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Fun Place to eat on Harvard Square

Hi! I am taking my son (17) to Harvard in a few weeks so he can participate in their high school student summer program. We are staying very close to Harvard Square. I would like to take him to eat somewhere "special". That doesn't mean expensive, just quintessentially Cambridge/Harvard. I am not very familiar with this area. Maybe a good place for dessert as well. Any suggestions?

Also - maybe a few good other restaurants for a student on a budget. He said he would like to try some chowder while in town as well.
Thanks!

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  1. Try Upstairs on the Square. It's a fun & lively room and if you go for Sunday brunch you should be treated to the Harvard Krokodiloes.

    3 Replies
    1. re: continuum

      Hey, nice to get a shout-out on Chowhound! I'm Associate Dean at the Summer School, we look forward to having your son join us.

      Check the other thread on good food in Harvard Square for plenty of ideas, here are a few random thoughts of my own.

      I doubt the Kroks would sing on Sunday in the summer - do they sing at the new location? But for a local experience, I would recommend Bartley's for burgers, Charlie's Kitchen for the lobster roll, Herrell's for ice cream (and Christina's in Inman Square and Toscannini's in Central Square to complete the Cambridge Ice Cream Triumverate). Casablanca is a nicer restaurant, doesn't bear any resemblance to its former bar days, but retains the big mural about the movie, that's been there forever. Food is often good, too. And Algiers, right upstairs, another one that is deeply rooted here. Hi-Rise for overpriced but delicious baked goods, Peet's for coffee (or try the Clover at Starbucks in the Garage if you can't get that where you are from), Darwin's for expensive but good sandwiches. Cardullo's is a Square institution, sandwiches have risen in cost in recent years, and declined in variety, but the Hearty Harvard, well, I suppose you can't get a sandwich called that anywhere else!

      1. re: Splendid Spatula

        Splendid Spatual - what a nice connection. Thank you for your tips. Alex is really looking forward to the Summer School. It is going to be a great way to get him ready for college in 2009. What more prestigious way to begin as well.

        1. re: Splendid Spatula

          You can't go wrong with any of these choices... though if your son is partial to sweets (and if you don't mind shelling out the cash) L.A. Burdick does an excellent and decadent hot chocolate -- milk, dark or white -- that is worth the five dollar price tag. You can get it iced as well.

      2. Besides Bartley's et al., I think I'll still recommend Cambridge 1 for pizza. And people like the new Crema Cafe. There's also Burdick's for choc. desserts and Lizzy's for ice cream. Flat Pattie's and Felipe's in the Garage are some cheaper options in Harvard Sq.

        1. If the weather is nice, I think the beautiful patio at Harvest would be nice for your special meal. Harvest is a popular place for students to take their visiting parents.

          1. I always recommend Casablanca and Neptune Oyster on Chowhound threads, since you're interested in Harvard Square (and Neptune is in the North End) I'll again suggest Casablanca -- especially the bar area. Go when it's busy, there's a worldy/academic atmosphere there that I think is "very Harvard."

            2 Replies
            1. re: steinpilz

              I agree it is very HSq, but Casablanca has really lost its vibe (or perhaps I've gotten older and it never had a vibe?. Food is not bad though.

              1. re: bombaybeauty

                I've got a stack of records (these are pre-CD music recordings... ;-)) most all of which I'm slightly embarassed to listen to these days... but I still think the bar at Casablanca is a pretty great place. Maybe I'm just biased by my memories.

            2. The Harvest is now a much better restaurant than it's been in years, but is still pricey. The patio is lovely, however. I think that Upstaris in the Square remains one of the best places in Harvard Sq, for a minor splurge. Henrietts's Table and Patio if the weather is good, is another favorite of mine as is the Grafton St. Pub. The patio there is small, but the food is very reasonably priced.. Cambridge 1 and Charlie's Kitchen should give you a flavor of the Square. Enjoy wherever you go.