I honestly just can't stop raving about Cafe Arpeggio in Southie (400 block of West Broadway, across from the health center where I work). In a neighborhood where I really can't find many culinary gems, this place is a real stand-out.
I've never really gotten so gung-ho on a cafe. Everything is baked in-house and has a wonderful, yeasty home-made taste. The bagels are probably some of the best I've had in Boston so far, and the croissants are these huge buttery things that are the size of a telephone handset.
The salads are incredibly fresh and have some really tasty and creative combinations. I had a tuna sandwich there that had wild rice and boursin cheese. However, I think the real stand-out may be a sandwich known as 'The Arpeggio'. A toasted herby mini-boule bread (baked that morning), filled with ham, fresh baby spinach, muenster cheese, fresh tomatoes, and lined with this velvety cran-mayo, with chunks of real cranberry. The bread is perfectly toasted and has a nice substantial crust, and best of all, it isn't too thick and doesn't overpower the filling.
It's really difficult to pass up their homemade ice cream, it's rich and almost 'buttery'. I don't know much about making ice cream, but the butterfat content must be insanely high, because it leaves such a nice smooth mouthfeel. The cookies are spectacular, too, with none of them being too ridiculously sweet.
Anyway, I will continue to patronize this place (to the dismay of my waistline and wallet) and hope others discover this hidden gem in Southie. Have any other Hounds tried it?