As an aspiring writer, I have few requirements. One of them, however, that is crucial to my success and to the completion of a measly single page at the least, is a comfortable, cozy and creatively conducive atmosphere. I often have a very hard time overcoming stubborn writer’s block when I’m at home in front of my computer or sitting on my couch, both places that, while comfortable, also are close enough to distractions like areas of my house that beg to be cleaned. Therefore, sometimes I need to go out somewhere and get away from my habitat. I have been exploring slash cafe and after experimenting with several, I’ve finally made my claim about the top three. Reviews of them are below, in order of preference: The Diesel CafÃ?Â©, Espresso Royale and Angora Too!
Diesel CafÃ?Â©, located in Somerville’s Davis Square, is probably the best place in the Boston metro area for pondering writers and artists. The Diesel, named appropriately after its retro garage-mechanics type design, or maybe vice versa, who knows, has become not only a memorable cafÃ?Â© but also a truly successful brand. The staff is all super friendly and you can tell they really like working together. Diesel fans can by all sorts of fun merchandise to support the little “family” there, but that is in no way suggesting they should wear it there. Take it home or get a Diesel sweatshirt for the kiddies. I go to the Diesel all the time to write and I feel comfortable staying there for hours at a time. And I mean several hours. Most places you start to get the boot, even if just subtly, after a while, or at least signs of it like waitresses doing side work at your table or giving you dirty looks. But here there are all sorts of seats- couches, two top tables, rounds and fabulous red booths- and no waiters, it’s all counter service here. Therefore they welcome you to stay all day if you want to. It is much better than the Starbucks across the street (though note, Starbucks has a cleaner bathroom) and in my opinion, a more creative-friendly crowd. There are artists all the time doing their own thing, everyone very interesting I might add, which can be good for people watching to evoke story ideas. It is extremely gay friendly; in fact I would venture to say that the cafÃ?Â© population at any given time would be primarily lesbians. Everyone is welcome though and made to feel that way. As far as feeding your creative fix, the Diesel offers a whole variety of highly caffeinated beverages, protein smoothies and really delicious and healthy sandwiches and salads with appropriate garage names such as the Little Piston (my personal favorite-Mozzarella, Tomato and Pesto). There is also an ever-changing showcase of artwork featured here which is usually of the raw, edgy and either sensual or overly feministic in theme. I’ve seen some really good work here, best in town actually. So I definitely recommend this place. In Davis Square you can get to the Diesel by following Elm Street to 257. It’s across the street from a giant Starbucks and right next door to a Passport Photo place. You can’t miss it; the little front section looks out of a giant garage door. You might also want to check out their website before you go to see what it looks like, they provide some great shots of the place.
There are several Espresso Royale’s in the Boston area, but the best one as far as comfort, menu options and tolerance level of employees for loitering artists is the coffee shop off of Huntington Ave. The cafÃ?Â© is right near Northeastern and you can get off at that stop on the Green Line E Train subway to get closest. It is usually pretty full, with mostly students studying over mounds of textbooks and thick stacks of paper and while that can sometimes prolong a good seat, it actually makes for a really nice environment. Everyone working together, but separately, I love it, though I’m a giant sucker for productivity. You can get some great coffee here, made by staff who really know what they are doing, and tea too, of all varieties. Usually the staff will know what the teas promote too, whether it’s sleep or energy, etc. There is also a pretty nice arrangement of munchies though if you want something wholesome and healthy your best bet is to stop by the Whole Foods grocery store around the Symphony area, which is only a short walk away, and pick something up to bring along. Espresso Royale is pretty good as well about letting you stay for a while, but you may feel as though you’ve exhausted your welcome a little sooner than you would at the Diesel. This is not because of the critical employees, though, but more because pissy new customers sometimes fight over seats or give people the eye if they’ve been waiting awhile. This generally isn’t a problem though, so so much. There are a couple of other Espresso Royale cafes too, the one near Boston University, right next to Guitar Center and one downtown on Newbury Street. The one on Newbury is rather small, with little on the menu and always a consistent crowd. I don’t recommend that one at all, unless you want to meet people, as it seems like a hotspot for area hipsters. But for studying, choose one of the other two, depending on your area. The one by Boston University does have better selection of brownies.
Espresso Royale is located at: 736 Commonwealth Avenue (BU Central Green Line B Line Train) or 286 Newbury Street or 44 Gainsborough Street across from the New England Conservatory of Music. The last one is the best. You can also check out their national chain of cafes on the website, Espresso Royale Online
Angora Too, the sister of the Kenmore Square Angora CafÃ?Â©, is located in Brighton, down a little side street called Sutherland Road. It is next door to the Boston landmark liquor store and more Chansky’s. Angora Too is great for not only studying, as it is often very quiet in there, aside from the brief peak moments, but ideal for food choices. They claim to cater to the Middle Eastern style of cooking, with falafel being one of their hit sandwiches, but really, I’d have to generalize that this cafÃ?Â© carries all styles of food. Every morning until an hour that is suitable for college kids sleeping in late, you can get delectable and sizeable portions of French toast with strawberries or pancakes with blueberries or Belgian Waffles. They also have really good, large iced coffees. I live far away from the cafÃ?Â© now but sometimes travel the distance just for a good beverage. Also, a hit, is the frozen yogurts you can get that have your choice of candy mixed into it like a blizzard from Dairy Queen. The seating inside consists of a few tables in the back; some by the window and a giant couch arrangement up on a little pedestal to the left of the door. This is a really cozy place in the winter. There are not a ton of seats, which might pose as slightly a problem, but from my experience, people usually do take out or delivery, no dine-in. Try this place, it will foster your creativity well. You can view Angora Too’s schedule and menu at: Angora Too! Take the B Line Green Line Train to the Sutherland Stop.