The Charms of Lechmere?
Help! I've been suddenly transplanted from Harvard Square to the area near the Lechmere station. While I'm only a few miles from my old stomping grounds, I miss being able to walk to some great restaurants and food stores. Please tell me that there are some hidden jewels in my new neighborhood! Or will I have to hike to Inman Square to satisfy my food cravings?
So far my husband and I have discovered Skampa's super beef sandwiches, chatted with the fishmongers of New Deal and Court House, and have plans to eat at Helmand.
I'm hopeful there's more to be discovered! Please guide me.
As far as shopping, there is a Latino grocery across from Skampa that has some useful stuff in its freezer. J Pace on Blossom Ct is just across the Leverett Connector and they do have some parking scheme, although I usually brave the meters behind MGH. Haymarket has its detractors, but you have pretty easy access to at least check it out. And the Shaws at Twin City is pretty impressive, although their prices are too. Make sure you check out Mayflower.
Atwoods is the nicest bar spot, but keep in mind that Anthem and other offerings beyond are about the same distance just across the bridge. Pugliese's has pretty decent food (officially weekday lunch only, but they sometimes do something Sunday) and Courtside is mostly about the karaoke, but has a cheap burger. La Hacienda doesn't compare the Paddock, but you can do worse than a large floppy pizza and beer there. Tropico near Souper Roll Up is pretty good if you stick to steak tacos, their grilled chicken legs, or pupusas.... again Viva Burrito on Staniford isn't that much further.
Make sure you check out Royal Pastry next to Central (they even have a cheap bakery pizza fix, although the sauce is _quite_ sweet). Central has started backing their country rolls every day instead of just wednesday and friday and now are using perforated bags.
Dante's patio is the best location for summer, but you are close enough to try Oleana's on a whim. I like Portugalia's dining room best at lunch time, so its a nice saturday outpost.
Union Sq is a quick bus ride or drive for J+J's, farmer's market, Taq la Mexicana, the Independent, etc.
Welcome to the neighborhood!
All of the mentioned options are great. Helmand is one of my favorites-get the pumpkin dish and you'll be hooked.
Just a short walk up Hampshire is B-Side Lounge as well as Cafe Kiraz for very good sandwiches,salads and a huge serving of frozen yogurt with a large offering of mix-ins, including fresh fruit. I recommend apricot walnut!
Aceituna is in one of the office buildings(Genzyme perhaps?) and I believe is only open for lunch during the week but if it fits your schedule, they have decent specials as well as a very good shwarma with a delectable garlic spread.
Souper Roll Up Cafe is about a 1/2 mile down Cambridge Street from Lechmere Station, but it is worth the effort. It offers the neighborhood's freshest salads, soups and roll-ups for really great prices. (I got a 12 ounce basil-chicken barley soup and 1/2 a marinated chicken roll up with tomatoes, alfalfa sprounts, romaine, and cukes, plus a special cambodian house dressing for $6.45. The roll up was huge for a '1/2'.) Best of all is Sophie, the proprietess, is a real peach, greeting everybody by name and with an amazing smile. Here's a link to recent article on Souper Roll Up:
I've been working in the neighborhood for 2 months. Not the best food neighborhood around, but there are a few decent options. In addition to those already mentioned:
Sweet Touch Cafe is a simple sub shop, but has pretty good salads & steak tips and serves breakfast that looks like it might be worth trying.
Next door, Anatolias is an ever so slightly more upscale sandwich option (e.g. ham, turkey, swiss, coleslaw & russian dressing).
Next door to the Helmand you'll find Brown Sugar Cafe's sister restaurant, the Similans. Perhaps a notch below the great Thai in Coolidge Corner, but head & shoulders better than anything else I've tried here on the north side of the river.
Next door to that is the ubiquitous Boca Grande. Not a destination, but a decent neighborhood burrito.
Kendall Square proper is also a short walk on a nice day. Blue Room, Anise, Emma's, Atasca ...
atasca on hampshire st for portuguese--not nearly as good as going into inman to o cantinho, but ok.
izzy's at 169 harvard for octopus, goat stew and other puerto rican chow.
there's a haitian place down sort of near izzy's (though not on harvard) called carnie's (i think) that looks maybe worth exploring the menu, though all i've ever gotten there were patties. there's also a little latino convenience store just a couple blocks away. nothing special, but carries some ingredients from that type of cuisine.
mulan on broadway (http://mulan.4t.com/) for good taiwanese. i like the salt and pepper pork chop dish here a lot, many posts on this board for other suggestions.
central bakery in east cambridge for decent (though dry-ish) portuguese corn bread.
re: passing thru
I have menus for Izzy's, J+J's, Courthouse, SnackBar, Skampa, Tropico, La Hacienda and others that I would love to submit somewhere. I had asked (elsewhere on the site) of somewhere accepting user-submitted menus after the demise of amazon.com (menupages relies on their getting the menu).
That said, the prices and daily plates on menupages are the same as the Izzy's menu I have at hand. This copy is probably about 8 months old, but I got another 3 weeks ago and don't believe the prices have changed.
Desfina is a casual Greek place that gets good pub on the board. There are lots of little places on that end of Cambridge Street - hopefully you will break new ground in exploring. Take heart too that with the growth of those gigantic condo complexes nearby, new restaurants are sure to follow.