It is now almost 3 weeks that Jim and I have been living in Dorchester, MA here at Homestel, a hostel run out of a triple-decker, multi-family home right around the corner from the Red Line, specifically the JFK/UMASS stop.
Since I've been here I've gotten to know the area quite a bit so this is my summary on where to go for food, groceries, recreation, and how to get to downtown!
The house is located on a one way street in a residential neighborhood so there is almost zero through-traffic. This means it is quiet, very quiet, and safe.
The neighborhood is full of super cute homes with a wide mix of people. When I go on a morning run through the JFK/UMass subway station over to Carson Beach, there are throngs of kids going to school, young people my age heading to 9 to 5's in fresh office clothes, hipsters in their hipstery whatever, and everyone in between.
What's for Dinner?
The neighborhood has a strong Vietnamese presence so if that's your thing, you're in good company!
For banh mi, scrumptious Vietnamese sandwiches served on crusty French baguette and filled with cold cuts, pâté , veggies, and herbs - simple, savory, and fresh - there is Ba Le just a 9 minute walk down the main road, Dorchester Avenue. Check this in-depth review for more information.
If you are craving a Pho-nomenal noodle and soup dish, and you don't mind walking a bit further (24 minutes) you will want to check out Pho Le.
Also close by on Dorchester Avenue and only 12 minutes walking distance is Shanti, which does Indian and Bangladeshi inspired dishes. They have online ordering, delivery, and pick up.
Pub and Pizza
Around the corner is an Irish pub, The Banshee, where some of our staff like to go and catch sports games over a beer or two. For food, they serve the classics like sandwiches, burgers, flatbreads, and salads. In the mornings, they have an in-depth breakfast menu that includes eggs benedict, omelettes, and bloody mary's!
Across the street from The Banshee, is Pantry Pizza. They make great pizza and sell by slice. They also do takeout or delivery and have an overwhelming number of menu options available online. But if you just want to pick up some snacks, next door to Pantry Pizza is Cappy's Convenience to complete the trifecta.
As always, feel free to do your own research because along the Dorchester Avenue corridor there is a string of restaurants, markets, and more to explore!
If you prefer to cook, we have a stove top available with fundamental kitchen supplies and refrigerator for storage. As for ingredients, there is a Star Market conveniently located just a 7 minute walk away where you can buy food, toiletries, and other grocery items.
Pro Tip: There is a surcharge for bags so bring a reusable bag or backpack to avoid the charge. (I forget exactly but it is either $0.05 or $0.10)
As it is (American) football season this time of year, high school teams hold practice at the Moakley Park Running Track into the dusky evening. Family, friends, and passersby gather to watch in the stands, which I like for running stairs and exercising. There is a ton of green space here to enjoy that is a nice respite from the concrete jungle of a city.
Adjacent to the park is Carson Beach, which has a meandering boardwalk for strolls or jogs. You might even spot a sailboat shipwrecked on shore the morning after a stormy night like I did a few weeks ago.
Carson Beach is part of Harbor Walk, a Boston initiative to connect the Boston shoreline. The walk along the water from Carson Beach toward Castle Island is beautiful in the evening at sunset. The setting sun kisses the outline of anchored boats bobbing in the ocean. There were many couples who walk this strip but Jim and I rode our bicycles, which would be my recommendation.
If you continue along the boulevard, you'll eventually come to a memorial site that offers a prime spot to watch planes fly overhead and into Boston, towards Logan International Airport. It is a magical spot in an "every-day" location.
Libraries for Bookworms
I don't know anyone who travels to a new place and goes to the local library, but I like libraries so I'll include this quick section for fellow bookworms and others who might need library resources.
Close by is the local branch of the Boston Public Library less than 10 minutes' bike ride to Upham's Corner where there are computers, printers, and very friendly librarians. (Upham's Corner is not the best neighborhood but as a young woman biking solo in the daytime there was no point at which I did not feel safe.)
Other options include the University of Massachusetts - Boston library, an 18 minute walk from Homestel that takes you past the Star Market on Morrissey Boulevard. Across the street from the UMass library is the JFK Library and Museum, hence the subway station name - JFK/UMass.
The JFK Library has an entrance fee and is less a functioning library and more a historical site and landmark. The building was designed by the world renowned architect, I.M.Pei, who also designed the pyramid entrance-way at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
At some point sooner than later, you will want to go into downtown Boston. This is super easy. Just hop on the metro at the JFK/UMass station and get on the train heading to Alewife - this will take you into The City. Subway map here.
The station also has at least one MBTA employee who can help you with any questions regarding the Boston transit system. There is a designated booth for the employee(s) but they are usually standing outside the booth chatting with someone. You can spot them by their uniform, a bright red polo shirt that has the Boston MBTA logo.
Have fun exploring Boston!