Photo illustration: K Banks
A soundtrack as rich as Boston's deserves a menu to match. With most of the city's music venues conveniently nestled between any number of worthy ways to dine, you can start thinking of the quadruple band bill as a mere palate cleanser. We talked to bands, bouncers, club staffers and got the scoop on the best spots to fuel-up pre-show, or re-fuel afterwards.
CLUBS: Middle East, Zuzu, TT the Bear’s
FOOD: Baraka Café, Moody’s Falafel Palace, Hot Off the Press
You don't have to look far for a bite in Mark Sandman Square, the bustling Central Square corner named for the smoky-voiced Morphine frontman and home to the Middle East, TT the Bear's Place, and Zuzu, where a well-placed Shirley Ellis tune can inspire table-dancing at the weekly Saturday night Soulelujah party (well worth the hour it can take to find the front of the line).
To sustain you during the wait, order a bowl of whipped garlic ($2.95) from the Middle East kitchen (472 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, 617.864.EAST). Skip the pita and scoop the garlic with French fries ($3.95). You'll carry a glorious garlicky reek for days.
Or, get into the Square early, bring a date, and grab a table at the cozy, romantic Baraka Café (80 1/2 Pearl St, Cambridge, 617.868.3951) for home-style Algerian cooking. Who cares that the restaurant lacks a liquor license when drinking dreamy Cherbat, Algerian lemonade infused with spices and rose petals ($7.95/pitcher)? On a recent night, the kitchen served a special of supple smoked salmon layered with sliced pears and figs over flatbread, as well as tart, creamy yogurt spooned onto mouthfuls of charred grilled lamb and stewed root vegetables ($14.95).
Johnny Allen, a member of the bands Drug Rug and Headband as well as a Zuzu staffer, looks to Moody's Falafel Palace (25 Central Square, Cambridge, 617.864.0827), as a handy target for post-performance vitals, since the place closes at 3 am. Roll up too close to closing time and they may be out of meat, but if not, sample the carved flanks of lamb or chicken ($4.50), or try the baba ghannouj with pomegranate ($3.75) or pickled grape leaves which burst with the smooth, lemony rice filling ($3.99).
Allen also regularly orders the Southwestern Turkey Sandwich ($5.95) — adding avocado ($1) — at Hot off the Press (736 Mass Ave, Cambridge, 617.234.4450).
“Hot off the Press is one of the only places around that is very conscious of all the waste from a café,” he says. “They compost and recycle.”
CLUBS: Great Scott, O’Brien’s, Harper’s Ferry
FOOD: Reef Café, Savuarnabhumi Kiri, Shanghai Gate
A taste for garlic will take you places — say, Allston by way of the Pill, the Britpop and modern indie dance night that’s presided over Friday nights at Great Scott in Allston for over a decade. A show at O'Brien's Pub or Harper's Ferry will land you in this region of town as well.
“As the joke goes, we started when Britpop was still around,” says founder and longtime DJ, Michael Marotta, who has scouted supper near Great Scott since around January, 2005 — a date he names with some reservation. “Specifics are hazy,” he says, “thanks to the night itself.”