Monday, May 20, 2024

A weekly notebook about dining options during the Covid-19 shutdown, with a focus on quality and ease of pickup and delivery.


NU Kitchen near Somerville’s Union Square. (Photo: Tom Meek)

If you want to get out and eat healthy while enjoying a book or tackling the crossword, Nu Kitchen is your place. The eatery on the outskirts of Union Square serves up all kinds of goodness all day long with a full accoutrement of coffees, juices and acai bowls – and beer, wine and cocktails, if you want a kick to your cleansing green smoothie. NU Kitchen (which has a sister locale in Worcester and one coming to Newburyport, and shouldn’t be confused with Nubar) has a large, spartan space with an open central kitchen that makes even more sense of its 2018 name change from NU Cafe and a neon-green branding of its motto, “eat clean, drink naked”: The French word “nu” means naked.


The crew at Nu Kitchen prides itself on whole and organic foods on a menu that leans vegetarian, with many items that can be made vegan and gluten free. You can get breakfast all day, including scrambles that are lean yet full of protein: The Harvest Tofu Scramble comes with sweet potatoes, pickled red onions, wild mushrooms, kale and organic marinated tofu, topped with a basil pesto drizzle; a Chorizo Brussels Scramble includes sweet potatoes, red onion, Sriracha, a fried egg and micro cilantro (micro greens are a thing, folks!). But my favorite is the Spanish Scramble, which has three cage-free eggs (there’s a whites option), chorizo or Impossible sausage (I go Impossible), fresh salsa (not spicy, but very fresh), melted cheddar cheese or vegan mozzarella, black beans, fresh cilantro, pickled red onion and the requisite avocado and sour cream. For the more lunch-minded there’s a fairly common slate of wraps, sandos, burgers and paninis. There’s even a salmon BLT. But the option I dig is the turkey avocado panini, which comes with pickled red onions, melted mozzarella, baby spinach and chipotle aioli neatly packed into a toasted flatbread pouch. It’s a dense, delicious eat; be sure to opt for a side dish of spicy cucumber salad that’s sweet and spicy in all the right ways. 

The Spanish Scramble. (Photo: Tom Meek)

A grain bowl menu section lists chickpea and parmesan; chipotle avocado and lime; and banh mi variations. If you can’t decide, there’s the Buddha bowl – all your daily goodness and nutritional needs in one serving, with organic quinoa and brown rice topped with marinated oyster mushrooms, sweet potato, steamed spinach, pickled carrots, avocado, scallions and sesame seeds under a garlic ginger sauce. You can customize any bowl with additional organic proteins (salmon, chicken, vegan “chicken” or Beyond Burger meat).

The turkey avocado panini with a side of spicy cucumber salad. (Photo: Tom Meek)

The space has hosted comedy nights, readings and other public events, and should do so again once we’re further out from Covid’s grip. For now, NU Kitchen is a great place to kick back and relax or do a quick grab-and-go. It’s all things to your varying whims. 

NU Kitchen (195 Washington St., near Union Square, Somerville)


A Super Sunday pickup recommendation: Himalayan Kitchen, where you can get classic buffalo wings and pepperoni pizza or add a unique international accent that makes this eatery so indelible. Fried or baked wing options include Bombay (lemon and herbs), teriyaki, sweet chili, Punjabi (mint and chili), cajun and Jamaican jerk; the pizzas come with masala and paneer sauces. Or pick up some momos and chicken sekuwa and make it a totally different game day – I mean after all, Tom Brady ain’t suiting up.

Himalayan Kitchen (40 Bow St., Union Square, Somerville)


A Valentine’s Day chocolate recommendation: EH Chocolatier has a box of handcrafted V-Day themed chocolate bonbons that are an artistic and yummy way into someone’s heart.

EHChocolatier (145 Huron Ave. on Observatory Hill in Neighborhood 9) 

Cambridge writer Tom Meek’s reviews, essays, short stories and articles have appeared in WBUR’s The ARTery, The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Globe, The Rumpus, The Charleston City Paper and SLAB literary journal. Tom is also a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and rides his bike everywhere.