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Jamaica Plain nonchalantly revels in its status as a tight-knit Boston community, but behaves much like a city unto itself. A racially diverse (and integrated) swirl of hipsters, lesbians, artists and young families, it's landscape is peppered with everything from the summer "cottages" built by Boston’s wealthy families in the 19th century (mansions by today’s standards) to colorfully painted gingerbread Victorians to housing projects. As the area has gotten trendier, many neighborhoods have been rapidly gentrifying, bringing in a new breed of urban professionals attracted to the area’s laid-back energy and beautiful green spaces.

For a solid dose of the latter, seemingly all of Jamaica Plain can be found strolling around Jamaica Pond on weekends — feeding its geese, sailing out from its small boathouse and gawking at the view. Minutes away, two other noteworthy parks beckon: The Arnold Arboretum, a glorious walk lined with rare international tree specimens, and The Forest Hills Cemetery, arguably one of the country's most beautiful and most European-inspired. Kids and animal lovers shouldn’t miss the Franklin Park Zoo, either.

The neighborhood's main commercial drag is Centre Street, a few blocks from the pond, and it's chock full of funky, independent shops like Honeyspot, Fire Opal and Gadgets selling gifts and home goods. But the real draw here is the food; the street is a long row of one excellent, unpretentious, and modestly priced eatery after another — from the addictive brunches of Centre Street Cafe and high-quality pub food of The Alchemist to sophisticated comfort food of Café D and scrumptious French fare of Ten Tables. The original J.P. Licks ice cream shop is here, too, and the Milky Way nightclub jumps every night with live or spun music, retro candlepin bowling and gourmet pizza upstairs.

Much smaller and even more low-key, the neighboring town of Roslindale is largely residential, but has put itself on the culinary map of late with some first-rate bistros. The Italian at Delfino’s has rightfully earned a cult following, as has Village Sushi, and the Spanish newcomer Sophia’s Grotto — each, much like the area it calls home, is relaxed and low- profile, but blessed with character and quality.


Centre Street Cafe

JP Seafood

Ten Tables

Village Sushi

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