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5-Hour Itinerary: Navigating Newton Centre

5-Hour Itinerary is a series—based on the New York Times’ “36 Hours”—in which we serve as your guide to the ultimate Boston day-trip, stringing together thoughtfully chosen locations and activities into a one-of-a-kind itinerary.

Although first year residential halls may be at the bottom of the housing “food chain,” just a twenty-minute walk from the Newton and Upper dorms is a hub of various eatery and storefronts. While the majority of BC students may head to Cleveland Circle for their eating and shopping needs, Newton Centre, equally close to campus, offers just as many opportunities. What is this hot-spot and what exactly does it offer? Let this list of places to explore speak for itself.

1. The Essentials

Panera, Starbucks, and CVS Pharmacy. The only trifecta of stores that can collectively satisfy a college student’s every want or need. It’s worth mentioning that Newton Centre offers this trio all within walking distance of one another. Not patient enough to Amazon Prime yourself more conditioner? Craving a seasonal Starbucks drink that has yet to hit CoRo Café? Look no further. Sometimes, sticking to what you know is the way to go.

2. 11:11 Health Bar

Long before the debut of Playa Bowls Boston, 11:11 has been standing, tucked away in the back corner of Newton Centre. Offering its own array of smoothie and bowl options, 11:11 also boasts different toasts (think avocado or almond butter) and health shots (Fire Cider, wheatgrass, and spices). Their “Tuna” Salad sandwich, made with chickpeas, and Overnight Oats are two additional options that blend good taste with nourishing health benefits. Experience an original spin on the trendiest of clean-eating foods, and support this independent restaurant for a delicious change of pace.

3. Johnny’s Luncheonette

Even if you have yet to visit the restaurant, Johnny’s is a location that you’ve most likely vicariously experienced through the many photographs posted on social media. This restaurant offers the perfect atmosphere for leisurely weekend meals. Self-proclaimed as the “Anytime Place for Anyone,” Johnny’s serves lunch, dinner, and breakfast all day long. Much more than your typical diner, they cover all of the classics and leave room for some of their own unique plates as well. Smoked Salmon quesadillas to Falafel Hummus salad to grilled cheese, whatever you’re feeling, Johnny’s is sure to deliver. The breakfast menu especially caters to both savory and sweet tastes, also offering signature items—including Johnny’s Porridge (warm rice and oats topped with brown sugar, apple, and raisins) and homemade donuts. Their commitment to local ingredients is worth noting, as their bread, fish, beef, and ice cream are all sourced from community vendors.

4. JP Licks

This ice cream shop is a must-try for any Massachusetts resident. Locations are exclusively found in-state and their flavors rival the creativity—and taste—of Ben and Jerry’s. JP Licks refuses to disappoint, with options to account for nearly every preference and accomodation. Sundaes, drinks, soft and hard yogurt… not to mention dairy-free ice cream and sorbets. If you aren’t convinced, this sampling of items should do the trick: Salted Caramel Cookies ‘n’ Cream ice cream, Lemon Hibiscus sorbet, Infused White Coffee Chunk sundaes. Resist the urge to UberEats a cup straight to your dorm and instead, take the trip out to Newton Centre the next time you want to crack open a cold pint with some friends. JP Licks is calling your name!

5. Little Big Diner

Individuals on the hunt for Asian cuisine will be more pleased with the menu of this restaurant. The brainchild of two other acclaimed Newton Centre eating attractions, Sycamore and Buttonwood, Little Big Diner prepares a mouthwatering selection of rice, poke and—most predominantly—ramen bowls. If you can manage to choose just one of their pre-designed options, a comprehensive “Extras” menu allows for personal additions to be made as well. From seasoned ajitama eggs (always cage-free) to smoked honey corn, they allow for full personalization. Not to mention, these colorful, steaming platters make for great photo opportunities.

6. Farmstead Table

The subtle white door serving as entrance to this restaurant is easy to miss, but it’s in your best interest to seek it out. Farmstead Table is a dining spot offering lunch, brunch, and dinner, with a palpably fresh selection of dishes. Order a basket of melt-in-your-mouth, golden popovers for the table and then peruse your entrée selection. Salmon burger? Huevos Rancheros? Or proceed directly to dessert and do yourself the favor of indulging in the S’more Tart. There is no better way to experience Newton than by enjoying the local cuisine it presents. As the restaurant’s mission statement explains, “we are dedicated to being actively involved our community, contributing sustainable, responsibly sourced product and knowledge, and in doing so, establishing ourselves as a place for its members to gather.”

A quick stroll down some nearby residential streets is all it takes to find yourself in the heart of Newton Centre. Break away from campus and soak in the untapped potential of this underrated spot—no T-ride necessary.

Next to writing, some of my favorite ways to spend time include designing Spotify playlists for friends and making grocery runs to Trader Joe's. I'm drinking coffee or tea almost constantly, and my mantra is the classic yet undeniably basic, "If it's meant to be, it will be!"