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Great food in Harvard Square?

Yesterday, I found myself limited to only restaurants in Harvard Square, and found that I was only limited to mediocrity. Do you agree? Are there any great, not too expensive places to eat at Harvard Sq? Upstairs counts as a pretty expensive place for me. We ended up at 9 Tastes, which was Ok. I'm looking for more than Ok.

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  1. Go to Charlie's Kitchen: get the twin lobster rolls & seasoned fries.
    You won't believe your luck.

    1 Reply
    1. I'm a fan of Spice Thai at 24 Holyoke St (side street along Holyoke Commons).

      1. I generally agree that considering the restaurant density, Harvard Square is a little light on serious chow. That said, a few ideas:

        I like Darwin's pretty well for sandwiches. Actually, I've found that the pre-made ones tend to be more innovative than anything I'd likely get custom-made.

        Hi-Rise is overpriced, but their sandwiches and baked goods are often superb.

        I haven't been to Tamarind Bay, but there's a contingent of hounds on the board who say it's some of the better Indian in town.

        Crema, the new coffee house, has garnered some early accolades here for its breakfast and lunch fare. I'm excited to get there and try a breakfast sandwich on their homemade English muffin.

        I'm not a Bartley's fan, but there are plenty of fans of its burgers here. Haven't made it to Flat Patties yet, but a lot of hounds are saying it's the closest you can get in Boston to an In 'n' Out burger. [edit: see post below]

        Although Upstairs on the Square is expensive, the Monday Club Bar is less so, especially if you order carefully; I've also found it to be consistently better than the fancier Soiree Room upstairs. My most recent visits there have been absolutely outstanding. At this point, I'd say they have some of the better upscale food in the city.

        Just outside the Square, but nearby: Chez Henri bar menu for awesome pressed sandwiches, ditto at the Plough and Stars.

        7 Replies
        1. re: finlero

          People need to stop comparing Flat Patties to In-n-Out. Flat Patties is fine in its own right, but it is really not comparable to In-n-Out. The fries loosely resemble those of In-n-Out, but the burgers certainly are not in the same league.

          1. re: Gabatta

            Nor are they trying to be, so it's a wash. I honestly don't understand the In-n-Out references whenever someone talks about burgers here.

            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

              Agree as to the errnoneous comparison between In N Out and Flat Patties, but I think they were compared, with a little more merit and certainly less mess, to Whataburger. They're just good, normal, fast-food burgers.

              Onto the chow. . .
              I like the Cafe Algiers, even with the long waits. They have a lentil dish that is quite nice. I'm fairly happy with Pizzeria Oggi for fancy pizza, Felipe's and Chipotle for burritos, they each satisfy their own craving but I typically will default to Felipe's. Cafe Crema is nice for a snack. I'm fairly sure I'm the only defender of Cafe Pamplona, but like Arnold, personality goes a long way.

              Heading out to the Law School Cambridge Common has great beers, but not much else, and the Montrose Spa has great sandwiches and is a little more blue collar than the Oxford Spa.

              Near the Divinity School is Petsi Pies, which is probably the best pie shop I've ever been to, though I'll admit to not being an aficionado, they have sweet and savory pies. Zoe's is next door for yummy and cheap Chinese.

              Near the Kennedy School and river houses is the Greek Corner II, which is ok, and IHOP for when you've given up.

              1. re: sailormouth

                Thanks for the input! I'm going to put Oggi's and Cafe Crema on the list. I've tried most of the other places...but I still have to try Chipotle's. So many things to try, so little money!

                1. re: sailormouth

                  You're definitely not the only defender of Cafe Pamplona. I'm very fond of spending summer nights on their patio.

                  And Petsi... "yum" is the only word for it.

              2. re: Gabatta

                Fair enough.

                Addendum to the Flat Patties hearsay from my previous post: in addition to the hounds who say Flat Patties burgers are like In 'n' Out, there are other hounds who say the first hounds are smoking crack. You have been warned. And I suppose I've learned my lesson about posting hearsay.

                1. re: finlero

                  Actually, I really liked the chicken sandwich at Flat Patties, which you can't get at In 'n Out, so no comparison needed!

            2. Tamarind Bay is one of the more solid Indian spots in town. Their dinner menu is especially good.
              Also check out Garden in the Cellar which also has gotten considerable acclaim by foodies and chowhounders.
              Le's is also respectable and affordable Vietnamese.

              1. i'm in the minority (i think) in thinking that the options in harvard square aren't that bad, relatively speaking. a number of these are chain places, but so be it. so on the more moderately priced line, i like:

                -wagamama (i dislike the atmosphere, but the chow is better than smile, 9 tastes, et al.)
                -crema (good espressos, scones are decent, great english muffins)
                -flat patties (i like their fish sandwich and bbq sandwich, tho' perhaps not to degree others do)
                -chipotle (better than felipe's, in my book)
                -pinocchio's
                -hi-rise (one of my favorite bakeries, great, over-priced sandwiches too)
                -darwin's
                -oxford spa (a bit out of the square)
                -tamarind bay
                -cambridge 1
                -there's a new middle eastern falafel type-joint on mass ave north of the square, which is decent though not great
                -petsi's pies
                -burdick's (not really for a meal, but still)
                -and, i have to admit, even though i know it's not chowish at all, i have a soft spot for the chinese truck that's over by the science center at lunchtime. i'm particularly a sucker for the crispy spicy chicken.

                some of the more expensive places in the square are probably good too, but i wouldn't know since i never go to them.