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Sep 20, 2006 02:13 PM

best burger in cambridge/somerville?

i'm looking to try the five best burgers in cambridge/somerville. here are some nominees so far:

* r.f. o'sullivan's
* mr. bartley's
* bukowski's

what are the five that i absolutely must try?



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    1. Add The Druid in Inman Square to that list... :-)

      1. As long as you're testing, try the Thirsty Scholar's.

        Also, the Tir Na Nog's in Union Square.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Bob Dobalina

          i have to give two thumbs waaay down to the thirsty scholar. i have gone back many times just hoping to have something decent. never happens and i have even sent my beer back for being flat.

          1. re: bernie71

            I with you. The Thirsty Scholar isn't very good at all. Average pub grub with terribly slow service.

        2. Shay's. It's the dark horse for this board but it's the only one in Boston I like.

          Actually, that qualifier does not do it justice. The burger at Shay's is not fancy, it is not dressed up, you cannot get a Buffalo Burger, a Bob Dole Burger or a Texas Red-Hot burger with whistleberry sauce there. It isn't steamed in Flying Dog Pale Ale or grilled over 100% hardwood charcoal. It is not a Kobe Beef Burger and as far as I'm concerned, if it was made with Horsemeat and sawdust I wouldn't blink an eye.

          From time to time I beat the drum for the Shay's burger on this board but for those of you who haven't tried it, do yourself a favor and go. It is the simple, old-fashioned grandfather of burgers against which all others should be judged. It is the comfy sweatshirt, the "Mom's Super Sunday night casserole," the crackly old mix tape of burgers. Not fancy, maybe a little too straightforward for some but the absolute best thing to get you back on your own two feet.

          For my money, Sullivan's, Bartley's and the Druid don't even come close.

          9 Replies
          1. re: Ernie Diamond

            Shay's...did that used to be the Boat House way back when, or am I mixing up my dark and gloomy basement spots in Harvard?

            1. re: hiddenboston

              Shay's is in the basement near to Boston Tea Shop.

              1. re: hiddenboston

                The Boston Tea Shop I think is in the space that used to be the Boathouse, Shay's has been there since the time of the Boat House and they have resisted the mallification of Harvard Sq even though the owners at one point said it would have been easier for them to pack up shop and go to Davis Square. They have from time to time offered other British pub items such as steak and kidney pie and cornish pastie, but although I have probably had their burger sometime I cannot remember it.

              2. re: Ernie Diamond

                I've always liked Shay's. What a great place to grab a beer in Harvard. And the burger is definitely better than's Charlie's.

                1. re: Ernie Diamond

                  Please elaborate. I see Shay's is in HSQ but I don't even really know where it is. What makes their burger so good.

                  1. re: Dax

                    Shay's is, as Hiddenboston indicated a dark and gloomy basement bar in Harvard Sq. on JFK street. I love the atmosphere inside. It is the closest thing to a snug British Pub that I've found in Boston. On a winter night, there are few places I'd rather be.

                    As far as what makes their burger so good? I can't put my finger on it. It's super beefy somehow. The burger just tastes like real meat to me. That beefy taste that distinguishes a hangar steak from a filet? Shay's has that taste. The fries are oven roasted, super crispy and charred. Dax, I'm sorry this is vague but the best way that I can put it is that this burger tastes the way that a burger is meant to taste. It is a rare example of an ostensibly simple menu item that no one else seems capable of doing as well.

                    In any case, maybe it's just me. I'd like to hear what you think about it.

                    1. re: Ernie Diamond

                      How busy might it be on a Wednesday night? :-)

                        1. re: hiddenboston

                          Hiddenboston, I didn't make it last night. Did you go? What did you think?

                  2. Hands down: Mr. Bartley's in Harvard Sq...legenday!

                    However, if you get lucky enough to experince a "Secret Burger" at Central Kitchen...well you'll just have to have one!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: YorkieBarsR4Girls

                      I'd love to endorse Mr. Bartley, but in the course of the last 10 years I've managed to eat there a grand total of one time. It's either too crowded (Saturday), or closed (Sunday). We seem to be on different schedules.