Updated: Apr 11, 2020
Pi.1415926535 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
Previously called Union Square, Porter Square was renamed in 1899 for Zachariah B. Porter, the larger-than-life owner of the Cambridge Cattle Fair Hotel. It’s easily accessible by the T, commuter rail, and car, and boasts a combination of chain stores and small businesses. Let’s explore Porter Square through the lens of Liz & Ellie Real Estate in this Neighborhood Spotlight.
The Panera Bread at Porter holds a special place in our hearts because it’s where Team Liz & Ellie meets each week. In fact, it’s where we decided to become a team. We picked it at first because of the huge parking lot in the plaza (FREE parking in Cambridge, with hundreds of spaces to choose from, for TWO hours at a time? Incredible!). We’ve continued to meet here over the years because we love Lucy, who knows our order by heart now, and Amel, the manager, who always has a minute to ask how we are. And parking is still free!
Liz pops over to the Healthworks for workouts between meetings and showings. She plugs in her earbuds and jumps onto the machines that look out over the Susumu Shingu sculpture at the Porter T stop—is it a whale? A sail?—the jury’s still out on this one.
Porter Square Books, nestled in between the Michael’s and the Star Market, has everything you look for in an independent bookstore/café:. Their cozy shelves hold a curated variety of books in every genre, as well as unique gifts. Step up to their café for a coffee and their special snack, Vietnamese fresh rolls. Pro tip: order extra peanut sauce for decadent dipping.
Tags hardware contains a veritable treasure trove of home-related products. It’s part-hardware store, part-home goods marketplace, and all awesome. Their promise is, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it,” and they’re not kidding. Seriously, it’s difficult to describe in words how Tags seems to have the best example of the thing you’ve been searching for. Plus, they cut glass, sharpen your blades, and provide various postal services.
The former Sears building (now known as Lesley University, University Hall and Porter Exchange) contains a true hidden gem, a restaurant row in their basement with a handful of Japanese street food stalls. Don’t be shy about walking around and deciding which to try out...you’ll be back to try another one soon enough!
Just last week we met a lender at the traditional American bar and restaurant known as Christopher’s. We all remarked that it seemed exactly the same as it was 20 years ago, when we went more for pleasure than for business. This is not a criticism, we promise! Just the truth. They have an interesting menu, a bunch of beers on tap, and plenty of TVs if you want to watch the game.
What are your go-to places in Porter Square?