NFT Boston Kenmore Square / Brookline (East)

Kenmore Square / Brookline (East)

Under the watchful triangular eye of the Citgo Sign, the Kenmore Square area is notable for sprawling Boston University, the nightclub scene on Lansdowne Street, and, of course, Fenway Park. Beyond Fenway and the core of Kenmore Square, urban bustle gives way to the more serene residential neighborhoods of affluent Brookline.

With the addition of the gigantic House of Blues, some of the former club options have lessened in quantity, but not in quality. For non-clubbers, Elephant Walk or Taberna de Haro are both excellent dining options. For those lucky enough to score tickets, the best entertainment in the world is at See more.

>Fenway Park.

The Green Line T stops around Kenmore Square and BU are frequently overrun by students and baseball fans, so B train riders might prefer the 57 bus during peak school and game hours. For parking, trawl Bay State Road and Cummington Street or head further west on Commomwealth Ave.


This Neighborhood Featured in...
Baked (Goods) in Brookline

By Andrew Palmacci
Andrew Palmacci never met a bagel he didn't feel comfortable eating. Follow him on an ambitious excursion from chain to bakery as Palmacci discovers once and for all what makes the likes of a Jewish yeasted bread circle or crescent-shaped puff pastry so gosh darned important.

Where To Go When You Really Have To Go

By Julie Salickram
Ah, to be human. Julie Salickram eases the woe of living. Read and weep.

Wicked Good Guide to Boston Movies

By Sarah Shemkus
Think of the classic Boston flicks: Celtic Pride, Blown Away, With Honors...You get the idea. What? You disagree? Ok, check out this NFT feature about the real Beantown places that made the cut.


On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Boston Book Annex
The Boston Book Annex, over on Beacon Street, is one of those dark as hell rabbit warren type used book stores, packed to the ceiling with ancient mouldering volumes, most of which seem to be very uninteresting. You've got your normal pile of Sci-fi books from the 1960s, old town census reports, and every textbook the BU kids couldn't sell back to the school. Oprah's book club it's not. So why go? Well, I'm sure if you spend enough time you'll find a gem hidden deep in the stacks, but personally I go for the greatest book store cats in history. I don't know their names, or how long they've been there, but I know they absolutely LOVE visitors. I spent about fifteen minutes trying to find something worth reading on the shelves, and then another thirty getting groomed by the black and white kitten shown in the pictures. After she was done licking my hand she crawled out of her cat bed and into my lap for a long snooze while her ginger cousin curled up next to my leg for a purr bombardment. Cat lovers who like crappy books? Head to the Annex.

Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Bleacher Bar
For a sports bar, The Bleacher Bar is pretty much Tom Cruise small. It's dark, with high ceilings, and really overpriced food and booze. Frankly, nothing about the place matters other than the fact that there's a GIANT 12 FOOT DOOR THAT LOOKS INTO FENWAY FREAKING PARK. OK, this is gimmicky at best. I'll give you that. In practice, you end up with the 3 tables looking on to the field having a good time, and everyone else crushing in behind them trying to see if they can catch a glimpse of Jacoby adjusting his Ellsberries. Still, when the game starts, and the majority of drunks file into the park, you're suddenly alone on a barstool, INSIDE the Green Monster. That's a gimmick I can get behind. Currently, it is still open for business, and with the choices on Landsdowne being limited to hanging out with the 14-year-olds at Jillian's, the bump and grind crowd at Tequila, or hitting one of the other sports bars that are empty this time of year, maybe being the size of that insane Scientology dwarf makes the place feel more welcome. At least it's better than Cheers.

Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

La Verdad
You may have heard of all the amazing things that Ken Oringer is doing with his many restaurants scattered around the city, and I'll admit, I've been to a few to check myself, but with La Verdad, he's finally found his place. Yes, it's really that good. With decor a mash-up of traditional Mexican and Pop Art, the place shines. The men's room has Luchador posters covering every surface. So it looks pretty, that's great, how's the food, man? The answer is damn amazing. Carnitas that crackle, tortillas cooked just right, and the corn from Ken's Toro restaurant, which is worth getting alone, all topped off with a few ice cold beers right before a sox game? Yes damn it, yes. The place stays open til 1 most nights too, so if you love the atmosphere, stick around and get a shot from the girl with the shot glass bandolier. Take it from a guy who cares about Mexican food: this place is a must visit.

Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Hostelling International Boston at Fenway
If you are a Boston resident, and are lucky enough to have room for visitors, you may not be aware of the staggering hotel rates around here. Then again, you are a probably a minority. For the rest of us, who haven't seen our out-of-town friends and relatives in years because they can't afford a room, there is relief in sight. From June to August, Hostelling International takes over a BU dorm building and operates as very afford able hostel right on Comm Ave in the Fenway area. Your touristy pals can get a bed starting at $35 a night, $80 a night for a single room, and $100 a night for a double. It's not as cheap as, say, a hostel in Europe, but it's downright bargain basement price compared to a hotel anywhere in downtown Bo-town. All rooms are equipped with AC, full bathrooms, sheets, and towels, as well as internet access. Televisions are located only in the common area downstairs, but who comes to Boston to watch TV, anyway?

Posted By:  Leah Bagas
Photo:  Leah Bagas

Fenway Park
It's baseball season, which can only mean one thing: It's time to take a moment to remember just how good a Fenway Frank is when you go to the Sox game. After all, baseball and ballpark franks are the best American tradition there is. When you get into Fenway it's so easy to lose your hat on $8 beers and $5 fried doughs. I urge you to remember and venerate the Fenway Frank. For under $5 bucks it is a good deal but also a tasty bite of America. So slap on some mustard, relish and onions, sit back and drool over more than Mike Lowell.

Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Patrick Hellen

Fenway Park
Fenway Park is my Mecca. I take a spiritual trip to it as many times as I can in a baseball season, and take holy communion in the form of ridiculously priced beers and Sausage Guy street meat. But since the opening of the Monster Seats, I’ve been blessed with a family member who wins the opportunity to buy tickets every year, and thus I now commune with the Red Sox from the best seats in the park…occasionally. Those things ain’t cheap. With a sweeping view of the park, limited access, no line bathrooms, and two dedicated beer and food stands, this is truly the place to be for a game. Most people ask if it’s too far to see the action, and let me tell you brother, when a home run ball makes the people behind home plate stand up and gasp? Monster seaters are standing to try to pluck it from the air. Granted, telling you about this won’t make it any easier to score seats up front, but if you get the chance to buy some standing room only, do it. Standing on a piece of history to watch the hometown boys is the best way to grab a game.

Posted By:  Stuart Kurtz
Photo:  Stuart Kurtz

Boston Book Annex
Here’s one of those finds you always just stumble across. It’s kind of tucked away in the left-over space that’s not quite Kenmore and not yet Brookline (somewhere like Saint Mary’s on the Boston/Brookline border). Check your pretensions at the door. This isn’t Rizzoli, for those who still remember. The carpet’s worn. The shelves probably came from a warehouse. But as for the prize—those books—they’re what it’s all about. They’re all used. Or is that now pre-owned? When you have no frills you can get creative. How about a Natural Phenomena section? The Belles Lettres section was a riddle. The fact that I pulled out Selected Letters of Vanessa Bell first was pure coincidence. The concept is letters and non-fiction essays. Confessions of an English Opium Eater by De Quincey begs to be pulled for a look. There’s even a section called Forensics, Police, Prisons & Crime Prevention. Adding to the coziness are two drowsy mascots with whiskers. Guthrie is either after Woody or Arlo. The staff guy wasn’t sure. Wakefield is after Tim (Find the sports section).

Posted By:  Todd Strauss
Photo:  Todd Strauss

Years ago when Japonaise Bakery first opened, I walked by planning on getting some cheap sushi down the street. That was the day that I discovered the Curry Donut. Japanese curry is a delicious thing when prepared correctly. I have had it numerous times over chicken, but I have never had it in a delicious fried ball, and now the curry donut is still on my list of current addictions. If you plan on eating the curry donut immediately, ask them to heat it up for you. Otherwise, when you get home, wrap it in a damp paper towel and put it in the microwave for about a minute. I have trouble ordering anything but these donuts from the Japonaise Bakery, but everything that they make is quite tasty. If you get there early enough, you can get a mixed bag of the day old treats for pretty cheap.

Posted By:  Andrew Palmacci
Photo:  Andrew Palmacci

There’s something crazy good about this little place tucked away on Station Street (across from the D line’s Brookline Village stop). Maybe it’s the regularly-updated, hand-chalked blackboard/placard outside that announces the day’s specials—from pastries to wraps to iced coffees. Maybe it’s the coffee mugs that look like something you may have created in a ceramics class. Or maybe it’s just the coziness of the place that offers you a few nooks to sit, sip, and chat in a well-decorated, crafts-heavy setting. Also, this place is actually brought to you by the folks who run the several-doors-down Inner Space yoga center, so plenty of good karma can be had in addition to the tuna and brie on ciabatta.

Posted By:  Knox Gardner
Photo:  Knox Gardner

Brookline Arts Center
Located in a converted Brookline fire station near Fenway and the Landmark Center, the Brookline Arts Center offers art classes, salons, and lectures for adults and children. Two small galleries featuring local painters and photographers and an outdoor sculpture garden make it a quiet oasis from the retail madness near by. This month, Knox Gardner, one our own roving correspondents (by the way, a disclaimer), shows photographs upstairs, "Whichever stone you lift- Memorials from Grove Street's Jewish Cemetery." An intimate show on vandalized and time worn gravestone memorials from West Roxbury, it's a somber peak into one forgotten corner of the city's history and worth a look. There is an opening reception on June 8 from 6 to 8 pm, and the show runs through July 27.

Posted By:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Craig Nelson

Mason Square
On a recent rainy day, amongst some of the most beautiful homes in Brookline, I stumbled upon Mason Square. Usually when you think of the word “square” you think of non-stop urban activity—Copley Square, Central Square, and so on. But Mason Square is actually a “passive park” with a nice rolling green lawn and beautiful mature trees. Translation: no fun allowed. Just check out the sign for the multitude of restrictions you must abide by. First, you must be quiet. And then even if you’re silent as a Carthusian monk, you still can’t play ball, barbeque, or walk your dog. If you can’t throw a Frisbee with the kids, fire up a steak on some charcoal, or play fetch with Fido, then it ain’t much of a public park or square in my opinion. I brainstormed some activities that would be allowed: miming, Speedo yoga, and quiet wheelbarrow racing.

Posted By:  Joy Mazzola
Photo:  Joy Mazzola

The Elephant Walk
French and Cambodian food—an obvious pairing. Okay, maybe not, but it’s an ingenious fusion nonetheless. I tend toward the Cambodian cuisine—the mandatory starter being the Rouleaux, or spring rolls, which I believe are award winning or famous or something. Whatever, they’re damn good. As is everything on the menu actually. There are vegetarian, vegan, and even gluten-free choices for those with dietary restrictions. Although, if you’re eating somewhere this good—restriction, shmeeschmiction, ya know? This particular location (there are two others in Cambridge and Waltham—each slightly different) offers three- and four-course, pre-fix tasting menus. The atmosphere is rather dreamy—high ceilings, bamboo fans, subtly lit, airy, and sort of islandish. The perfect place to relax with a bottle off their superb wine list (I only know of the superbness because I ate there once with a connoisseur) and graze on dishes you’ve most likely never sampled before. It’s just a wee bit fancier than places normally frequented by people like moi—if you’re going for dinner, you may want to make reservations and, like, shower.

Posted By:  Katherine Hayes
Photo:  Katherine Hayes

No one appreciates a cheap meal quite like a college student. And the owners of Uburger, which opened late last year, aren’t stupid. Their establishment is located by BU, and hungry students keep pouring in the doors in between classes to grab some burgers. Here, cash-strapped college kids can fill themselves up for under $5. Burgers, which have names like the cowboy and the boom burger, are $3.95-$4.75. Grilled chicken sandwiches are $4.50-$4.75, and all-beef hot dogs are $2. The French fries and onion rings are delicious and trans fat-free. And if you’re still hungry and have a little more cash to spare, try one of the frappes.

Posted By:  Sarah Shemkus
Photo:  Sarah Shemkus

Noodle Street does for casual Asian dining what Choose Your Own Adventure books once did for light summer reading—puts you in control of your fate. The extensive mix-and-match menu lets you customize soups, salads, noodles, and entrees to match your tastes and whims. For the main course alone, you can combine one of nine sauces (ranging from oyster to spicy basil) or four curries with 11 meat and seafood options, ten rice or noodle selections, and then top off your creation with any of 12 additional enhancements such as roasted almonds or crispy chicken wontons. If so much decision-making seems daunting, the menu also contains a section featuring suggested permutations. Though the DIY approach may appear to be a gimmick, the food itself also stands out, with such unexpected flavors as cinnamon, cardamom, and hot basil elevating the cuisine beyond everyday Asian fare.

Posted By:  Katherine Hayes
Photo:  Katherine Hayes

Jake Ivory's
When you’re strolling behind Fenway Park trying to decide where to grab a beer, all the bars can start to look the same. But if you’re looking for a place with an atmosphere unparalleled in Boston, look no further than Jake Ivory’s, a piano bar just over the Green Monster. Every night, dueling pianists play and sing any song you could possibly request. Cheesy ‘80s songs? Sing-along country? Hilarious hip-hop renditions? Yeah, they’ll do that. Jake’s is the perfect place to take a big group of friends. It’s also a popular destination for bachelorette parties (there are always at least two brides there) and birthdays, and inevitably, the guests of honor are called onstage to dance. No matter how much or how little you drink here, you’ll end up singing along and having a great time.

Posted By:  Myke Weiskopf
Photo:  none

Coit Observatory
If you didn’t get your fill of starshine from basking in the July 4th fireworks last night, BU offers just the panacea for your astronomical blues. Every Wednesday, the Astronomy department holds its Public Open Night at the Coit Observatory), located conveniently in mid-campus. Even if you don’t know your Vega from your Virgo, you can sharpen up on all things skyward with the Observatory’s array of telescopes entirely free of charge. Caveats: The Observatory is only open for one hour (beginning at 8:30 in summers), and the entrance is both non-intuitive (accessible only from a single fifth-floor stairwell near Room 520) and non-handicapped-accessible. Proceed undeterred, however, and you’ll find a view to beat any high-rent roof deck in the Back Bay. To ensure optimal conditions, always check availability by phoning the Open Night hotline no sooner than two hours in advance: (617) 353-2630.

Posted By:  Caitlin E. Curran
Photo:  Caitlin E. Curran

If you’re seeking a new copy of one of the New York Times’ best-sellers, then the Boston Book Annex isn’t for you. But it’s worth it to take a stroll through the store’s narrow aisles in hopes of finding an original edition of Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle or a complete set of Shakespeare’s dramatic works. The shelves of books on the sidewalk invite passersby to come in and peruse its unique collection inside. Wandering into the store is comparable to wandering into a hidden basement of treasures. The best part is the bargain books room where, on a recent visit, I found a dusty Guide to Modern Cooking published in 1904. The Boston Book Annex sells nearly every type of book, from Modern Art to textbooks—students wishing to avoid expensive school bookstores might want to check here—and the quiet, comfortable ambience invites visitors to spend hours exploring its shelves. Frequent visits are encouraged, as the stock depends entirely upon used materials, but luckily the store is conveniently close to Sol Azteca, Elephant Walk, and other delicious Brookline eateries. Don’t forget to pet the cats, who roam freely throughout the store.

Posted By:  Manya Chylinski
Photo:  Courtesy of Bryan Borgal

If it is an Indiana Jones-type adventure you seek, without actually needing a degree in archaeology or a passport, this could be the answer. TOMB is a 40-minute interactive adventure set in a pharaoh’s tomb—an intriguing combination of theme park and haunted house. You and your team have to work together to get through various challenges. Special effects abound—to thrill you and to confound you on your quest. The choices you and your team make dictate your path through the tomb. Depending on those choices, you may or may not succeed. You can “die” in the game if you make the wrong choices. Stop by over the long weekend and see if you are up to the challenge. Note that the show is family friendly but not recommended for small children.

Posted By:  Kevin Spak
Photo:  Bryan Borgal

If you’re looking for something to do in Boston, your list now officially looks like this: Bar, Club, Movie, Bowling, Ancient Egyptian Adventure. That’s thanks to Tomb, an interactive walk-through adventure that sates your inner need to be Indiana Jones. Venture past the unassuming storefront and requisite gift shop and you’ll find yourself trapped inside a recreated Egyptian tomb, at the mercy of one mighty pissed off pharaoh. To get out alive you’ll have to overcome challenges and solve puzzles, ranging from pretty easy to head-scratching. It’s a social experience too, as you’ll venture inside with up to 14 other people, along with a wise-cracking and (if you’re nice) tip-dispensing guide. If your group isn’t up to the challenge? Well, you can say hi to Anubis for us, ‘cause there’s a death ending for the unwary.

Posted By:  Janet Potter
Photo:  Janet Potter

Baseball fans may have mixed emotions about their favorite sluggers taking steroids, but when a sports bar juices itself up to supernatural proportions, everybody wins. Landsdowne Street has long been supplying game-goers with pre-festivity food and ticketless fans with a great place to feel close to the action. The long string of bars and burger joints can be monotonous, however, and Game On! on the corner of Landsdowne and Boylston has raised the standards, if not always the prices, of the famed street. Two floors of seating are almost always packed as patrons, gobbling on their exquisite pizza, nachos, ribs, or good old plates of fries, flood in to watch sporting events happening all over the world. Most people praise Game On! to the tune of “They have two gazillion flat-screens,” but their wide selection of food and normal-priced drinks are a welcome addition to any game night.

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