Brunch in Davis Square: Five Horses Tavern

Now that nice weather has (mostly) arrived, we are spending as much time as possible outside. On a Saturday or Sunday we often walk to one of the many squares in Somerville or Cambridge, and spend a few hours window shopping, bookstore browsing, people watching, and, of course, having a nice lunch or brunch.

This past Sunday we decided to hit up Davis Square, about a mile and a half from our condo. Like many other areas in Somerville, Davis Square has been seeing a boom in new restaurants lately. Five Horses Tavern actually opened a few years ago, though, in a spot that couldn’t seem to keep a business open before that. Since we moved to the city about ten years ago, we have seen no less than five different concepts in this spot, so it’s nice to finally see something sticking around. And really, the food is the reason. We’ve only been to Five Horses a few times now, but have been impressed by how well-made and presented the food is each time.

Like many local places that offer brunch, the menu does still include some non-breakfast items for those not into eggs or pancakes. Tacos are always on offer, with three standard options: pork belly, tuna, and potato. You can order one, two or three, and mix and match as desired, something that is really great for either a snack or to share. We’ve tried all three at one time or another, but on this visit Rob went with one tuna, and one pork belly; both are excellent. The tuna taco is always perfectly cooked, spice coated and seared rare with a jicama slaw and avocado; the pork belly is cooked confit style, then crisped up for serving, and topped with pickled onions that cut through the rich meat.

Although I have a soft spot for the potato taco (crispy oven roasted, with a white bean puree & avocado), this time I ordered from the brunch menu. I couldn’t resist the “breaky sammy”: fried egg, really good cheddar, Tuscan kale, smoked bacon and maple-chili mustard on sourdough, grilled on a flattop. I couldn’t have been happier with the flavor or texture – grilled perfectly crispy on both sides as a sandwich should be. If it had one flaw, for me, it was the bacon. I’m one of the (apparently very few) people who really don’t care for this new trend all the cool places are doing with “house-smoked” bacon that’s cooked chewy & soft, more like English rashers. I really do prefer regular, crispy, American-style bacon. But really, a small quibble in an otherwise delicious breakfast sandwich. One thing I appreciated was that my sandwich came with my choice of any one of their dozen or so different sides, which included fresh fruit, tater tots, cheddar grits, black bean hash, and homefries, among other things.

Five Horses offers a creative spin on the traditional brunch drinks: “Bloody Three Ways” and “Balsamic Bellinis”. I went for the Grapefruit Bellini, which is made with “boston olive oil balsamic, fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and prosecco”. I didn’t necessarily notice a specific flavor of olive oil or balsamic, though there was a savory complexity that was nice, especially if you’re like me and don’t care for super-sweet beverages. I should also mention the beer list here is really good–Rob always finds something new and interesting to try.

There are three or four tables outside , as well as a few high-tops and bar seats inside near the windows; if it’s a nice day, as it was Sunday, they open the windows fully so you get the benefit of the fresh air and sunshine. Further into the restaurant it’s a little darker, not our preference for seating on a nice day, but on a cold evening it wouldn’t matter of course.

Five Horses will definitely remain on our list for go-to places in Davis, now for brunch as well as dinner.

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