Where to Buy Food: Grocery Store Guide
By Ji Qi
When you first arrive at MIT, the dining options on campus and numerous restaurants located in Cambridge and Boston can make it easy to avoid the kitchens of your dorm or living group.
Sooner or later, though, budget constraints, the urge to finally consume something healthy, or the longing for a home-cooked meal may cause you to look for the nearest grocery store.
Here are a few places to start:
20 Sidney Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
Open daily, 7 a.m. to midnight
Walk north on Mass. Ave. Take a left at the gas station, then a right on the next street. Star is on the left.
The closest market to MIT, Star is very similar to the traditional large grocery chains that you’re probably used to back home in terms of the brands and items they carry. Prices are probably higher than you’re used to, as is true for most Boston supermarkets. This may be the only supermarket you can reach during the cold winter months.
748 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139
Open daily, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Walk west along Memorial Drive (along Dorm Row). Trader Joe’s is a 20-minute walk from MIT.
A supermarket full of unique and local specialty items, Trader Joe’s will provide more adventurous eaters with treats that will last a while without breaking the bank. Although the selection is less comprehensive than Star’s, you’re sure to fall in love with the foods you can only find at Trader Joe’s. A few of my new staples include hummus, cappuccino meringues, pita chips, frozen mangos, and Chicken Gyoza “Potstickers.”
A second location is a short walk across the river in Boston at 899 Boylston Street across from the Hynes Convention Center.
Take the red line subway to Park Street, then take the green line to the Haymarket stop.
If you’re looking for fresh and cheap produce, look no further. Although Haymarket may be quite a hike from MIT, the deals you will score at this fantastic outdoor market are definitely worth it. You might find two boxes of strawberries or four pounds of tomatoes for only a dollar.
Aside from produce, vendors also sell meat, seafood, and a variety of specialty items. Haymarket is around every Friday and Saturday from dawn until items run out. If you stick around until late afternoon, you might just catch the dollar-a-bag sales.
Be prepared for a loud and crowded experience, as vendors try to out-heckle each other as shoppers ease themselves through packed alleys. Quality can also be an issue, but you’ll still get the best deal in town. Be sure to bring bags or packs to carry everything back.
C Mart Supermarket
692 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02111
Take the red line subway to Downtown Crossing, then take the orange line one stop to Chinatown.
Located in Chinatown, C Mart is the classic example of an Asian supermarket. Go here if you’re looking for traditional Asian sauces and specialty items.
1095 Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA 02215
Take the red line subway to the Park Street stop, then take the green line “B” branch (Boston College branch) to Packard’s Corner.
Super 88 is an Asian supermarket chain specializing in Asian produce and seafood.
If you prefer to have things delivered, you can try Peapod by Stop & Shop (http://www.peapod.com/) and arrange for delivery straight to your door.
Besides Trader Joe’s, the Harvest Co-op in Central Square (walk North on Mass. Ave. for about 10 minutes; Harvest is on the left at 581 Mass. Ave.) and Whole Foods Market (turn right two streets past Harvest on Prospect St. and walk three minutes to 115 Prospect St.) have organic foods or healthier alternatives.
If you’re looking for locally grown produce, Boston and Cambridge have a number of farmers’ markets to choose from. Most run until November and offer more than just produce (I’ve heard that the homemade cookies and pies are delicious).
The most convenient location for MIT students is the farmers’ market in Central Square, located in the parking lot at Bishop Allen Dr. and Norfolk St. behind the Harvest Co-op. The market is open on Mondays from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. until Nov. 20. Another close location is the Morse School Parking Lot, which is on the way to the Memorial Drive Trader Joe’s. This one runs on Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. until Oct. 28. The Harvard Square farmer’s market is hosted by the Charles Hotel and runs Fridays and Saturdays through the end of November.
For more locations farmers’ market locations, visit http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/farmers_markets.htm.