In my early 20s I lived in a tiny apartment at College and 11th Streets, just north of the east end of Mass Ave. I moved there in 2012, right on time to take advantage of the explosion of bars, restaurants, and stores along the avenue. I’ve never known Mass Ave without it, and I am so sad to hear about its pandemic-related closure.
My last normal dining experience of 2020 was at Black Market. The weekend before the city shut down, my fiancé, Michael, and I had spent the afternoon with friends and on the way home decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner. Of course, Black Market delivered. I remember being full and happy, ending the meal with the world’s most perfect buñelo, unaware of what our new reality would be in a matter of days.
Black Market was a place I always loved to take friends and family, but it was also where I fell in love with solo dining. I would take the short walk from my tiny apartment over to the restaurant and get a seat at the bar. No matter who was working, I always felt like I was in the best hands. The menu was always creative and carefully planned. The wine list was long, but I could always count on an excellent recommendation. The servers were attentive, but didn’t make me feel rushed or weird that I was by myself. Although I was just beginning to figure my life out, those solo dinners made me feel like a grown-up.
When I first started eating alone at restaurants, it was a challenge to myself to work on my confidence. I wanted to be the kind of woman that could afford to treat herself to a fancy meal and not worry about what others thought about why she was alone. I wanted to get comfortable spending time with just myself. Over the years, eating solo has transformed from a self-improvement exercise into a ritual of relaxation and adventure.
Black Market’s sister restaurant, Rook, is also closing. They also always knew how to make a meal or a drink special. My favorite happened last December, immediately after Michael and I got engaged. We wanted a moment just to ourselves, before sharing the news with the world. We went right to Rook and celebrated with one of their incredible cocktails.
If anyone that has ever had anything to do with Black Market or Rook is reading this, please know this: what you did with these places was incredible. I know I am not the only one who is mourning this and I hope to see you all again soon.