Coolidge Corner, one of Brookline’s two major commercial hubs (Brookline Village is the other), has been attracting shoppers and diners for more than 150 years. Its many restaurants, Jewish delis, coffee shops, one-of-a-kind boutiques, and historical sites draw visitors from Boston and beyond.
The bustling neighborhood is an easy walk from campus and a quick trolley ride up Beacon Street. Hop off when you spot the distinctive clock tower on the S.S. Pierce Building, at the corner where Beacon meets Harvard Street. And no, the area was not named after President Calvin Coolidge, but for 19th-century local businessman David S. Coolidge, whose grocery and general store was on the site of the S.S. Pierce building. At the time, it was the only commercial business in North Brookline. The advent of the electric streetcar in 1887 and 1888 marked the neighborhood’s transition into the shopping district it is today.
BU Today has compiled a list of some of the best places to explore when you’re in Coolidge Corner.
Places to Go
JFK National Historic Site
83 Beals St.
John F. Kennedy was born on tree-lined Beals Street and lived in the three-story home for six years. His mother, Rose Kennedy, later restored the interior to the best of her recollection, donating almost 200 family objects, including the future US president’s bassinet and porringer. The site is operated by the National Park Service, and is open from mid-May through the end of October, from 9:30 am to 5 pm. Free tours are offered on the hour and half hour starting at 10 am. The National Park Service also offers more extensive tours of the surrounding neighborhood. You can find more information on times and tour destinations here.
Public Library of Brookline, Coolidge Corner Branch
31 Pleasant St.
The Coolidge Corner branch of the Public Library of Brookline is an ideal place for students looking for a quiet, off-campus spot to study during the day. The library offers an array of programs, including story time for toddlers, a Lego club for older kids, yoga classes for adults, and English conversation groups for those learning English.
Culture and Entertainment
The Coolidge Corner Theatre
290 Harvard St.
Brookline’s popular art-deco movie house has been entertaining film lovers since 1933 with first-run and independent productions. Big shots like Meryl Streep, Martin Scorsese, and the late Robert Altman have made panel appearances. You can feel like a star too, when you sink into one of the plush chairs in the cozy 45-seat screening room. The main hall seats 440 and a smaller auditorium 217. The theatre hosts regular readings and special screenings, including Big Screen Classics, and Science on Screen, which features films from various genres tied to science. Notable figures with experience in science, technology, and/or medicine introduce each Science on Screen film pick. Learn more about Science on Screen and other programs at the Coolidge Corner Theatre here.
Coolidge Corner Clubhouse
307-309 Harvard St.
One of the few bars in the neighborhood, this one can get crowded, especially when a game is on. The bar is known for its heaping plates of nachos, aptly named “Mile High Nachos,” 30-plus beers on tap, and numerous LCD hi-def TVs. Stop by on Tuesday nights and test your trivia chops during the bar’s weekly Stump Trivia Night.
1297 Beacon St.
Coolidge Yoga offers a wide selection of classes, from core-centric classes to vinyasa flow and yoga classes for new and expectant mothers to family yoga, even yoga for athletes. Prices vary. Students can get a 10-class pass for $130. The yoga studio also offers a 30 days of yoga class for new members for just $30. Yoga mats are available for rent during sessions for just $2, and drop-in classes for students, seniors, and military are $16. For everyone else, the price is $20.
Knight Moves: Board Game Cafe
1402 Beacon St.
The first board game café to hit Boston, Knight Moves has hundreds of games, from strategy-based board games like Settlers of Catan to party games, including Cards Against Humanity. The knowledgeable staff will even teach you how to play new games. The café’s casual, relaxed setting is a comfortable gathering place for groups. Admission is $5 per person Monday to Wednesday, $10 per person Thursday to Sunday.
1302 Beacon St.
Started by two Vermont friends who now live in Boston, this women’s boutique carries a curated array of American and European clothing and accessories lines of all price ranges. Whether you’re looking for something to wear to a ball game or a cocktail party, chances are you’ll find it here.
275 Harvard St.
The Japanese American retailer Topdrawer offers a dazzling selection of high-quality items, from books and paper to bento boxes and travel bags, that follow minimalist design principles, emphasize environmentally ethical production, and cater to creative professionals. Even if you aren’t in the market for a premium notebook, the sleek aesthetic of the store warrants some serious window shopping.
279 Harvard St.
One of the Boston area’s best independent bookstores, Brookline Booksmith has been a Coolidge Corner institution since it opened in 1961. The well-stocked shelves, featuring both the latest best sellers alongside graphic novels and literary classics, make it a reader’s delight. The staff is helpful and will readily provide recommendations for shoppers looking for a great read. The lower level, the Used Book Cellar, offers a generous selection of used books, all reasonably priced. The store frequently hosts readings and book signings featuring popular authors, as well as monthly book clubs and weekly story-time events for kids.
Boston General Store
305 Harvard St.
The art of craftsmanship is on full display in this eclectic store, with a selection that runs the gamut, including wool blankets, vintage and new apparel, sustainable cleaning supplies, bar tools, gardening necessities, writing utensils, and even a selection of various types of maple syrup. Inside feels like a high-end general store, though many of the products are reasonably priced. Boston General Store began as an online retailer in 2013, and opened its first brick-and-mortar store two years later. The store now has two locations; the other shop is in Dedham.
New England Comics
316 Harvard St.
Hell Boy, Iron Man, and the Dark Knight all began life on the page, not on screen. You can find their comic books, and much more, at New England Comics. A chain of seven stores, the Coolidge Corner location carries the largest inventory of comics and toys, from Archie to Spider-Man and the Avengers to Spider Gwen, as well as a large selection of graphic novels. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable. Keep an eye out for special sales, particularly near the holidays.
Brookline Farmers’ Market
Centre Street West parking lot, off Beacon St.
From early June through mid-November, the Brookline Farmers’ Market is open every Thursday from 1:30 to 6:30 pm. A neighborhood mainstay for more than 30 years, it has nearly 40 vendors selling a huge selection of local produce (much of it organic), eggs, ice cream, baked goods, fresh meats, even jewelry and other accessories. For news and updates on the farmers market, follow it on Instagram or Facebook.
Osaka Japanese Sushi and Steak House
14 Green St.
One of the few hibachi steak houses in the Boston area, Osaka is one of the most popular. The restaurant is spacious, with two levels, and includes both a sushi bar and karaoke lounge. The extensive menu has more than 30 types of sushi rolls, along with numerous hibachi dishes featuring different meats.
Los Amigos Taqueria
1294 Beacon St.
This fast and casual restaurant serves authentic Mexican cuisine with a contemporary twist. You’ll find fish tacos and specialty burritos like Surf & Turf, with grilled steak, grilled shrimp, Spanish rice, black beans, jack cheese, pico de gallo, and romaine lettuce, drizzled with smoky chipotle crema. Diners can also create their own burritos, quesadillas, bowls, and salads. The taqueria also has an excellent selection of vegetarian options, including a dessert quesadilla—a grilled tortilla filled with Nutella and sweet fried plantains.
Hops N Scotch
1306 Beacon St.
Despite the name, owners Darren Tow and David Ng graduated from playground games to adult beverages—and plenty of them. Hops N Scotch boasts a wide variety of craft beers and more than 100 different kinds of Scotch and bourbon. The eclectic menu includes fish tacos, lemongrass chicken bao, and even paella. On weekends, the restaurant offers a popular weekend brunch and a late-night menu (available Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays), making it a destination for early birds and night owls alike.
Allium Market & Cafe
1330 Beacon St.
This market/café is the place to go for fancy foods and ingredients you might not be able to find at a Star Market or Stop & Shop. Opened in 2017, Allium includes a cheese shop, made-to-order kitchen, café, and bakery. So while you’re out picking up some raw almond butter or gluten-free flour for your kitchen, snack on some yummy vegan avocado toast or a fresh grilled cheese from the café.
1331 Beacon St.
This Newton Centre mainstay chose Coolidge Corner for its second location in 2014. Open for lunch and dinner, it has classic hamburgers and cheeseburgers as well as veggie burgers, subs, salads, hot dogs, and sandwiches, all reasonably priced. The Godzilla Burger, two six-ounce beef patties, bacon, fried egg, grilled onions, provolone cheese, jalapeño peppers, and waffle fries, is $12.95, but most of the other burgers on the menu run between $6.95 and $7.95. The French fries, fruit and veggie smoothies, and milkshakes are excellent, as are the numerous side dishes, including mozzarella sticks, onion rings, chicken wings, and chicken fingers.
Six Po Hot Pot
1353 Beacon St.
Six Po Hot Pot promises a unique dining experience. The dishes here are prepared with a simmering pot of soup stock right in front of you at your table. Diners decide which ingredients to add, selecting from sliced meats and vegetables. The restaurant then places the ingredients on bamboo skewers for what they call a “novel way to eat meat and vegetables with various soup bases.”
242 Harvard St.
This rustic-chic eatery is run by the creative team behind Steel & Rye in nearby Milton, Mass. Prairie Fire’s inventive menu includes several categories: appetizers, vegetables, pizza, mains, oysters, brunch, and sweets. You’ll find wonderful seasonal dishes like a squid ink campanelle and a hazelnut chocolate mousse with smoked maple granola and coffee ice cream. There’s a full dinner menu daily until 10 pm, but wood-fired pizzas are available until 11 pm on Friday and Saturday. Lunch/brunch is available on weekends. The restaurant also sports a delicious craft cocktail menu.
250 Harvard St.
If you stop by Shaking Crab for a meal, be prepared to get messy. You’ll want a bib and plenty of napkins. The restaurant chain is famous for its signature boil bag, where seafood is steamed and served to diners in a bag that’s been shaken to coat the food in a special blend of herbs and butter sauce. Other dishes are served in a plastic bucket. The delicious food and fun, relaxed vibe will have you coming back time after time.
256 Harvard St.
Look out for Michael’s small storefront, otherwise you’ll miss the delicious food at this New York–style deli, which, in true New York fashion, cooks all its meats on site daily. A hot spot for sandwiches, Michael’s has top ratings from the Phantom Gourmet and Yelp. The corned beef Rachel, with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, Russian dressing, and coleslaw on toasted pumpernickel, is a favorite. With a menu full of pastrami, roast beef, and salami sandwiches, it’s a prime lunch spot for deli lovers. Don’t forget about the most important meal of the day—the deli also offers breakfast sandwiches and bagels with lox. Takeout is available.
276 Harvard St.
First opened in Nantucket in 2015, this socially conscious pizza chain has slowly but surely expanded across the Northeast, including in Coolidge Corner. The menu has a build-your-own-pizza focus, with a variety of sauces, cheeses, and toppings, ranging from high-brow truffle spreads and artisanal pepperoni to classic tomato sauce and mozzarella. Oath is also known for its wide array of vegan and vegetarian options, including vegan cheese and Beyond Meatballs, a popular vegan-meat substitute meant to feel and taste exactly like beef.
278 Harvard St.
An escape to Paris is right around the corner—Coolidge Corner, that is. This no-frills café serves up crepes that will transport you to a bench along the Seine. It offers a mouthwatering selection of savory and sweet crepes, as well as coffee, tea, soups, and salads. One of the sweet crepes, named the Ruth Bader Cinnsburg, is a cinnamon roll–inspired crepe drizzled with house-made vanilla glaze. The place is also known for spectacular smoothies. The Nutella frozen hot chocolate is particularly noteworthy, and is one of the most popular items on the menu. Containing Nutella, skim milk, and frozen yogurt, this heavenly treat warrants the warning on the menu: “Paris Creperie is not liable for any addictions created by this smoothie.”
289 Harvard St.
Directly across from the Coolidge Corner Theatre, Otto has a reputation for creating pizzas that combine unorthodox flavors and ingredients, among them spicy pulled pork and scallion; sriracha chicken and avocado; roasted chicken, caramelized pears, and fontina cheese; and butternut squash, ricotta, and cranberries. The results are surprisingly delicious pizzas. The Portland, Maine–based chain is best known for its mashed potato, bacon, and scallion pizza, named one of Food Network’s 50 best pizzas in the country. Otto’s also offers a selection of craft beers and wine.
308 Harvard St.
This French-inspired small-plate restaurant opened its doors in July in the spot that used to be Reagle Beagle. Parlour specializes in locally sourced, no-waste food, and most of the dishes are seasonal and vegetable-based. The menu is small, but features inventive small plates like duck confit pecan pie, Nashville hot chicken donuts, and Berkshire St. Louis ribs. Entrées might include a root vegetable cassoulet or a lemon-walnut roasted cod. The inviting atmosphere is perfect for a casual Monday night out with friends or a special celebratory dinner with family.
313B Harvard St.
This combination restaurant-groceria offers Italian cuisine you can eat on site or take home, as well as ingredients you can purchase to make your own Italian dishes. You’ll find antipasti, paninis, spinach gnocchi—all reasonably priced. Hams and spicy salamis fill the deli case, and a delicious array of Italian pastas and sauces, olive oil, biscuits, and bottles of San Pellegrino line the shelves. Try the arugula and pear salad with walnuts, Parmigiano cheese, and lemon olive oil, or the bresaola panini (lean dry-cured beef with roasted peppers, capers, lemon juice, and olive oil). The award-winning Fedora sauce, which is made with tomatoes, rosemary, garlic, and cream is outstanding. A daily list of special homemade dishes is available for eating in or takeout. The restaurant offers pastas in a mix-and-match format—you can choose the type of pasta as well as the sauce. It’s open daily and offers a popular $5 pasta special Wednesdays and Sundays.
Ganko Ittetsu Ramen
318 Harvard St.
Ganko Ittetsu Ramen, inside the Coolidge Corner Arcade, specializes in Sapporo-style ramen, which, unlike most ramen, is prepared in a wok. Typically, ramen is made by mixing tare (sauce) and the base broth in a bowl, then adding noodles and other ingredients, but in Sapporo ramen soup, the tare is caramelized with vegetables before the broth is added. This gives the dish a deep flavor. Diners can select from six types of ramen, including tan tan, with a spicy sesame broth, shoyu, with a soy sauce broth, and miso, with a broth made from the fermented soybean paste essential to Japanese cuisine. Ganko Ittetsu Ramen is open daily for lunch and dinner.
324 Harvard St.
Rami’s has been the go-to for Middle Eastern and Israeli food in Coolidge Corner for more than 20 years. The delicious menu includes house-made hummus, tangy baba ganoush, and crispy falafel, and pillowy pita bread. Great Israeli and Middle Eastern food at reasonable prices make this a real gem. The restaurant is kosher, and in observance of the Jewish Sabbath, closes Fridays at 2 pm and doesn’t reopen until Sunday at 10 am.
Pure Cold Press
326 Harvard St.
This sleek juice and salad bar, next door to Rami’s, opened in 2015. It is owned by Haim Cohen, the son of Rami Cohen, who owns Rami’s. The small eatery is kosher and vegetarian, with vegan and gluten-free items as well. Select from more than a dozen fresh juices and smoothies, with ingredients such as kale, beet, celery, dandelion, apple, ginger, and cucumber. Salads here aren’t your run-of-the-mill lettuce-and-tomato combination: you’ll find more exotic fare like the Samurai Salad with teriyaki tempeh and carrot ginger dressing. Pure Cold Press also offers a selection of breakfast fare, including omelets, pancakes, and oatmeal. Like Rami’s, Pure Cold Press closes early on Fridays, at 2:30 pm, and reopens Sundays at 8 am.
335 Harvard St.
Your search for the perfect Reuben may end at Zaftigs (“pleasingly plump” in Yiddish). Lines out the door of this Brookline institution are common, but it’s worth the wait. The friendly staff keeps things moving and the water glasses filled. Try the lupo—brisket layered between potato pancakes with vegetable gravy and horseradish—or the grilled cheese made with thick slices of challah. If you’re in the mood for breakfast, the banana-stuffed French toast with date butter and berries has been known to rock worlds. Breakfast is served all day. Suggestion: in warm weather, or if lines are particularly long, order your meal to go and plop down with the other Zaftigs exiles in neighboring Devotion Park. Open seven days a week.
404 Harvard St.
This eatery has an eclectic, extensive menu. Among the breakfast menu are challah French toast, smoked Scottish salmon and eggs Benedict, and much more; lunch items include a short ribs taco, burgers, and salads, and the dinner menu ranges from chicken and lamb kebabs to a seafood risotto and pan-seared scallops. A fully stocked bar and a small but discerning wine list are available.
Union Square Donuts
409 Harvard St.
Fresh, handmade donuts are served up every day at Union Square Donuts (you’ll also find them in Somerville, at the Boston Public Market, and at Time Out Market in the Fenway). Try one of the premium donuts, like the brown butter hazelnut crunch, topped with salted, toasted crushed hazelnuts ($3.75), or one of the originals, like the apple cider donut or the Vietnamese coffee donut, which comes covered in a rich glaze made from espresso and condensed milk ($3). You’ll also find vegan options, donut holes, filled donuts, and a breakfast sandwich. You can wash it all down with an espresso or latte from the coffee bar.
421 Harvard St.
While an intense debate has swirled for years over the pronunciation of the bakery’s name (long or short “u” in Kupel’s?), many swear the kosher shop offers the most flavorful bagels in Boston. Others rave about the egg salad, pastries, and homemade cream cheese. Expect lines during prime chow times, and if you’re a student, remember to show your ID for a sweet 10 percent discount. The shop is open daily and has every type of bagel you could think of, from pumpernickel to plain, though they don’t carry asiago because it isn’t kosher. P.S. It’s pronounced with a short “u” as in “couples.” If you don’t believe us, just check out their logo.
428 Harvard St.
The Butcherie is famous for having the largest selection of kosher groceries in the Boston area, with a wide variety of deli meats, wines, snack foods imported from Israel, and traditional Jewish delicacies like noodle kugel, beef brisket, and knishes. You’ll also find kosher wines, a bakery serving up challah, bourekas, and cookies, beautiful cuts of beef and poultry, and prepared savory foods for takeout. Closed Saturdays.
Getting there: By foot, head down St. Mary’s Street or St. Paul’s Street from Commonwealth Avenue to Beacon Street, and turn right. The walk takes 15 to 25 minutes. By MBTA, walk to the St. Mary’s trolley stop on Beacon Street and take the outbound Green Line C trolley four stops to Coolidge Corner.
Click on the points in the map above for more information on the places listed in our guide to the Coolidge Corner area.