Having worked in the North End a couple years, I’ve had some time to discover all the nooks and crannies of this fascinating neighborhood, and people often ask me what to see here. Though Mike’s Pastry, the Paul Revere House, and all great Italian restaurants fine and good, you can’t get a true understanding of the North End without going to Polcari’s Coffee.
The first thing you’ll need to understand is that Polcari’s isn’t a cafe, but a store (though you can swing by for a cup of coffee to go). Established in 1932 and passed down through generations of the Polcari family, this place is no longer owned the family, but still run with the utmost reverence for the vision of founder Anthony Polcari.
Polcari’s is so special because when you step in, you feel as you’re back in 1932. Glass jars full of coffee beans of all varieties line the wall behind the register, and buckets of flour, beans, and lentils line the floor and shelves. Seeds, nuts, and candies are splayed out in front of the register, and all the spices you could ever imagine are available — and at great prices too!
If you’re unsure on a souvenir to bring home from Boston, just buy a pound of Polcari’s coffee. I’ve stood in line behind local foodies and coffee snobs here, and this is where they come, so you know it’s good. Come for the coffee — and if you’re here in the summer, don’t miss their $2 homemade Italian slush!