quick but adventurous lunch cuisine near Harvard??
Coming to town to do a week of research at the Schlesinger library (Radcliffe/Harvard). I will need to minimize my time out of the archive but I'd still love something more than a sandwich. My taste goes to spicy Asian (I like the Pho place, for example, that is upstairs near the Starbucks near Harvard Square) or adventurous tacos (tongue, tripe, cabeza). Indian would be good, Japanese noodle soups would be good. But I would like to minimize the walk-to time and the ordering time.
My #1 recommendation: eat at the bar at Upstairs on the Square. Food comes out quickly, you'll be back at work before you know it.
Lots of options at Porter Exchange for Asian, but not so exciting.
There's always Pinocchio's for a sicilian slice, decent house made soups and sandwiches at Shay's.
Skip lunch and call Chez Henri for a cuban sandwich to go for dinner. Mmmmm.
My favorite is probably Bombay Club's lunch buffet. I love the chaat table there. Moreover, all the Indian lunch buffets in Harvard Square are pretty good (Tamarind Bay, Tanjore, and Cafe of India). Rendang (Malaysian) is pretty good, as is Le's (upstairs from Starbucks).
This links to a recent, more general discussion on lunch in Harvard Square.
A few places mentioned that may fit the spec are Rendang (Malaysian), Tamarind Bay (Indian), Spice (Thai), Le's (Pho), Shilla (Korean), and Sabra (Middle Eastern).
Much, much better Japanese to be found a half mile north in Porter Square. The only "adventurous" tacos to be had in the area are also in Porter, at Tacos Lupita.
Good luck with the research!
In Harvard Square, there are tons of Indian restaurants. I've been hearing good things about Tamarind Bay, but there are plenty of choices in the square. One that is closer to Radcliffe is Cafe of India on Brattle St. All the Indian restaurants have lunch buffets, so they can be especially quick.
The Thai places in Harvard Square are your typical Americanized fare, but they usually have some good lunch deals. I used to go to Spice when I was in college.
Pho pasteur, which is now called Le's, in the Garage is always good for a quick bowl of pho.
I haven't been to Rendang, but there has been some chat on this board about it. I'm sure if you type the restaurant's name in the search bar you'll get a few opinions.
Takemura is on Eliot St, which is getting further into the square from Radcliffe. It's not the world's best sushi, but I have found it to be consistently fresh. They also have some interesting spicy rolls that might be right up your alley.
I know you said you weren't that interested in sandwiches, but there are some good ones in the square. One of my favorite quick bites to eat is the duck confit sandwich at Cardullo's. It's a gourmet shop with take out only, so you can grab the sandwich and take it back near where you're working. Pinocchio's has great Sicilian pizza and subs, especially the steak and cheese. Darwin's is a fairly well-known gourmet sandwich shop which gets mixed reviews for service, but I have always found their sandwiches to be tasty. It's on Mt. Auburn St, so fairly close to Radcliffe.
Oh, I forgot about Shilla. I think they have some nice lunch bento boxes. It's located in the same complex as Bombay Club and the Staples, but it's in the basement.