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Cambridge to Logan

Sorry for the last-minute nature of the request: D.C. Hound here. I'm not infrequently in Cambridge, with time for only a single meal before a cab ride to the Airport -- as I will be this evening. If I don't catch a bite in Cambridge itself (Tamarind?), is there someplace that's a "must eat" between Cambridge and Logan at which a cab could drop me? Requirements: It must be a fairly quick meal -- on the order of 60-90 minutes, say. It has to be at a restaurant where I'll be able to quickly find another cab to the airport after dinner. And it should, of course, be delicious. Bonus points for something that's unique to Boston or that I could not otherwise get at the same level in D.C. Based on earlier raves here, I've had O Cantinho high on my "must try" list for some time. Is that a possibility (I've no idea where it is)? If so, is it still one of the best cheap eats in Boston?

Thanks in advance.

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  1. O Cantinho is not such a bad idea. The street that it is on should have frequent taxi traffic. And you can get the pasteis de nata (sp?) to take on the plane or walk over to Christina's ice cream and get a cone for the taxi ride. You will definitely have enough time.

    If you're thinking primarily about Portuguese food, you could go to O Cantinho's older, richer sibling, Atasca. Similar dishes, bigger menu, a bit more expensive but still a deal. It's in Kendall Square - lots more taxi traffic (many nearby hotels) - and a quick ride to the airport.

    You could consider East Coast Grill in Inman Square (near O Cantinho)

    1. Santarpio's is a board favorite in East Boston near the airport. It may even be within walking distance of the Logan Airport T stop, I forget. O Cantinho is good but maybe an odd choice for a must try. I think the food is somewhat similar in essence to that at Jaleo in DC. Sure, its a possibility. I'd actually say that Muqueca, a cozy seafood-oriented Brazilian restaurant a couple of blocks from O Cantinho, is more of a must try.

      3 Replies
      1. re: fenian

        i was going to say santarpio's too. certainly a place for local color and definitely within walking distance of the airport t-stop, i.e. terminal shuttle buses.

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          Santarpio's is within walking distance of the *former* Airport T station. Unfortunately, the new station is quite a bit farther away, and not easy to get to on foot. So walking from Santarpio's to the airport shuttle buses that run to the T stop no longer works.

          1. re: owades

            i live within spitting distance of santarpio's. take a right out the door, then a quick right onto porter st. walk 25 yards up to the loft factory conversion building and take a left into the new park. it's at most a 6 minute walk from santarpio's to the t. perhaps you were there before the park project was complete?

      2. Anise in Kendall Square might fit the bill. Authentic (and very good) Sichuan. I've always had meals arrive quickly there, and because of all of the biotech, MIT, and the movie theatre there are always cabs around. There's also Rendezvous and Salts in Central Square - but cabs are harder to get there. I can't think of any restaurant who can't get you in and out in 90 minutes if you ask.

        There are simply too many good restaurants in Cambridge to narrow down, but it might help if you said what square you're nearest (Harvard/Centra/Inman/Kendall/Porter/etc.).

        1 Reply
        1. re: kbw18

          I was thinking Anise too. At the very least it's interesting and the bar is good. I think the food is good too, but with all the negative reviews on here I am wary of recommending. Another unusual Kendall Square favorite is Helmand for Afghan. Two problems: might be inappropriate for dining solo; might actually be the restaurant that can't get you out in 90 minutes :).

          and btw, I don't think getting a cab should ever be an issue, just get a card from the cab driver that drops you off there and call for a cab just before you're getting ready to leave.

        2. I would think East Coast Grille would not work as they do not take reservations and if you have to wait you are in trouble.

          1. Rincon Limeno in East Boston? I'd get takeout and eat it at the airport; just have the cabbie wait for you while you get your food. Delicious ceviche. Lots of other options for cheap and tasty takeout in East Boston as well; maybe good for when you don't have time for a real meal.

            2 Replies
            1. re: DavisSquare

              Could you tell me some of your favorites in East Boston? I work at Logan and am sick of subs. (Carlos's, DaKoopas, etc.)

              1. re: deirdeir

                Unfortunately, as my username suggests, I'm no expert in that neck of the woods, but I'd love to have more since I often want to stop for food on the way to/from the airport. I've been to Rincon Limeno, and the ceviche was fantastic and pretty good for taking to the airport. Maybe I'll start a thread to ask your question since I'm at the airport fairly frequently myself.

            2. Another vote for Muqueca for Brazilian food. Christina's Ice Cream for dessert.

              Alternative would be Royal Bengal/Royal India for Bengali food (order off the Bengali menu, be sure to get the mishti dol/caramelized milk yogurt for dessert). It's in Central Sq.

              Also great in Central Sq is the Algerian/Tunisian food at Cafe Baraka; preorder the squab bastilla 36hrs in advance.

              How's the Shanghainese food scene in DC? If it's no easy to score good Shanghainese there, it's worth stopping by New Shanghai in Chinatown for some of their shen jian bao/pan fried dumplings and a number of their gluten dishes and appetizers. Lots of cabs in the area.

              Also worth checking out is The Daily Catch for monkfish marsala and a side of squid ink pasta if you want to check out Sicilian chow; that's in the North End. Should be easy to catch a cab around there or government centre.

              4 Replies
              1. re: limster

                The only problem with Cafe Baraka is that you simply cannot go there and expect prompt service, bill payment, etc. If the owner is involved in a personal conversation it's just too damn bad, you have to wait. I work nearby and can NEVER go there for lunch for this very reason.

                1. re: MB fka MB

                  It's never happened to me the several times I've been there, but it's great that you pointed it out, especially if there's a flight to catch.

                  1. re: limster

                    This is what makes me laugh about how our experiences are all different --this is the ONLY experience I've had there. Not that the service isn't thoughtful - and I do love the place - but timely it ain't. It's for a long lunch. And it makes for a good date - plenty of time to talk. :-)

                    1. re: MB fka MB

                      Too late to help with dinner but I can chime in to say that the service at Cafe Baraka was so slow the one time we went (a Friday dinner) that I don't think we'll ever go back. We were painfully hungry by the time the (wrong) food came. I love the idea of the place, and the apps were super tasty, and I'm happy to have a leisurely dinner on a busy night for a tiny restaurant, but this was over the top, and they didn't seem to care one bit.

              2. Well, I went to Cafe Baraka and missed my plane . . . just kidding, of course. Perhaps when I have time to spare.

                Dinner was at Muqueca. *Great* recommendation. Ordered Shrimp Moqueca. What a great dish. And even (especially) the rice was delicious. I was much too full from lunch to have appetizers or dessert, but boy, they sure looked good walking past to other tables -- e.g., Fried Calamari with Passion Fruit Sauce, Fried Frog Legs, Fried Diced Chicken in Garlic Sauce, etc. This seems like real, down-to-earth food, lovingly prepared.

                Christina's afterward, however, was a big disappointment. Ginger ice cream was alomost tasteless, with no discernible texture. An off-day? Did I misorder?

                O Cantinho, by the way, was *absoluely empty.* What's up with that? By contrast, lines out the door at East Coast Grill. (Is it good?)

                So why was I full from lunch? Tamarind Bay. It was buffet-only, alas, so no cashew sauce. It was fine, well-prepared . . . but nothing special. A pretty good lunch, but not a good use of calories. Perhaps this is one place where dinner is much preferable to lunch.

                BTW, on an earlier trip a few weeks ago, I was treated to Upstairs on the Square. Eh. Seemed somewhat tired (most things tasted good for a bite or two, and then fizzled out) -- resting on its laurels? On those of the departed chef?

                I also took the advice of this Board and had a coffee and fig scone at Petsi's on Putnam. That's a *great* cup of coffee (and a very fine scone, too).

                Thanks for everyone's great and timely assistance!

                9 Replies
                1. re: MartyL

                  As far as Christina's goes, I feel like there's something missing too. Not enough butterfat I think. Ice cream often seems a little too soft to me.

                  1. re: Joanie

                    Yep, I agree with the something missing part. I'm a huge Toscanini's fan--it just seems richer.

                    1. re: fenian

                      Agree that the texture of Christina's ice cream isn't all that, but I've always been very fond of the purity of the taste.

                  2. re: MartyL

                    Glad you liked Muqueca. Personally, I would go to O Cantinho over East Coast Grill every time. I find it sad that O Cantinho isn't more popular, and it's hard for me to understand why--the service is nice, the restaurant is quaint, the prices are low, and the food is fresh, tasty, and accessible. It's even gotten a lot of hype on this board with no bad reviews that I can remember.

                    Petsi's makes some of my favorite scones, but fig and coffee? Wow I have to try it. They make their coffee from George Howell Terroir beans, to which I'm a passionate devotee.

                    1. re: fenian

                      Sorry, the scone was fig, the coffee was . . . coffee.

                      1. re: fenian

                        I like O Cantinho a lot, but I also greatly enjoy East Coast Grill. For me, ECG has good fish dishes and among the best BBQ in the Boston area. I'd say try both, though the former is better if you're in a rush as it's usually much less crowded.

                        Ditto on not liking Christina's all that much. In lots of cities it'd be a great asset, but Boston has world-class competition for ice cream and Toscanini's, Herrell's, and Emack & Bolio's are all much preferable to my taste.

                        1. re: bachslunch

                          It could be that my jaded opinion of ECG is due to the fact that I only eat seafood and poultry, which precludes the raved-about BBQ. I think the fish dishes are overpriced--almost at fine dining prices ($26.50 for pepper crusted tuna)--and just "OK."

                          I agree about all the ice cream comments. I've always wanted to love Christina's because of all the amazing flavors, but I just don't.

                      2. re: MartyL

                        I've nebver had lunch there, but I think there might be a difference between the lunch buffet vs dinner at Tamarind Bay, at least based on what I've heard and read. Usually enjoy their mysore chilli chicken, black lentils in butter and raw banana dumplings.

                        1. re: MartyL

                          Hey thanks for posting back. I *really* need to get to Muqueca soon. As for Christina's, I'm no ice cream afficianado but I really love the Kulfi flavor there (heavy on the cardamom) but I've also enjoyed burnt sugar at Tosci's. East Coast Grill is one of my favorites, and a place I take a lot of out of town visitors, but I prefer sitting at the bar, eating oysters and tuna tacos and enjoying a very cold glass of something white. They have nice wines by the glass. Anyway, ECG is definitely doable next time you need a quick meal before the airport, but only if you get there early, like at 6 sharp.

                        2. And if you eat at any of the restaurants near the T, you might get to the airport quicker by T than taxi.