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Great Restaurants in Cambridge


dahlsk
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Hi, I will be in Cambridge for a week in June and am looking for restaurant recommendations. Specifically local spots off the tourist track, not necessarily super spendy (though I know I am going to Boston/Cambridge, so I'm not unrealistic about prices there). Any ideas?

Thanks! :smile:

dahlsk

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What week are you planning to visit?

I ask because that first week in June is pretty hectic, what with MIT and Harvard graduation.

I've heard good things about Craigie St. Bistrot. Aspasia is pretty nice. I'd recommend Salts on Main St., too, except I think the chef/owner just sold the place.

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I agree with the above recs - plus, I think Gargoyle's is in Cambridge (if not, it is in nearby Somerville) and absolutely worth a try. Diva, an Indian bistro across the street from Gargoyle's, is also great.

Hi-Rise Bread Baking Company would be a spot for breakfast (in the coffee and pastry vein)

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Focussing on inexpensive ...

For very good and inexpensive Vietnamese, try Pho Pasteur in Harvard Square (in the building called "the garage" on Dunster street). Also in Harvard Square is Bartley's burgers. If you have a yen for a really sinful, giant burger, this one's worth it.

If you like informal Japanese, try the japanese food court in Porter Square (In the Porter Exchange building). You can get good Ramen there, served up on shared tables. I've heard the sushi is on the decline. Other options are available.

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The best local, off the tourist track, is O Cantinho, a Portuguese cafe-bar-coffee shop in Inman Square...The best thing on the menu is the stewed octopus, for abour $7....If you can do a $26 entree (top price) there's Chris Schlesinger's East Coast Grill, one of the best spots in the city...

fabulous seafood, lots of daily specials, but really the best thing on the menu is the white-pepper-crusted tuna, a hand-cut filet-mignon size piece, best done black and blue, with grilled vegetables on the side. Really. This may be my favorite meal. Anywhere. :wub:

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To introduce the carnivore perspective, complementing GG's piscivore appreciation of the fish at East Coast Grill, which I heartily endorse.

A bit further down Cambridge St. is a modest Brazilian fish place, Moqueco I believe, that is a cheap hidden gem worth a visit.

Helmand, an Afghan restaurant on First St., not far from MIT, the Museum of Science, and Kendall Sq. cooks the best lamb in New England, if not beyond. They have intriguing appetizers, such as stuffed baby pumpkin and eggplant with meat sauce. I find them much cheaper and better than Oleana's which has gotten much more publicity.

In Harvard Square Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage probably has the best quick cheapish eats in Cambridge and cooks the best hamburger in New England.

Edited by VivreManger (log)
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I didn't mention Bartley's because it is really not off the tourist track at all -- Harvard Yard is across the street and there's often a wait. But their burgers and shakes are great and worth trying if you're in the area.

Pho Pasteur is perfectly fine and reasonably priced, but again it's in touristy Harvard Square and I would never call it a hidden gem.

East Coast Grill, on the other hand, is more out of the way and a great place. So are Gargoyle's on the Square (in Davis Sq. in Somerville) and Hi Rise. Last time I went to brunch at Hi Rise, J.K. Galbraith was sitting across from me! Totally Cambridge.

To add another recommendation, I have gone to Central Kitchen many times, in Central Square, and found it pretty dependable.

Also, if you're interested, there is fantastic ice cream next to Bartley's (at Toscanini's) AND East Coast Grill (Christina's).

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Pho Pasteur is perfectly fine and reasonably priced, but again it's in touristy Harvard Square and I would never call it a hidden gem.

Gottah have a say about Pho Pasteur..It's certainly convenient, right in the Square, but the food has been so homogenized I wouldn't bother, if you were looking for anything Vietnamese...best Vietnamese is a short red-line ride away, in Chinatown, at Nam Vang, on beach Street. now, that's off the beaten path ;)

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Chowhound Boston forum is pretty good for highlighting cheap eats. There are some South American sandwich places that have gotten good reports, notably one at Downtown Crossing a few minutes from Park Square in the middle of downtown shopping.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Re: Hi Rise. Has anyone else here noticed how incredibly rude and abrasive everyone is there? Not just the customers, but even the staff!? I live just a few blocks away and I can't bear to go in there because I end up fuming, "who are the people in my neighborhood? They're all assholes, that's who!"

You can tell I've done a lot of thinking about this. And I've concluded that it comes down to a design flaw. The interior is quite pretty, with the mural and the natural light and all, but there really should be less space devoted to display and more space devoted to an extra cash register and serving counter. Plus, that one big table in the middle means people are on top of each other all the time trying to squeeze in.

As for the food, I love the sandwiches, but I find the bread a bit dry. Anyone else notice this?

Amy

Edited by amytraverso (log)

Amy Traverso

californiaeating.blogspot.com

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One other Cambridge recommendation for you: Far out on Mass. Ave., past Porter Square but before Arlington is a pretty great Chinese place called Quing Dao Garden. Some of the food is merely ok, but when they hit it, they hit big. I love the eggplant with meat sauce, and the spicy fried chicken (I think that's what it's called).

For Japanese food, check out the Porter Exchange building in Porter Sq. Not the best sushi in Boston, but there are a whole bunch of noodle and sushi stalls in this one area, and a great Japanese grocery store.

Have fun!

Amy Traverso

californiaeating.blogspot.com

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Re: Hi Rise. Has anyone else here noticed how incredibly rude and abrasive everyone is there? Not just the customers, but even the staff!? I live just a few blocks away and I can't bear to go in there because I end up fuming, "who are the people in my neighborhood? They're all assholes, that's who!"

YOU ARE SO RIGHT! Actually there is a certain young woman employee I have in mind who has never been anything but dyspeptic. I've seen her be rude to others too, so it's not just me.

I think the rudeness of the customers might well be because everyone just wants to find a place to sit. But the difference between the overall attitude at Hi Rise and a similar place on the other side of town, Flour in the South End, is pretty startling.

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Re: Hi Rise. Has anyone else here noticed how incredibly rude and abrasive everyone is there? Not just the customers, but even the staff!? I live just a few blocks away and I can't bear to go in there because I end up fuming, "who are the people in my neighborhood? They're all assholes, that's who!"

YOU ARE SO RIGHT! Actually there is a certain young woman employee I have in mind who has never been anything but dyspeptic. I've seen her be rude to others too, so it's not just me.

I know exactly who you're talking about! It's a shame, because Formaggio Kitchen is in the same neighborhood, serving the same customers, and everyone there is unfailingly helpful and friendly. In fact, let me EMPHATICALLY add Formaggio to the list of Cambridge eating spots. I know it's not a restaurant, but I recommend stopping there for picnic supplies, or grabbing a sandwich and some cheeses and walking to an area park. It is absolutely worth the sidetrack.

Amy Traverso

californiaeating.blogspot.com

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