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[Cheap Eats]

Neighborhood Restaurant and Bakery
Love thy neighbor

on the cheap
All Asia Tu y Yo Café Belo Pad Thai Café

On a recent warm, sunny Saturday morning, we found ourselves on the vine-enclosed terrace at Somerville’s generically named, family-owned Neighborhood Restaurant and Bakery, a few blocks from the bustle of Union Square. Any outdoor restaurant that lacks kiss-kiss artifice and painful prices would be enough to win our hearts, but the people in this Neighborhood don’t rest there. Top 40 pumped from speakers nestled among hanging grapes, servers scurried about with endless pots of coffee and plates of food, and young families and single folks with newspapers gathered around the lime, yellow, and orange tables. The vibe fell somewhere between Mediterranean oasis and casual summer camp.

Seconds after we ordered, servers plunked petite cups of syrupy orange juice on the brightly colored table, followed closely by a plate of sweet pastries, squares of toast, and chocolate-chip muffins, then a small plate with a sweet and soft wedge of cantaloupe. Digging in so soon, though, would have been a mistake, because round two was incoming.

A plate of buttery eggs, spiced hashed browns, and mildly biting linguiça ($6.99) was perfectly simple and simply perfect. A set of three banana pancakes ($9.99) was fluffy, and lacked the dreaded chalky chunks found in many fruity pancakes. They were accompanied by a small, somewhat bland mound of scrambled eggs, the same hash browns, and a slice of medium-grade ham. Sweet and spicy, soft and buttery, the never-ending breakfast is best for those who might have tied too many on the night before.

Amid the buzz of the weekend breakfast rush, Mama watched intently as her family served up the hearty fare.

Is good? she asked.

Si, we nodded eagerly, pausing momentarily between bites.

The Neighborhood Restaurant and Bakery, located at 25 Bow Street, in Somerville, is open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Call (617) 628-2151.

Issue Date: August 9 - 16, 2001