It’s September and the kids are back on campus and in classrooms. So over the next few weeks, we’ll be running a back-to-school series with suggestions for each of her four major colleges in the region. First up is Mike’s Food & Spirits in Davis Square, the unofficial student hub of Tufts University.
Mike qualifies as old school. Like McKinnon’s Meat Market, it was there in his 1984 when Redline was introduced, long before Davis was hailed as “Paris in the ’90s.” The beer, pizza and burger joint has upgraded since its early days. The style of linoleum has changed, but it is still linoleum. It has been reborn as a cozy space with large windows facing the square. There’s an outdoor patio area that feels like a seamless extension.One of Covid’s silver linings is the summer building, where eateries along Elm Street span the street. creates a pavilion-like atmosphere for
Cuisine ranges from basic home cooking to Italian-American grill. Mike’s flatbread is chewy and decent, and the wrap is solid. (Try the Chicken Greek Salad, or the Caprese.) Mike had a delicious turkey burger and turkey chip plate. Removed from the menu, what interests me now are the subs, especially Italian sausage or meatballs and chicken or steak bombs. What makes the chicken so delicious is the melted American cheese – people who look down on their noses will shortchange themselves from home-cooked delicacies with richer flavors than their price – and slow-roasted onions and Super fresh Italian sub rolls with a medley of peppers. The buns are large, light and airy, and The Half Shell is hands down the best freshly baked Italian bread in the area. For the appetizer menu, Mike’s fried mozzarella and zucchini sticks. They used to be, but you don’t find zucchini fries that much anymore. And I was happy to see them on the menu, but they came out piping hot and moist with zucchini that was perfectly over al dente, but with about twice as much breading as I like. Again, I’m all for the lightness of the tempura and the deep fried food within minutes of being fried.
Mike’s is also an underrated sports bar, with TVs from every angle and events like Trivia Tuesday and Wine Wednesday. The service is also largely adequate, and if I had to tag it, it would be “Amiable Chaos.” Perhaps the biggest drawback is the frustrating menus to scan and view. It’s just some pages in “non-responsive” JPEG or other image format. Navigate. Covid has revealed that his presence online for many eateries is a problem. Toasts and other quick solutions have helped address this problem, but more places are still curating online stories to better represent who they are and what they offer. I don’t think it should be expressed in
Mike’s Food & Spirits (9 Davis SquareSomerville)
Cambridge writer Tom Meek’s reviews, essays, short stories and articles appear in WBUR’s The ARTery, The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Globe, The Rumpus, The Charleston City Paper and SLAB literary journals. Tom is also a member of the Boston Film Critics Association and rides his bike everywhere.