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Cambridge-based for 4 days with baby: Recs?

Dear Boston Hounds,
We are planning to be visiting Boston (from the NY area) for a few days next week, staying in Cambridge. We're looking for a good mix of restaurants (fancier and less so) for lunches and dinners. (I guess brunch or breakfast recommendations could also be handy.) While we don't necessarily need to be confined to the Cambridge area (we will have a car,) we're looking for some R&R and would be happy to be mostly on foot, as we are also weighed down with a stroller. Our little one is not crawling yet, and generally tolerates restaurant excursions well-- we thought we might try nicer places on the early side, or maybe find a sitter for one night. Can you recommend some spots we might look into? Many thanks in advance!

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  1. Lucky you. You must try the hot chocolate (made from shaved chocolate) at L.A. Burdick's on Brattle Street. Upper Crust pizzeria across the street is excellent. For Japanese food, head to nearby Porter Square (walking distance) where there is the Exchange Building (1815 Mass Ave.) There are a variety of small nice Japanese restaurants on the first floor.

    1. A great place in Cambridge that has a sophisticated vibe but is laidback/cheapish is Cambridge 1. I would go for lunch or an early dinner. They've got a small selection of pizzas and salads, but I've eaten there several times and it was delicious!!

      1 Reply
      1. re: earthmuffin

        don't know where you are staying but try portuguese (Casa Portugal and Atasca), Rendezvous, Salts or Upstairs at the Pudding if you want upscale, the Blue Room and East Coast Grill for fun, and Gran Gusto for italian.

      2. In what part of Cambridge are you staying?

        1. How old is your baby, and is s/he eating with you? There's a restaurant called Full Moon on Huron in Cambridge which has a play area for kids--only useful if baby can sit up. And a real menu for adults that is pretty good, includes wine.

          Upstairs on the Square is lovely in atmosphere, food, and service. There are at least two flights of stairs to get up with the stroller, though. Oleana would be child-friendly if you got there early and the weather was nice enough to eat on the patio--inside is not ok with a stroller, very congested. The food is really good, so maybe a babysitter night.

          We ate at Gran Gusto last night with our baby. They love babies there, all the waiters will take baby for a tour around the room. But the food comes out nice and slow, and that can be frustrating if you've got to get baby's dinner and bedtime going. LOVE the food.

          I would highly recommend Garden at the Cellar for dinner. My favorite food these days, really special. Not a crowd that will coo over the baby, but they do have high chairs and there is definitely enough room to bring a stroller in. Walkable from Harvard Sq.

          For lunch, here are some places where I like the food, and where they are infant/stroller navigable: Muqueca, All Star Sandwich Bar, Kebab Factory (if baby can sit in a highchair), Veggie Planet (one flight of stairs to walk down), Charlie's Kitchen (if the weather permits the patio--they will get the food out to you so fast!), Highland Kitchen for brunch on Sunday.

          1. Thanks everyone for the great suggestions! We are getting excited about our trip!

            It's supposed to be gorgeous over the next few days. I was looking at our hotel location (nr Kendall Square) and I was thinking maybe a picnic around Memorial Drive might be an idea? Is that feasible/nice? Any suggestions for a picnic spot (Memorial Drive or otherwise) and a place that can pack it for us?

            Thanks for reminding me about L.A. Burdick. The last time we were in Cambridge, many years ago, I met up with a friend who had her nose too deep in her books to know the best places for an afternoon coffee/cake. (And I didn't do my homework.) We ended up at somewhere nondescript (Dunkin maybe?) and it was only afterwards that I walked by LA Burdick, and I've been keen to get back there ever since. We also had friends recommend Bertucci's for pizza... Suffice it to say, I'm doing a little research before we get there this time!

            To answer a few questions, the baby is 7 months old. She's pretty mellow and has been great in a lot of restaurants-- but when we're with her, we only go to places with a casual vibe so as not to disturb... It's the first time we're traveling with her, so it is sure to be a learning experience and we really appreciate the tips! We've been to Boston many many times before, but now with a little one, it seems like a whole new ballgame...

            4 Replies
            1. re: macncheese75

              If you're in Kendall Square, I'd really recommend Blue Room. Nice menu, and even at a harried Easter brunch, the waitstaff took time to be nice to my little ones. The vibe is casual and funky.

              1. re: Chris VR

                adding a Place link

                Blue Room
                1 Kendall Sq, Cambridge, MA

              2. re: macncheese75

                If you're in the Harvard Square area and it's nice out, I'd suggest getting sandwiches from Hi-Rise or Darwin's and eating them outside. Hi-Rise has an outdoor seating area. You could also park yourselves on the grass anywhere near the river, although I prefer JFK park -- it's across Memorial Drive from the river, so you still have a clear view of the water but the grass is much nicer. You could grab some stuff from Burdick's, too -- don't plan on eating there, since it's too cramped for a stroller. Or, if you want a more sophisticated picnic, Formaggio Kitchen in Huron Village (also in Cambridge, about a five-minute drive from Harvard Square or accessible via the #72 bus) can pack you a great one. (There is a cute toy store, Henry Bear's Park, right near FK where you could take the kid while you wait.)

                Legal Seafood in Kendall Square is very baby-friendly -- CHers have different views on it, but the clam chowder is great and the seafood is fresh.

                If you're in the Central Square area, there are a lot of little places where you can pick up a casual lunch -- Basta Pasta , Coast Cafe for soul foods, or Four Burgers, for instance. There is also a Whole Foods nearby where they have good selections of baby food and prepared foods. In the same neighborhood as Whole Foods, Cambridgeport, there is a really nice playground where you can sit and have lunch and your kid can get a break from touristing.

                Another fair-weather destination might be Boston Common -- take her to the duck pond and maybe on a swan boat ride, and have lunch at Silvertone (early or late, not at noon).

                1. Strong recommendation for East Coast Grill in Inman - its casual and can get loud, bambino shouldnt be an issue. your choice of seafood or bbq - both are great there. Don't miss the wetribs appetizer. mmmmm. Go early, they get busy and don't take reservations.

                  If you can get a sitter, please don't miss Oleana. One of my all time fave's in Boston - very creative with a strong arabic/turkish influence. my wife says I make lots of 'happy snuffling noises' whenver I'm eating there...its a small and quiet room though, so I'd suggest going sans kid.

                  Also near kendall is the Helmand for Afghan food. Unique in Boston.

                  I second Cambridge 1 rec in harvard square - sophisticated but not fancy. Their sister restaurants - miracle of science on mass ave near MIT and Audubon Circle near Fenway Park have similar vibe and great food.(my fave of the 3 is audubon circle)

                  If you're up for a burger and shake, Mr. Bartleys in Harvard square has great, juicy handmade burgers and are a real institution. they had a fire recently, be sure they're open.

                  re. picnic idea, go first to darwin's on Mt. Auburn St. just outside of Harvard Square - upscale market with delish sandwiches and prepared foods, you can pick up everything you would want for a deluxe picnic. Then, hoof it to JFK park just in front of the Kennedy school on mem drive for your picnic. afterwards, you can take a stroll around the river if you want to stretch your legs. If you're in town on a Sunday, they close mem drive and you can stroll in the street with bikers and rollerbladers.

                  Lastly, if you want to venture out of cambridge, lots of great little restaurants in the south end - almost too many to list. a few of our faves our myers + chang (asian with modern twist); picco (pizza & ice cream!), franklin cafe (upscale comfort food) and orinoco (venezuelan/latin american). would recommend the early side with all of them.

                  Have fun!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: KingCarnivore

                    Ditto on Helmand - Have always had a great meal there...good service and not super expensive. Try the aushak (http://www.helmandrestaurantcambridge...
                    ) Yummm!

                    1. re: beverly1977

                      Agree, although I'll point out that it's not as baby-friendly as you might expect. It's more of a quiet, elegant atmosphere, not the bustling, loud atmosphere that you encounter at most restaurants we'd usually brand as "ethnic".

                  2. Thanks to everyone for so many great suggestions! We made it to Gran Gusto, which we enjoyed on our way out of town. We went to The Upper Crust and LA Burdick's one afternoon which was just what we were after. We also tried the Blue Room, which was very accommodating of the baby and stroller, and pretty good as well. There was only so much time-- we look forward to our next trip to Cambridge. Cambridge 1 smelled amazing-- we walked by shortly after we left The Upper Crust and never had a chance to make it back. There was one horrible meal- a quick lunch from Sebastian's-- I think that's what it was called. We didn't have time to venture far from our hotel and the concierge recommended it. For all three of us in our party (the third was not the baby-- it was my sister!!) we had the worst sandwiches we had ever eaten (or half-eaten.)