"I'm not a homebody. I never was; even having two daughters within two years, we were always on the go. Or if I got some much needed alone time, I'd head out the door and find a place to read the newspaper or write in my journal. My go-to retreats? Independently owned coffee houses. Here are a few of my favorites in the Boston area:
Nashoba Brook Bakery in West Concord is well worth the drive out Route 2. This bakery is great to visit with kids as it offers healthy breads, yummy scones, cupcakes, and luscious looking sandwiches. Besides the food, there's a back room area with comfy couches, rocking chairs, piles of children's books, a small basket of toys, low tables, and an outdoor patio for fine weather. A brook runs out back and we've even watched turtles swimming while munching on our tuna or turkey sandwiches. If you're on your own, you can enjoy the excellent eats and soul-soothing nature scene along with free Wi-fi.
If you enjoy soft pink walls and chocolate brown velvet cushioned chairs, you might enjoy Susu's Bakery Boutique in Wellesley (575 Washington Street; on the corner of Washington and Church). Susu's serves up tea in small silver pots and confections such as coconut and chocolate cupcakes, and you can enjoy these treats sitting at round dining tables or on a flowered comfy couch. It feels like a bit of bliss in a suburb west of Boston. Given the sweet fare, it's a great spot for kids or a nice getaway for moms meeting with friends. The cupcakes look like flowers and French songs often waft through the sound system. Mid-afternoon, this bakery/restaurant feels uncrowded, relaxing, rejuvenating, and like a well earned reward.
Panificio at 144 Charles Street in Boston is more of a busy, lively brunch, lunch, and bakery spot than a place to take a coffee break. The menu includes soups, salads, sandwiches, pizzas, and pastries. The pumpkin walls, battered wooden tables, and a view onto Charles Street might appeal to a city starved suburban mama. It certainly works for me. Sans children, it's a comfortable place to read the newspaper or write your next novel. With children, it's a good place to order pizza or a panini. Either way, you can then wander down Charles Street and peek at the toy stores, children's clothing stores, vintage clothing shops, or even enter a jewelry shop. Walk all the way down Charles Street and you're at the Boston Common where you can wander or run off the calories of the pizza and pastry.
Burdick's on Brattle Street in Harvard Square offers the best hot chocolate in the Boston area. Children love the chocolate mice, bunnies, and penguins, and grown-ups love the dense hot chocolate, teas, coffees, pastries, and the atmosphere: plenty of exposed blond wood, mustard walls, and dim lighting provided by chandeliers and wall sconces. Burdick's gets very busy by mid-afternoon. Better to go there for a morning treat.
The Danish Pastry House in Medford is a terrific spot if you enjoy roof to floor windows, exposed brick, and utterly gorgeous confections. I remember when this pastry place first opened five years ago. The owners put out prodigious amounts of samples and the sweetness and richness of the marzipan and chocolate overwhelmed me with delight. The pastries still amaze and delight and they've expanded their menu to include high quality salads, soups, and sandwiches. Go if you want to relax or work. The café area is spacious, comfortable, and bustling.
These are my fab five mini escapes in the Boston area. The snows are gone but March into April still brings the wind and rains. If you must get out the door, these retreats won't disappoint. Also, FYI, all five cafés provide clean and comfortable bathrooms, which is a necessity when bringing children or when drinking lots of coffee or tea. Enjoy!"
Do you have a favorite local spot to enjoy a hot drink and delicious treat? Feel free to comment in below to share with the community.
Image credit: L. A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates