Around Harvard Square with a Toddler
Any recommendations? We're staying at the Charles Hotel this weekend with no babysitter and will probably eat at Henrietta's kitchen one night, but need ideas for Fast, but wonderful places open at 5pm for dinner and interesting lunch spots.
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Harvard Square has so many options, and it depends a lot on what price range you are looking for. I'm assuming with a toddler you're not looking for very high end, quiet places with white tablecloths.
Cambridge.1 gets good reviews for its wonderfully crafted thin-crust pizzas - good for lunch or dinner. If you want to do the "Boston thing" there is a Legal Seafoods next to the Charles Hotel. Despite what folks say it's not a bad place for seafood, and certainly toddler-friendly. Henrietta's Table is a good choice for the same reason.
There are a bunch of interesting (if not stellar) ethnic options, including Indian, Thai, Korean, sushi, etc. around the Square and it's hard to miss them. If you want some fairly interesting Indian food I strongly recommend Tamarind Bay -- they do have a lunch buffet but ordering from the menu offers a bunch of unique options.
In the immediate area I really like Casablanca, great food and location (I think they're open for lunch but I haven't been there then), upstairs is Cafe Algiers which would be better for lunch, Mr & Mrs Bartley's is the classic burger spot, Daedalus has some good sandwiches, Cambridge One is ok for pizza, Burdick's is the chocolate spot (well regarded by chocolate lovers), Pho Pasteur is popular Vietnamese, I just recently read that Penang is good but I haven't been there, and there are also lots of dive bars and expensive places which I'm guessing you're not interested in.
Wait... "lots" of dive bars in Harvard Square? I can think of three - the Kong, Charlie's and Whitney's. There used to be more, but they've all gone upscale. Heck, even the Kong redecorated to appear upscale, even if the bathrooms are still terrifying.
I miss the Bow. I do NOT miss the Grille.