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Need recs for Saturday dinner close to MIT in Cambridge

  • m

I am taking my mother and my 16 year old son to Boston and we will be staying at the Cambridge Residence Inn. We won't have a car. I am looking for a restaurant close to the hotel for Saturday night because by dinnertime, my mother will probably be very tired from a day of walking. It also has to be a casual dress place (but please no fast food joint!) otherwise my crazy mother will refuse to go. I think everyone is open to just about anything except for heavily fried foods! Have any ideas?

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  1. Welcome to Boston! The neighborhood you're staying in is called Kendall Square and if you do a search on it, you'll turn up lots of suggestions. The Blue Room is pretty good and very close (1/2 mile).

    1 Reply
    1. re: DavisSquare

      Many Thanks! Just did a search and lots of things turned up. That Blue room sounds great from the web site. Any particularly interesting item to try on their menu?

    2. if you want fancy, Rendezvous, about 1/2 mile up MASS Ave - Mary Chung for good chinese food, about the same distance - Zuzus for middle eastern food (all on mass ave and about the same distance) - actually a lot of choices - Main Street off MA avenue will offer other options and is also about the same distance - i think there is a good brazilian churrascaria place even closer, but i don't know its name

      1 Reply
      1. re: teezeetoo

        True enough. There are many more choices, both fancy and casual, in Central Square (as a search will discover) which is about a mile up the road from where they are staying. In addition, the hotel is about a 30 second walk from the T (subway) so the return from Central Square could be by T if they're too tired.

        In fact on the T, they could easily access any of the places in Harvard, Porter, or Davis Squares and/or anything near the Common downtown. That's a bit overwhelming in terms of choice, though, and she (he?) did ask for something near the hotel...

      2. If you want something really close, Blue Room, Mulan for Taiwanese, even the Cambridge Brewing Company for burgers and decent microbrews. The East Coast Grill, in Inman Square is about a mile away too, always excellent. Oleana is close, though I really can't say I liked it, others rave.

        1. Legal Seafoods is a Boston classic, very good seafood in traditional and current styles. It's very nice inside, good for all ages, and convenient to the T. It's busy with business meetings during the week but more family oriented on weekends. Their Kendall Square restaurant is my favorite, right in the center of MIT, a sort of spectacular area.

          1. Two of my favorites are in the area: Oleana and Salts. Both are relatively pricey, but worth it, especially if your mom is paying!

            Slighly more casual and cheaper, the Blue Room is also good.

            1 Reply
            1. re: MaggieMuffin

              Oleana is one of my favorites, but it's a bit far for walking from Kendall with Mom, and not easy to reach on public transportation. If it's all about the food, this would be my #1 recommendation for Cambridge, but not if convenience is a priority.

            2. How about Central Kitchen?

              1. I think the blue room is a good mother pleaser that's close. I would also vote for the east coast grill, That's a tummy pleaser and a mom pleaser.

                2 Replies
                1. re: foodieB

                  I don't know if East Coast is necessarily a mom pleaser if she's tired and older. It's not a relaxing place on a Sat. nite.

                  1. re: foodieB

                    While I love the East Coast Grill, I would not go there with a tired mom and 16 year old son at dinnertime on Saturday. Not only is the place going to be jam packed and loud with long waits, but it's not anywhere near their hotel or convenient (any?) public transportation.

                  2. How about the Black Sheep Restaurant in the Kendall Hotel? The food is pretty good, the atmosphere is nice, and it's fairly reasonable.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: hiddenboston

                      I keep meaning to try this place, it looks so interesting and there's not much right in Kendall Square. Could you say a little more about it? What's good, what's not, dessert? Thanks.

                    2. The menu at the Black Sheep is a bit limited, but they have some very nice items. I like the chicken pesto pasta there (as I recall, they use tri-colored pasta), and they also have a decent squash ravioli. Other items include pressed sandwiches and fish and chips. They also have a fixed price dinner that is somewhere around $25. Not sure about the desserts, but I know that they make them fresh there.

                      The room is nice, though I recall feeling a little claustrophobic in there (could be just me, though).

                      1. Sidney's Grille has a nice menu that my Mom likes

                        Rendezvous & The Blue Room are also great!

                        1. I was just out with my friend and her 16yo boy in that area on a Saturday night! Unless he iis an adventurous eater, I would have to 'squish' all those choices above but The Legals Seafood. (Sorry people, I've been to all of them & live here.) I would suggest the Asgard, it has a bigger menu with everything froom sandwiches, salads as wellas entrees...something to please everyone. It also has a diningroom away from the pub area. The Asgard is literally around the corner from your hotel. There is also The Green Street Grille, whose menu is 'more grown up', but consists of Mac & Cheese & Duck, Pork Chops & Mashed Potatoes, etc. The Green Street Grille is about a 4 min walk from your hotel.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: YorkieBarsR4Girls

                            16 year olds can be adventurous eaters. Besides, the OP wrote "I think everyone is open to just about anything." Legal is boring but good. Still, there are much better options - leave Legal for your trip through Logan airport.

                            Also, as an fyi, most of us also "live here" and tend to have gone to the restaurants we recommend on CH unless stating otherwise.

                            1. re: YorkieBarsR4Girls

                              Sorry, I think you've got them at the wrong hotel. They're not at the Hotel @ MIT in Central but at the Residence Inn in Kendall square. Even if they were literally around the corner, I'd totally skip Asgard on a Saturday night (or most times actually), especially if tired. Green Street is not a bad idea, but once you're in Central there are lots of choices. I agree with Dax, save Legal for the airport.

                              If anyone were a picky eater, I'd maybe have different advice, but this being chowhound and all, I'll give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

                              1. re: YorkieBarsR4Girls

                                I think the Asgard is simply terrible. It's like TGI Friday's only without the squeeky server. If anything, the only thing they do averagely is fry thing - which the OP said she wanted to avoid.

                                The Legal's in Kendall is the worst incarnation. Even Harvard's is better. I agree with Dax, save Legal's for the airport and try Green St, Blue Room, Black Sheep Restaurant, or Sydney's Grille.

                                1. re: gini

                                  One of the two worst meals I've had in the past year was at the Kendall Legal - and that location was always the one that I thought was passable. Ick.

                                  Blue Room is the best - and most convenient - option, IMHO and they are extremely accommodating. There's always Emma's for thin crust gourmet pizza and nice salads. They might do beer/wine, too - maybe someone can chime in? And Atasca is a fine Portuguese restaurant but might not appeal to your entire crew. All three places are within sight of each other.

                                  1. re: MB fka MB

                                    Emma's does indeed do beer and wine.

                              2. I had a pretty average meal at the Asgard recently. I had high hopes, since it looked like a nice place, but it just didn't do it for me. And besides, for a more authentic Irish pub experience, The Field is just around the corner!

                                A couple of family members went to Legal the other day and said it was a horrible experience, both foodwise and service-wise. I've never had a bad meal there, but it was disturbing hearing this from people who used to love the place.

                                1. I would consider the Blue Room, but Rendezvous in Central Square, started by one of the original Blue Room chefs, is better I think. You are also quite close to Helmand which is across from the Cambridgeside Galleria. Many folks don't get a lot of opportunities to try Afghan food - lots of lamb on the menu. If you have an adventurous 16 year old eater, this would be my first suggestion. There is also great gourmet pizza and a fun vibe at Emma's which is very very close.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: sflory

                                    I've had a couple of mediocre experiences at Emma's recently, which is a shame since they've been great for a long time (who remembers the three-seat bar on Huron St.?). Soggy crust is a huge problem when the crust is so thin to begin with.

                                    1. re: DavisSquare

                                      Emma's did change owners within the last year or so, but so far I haven't been disappointed. Mostly there for lunch slices though.

                                  2. I've been to Emma's twice, once before ownership change and once after, and loved it both times. It's casual, cordial and pretty quick, and meets the specs on close to Kendal Square and MIT. I'd vote for it hands down.

                                    1. I like Atasca for Portuguese and Koreana for Korean. Atasca is in walking distance and Koreana is a little over a mile away which is a hop skip and a jump in a taxi.

                                      1. MsD, please do let us know what you end up doing...

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: DavisSquare

                                          I will, I will! I really appreciated this discussion and thanks for everyone's input. After taking it over with mum, she seemed extremely tempted by the Blue Room (I think she saw a french word somewhere on the menu and since she only speaks french it helped!!!) . My son on the other hand voted for Mulan so we actualy may end up there for the second night. This is going to be interesting!

                                        2. I think Legal Seafood is the perfect place. So many choices, wonderful fresh fish, (also hamburgers for the kid). If they like chinese, the new sechuan place in Kendall square has gotten some good reviews reecently- it is called Anise. I hear it is a nice room, great cocktails and good authentic sechuan food. Have fun whatever you do. PS Salts is very expensive and not a place I would take a 16 year old. East Coast Grill is too crowded and noisey. Also not in Kendall.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: emilief

                                            Why does everyone assume that 16 year olds want to eat junk food, i.e. hamburgers at Legal? As the last post but one makes clear, this particular 16 year old is adventurious enough to vote for Mulan. If I remember correctly, Blumie's 6 year old eats all manner of things. Now toddlers (mine at least) are another story, but, absent instructions to the contrary, let's give the kids some credit.

                                            1. re: DavisSquare

                                              I know a 16 year old who eats happily at Aujourd'hui, Gavin's in Beverly, Met Club, etc. So yes, don't assume they can't enjoy a swankier meal.

                                              1. re: DavisSquare

                                                And you are right in thinking so! My son loves sushi, dim sum and ,when I think of it, basically any food that tastes great! The only things he really dislikes are squash and eggplant!