Hotel @ MIT
San Diego chowhound is looking for nice restaurants (no restrictions on any ethnic cuisines) within walking distance of the Hotel @ MIT (20 Sidney Street, Cambridge). My wife will stay there for five days next week. The last time she was there the area around the hotel seems sometimes a little bit sketchy during the night, so the restaurants shouldn't be in any obscure dark streets.
Thanks for the help.
Salts, Rendezvous, Central Kitchen, and Baraka Cafe are all close by and very good. Central Square remains a little sketchy, but the only one on a side street is Baraka (superb N. African--FYI no booze), and I wouldn't fear walking the block and a half to get to it, even alone...This is practically-PhD-per-household Cambridge after all.
The area around the hotel is 100% not sketchy, really. Or rather, it was sketchy about 15 years ago, but that was before they leveled it and built about 30 academic and biotech facilities (and the hotel).
On Mass Av itself, there are plenty of loud drunks, but it's way safer than it used to be, and it's all well-lit and well-traveled. That's where you'll find the best restaurants (Rendezvous!) though Baraka is on Pearl St.
A 20 minute walk will take you to Coast Cafe which is a great takeout (3-seat) joint. The fried chicken is popular there but I'm partial to the pork chops.
That's my neighborhood, and you are right, it's not at all sketchy, although it wouldn't hurt for any woman walking around late at night to stick to the main or well-lit streets.
We like Baraka Cafe, Salts, Central Kitchen, Toscannini's (best ice cream in town), Mary Chung's. We've yet to try Coast Cafe or Rendezvous, but given all the good chatter about them here, it's about time we did.
If your wife will be dining solo, the bars at Central Kitchen and Rendezvous Central Square are both staffed by warm friendly servers who will add to her dining enjoyment.
If she wants to venture farther and has any discomfort about walking, have her take the bus. For 90 cents (correct change or a Charlie ticket) she can jump on the Number 1 bus and ride it up and down Mass Ave to reach the Back Bay or Harvard Square.
Central Square is a key mass transit, transfer point for folks of all kinds. She'll find lots of Harvard and MIT faculty and students as well as residents of Back Bay and Beacon Hill.
Yes, there are a few loud drunks and posturing youth, but I'm a woman who walks or buses there from the Back Bay all the time.
just wanted to echo what everyone else said- your wife can easily check out dining options outside of central square (bus and T) and there are tons of links on the website to other hound favorites. also, central kitchen, rendezvous, and baraka are all, in my mind, really good- i'd also add blue room to the list- it's not in central square but it's easy to get to from central (it's in kendall). also, wanted to reiterate what everyone else said- central square is not "sketchy" at all. certainly any one walking alone after dark anywhere should be vigilant but there's nothing "sketchy" about the neighborhood.