I wandered around Coolidge Corner today, noting the advantages of "suburban" living. Coolidge Corner has a lot to offer that we Back Bay residents are lacking.
For starters, they have a giant Trader Joe's. The Back Bay store is a closet by comparison, although I still love it and am grateful for it every day. But there's so much more at the one in Brookline, and I don't even care about the wine. I care about the cheese selection, the Empire kosher chickens, and all that produce. (By the way, if you haven't had their Roasted Garlic Spaghetti Sauce, try some soon. It's $1.79 and has a satisfying rich, complex flavor that doesn't overwhelm. It's especially nice on a pizza. I'm not a fan of garlic sauces and bought my first jar by accident; I'm glad I did.)
Coolidge Corner has a bakery specializing in artisanal bread: When Pigs Fly. Back Bay has nothing to compare with that. Yes, you can get the brand at Shaw's, but the selection is not as fresh or as varied. The last time I was in, I tried their chocolate/peanut butter/banana bread. It was yummy, but not as good as the orange/toasted walnut/cranberry.
Then there's Party Favors, a store that's half party tchotchkes and half CAKE. While most of their cakes feature spectacular frosting designs, they are not my favorites. The Chocolate Decadence cake, in the "gourmet" display case on the other side of the register, is what you want. Outstanding. We Back Bayers do not have anything close to such a bakery, except for Shaw's. We have a mediocre, overpriced cupcake shop. Even worse, we have a lame T-shirt store masquerading as a cupcake store. Do you know many disappointed tourists walk out of there on any given day? Little Johnny should be arrested for inciting sugar cravings under false pretenses.
Coolidge Corner also has Brookline Booksmith, the most excellent independent bookstore in the area, with a big used section downstairs. I'm glad Back Bay has Borders, but I wish our one remaining independent bookstore had a larger selection and didn't smell like patchouli mixed with dinner.
Coolidge Corner is also blessed with TWO Anna's Taquerias. Since we've been eating their burritos at least twice a week for about 15 years, this is almost a deciding reason for us to relocate there. But the four locations in Beacon Hill and Cambridge, including MIT, are also popular with us, and we can hike/walk to two of them. Isn't it high time Anna's came to Back Bay? Not that we've been deprived....
Back Bay doesn't have a movie theater; I remember when we had three! Coolidge Corner still has a great one. And there's a creperie. We have a fondue and raclette restaurant, so I'd call that one even. And we both have a Finale and a Paper Source. That's good. But if you crave Russian white-chocolate-and-blueberry candy bars, Transylvanian "vampire" wine, cabbage pie, or blinis, you have to go to the Bazaar just outside Coolidge Corner.
Back Bay has a much greater selection of stores, of course, including the irreplaceable Crate and Barrel, Anthropologie, Second Time Around (three of them!) and the Apple Store. And there's so much more in Copley Place and the Pru Mall. But Coolidge Corner has its share of nice, little boutiques, including The Studio and Wild Goose Chase, that offer things you won't find in Back Bay. And while Back Bay beats out Coolidge Corner in terms of its sheer quantity of restaurants, Coolidge Corner has its share of delicious, creative, upscale dining, too, including Lineage.
For dogs and cats, there's Brookline Grooming and Pet Supplies, which tops our Pawsh Dog Boutique, I'm sorry to say, by a mile. It has a mind-boggling array of premium cat food brands, which is what brought me out there today. Cats have to eat, too.
Coolidge Corner doesn't have a magnificent, tree-lined mall, a river, an Esplanade, or a Public Garden. Its streets aren't brick-lined and its architecture is more pedestrian than what we're used to in Back Bay. We've also got historic churches and a public library to die for. So I guess I'll stay here, for now. Until those burritos start calling.