Last year my coworker introduced me to Sofra in Cambridge, and we’ve been back to that part of Cambridge several times, and also started exploring the rest of that neighborhood (West Cambridge/Belmont). Looking around, there are actually some pretty neat places around there, such as Eastern Lamejun Bakers (which came highly recommended by an Armenian friend of mine), a few good wine stores, and some rather nice vintage stores. We also found ourselves walking by Shangri-La Chinese Cuisine, and became intrigued due to the large number of Chinese people waiting around outside for a table. So we put on our list to check out, and after this weekend’s hiking trip in Boston, it seemed like a good place to grab dinner.
Where Offbeat Eats has been:
I’ve always liked Italian Ice as a treat. While I’ve always had a love for ice cream, there are times when I really am not craving a dairy treat, primarily due to weather or activity (others may vary in this, but for me, the combination of “parched” and “dairy” isn’t at all pleasant). A simple frozen dessert made with fruit, water, sugar, and little else, this dessert goes by a lot of names. Around the East coast it’s often called “water ice”. Growing up in Arizona, there was no standard name for it, but I always fondly remember trips to Sno Oasis (in Tempe, now long gone), or Eegee’s (in Tucson, still a solid regional chain) for a nice frozen snack with real fruit flavors (and possibly some food coloring…). In Chicago (and most of the Midwest), however, these go by the names “Italian Ice” or “Italian Lemonade”… and there’s one well-recognized place to get them in Little Italy/Taylor Street, and that’s Mario’s Italian Lemonade, which was Stop #4 on the Death March. We stopped at Mario’s for several reasons. First, Mario’s has location. Located in what used to be the front yard of one of four townhouses, Mario’s is literally across the street from Al’s #1 Italian Beef, and makes a perfect stop for a light dessert to offset the rather heavy, and somewhat messy, Italian Beef sandwich that you just ate from Mario’s.