out option in the milieu: gourmet chocolate pastries. In a shiny glass case are shelves displaying molded sugary confections. Like a groaningly good chocolate-dipped peanut-butter-sandwich cookie ($1.15). Or a Beggar’s Purse ($4.95), a fist-size sack of smooth mousse-like chocolate covered in dark chocolate and set over a cakey base. Or Better ’N Your Mommas, a feisty slice of chewy chocolate layer cake. Unless your momma’s Betty Crocker, she won’t be making one better.
Bhoja Café, 235 Elm Street, Somerville | open daily, 8 am to 9 pm | 617.440.6011.