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Kendall lunch thread

It is time for the 2008 Kendall Square lunch thread. Let us discuss what the viable lunch options are in this part of Cambridge,

I'll start:

Emma's: yuppy pizza
Izzy's: roast pork sandwich on Fridays
MuLan: kicking lunch specials
Miracle of Science: burgers & skewers
Middlesex: sandwiches on rolling chairs

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  1. Is Cafe Kiraz too far to count? I love their beet and goat cheese sandwich so much that I started making it at home.

    3 Replies
    1. re: finlero

      Everything is within the realm of possibility. I love beets - thanks for the rec.

      1. re: finlero

        Oooh, now that the weather is a little warmer that's within easy walking distance. Will check it out tomorrow!

        1. re: Eatin in Woostah

          FWIW, I actually prefer the one I make at home at this point. They use a *lot* of thickly-sliced beets and a fairly porous bread, which can makes things pretty soggy. It comes down to personal preference, but I make mine a little daintier, slicing the beets more thinly and using a baguette. Kiraz' is still great, though.

      2. ropa vieja (wednesday only), montanero, or fried pork sub are all terrific @ izzy's.

        paul's (newtowne variety for non natives) is a good place for a sub. its hard to beat a piantedosi roll combined with their quickness.

        i'm from the neighborhood and those are the only two places i eat at regularly.

        1. You need to define your parameters. Would the walk to the Similans close to the Galleria be out of the question? Or 2nd Street Cafe? It's not a lot further than the schlepp to Miracle of Science from the Kendall T-stop, but it seems like it because the area is an industrial waste-land. So, what are we talking about here?

          Also, I've never had the lunch specials at Mulan -- only regular menu items when I'm there around lunchtime. I'd love to get out of my rut ... what do you especially like?

          13 Replies
          1. re: yumyum

            I know how to use a map to figure out if 2nd Street Cafe is close enough for my personal parameters, and others can do the same. Hopefully this thread could be helpful for everyone in that area, regardless of specific geographical location.

            Lunch specials @ MuLan:
            s&p pork chop
            shredded pork with green mustard
            crispy spiced pork
            eggplant with basil sauce
            stir fried green bean
            shredded beef with preserved vegetable

            1. re: gini

              LOL -- I know how to use a map too, but I really couldn't figure out if it's a longer walk over to 2SC or not.

              Mmmmm.... s&p pork chop.

              1. re: yumyum

                Ah, well in that case it's slightly longer to 2SC, but only a quarter of a mile or so.

              2. re: gini

                Also, lamb with chili peppers...mmmmm

                1. re: gini

                  I dug this thread up since I've been spending some quality time at the office and needed a quick fix lunch today. Hit Mulan for the Octopus with Dry Bean Curd special. (I really wanted the s&p pork chop but held my ground.) Overall the dish is just okay .. listed as spicy on the menu but not spicy at all. The texture of the octopus and bean curd were too similar (long strips) so it was sort of like a big portion of all the same thing. That's not a great description, but it's what I can do right now. I wish I'd tried the fish fillets instead.

                  I was surprised that they've expanded the kitchen which has made the dining room and "bar" smaller. I think the gal told me they are doing a lot of catering, and that's why. The place was already bulging at the seams at lunchtime, wonder how it is now? (I took mine to go.)

                  1. re: yumyum

                    Glad to hear they're back open after the renovations. Haven't had that dish, so thanks for the report.

                    1. re: yumyum

                      Do try the fish fillets when you go next. They are really delicious. Swimming in chili oil each time we've ordered it, but I know that won't put you off! I am curious to see the renovations.

                    2. re: gini

                      I second Mulan. I don't even like Chinese food anywhere else.

                      1. re: lobst

                        PS--first time I went, a Chinese coworker took me there, ordered for me--many of the dishes listed here: chops, fish, eggplant. (We have had another eggplant and I believe a green bean dish on subsequent visits.) She loves it, but she is quick to point out that it is Taiwanese, not Chinese--and so she feels she's not the best authority--anyway it's cheap and delicious (and CROWDED--and yes that's pre-renovation) for lunch.

                        1. re: lobst

                          Taiwanese restaurants basically serve Chinese dishes (sampled broadly across various regions) with a few Taiwanese specialties thrown in. That's why I like them - they have something for everyone.

                          I didn't even realize they were doing renovations - I guess it's been too long since I've eaten there!

                          1. re: nfo

                            The happy overlap I've found between both Mulan and Taiwan Cafe (the only other Taiwanese place I am familiar with) is that they both do an excellent job with fried foods. One of my favorite dishes in town is the s&p fried chicken with crispy basil leaves at Mulan.

                    3. re: yumyum

                      Not to mention, I tend to think of Miracle of Science as being in central sq vs. kendall sq.

                      Heck, I don't even really like thinking of "one kendall square" as being in kendall sq ;)

                      1. re: jgg13

                        That's because MoS _is_ in Central, and not Kendall. (I say this as someone who works in Kendall - I wish MoS were closer).

                      1. re: nasilemak

                        What do you like there for lunch?

                        1. re: gini

                          I'm not nasilmak, but last time I lunched there I had a divine octopus app -- tender, flavorful, garlicky and olive oily -- with bread to sop up the juices. I like being able to have a cheap and cheerful glass of wine there, too. Surprise!

                          We had pork and clams too, which was just aiiight for me dog.

                          1. re: yumyum

                            Dog, I like their rice pudding a whole bunch too. Thanks for the tip of the octopus appetizer. Sounds tasty.

                            1. re: yumyum

                              Its a bit further, but if you can do the lunchtime wine thing Portugalia offers half bottles and has two of their better salt cod dishes for a very reasonable price. Its fairly quick, considering, but not a 1/2 hour lunch.

                            2. re: gini

                              the octopus appetizer and a grilled shrimp entree that comes with potatoes and broccoli rabe. you might have to ask for the latter since it is only on their dinner menu. avoid their pastas as they are quite mediocre.

                          2. The Blue Room has been a lot more consistent with their Lunch BBQ in the past years during the decent weather. MIT trucks are a bit so-so, but its an inexpensive lunch and particularly Jose's has improved (I have about 3 things from the Asian truck that I order). I think the falafel at the student center is better than the truck, but that's another option. There are always lines for the sandwiches at Beantown, but I never was that impressed when they were at one Kendall. 2nd street is better (meatloaf, etc), but still a zoo and not 100%. Florentina I memorized the days they had the two pasta sauces I liked and ate those with overdone pasta (back in the day they had a great breakfast). Mulan much more, but occasionally I do the zsa zhang lo mein (not certain of spelling) at Royal East which has dried shrimp.

                            Double-parking options: courthouse has pre-fried fish at the market (smelt and other bone-in fish), Royal Pastry has their pizza slices.

                            For delivery: Cafe Kiraz (not certain about lunch) for sandwiches, The Snack Bar for Portuguese (ask for their specials too), Cinderellas for some folks but not my idea, Skampa for Roast Beef and acceptable pastrami, maybe haddock sub. Some of the Brazilian places in East Somerville (Cafe Varanda and Minas Grill) will delivery, muqueca if you do an office thing (and I think is available via foodler). Tropico on Cambridge St also has good steak tacos, ok pupusas (slaw is a bit ehh), and grilled chicken legs for delivery.

                            Pizza and pitchers of beer are good depending on your co-workers at La Hacienda. Legal can be really slow for work lunches and is just annoying (Black Sheep is a bit better, even the restaurant in the Marriot does decent sandwiches). As afterwork alternatives to CBC, Blue Room, Cuchi Cuchi, people tend to forget about the Muddy Charles (pitchers) and Thirsty Ear at MIT.

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: itaunas

                              Thanks for all of your great ideas!

                              1. re: itaunas

                                That reminds me....I believe Florentina is now closed (or looking for a new tenant). I've heard atrocious things about the food.

                                Love the spicy fish filets at Mulan for lunch. And the mountain Chinese vegetable. And the bean curd skin with mushrooms...

                                How is Anise these days? I sent a big Chinese group from my office recently for a going-away party and they were not happy with the slow service. They were gone a mighty long time.

                                I've also been curious about Aceituna - I know previous reports have not been favorable.

                                1. re: digga

                                  Really? People don't like Aceituna? Sigh. Sometimes I think I'll never keep up with this crowd. Anyway, I only ever seem to have the chicken schwarma, but I love it. The garlic sauce is great.

                                  Florentina is indeed history. There's a new lunch place opening, not in that space, but in the office building next door.

                                  1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                                    Yes, as CookieMonster said, Florentina is closed. They closed about a month or so ago and the space is now sitting empty. I wasn't a fan, so I won't miss it.

                                    I like Aceituna for lunch. I enjoy getting their Greek Salad with Beef Schwarma. It consistently hits the spot for me. I am not a fan of their falafel though. IMO, Aceituna is not a destination that anyone should go out of their way to eat at. But if you work in the neighborhood, it is a viable lunch option.

                                    The new lunch place is going into 101 Main St. where the horrible Cafe La Brioche used to be. Its going to be called Cafe on Main and will be open for breakfast and lunch. It is run by "Corporate Chefs Inc." and from what I've heard it will be counter service with sandwiches, daily hot entree specials, salads, etc.

                                    1. re: mangorita

                                      I used to work very close to Florentina, and I could never understand the lines out the door there every day. Their food always, I mean always, gave me heartburn. I wonder why they packed it in: did that corner of Kendall wise up, or have those buildings emptied out, or did they just decamp for another location?

                                      I wonder if Hungry Mother will ever open for lunch?

                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                        When I worked at 1 and 101 Main (and I don't know what the occupancy is now, but they were both pretty fully up at the time), Florentina was definitely a hotspot - just like you describe. I went there frequently, there was a general lack of options in the very immediate vicinity (looks like that hasn't changed much, most of the things being mentioned are at least a 10 min walk from that spot) ... there were only 3 or 4 spots on that block, the MIT trucks were an extra block or two down the street but was more of a warm weather thing. Florentina was the best of a bad situation.

                                        Plus, as a recent convert to urban living, my notion of what was a decent walking distance was wildly different than it is now (where I'll walk 20+ mins for lunch!)

                                    2. re: BostonCookieMonster

                                      I think Aceituna is a not great and pretty expensive, especially the vegetarian options. The Falafel is just terrible. A steam table tray of oil-soaked chickpea fragments. They had no competition for quite some time in that immediate vicinity so hopefully they see the need to step it up.

                                      -----
                                      Aceituna Cafe
                                      605 W Kendall St, Cambridge, MA 02142

                                    3. re: digga

                                      Aceituna is in my building, so I've probably sampled almost the entire menu. It's ok, not a destination in my book. I was really spoiled by the fantastic Lebanese place near my job in Cleveland and it has ruined me forever. But without a whole lot of other options...
                                      I like the chicken shawarma sandwich (I just have a hard time calling it a "roll up" for some reason). I actually much prefer the shish taouk over the shawarma, but usually don't feel like waiting for it. I personally don't like the spices on the beef shawarma, but a lot of coworkers like it. Their baba ghanoush is very good and the hummus is decent. The falafel is ok but very salty. I like to get the vegetarian 3-choice, usually with sauteed cauliflower, baba, and a wild card. I haven't tried many of the daily specials because I don't usually eat that much for lunch. Their french fries are *awesome*, totally unexpected. Sometimes I just get french fries and a V8 (is that gross?).

                                      I like the chicken noodle soup at Similans, and the chicken burritos at Boca (no rice or cheese, just chicken, black beans, and hot sauce).

                                      The spicy beef noodle soup at Anise really hits the spot on a chilly day. I am really looking forward to the Blue Room BBQ starting back up again. The turkey burger at CBC is really good, but I'm not crazy about anything else there.

                                      Love everything I've eaten at Mulan.

                                      When I'm in the mood for a salad, sometimes I go to that place in the MIT food court and make my own by the pound.

                                      I like the grilled sandwiches at Rebeccas, especially the grilled cheese. Good bread, good cheese, great pickle. The one time I went to Cosi it was a total zoo and they lost my order. I haven't bothered to go back, but I think the sandwich was pretty good.

                                      1. re: digga

                                        Was at Anise for lunch today - they certainly are doing a brisk lunch business. One friend was very happy with the spicy pork wontons, which are certainly fantastic and during lunch served in quite a large bowl. Another had the kung pow chicken, which she chowed down on while I had a beef, bamboo, mushroom, and carrot dish that was perfectly serviceable. We also shared a blooming tea, that while pretty and fun to watch, was not that flavorful, but we did enjoy it.

                                    4. The places I regularly hit for lunch are:
                                      Mulan - when I crave noodle soups, this is my only real option; I would add their lunch special of fish filet in spicy bean sauce (or something like that in english). It's really good!
                                      Izzy's for their daily lunch secials (I especially like their chicken stew and pernil, and when I indulge, their empanadas!)
                                      Mary Chung's for their dan dan noodles and sometimes ma po tofu with rice
                                      Cosi - for their salads (and sometimes their sandwiches)
                                      Blue Room in the summer

                                      I also hit up The Similans, Pepper's Sky, Rangzen, Cafe Kiraz, Hot Off the Press, and Shalimar for lunch every so often. I run to the markets (Whole Foods and Star) usually at least once a week too.

                                      I know there are some technically Central Sq spots, but I can walk to each and every one of these locations. If we were only to stick to the actual boundaries of Kendall Sq I'd die of lunch boredom in a month. As much as I appreciate having a Sebastian's now, nothing at Sebastian's particularly stands out for me.

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: kobuta

                                        Is Dante realistic as a lunch spot, other than a business type lunch? Too much of a time and money commitment (not to mention the temptation of a glass or two of wine as accompaniment)?

                                        1. re: digga

                                          It's good for a business lunch. I can't imagine the place being within daily lunch budgets for most. Depending on where you are in Kendall, it can be very walkable, albeit not the prettiest walk for most.

                                        2. re: kobuta

                                          Where is the Cosi in that area?

                                          1. re: Joanie

                                            Right next to Rebecca's on Main St. I think it's pretty new. I just noticed it recently myself, but have not gone there yet.

                                            1. re: JudyHP

                                              I can recommend the Veggie Muffaletta sandwich, it has roasted eggplant, olive spread and spicy banana pepper slices on that thin crispy bread studded with salt. I get wicked cravings for it.

                                            2. re: Joanie

                                              Yes, not far from the Post Office. Opened up last summer (spring?) some time. Watch out for the lines though; it's often out the door. I prefer to call ahead and do take out from there because it can be such a zoo.

                                            3. re: kobuta

                                              I finally hit Cafe Baraka today and I loved my djadje sandwich! I can easily see myself wandering back here at least once a week for a bite, so I needed to add this to my list.

                                              1. re: kobuta

                                                Thx for the reminder. I've only been once for dinner and really enjoyed it. We had a cold eggplant app, merguez sausage, and the Bastiile Torte with squab..requires 36 hours notice. No alcohol but a real tasty rose flavored lemonade.

                                                I need to get back there.

                                            4. All the lunchtime sandwiches at Atasca are good, but I'm especially fond of their cheeseburger (with Portugese cheese, of course).

                                              And I've only been to Camie's (Haitian bakery/restaurant at Harvard and Columbia) once, but this has reminded me to go back, as that one time was great.

                                              1. Kendall House of Pizza has a yum Greek salad.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: taxi

                                                  really? Interesting. I walk past that place everyday and but never thought about trying it. I am a sucker for a good Greek salad.

                                                2. Zigo's...either location. Great soups, salads and pre-made sandwiches.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: FoodLush

                                                    I've always been pretty disappointed with Zigo. I guess I've mostly gotten salads - do you have some suggestions?

                                                    1. re: MrsCheese

                                                      I love their Chicken Caesar Salad...mostly cause of the dressing. I am also a big fan of their tomato, mozzerella, basil, procuitto sandwich. The only other things I have gotten are mac and cheese and apple/butternut squash soup. Both of which were very good!

                                                  2. At Anise I love the dumplings in vinegar. Very tart and filling.

                                                    Emmas - may be yuppy, but it's some good pizza. Super thin and crisp. Their salad with grilled chicken is one of the best I've had.

                                                    Where is Mary Chung's? I've been craving dan dan.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                      1. re: Eatin in Woostah

                                                        If you like the dumplings in vinegar, you should try Mary Chung's version. I liked it better. Even though their dumplings are a bit meatier than I prefer, their vinegar is better and with a really nice spiciness to it. I found Anise's version to be a bit bland to be honest.

                                                        1. re: kobuta

                                                          didn't i read something recently about a new southern restaurant in Kendall? Anyone tried it? Remember its name?

                                                          1. re: teezeetoo

                                                            Hungry Mother - doesn't serve lunch.

                                                      2. Wow, I've been at MIT for four years (and reading Chowhound longer) and have never heard of many of these places. Izzy's especially sounds promising.

                                                        I try not to spend more than 6 or 7 dollars for lunch most days. Here are some of the places I go:

                                                        Chinese food truck near Technology Square. I like the Wheat Dough, Tofu Meatball, Garlic Chicken noodle. I assume I like their black pepper chicken, but I've only had it at the Mass Ave food truck which has disappeared. You can get a combination of two items for no charge (or maybe 25 cents).

                                                        The Goosebeary's food truck. Not very good in general, but some of it can be okay. My favorites are the Viet Combo (fried fish and bite-sized pieces of pork), mango salad with tofu or chicken (the salad part doesn't have much flavor, but it's light and has a sweet sauce that I like), BBQ chicken (I think that's what it's called. bite-sized pieces of chicken that are quite flavorful).

                                                        Cosi: I like their sandwiches but thought their salads seemed pretty boring. Seems to be the opposite of the last poster's opinion. I have enjoyed the tuna cheddar, meatball, and "Thanksgiving" sandwiches.

                                                        Sebastian's: This was one of my favorites when it required a trip to Downtown Crossing to eat there. Now that it's right next to me the mystique has worn off a little. But I like their salad station.

                                                        Salad Bar in the Kendall Square food court. The price is great- it's usually under three dollars for me. Downside is that the lettuce is always wet. I'm glad they wash it, but it's the only salad bar I've been to that doesn't successfully dry the lettuce. I've complained, but no one has ever even humored me that they would fix it.

                                                        Anna's Taqueria: I had a bad experience with the meat here once, but I've found a combination I consistently like: Cheese Quesadilla with guacamole, hot sauce, beans, and rice.

                                                        Grill next to Anna's in the student center: I like their tuna melt.

                                                        I'll throw out my credibility now and say I like the orange chicken + ma po tofu, or sesame pork + ma po tofu, both with fried rice, in the Kendall Square food court.

                                                        I think Steam Cafe and the sandwich place in the Building 68 are two of the worst restaurants I've ever been to. (The menu at Steam Cafe sounds so good.) Does anyone like anything at these? What about at the Mexican or Italian-ish food trucks near Goosebeary's?

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: jtw

                                                          I'm always looking for the cheapest tasty lunch near MIT. I've had some luck at the Goosebeary's truck, where I like the peanut chicken (which actually has no visible peanuts in it, but they are detectable in the sauce). I also like the wonton noodle soup, which is a large container of flavorful wontons and broth with ramen-esque noodles. The noodles are not great, but the broth and wontons are good. I like that they include steamed vegetables with most of the dishes, and will hold the rice and give you extra veggies if you ask for it. For $4 it's not so bad.

                                                          Jose's truck makes good chicken enchiladas with adobo, and I like the meatball sub at the sub truck. The chicken-based subs are not very pleasant. My few attempts at that falafel truck have not been successful.

                                                          By the way, the trucks have moved as of April 1 to Carleton St right near the T station.

                                                          My wife claims she had a good lunch at Steam Cafe, but the one time I went they had some sort of gelatinous substance they called Thai green curry chicken, and a second gelatinous substance they called sweet and sour tofu, and we couldn't for the life of us figure out which was which. It seems like a nice idea for a lunch place, but maybe it doesn't work in practice.

                                                        2. Great overview. I newly back in town. Things have really evolved since the F&T Diner was the anchor of Kendall Square

                                                          -----
                                                          Atasca Hampshire
                                                          50 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                          1. Reporting in on lunch at Amelia's today. I've been for dinner and had a really nice pasta dish, but have to admit I was underwhelmed today at lunch. Everyone in my group had a panini. They were just OK. Mine was a chicken pesto with tomatoes. The tomatoes were only moderately ripe. Chicken was sort of dry, pesto was a bit oily. Someone in our group also had a side salad. She didn't eat it - mentioned that the greens were too bitter, and it was only dressed with olive oil, which didn't cut the bitterness enough.

                                                            In any case, a little overpriced and just not that good. The pasta options may have been tasty, but it's tough to go back to the office on a stomach full of pasta with cream sauce and not need a nap.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: Eatin in Woostah

                                                              Haha..I work right next to this place and I always forget it's there. Aside from my first day (boss took me here for lunch) and another time I was forced to go somewhere nearby (months later, took a new employee out to lunch) I have never even thought about returning. Not terrible, but uninspired, very crowded (with tables way too close together) and rather slow service.

                                                              1. re: kobuta

                                                                Funny. I work right next to there too (maybe we work together?) and have only been there for work meals. First, for my interview over dinner, second for the team lunch last week. I think for future sit-down work meals I'll try to lobby for Atasca.

                                                            2. Some recent eating:

                                                              Roast Pork Sandwich, Izzy's: this is one excellent sandwich of pernil, with some sort of vegetables along for the crunch factor. Smooshy white roll soaked up the juices well.

                                                              Noodle, pork, and mustard green soup, MuLan: Pork had no flavor; mustard greens were cut up too much for my liking; noodles were nice and toothy; broth was a bit oily for me. Not my favorite noodle soup out there (HKE gets my vote).

                                                              Goat stew, rice & beans, salad, sweet plantains, Izzy's own gingerbeer, Izzy's: In the Joanie-fashion, this was three meals for me. I love the sweet plantains - perfect technique there. Goat stew was a bit hard to tear apart, but funky and flavorful. Loved the addition of potatoes. Rice & beans were excellent, as was the additional bowl of beans. Outstanding value at just around $10.

                                                              Smoked salmon salad, Cambridge Brewing Company: House (?) smoked salmon was nice, salad had a slightly sweet dressing that wasn't bad. Probably wouldn't order it again.

                                                              Nachos, Flat Top Johnny's: horrible nacho technique - they really need to learn to layer the cheese for optimal chip coverage. Would not order again.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: gini

                                                                Haven't thought of trying the goat, though I've had their oxtail stew. So tasty, but likewise, a bit difficult to tear into at lunch. Would be a different story if I were at home and could really get my hands all over the food.

                                                                On a different note - the building out front of Tech Square that I thought would be a Baja Betty's is Mexi-Cali (or something like that) instead. Might be owned by the same peeps. While I appreciate any additional lunch option, I think we already have some good burrito/quick mexican options nearby. I really wish the space were partitioned to two smaller joints so we could get some variety.

                                                                  1. re: Alcachofa

                                                                    Not spicy at all. As stews go, it was more of a boiled dinner - huge chunks of cooked goat meat with some potatoes. I probably wouldn't get it again, but continue to go for their fried chicken, empanadas, plantains and pernil.

                                                                  2. re: gini

                                                                    I can't believe I still haven't gone to Izzy's, I've known about it for years. But it seems like I only remember it when I drive by on a Sun. when they're closed.

                                                                    This will be what I'm known for in chowhound, 3 meals out of one and many deletions.

                                                                    1. re: Joanie

                                                                      If you are interested in trying, you may want to hit it soon. They must be gearing up for their annual summer trip to Puerto Rico, which means they close down for place for a month or two.

                                                                  3. The Blue Room outdoor bbq is open for the season. Today I had: grilled salmon (perfectly cooked), green bean salad, cucumber salad, a slice of watermelon and an iced tea for $9. Everything was quite tasty and the array of sides looked good. Also on the menu were: grilled chicken, ham&cheese sandwich, avocado quesadilla, hot dog.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: gini

                                                                      I went today as well and found the salmon (same sides as well) as good as usual. Sometimes I find their portions of salmon cut a little too small, but today was the right sized portion. Looks like a whole new crew again for the grill. Am I the only one who's turned off by their now bigger and more bold "show me the tips" card?

                                                                      1. re: gini

                                                                        I had that avocado quesadilla at Mother's Day brunch--I pretty much tried everything they were serving, which was quite a task, and it was my single favorite item. Great to know it's on the bbq menu.

                                                                      2. Nobody's mentioned one of my favorites - Souper Rollup Cafe on Cambridge Street. Yummy, fresh, healthy wraps and delicious homemade soups. It's run by a very sweet couple. I love their California wrap (they don't skimp on the avocado) and the tomato basil soup. In summer, they also make a mean gazpacho.

                                                                        I can't believe the Blue Room Grill is open and I missed it! I'm already planning my 2008 Inaugural Visit. ;-)

                                                                        1. Want to add some place links to this very helpful thread:

                                                                          -----
                                                                          MuLan
                                                                          228 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                                          Baraka Cafe
                                                                          80 Pearl St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                                          Mary Chung Restaurant
                                                                          460 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                                          Miracle of Science Bar + Grill
                                                                          321 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                                          Izzy's Restaurant & Sub Shop
                                                                          169 Harvard St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                                          Blue Room
                                                                          1 Kendall Sq, Cambridge, MA

                                                                          Aceituna Cafe
                                                                          605 W Kendall St, Cambridge, MA 02142

                                                                          Emma's Pizza
                                                                          40 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                                          1. The new Cafe on Main opened at 101 Main St. in the former Cafe La Brioche spot. I've gone once and wasn't too impressed. I suppose it is a decent enough "bad weather" option.

                                                                            It is managed by Corporate Chefs: http://www.corporatechefs.com/

                                                                            1. I just tried the "Raspberry Chipotle Chicken" flatbread salad at Quiznos and thought it was really good. I think it's probably not any healthier than most of these other options (especially because of the buttery flatbread), but I don't know of any similar option in the area. (Does Sebastian's have a sweet salad dressing like this one? Regardless, I've never been a fan of the bread Sebastian's offers with its salads.)

                                                                              I tried Izzy's and Newtowne Variety thanks to this thread and really like both, but they're slightly further than I can justify walking for lunch on a regular basis.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: jtw

                                                                                Sebastian's has a sesame vinaigrette that is absurdly sweet to me. I also like Cosi.

                                                                              2. I work at 101 Main St. Here is my run down of some of the places that I go and avoid for lunch.

                                                                                Similans - Solid Thai.

                                                                                Aceituna - good falafel, but great birds nests.

                                                                                Sebastians - The food is ok, but I can not take the horrible queueing system or lack there of. They make crepes where the check out should be; you may or may not be in line for pasta, or maybe you are in line for noodle soup. This sort of mayhem bothers me for lunch.

                                                                                Villa Mexico - This is technically in Beacon Hill, but a the longfellow bridge is a short and nice stroll and makes beacon hill closer than MoS or Middlesex (provided you work where I do). These are the BEST BURRITOS in BOSTON. I stand by this assessment. The wait is a bit long, but in my opinion, worth it. If I cross the river, it is for these.

                                                                                Kendall Market & Deli - We call it Isaacs because it is next to Rebecca's. It is ok, but is a staple.

                                                                                Damon's - The salad bar in the Kendall Courtyard - Solid salad bar. The macaroni salad is salty and delicious. Also try the hot entrees and the sandwich bars. Personally, I think it is great to make your own sandwich, just the way you like it. I'll give you my recipe for my sandwich.
                                                                                Mayo
                                                                                Sweet Pepper relish
                                                                                Pepper Turkey
                                                                                Salami
                                                                                Munster cheese
                                                                                Onions
                                                                                Tomato
                                                                                cucumber
                                                                                Sprouts - you have to poach some from the salad bar, just be polite about it.

                                                                                Cafe on Main - Sorry, but this is a bust. I wish this was closer, but I'd walk through the rain to a different place for lunch.

                                                                                Trucks are trucks. If I'm going to eat out of a truck, I'm going at 12:15 to the construction by the Genzyme building and I'm eating out of the construction truck. Listen for the geese sounding honk as it approaches. (Also there in the morning).

                                                                                1. Adding Dante to place links -- have had some very good lunches there (on the company dime) recently.

                                                                                  -----
                                                                                  Dante
                                                                                  5 Cambridge Pkwy, Cambridge, MA 02142

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: yumyum

                                                                                    Finally got to Dante for an expensed group lunch. The lobster salad BLT was so delicious I may have made inappropriate yummy noises in front of my coworkers.

                                                                                    1. re: Eatin in Woostah

                                                                                      Once that patio is open, I'd like to make those noises over a lobster BLT too!

                                                                                      Lunch from Mulan today -- that is one place NOT suffering the recession. Joint was packed at 12:30 with several take-out orders and a line of waiting folks out the door. Salty spicy chicken as good as ever.

                                                                                  2. I'm digging on the noodle soups from the Similans lately -- the beef noodle soup is especially tasty. Their pad thai and other too-sweet curry dishes don't appeal to me, but this solid dish (big enough for 2 meals) is hitting the spot.

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    The Similans
                                                                                    145 1st St, Cambridge, MA 02142

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: yumyum

                                                                                      I always crave noodle soup and maybe will give the beef noodle soup a try. I had a noodle soup from them once that was just awful - I mean A-W-F-U-L. Bland soup, terrible noodles, and just inedible. I got through half of it because I was starving, but couldn't finish because it was that bad.

                                                                                      1. re: kobuta

                                                                                        This is definitely flavorful, full of sizzled garlic with more than a hint of celery (mostly tops) as well. There is thinly sliced lean beef, beef balls, and some really flavorful brisket-like fatty beef. They pack it up nicely to take away too, with the broth in one container and the noodles, beef, sprouts, etc in another for you to mix at your desk.

                                                                                    2. Emma's yuppy pizza is still as good as ever:

                                                                                      Atkins-inducing friend had the spinach salad with grilled chicken, while she drooled a bit over our 2 12inchers: spinach, sweet potato, onion, garlic, two cheeses; artichoke hearts, garlic, roasted tomatoes, two cheeses.

                                                                                      For this type of pizza, I definitely prefer Emma's to Cambridge 1.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: gini

                                                                                        When I'm watching the carbs, Emma's Famous Fling salad (spinach with grilled chicken, almonds, gorgonzola, granny smith apples) is my favorite lunch. There were a couple of weeks this summer when I ate it every day. The chicken is great - nice spice rub, warm, juicy.

                                                                                      2. I love emma's pizza but find myself at cosi most often. I heard the Marriott Champions? got a new menu but haven't gotten in to see whats like. Has anyone checked it out? The cold weather is coming and I would like a closer walk option. Rebbecca's is way to slow and small. I run to the food court and I know its bad but get the sushi all the time.

                                                                                        1. I've been trying Wisteria's takeout recently (from their Cambridge location), and I have to say I've been pretty happy. Reasonable delivery fees ($2/2.50 - $10 min) and what a wide selection of authentic dishes. And they have soup noodles, what I crave so often for lunch, especially in the winter!

                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: kobuta

                                                                                            This has probably been asked and answered but I don't remember ... is this Cambridge Street Wisteria connected to the highly regarded one in the Super88 food court? Do you know?

                                                                                            1. re: yumyum

                                                                                              They are connected as I've seen the same front guy. But, at least one menu item is different. When I went to the Cambridge one, the fried dumplings were different then the Super 88 one. The super 88 fried dumplings (guo tie) were superior and the traditional taiwanese style - long and skinny. the Cambridge guo tie, were the fat ones with thick skin.

                                                                                              1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                Thanks for that. I was hoping to find the long skinny dumplings ... I've been thinking about them since you mentioned them.

                                                                                                Have you eaten other food from the Camb St. Wisteria? Good/bad/ugly?

                                                                                                1. re: yumyum

                                                                                                  The other food (all in the same visit) was very good. But, Mulan is better.

                                                                                                  1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                    Nice tip -- they are both equidistant from the office so I'll stick with Mulan for Taiwanese.

                                                                                                    1. re: yumyum

                                                                                                      But Mulan doesn't do soup noodles (or only has like 1-2 and only available in the winter). :( And Mulan sometimes is just too busy, so if I go there for a meal, I can never count on being back within an hour - it's a good hour and a half.

                                                                                          2. I had a fine lunch at the Black Sheep in the Kendall Hotel last week. The Portabella Mushroom Melt sammy featured large portabella mushrooms grilled with swiss and spinach on solid sourdough and a nice dressing. My DC had the grilled cheese (muenster, swiss, and parmesan) on the same sourdough with bacon. Pricy lunch for sure ($30 with soft drinks), but lovely setting and tasty fare.

                                                                                            1. Boca Grande! 149 First Street. I can't believe it hasn't been mentioned on this thread yet so I will give it my knod. Lines out the door at lunch (but the line moves fast esp. if you get a burrito). Good food, reasonable prices. Recommended! I like the Steak Mexican Plate.

                                                                                              1. Since this post has been bumped up (and with the hope of warmer days ahead), a couple of comments:

                                                                                                -Clover food truck http://www.cloverfoodlab.com/
                                                                                                -What is the deal with "Caribbean Star" food truck?! It was parked outside my office (at 780 Mem Drive) for the longest time and now, it is gone again. We never were able to catch a glimpse of the driver.

                                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: digga

                                                                                                  I'm excited to hear more about Clover. Please report back, any hounds who try them on for size.

                                                                                                  1. re: digga

                                                                                                    Ah so Clover is finally back. Can you tell me exactly where they are again?

                                                                                                    1. re: kobuta

                                                                                                      The Clover truck is behind MIT Medical on Carleton St (runs behind the Kendall T station). Have not been for breakfast yet, but it sounds like they routinely sell out of their oatmeal, and they also serve muffins and popovers. Lunch items also tend to sell out. I have only had the chickpea fritter sandwich, but it is delicious. Think sort of like a falafel sandwich, but the fritters are a little lighter in texture and flavor, and served in a really great and fresh whole wheat pocket with tahini and carrot slaw. Fries with rosemary are literally fresh cut potatoes fried together with rosemary sprigs, so everything comes out crispy and delicious. It is well worth a walk over to them to support their great food and responsible practices.

                                                                                                      1. re: Spenbald

                                                                                                        I actually found them yesterday and had the fritter sandwhich and fries. The sandwich was delicious, and since I did have a falafel craving, it was perfect. Fries were a little overdone, but they still tasted pretty good. I appreciate their using fresh ingredients.

                                                                                                        My only "complaint" is they need to think more about transportability of their products While the sandwiches are good for eating on the go, they're not located in an area where there is any seating, so you have to grab your food in completely open containers. If they're going to go green, then even an extra piece of foil to cover the top half of the sandwich or to wrap the fries would be nice. I literally toted the open sandwich in one hand, and an open order of fries for 3 blocks back to the office. I know they target students, but they could do very well to help cater a bit to the corporate crowd too (especially during summer, when campus quiets down). There are tons of offices and hungry employees down by me who are dying for new and more food options.

                                                                                                        1. re: kobuta

                                                                                                          I totally agree about the packaging, I am a messy eater in any case and I am considering carrying a plate when I go there next :-)

                                                                                                        2. re: Spenbald

                                                                                                          I totally heart Clover. But I'm kind of glad it gets so little attention here, because they don't really seem equipped to serve more than like 20 people per day. The chickpea sandwich is great (pickled onions!) and I have not tried the others. The popovers in the morning make me so happy.And I smelled the muffins cooking one morning and it preyed on my mind so much I went back for one the next day. It was kind of gummy, but that might have been because they pulled one right out of the pan for me when they usually let them cool and set up a little.

                                                                                                          I also went to their pancake breakfast last weekend. Extremely disorganized but very pleasant, and the maple syrup was insanely good.

                                                                                                          1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                                                                                                            They have a couple of new things in "how to order": AT the truck, one person takes orders, and then you wait...but now, apparently, you can also pre-order online. They said info is on their blog.

                                                                                                            1. re: fredid

                                                                                                              Yeah, you can email them your order and the time you want to pick it up. Don't have the email off hand, but saw it on their website this morning. I wonder if this would resolve the availability issues though, as they seem to consistently underestimate the volume of business they do.

                                                                                                      2. This thread is a great reference, but with the weather getting nicer, should we start a 2009 Kendall Lunch Thread? Just wondering what would be more useful?

                                                                                                        Any new offerings for 2009 to discuss? What about the place going into the old Anise space at One Kendall?

                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Eatin in Woostah

                                                                                                          That's the Friendly Toast which is getting there slowly but surely.

                                                                                                          1. re: Eatin in Woostah

                                                                                                            Dunno if there has been that many changes, although Wisteria has closed (less convenient to Kendall than Mulan, but they did deliver to Kendall). Closer to Inman there are more changes and those are dinner only (Tupelo, Trina's coming soon). BTW, Courthouse should have softshell crabs at the restaurant today (doesn't hurt to call to have them set one aside and save them asking the market to send one over, but it seemed pretty certain).

                                                                                                            1. re: Eatin in Woostah

                                                                                                              Not a change, but the Blue Room was supposed to open this week, but due to the week-long gloomy weather, it's been moot. I don't know how today will hold out, but that alone is such good news for me.

                                                                                                            2. Was bumping this thread to see if anyone has new/updated opinions on this topic from the last few years. After a decade away, I'm going to be returning to the kendall area for work, over by 1 kendall. If there anything new & interesting that wasn't already covered in this thread?

                                                                                                              14 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                I think this thread pre-dates Think Tank, located right at One Kendall, which has a pretty tasty lunch menu with an Asian flare. I tried their version of a bahn mi, which was with pork belly rather than the offerings at real Vietnamese shops. I thought the sandwich was good, though with of course a much higher price point. Certainly beats the hell out of the crappy "baguette" (read: gross banh mi wannabes) from the Momogoose truck.

                                                                                                                It's a bit too far from where I work now so I don't go there regularly, but hope they're doing well and can break that Kendall Sq curse. The other new joint in the area is Mead Hall about 2 blocks away from One Kendall, at the corner of Ames and Broadway. Haven't been myself, but the place seems packed when I walk.

                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                Think Tank
                                                                                                                1 Kendall Square, lower level, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                                                                                1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                  Area Four just opened and is always packed at lunch. I have not been in yet, though. They are on Main Street.
                                                                                                                  Third Street is also really hopping, with Za, EVOO and Abigail's. Abigail's just opened on Friday so not too many reviews out there yet but the early word is positive. I had a drink and some bar food over the weekend and was very impressed.
                                                                                                                  Just avoid that awful food court.

                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                  EVOO Restaurant
                                                                                                                  350 Third Street, Cambridge, MA 02143

                                                                                                                  Area Four
                                                                                                                  500 Technology Square, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                                                                                  1. re: mvi

                                                                                                                    Interesting - these (think tank, meadhall, za, area iv, etc) are all places that I've gone in a non-workday lunch setting and didn't think of them in terms of lunch. What are the price points for lunch at these spots? I try to keep things in the sub-$8 range which is why I just figured these would all be more of a once in a while thing. Hopefully I'm wrong ;)

                                                                                                                    Granted, I could just sign up for the lord hobo mug club and have lunch there every day!

                                                                                                                    As for the food court, I didn't even like it when I was 10+ years younger and far less food savvy so don't think I have to worry too much :) To be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of much in the area back then although most of the regular spots (right by the T stop) are gone

                                                                                                                    1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                      Area Four does seem pricey for main dishes but they have some sides, sandwiches and baked goods that aren't too bad. Prices for Abigail's are still looking good for what you get but I have not had lunch there yet. As I said, they have only been open for three days. When I go, I'll let you know. Salads and pizzas are pretty decent at Za. You can get a cheese pizza for $7. Also, at the farmers market in Kendall that is sort of behind Za and EVOO they were offering some pizza there last time I went. That market is only open on Thursdays. Aceituna Cafe is back that way, as well.

                                                                                                                      There's also Emma's for pizza.

                                                                                                                      And a short walk away is the Second Street Cafe.

                                                                                                                      Love Lord Hobo. But that food court is just the worst. Agree with you there.

                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                      EVOO Restaurant
                                                                                                                      350 Third Street, Cambridge, MA 02143

                                                                                                                      Aceituna Cafe
                                                                                                                      605 W Kendall St, Cambridge, MA 02142

                                                                                                                      Lord Hobo
                                                                                                                      92 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02141

                                                                                                                      Area Four
                                                                                                                      500 Technology Square, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                                                                                      1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                        Think Tank is not quite sub 8, but the bahn mi is 9. Most lunch options range from 9-12, though a few starters are 7. Good for the occasional indulgence.

                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                        Think Tank
                                                                                                                        1 Kendall Square, lower level, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                                                                                        1. re: kobuta

                                                                                                                          Yeah I was there tonight and checked out their lunch menu. It (and a lot of the places I tend to like in my normal life over there) will hopefully stay the occasional indulgence as you put it.

                                                                                                                          I was thinking today nad I guess I do reguarly get into the 8-10$ range now, but that's total not pre tax/tip

                                                                                                                    2. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                      Just in case someone finds this thread down the road, as it's still relatively fresh knowledge that most ppl reading it now probably saw - there's the upcoming redbones bbq shack going in over on athaneum. Granted it's only redbones but i'd still hit it up, especially if they have their jerk beef :)

                                                                                                                      1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                        Pretty sure they do have the jerk beef; saw the limited menu for the kiosk as well as their food truck recently while crushing some IPAs at the bar

                                                                                                                        1. re: PaulB

                                                                                                                          You just made my inlet very happy and my outlet very unhappy

                                                                                                                          1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                            I regret to inform you that, upon closer inspection of both menus, neither has jerk beef sandwich! Pls don't add me to the "CH bum steer thread". Shame as it's is their best sandwich IMO and easy to serve. cheers, pb

                                                                                                                        2. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                          So where exactly is this shack? Is it the hut by the stage where the performers are when they have musicians there? The shack that had signs for a bathroom??

                                                                                                                          1. re: kobuta

                                                                                                                            Outside of "on athaneum street" I don't know

                                                                                                                            1. re: kobuta

                                                                                                                              if you are facing the stage where performers are, Redbone is going in the small existing structure off to the left of the stage...sort of near the restrooms.

                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                              Redbones
                                                                                                                              55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144