Colorful food generally tastes better, and the sandwiches at Darwinís, Ltd. cover the entire color spectrum. Weíre not talking the beige flavor of turkey, tomato, and mayo on a white roll. Weíre not talking the artificial fluorescence of processed cheddar or ballpark mustard. At Darwinís, tucked just outside Harvard Square, youíll taste the reds and pinks of peppers and prosciutto, the greens and oranges of avocado and carrots. And youíll taste new unnamed colors from the kaleidoscope of flavor combinations served at Darwinís, like horseradish-scallion mayonnaise or the blend of cucumber, cream cheese, and capers topping the smoked-salmon sandwich.
Youíll use two hands for these sandwiches and probably get some honey mustard on your fingers. The Foster ($6.25), which boasts ham, salami, provolone, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, and green peppers with an herb vinaigrette, stands four inches tall on a choice of nine different breads. Hummus, avocado, carrots, tomatoes, sprouts, and apple (yes, apple) make the Hubbard Park ($5.50/$6 with cheese) one of the most colorful and tasty sandwiches around. The carrot, ginger, and sausage-vegetable soups ($4.25) may be a little hot and hearty for a spring afternoon, but the selection of cookies and brownies had our names all over them. One brownie ($2.50) in particular had chocolate glaze over a flush of strawberry icing, and was eyes-roll-up-in-your-head-and-moan delicious. Coconut-lemon macaroons and nameless chocolate-peanut-butter delights didnít succeed in seducing us. This time.
You can also buy fresh produce, beer, wine, and a variety of natural-leaning provisions like coffee filters and tissues at Darwinís. (But note: Tomís of Maine deodorant costs a jaw-dropping $5.75. Stick with CVS for your toiletries.)
The clientele is a cross section of its Cambridge neighborhood: doddering professors, undergrads in Gucci shades, and long-haired lefties avoiding all thatís mass produced. The counter area opens to one long table with stools. Itís often full, forcing conversation with strangers as you try to keep your sprouts and chicken-salad chunks from falling onto your neighborís New York Times.
Actually, the space is a hairís width away from being cramped, but thatís part of the charm. And Darwinís is expanding. Soon thereíll be more seating and an area for morning fare, including coffee, scones, and muffins. It remains to be seen whether the appealing intimacy of this neighborhood sandwich shop can survive the expansion. Regardless, for someone with a deli-size wallet and a gourmetís palate, Darwinís is a pot of gold at the end of the flavor rainbow.
Darwinís, Ltd., located at 148 Mt. Auburn Street, in Cambridge, is open Monday through Saturday, from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on Sunday, from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Call (617) 354-5233.