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Best Ethnic Restaurant Cambridge/Somerville?

I am taking my boyfriend out for his birthday tonight, and would love some recommendations for good ethnic food around cambridge or somerville. We love Indian and Thai and Japanese but are pretty open to everything and would love to try anything new!! We have a somewhat limited budgets, but would like a place with a decent wine/beer list.

Thanks so much!

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  1. How about the Elephant Walk, on Mass. Ave a few blocks up from Porter? Cambodian with French influences - not sure of the wine list...

    And a larger question - Is Italian still "ethnic?"

    1 Reply
    1. The Wu Chon House in Union Square Somerville has great Korean food!

      1 Reply
      1. re: bonber

        Last time I went to Wu Chon the experience was... well, slightly disappointing. The service was kind of terrible: they had some huge party in the back and pretty much didn't pay any attention to us because were were only a four-top. And I think the prices have gone up, too.

        Food was still great though.

      2. Well, The Helmand has really good food, and it's still one of the most reasonably priced restaurants in the area.

        Tapas at Dali can be a fair bargain, depending on which ones you choose.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Bostonbob3

          Seconding the Helmand - BFP and I went last Friday night for our anniversary dinner and had a lovely dinner as usual. The total, including apps x2, top-end entrees x2, an extra side dish, desserts and tea x2, and a moderate bottle of wine, came to about $105 plus tip, and totally worth it. The room's a wee bit crowded, the service is businesslike but tends to lack warmth, but it's a pretty place and one of our favorite special-occasion dinners that doesn't have to break the bank.

          (Our waiter fell all over me with gratitude because I gently pointed out to him that he had somehow only charged us $3 for that bottle of wine instead of $33...I just didn't have the stomach to take a 30% discount on our dinner.)

        2. An underrated Indian restaurant is Passage to India in Porter Square. The people there are very friendly, the food is excellent, and the prices are about average for Indian cuisine.

          Also, if you don't mind heading a few minutes west, Sweet Chili in Arlington Center is a terrific place for Thai food. It's small, but the atmosphere is pleasant.

          1 Reply
          1. re: hiddenboston

            Passage to India is indeed a respectable option, but for Indian in Cambridge/Somerville I'd opt for Tamarind Bay, Cafe of India, or Tanjore (all Harvard Square), Namaskar (Davis Square), and Kebab Factory (Somerville, between Inman and Porter Square) over it. Though I'd take Passage to India over the Central Square and Inman Square choices every time, and flip a coin between this and Bombay Club (Harvard Square).

          2. Definitely second the Helmand. A few other ideas:

            Tu y Yo outside of Davis is a real treat for Veracruz-style Mexican, with lots of interesting complex sauces, and three types of good sangria.

            Atasca near Kendall for Portuguese would be great for patio dining tonight. I love sitting out there and sharing a bottle of vinho verde.

            Namaskar in Davis for Indian. The southern items, in particular, are among the best on that side of the river. Although I vastly prefer Namaskar to Diva down the street, Diva is a bit more festive in terms of decor, with a much longer drink list.

            Sugar and Spice in Porter isn't particularly authentic Thai, but the food is fun and well-prepared, and the wine and beer list is reasonable for mid-grade ethnic.