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[Cheap Eats]

Blue Shirt Café
Health food with something up its sleeve

on the cheap

With Bob Marley on the jukebox and grilled tofu on the menu, the Blue Shirt Café makes no bones about its neo-hippie, health-food aesthetic. Standing in stark contrast to the working-class pizza joint next door, the Blue Shirt delivers cheap (there’s nothing over $7), healthful eats with a pan-ethnic flair — it’s a little bit of Lonely Planet in the heart of Davis Square.

While the Blue Shirt offers traditional turkey sandwiches and Tex-Mex burritos, its specialty (as the sign outside boasts) is quirky " gourmet wrap sandwiches " that bring highbrow ingredients — jasmine rice, caramelized onions, goat cheese — to standard lunch fare. The Indonesian-tuna-salad sandwich ($4.95) took that experimental ethic a little too far; stocked with plump raisins, the " Indonesian " tuna was heavily spiced and sweetened to form a cloying yellow paste. Far better was the sesame chicken wrap ($5.75), a hefty burrito-esque creation that mixed soft jasmine rice, crispy carrots, grilled chicken, and a delicate sesame-soy aïoli. The Blue Shirt Salad ($4.25) continued the mix-’n’-match theme, combining a healthy portion of mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette, clumps of goat cheese, toasted walnuts, and poached cinnamon-spiced pears.

A long selection of smoothies and fresh-squeezed juices takes up a good third of the menu. Skipping over the short selection of " Remedies " — vitamin-heavy combinations like " Immunity Power " and " Cold Fighter " — we ordered with taste, not health, in mind. " Apple-a-Day " ($3.25) was a tangy, Asian-inspired take on plain ol’ apple cider, punched up with ginger, lemon juice, and a hint of cinnamon. The thick pink " Soy-Milk Craze " ($3.95), a smoothie of bananas, strawberries, raspberry sorbet, protein powder, and soy milk, included a free booster shot of echinacea, the taste of which thankfully was masked by the sweet, frothy drink. Who said health food can’t be good food?

The Blue Shirt Café, located at 424 Highland Avenue, in Somerville, is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Call (617) 629-7641.

Issue Date: July 12-19, 2001