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Cambridge top 5 based on food

Any thoughts?

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  1. Do you include Somerville in this mix? - is that an 'other side of the Charles?' question..

    1. This is somewhat Harvard-Square-centric, but here goes:

      1. Rialto
      2. Oleana
      3. Harvest
      4. Salts
      5. Sandrine's

      The rest of the list is open to debate, but Rialto at the top is a slam-dunk.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Lex56

        For me Oleana is the slam-dunk. My other four would probably be the Blue Room, Harvest, Rialto and Hungry Mother. Although if there were anything riding on this, I'd be happy to join a small invasion force to push the Cambridge border another few feet around Evoo.

        1. re: glenn mcdonald

          I'm pretty shocked that Craigie on Main isn't on anyone's list so far.

          1. re: glenn mcdonald

            Hey -- back off! We're happy it's in Somerville!

            1. re: rememberme

              What are you saying is in Somerville? Craigie On Main? Isn't it in the old Italian place just outside of Central Sq? I'm confused!

              1. re: CocoDan

                I think that was a response to a comment about EVOO (which I thought of as Cambridge, too)

                1. re: justbeingpolite

                  That would explain my confusion. Thanks.

        2. 1. Oleana
          2. Rendezvous
          3. Casa Portugal
          4. Emmas
          5. Gran Gusto

          I've never been to Craige or Rialto, so while I'm familiar with the accolades for both, I didn't include them.

          1. I haven't been to Craigie since it moved, and only twice before that, so my leaving it off wasn't a negative vote. I haven't been to Gran Gusto, either. But you can definitely take my omission of Rendezvous as a negative vote. And I like Atasca better than Casa Portugal.

            1. The Blue Room
              Central Kitchen
              Green St Grille
              Hot Off the Press (hey, it's based on food, not atmosphere!)

              1. 1. Craigie
                2. Salts
                3. Hungry Mother
                4. Oleana
                5. Gran Gusto

                ...with immense gratitude to this board, without whom I never would have found HM or GG!!

                1 Reply
                1. re: avokate

                  Blue Room - too crowded and hectic to be "fine" dining.

                2. Rialto is a good start, though I haven't been in a while.

                  Bartley's Burger Cottage should make anyone's list, if we're basing it on food alone.

                  Oleana is excellent, and interesting.


                  And here's another vote for parking your car on the Cambridge line and walking over to Evoo as my fifth vote.

                  1 Reply
                  1. From a former Cantabrigian, now Bostonian, the first three are easy:

                    1. Craigie on Main
                    2. Oleana
                    3. Emma's
                    4. Gran Gusto
                    5. Bartley's

                    Honorable mentions: Chez Henri (although inconsistent), handful of Indian joints, Darwin's for sandwiches, probably a few others I am blanking on

                    I've yet to go to Salt's or Hungry Mother, but by the recommendations on this board, they'd likely be on my list.

                    Overrated, if not barely good: Harvest

                    1. Sandrine's
                      The Blue Room
                      West Side Lounge

                      1 Reply
                      1. Craigie on Main is definitely #1 for me. These others are also great, but in no particular order.

                        Garden at the Cellar
                        Hungry Mother
                        Qingdao Garden

                        1. I'll chime in with Mulan.

                          1. 1. TW Food
                            2. Craigie (both past and present locations)
                            3. Dante (ranking is based on only two excellent visits and subject to adjustment)
                            4&5. tossup between Rendezvous, Blue Room, and Hungry Mother, all of which get points for value as well as food excellence

                            Honorable mention to Salts and Oleana. I've never been all that impressed with Rialto, Harvest, or Sandrine's.

                            1. Salts
                              henrietta's table

                              1. Tough one! I think my answer must be weighted toward recent meals; they just stick out more in my mind: Craigie on Main, Hungry Mother, Oleana, Rendezvous, Salts.

                                The answer would be different if you added the modifier "cheap eats": Baraka Cafe, Punjabi Dhaba, Mary Chung, Miracle of Science, Muqueca.

                                1. What's up with Benatti? Gotta get there... but the place seems a bit hard to figure... like the time a couple of months ago when people wondered if it closed or was for sale (still don't know what that was about)... then there are the continual, if sporadic raves.

                                  I'd have figured someone would have mentioned Benatti their list of top 5 in Cambridge... but no? Seems like it should belong if the recent reports are any indication.

                                  I'm gonna go soon, but what's up with this place???? Makes me wonder why it doesn't get more support. Sounds like a fantastic place.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: WineAG

                                    As I said, choosing only five is tough. Benatti might make my top five on a different day. I'm glad it's still hanging in there and getting some attention here. Its location is very tough.

                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                      had an interesting dessert at Benatti-- Negroni terrine w/ orange nougatine (gin, campari and sweet vermouth panna cotta w/ orange marmalade coulis and parmesan tuile). Texture didn't quite do it for me (too much gelatin) and there wasn't much sweet vermouth evident but viewed as a twist on a cocktail it was great. They were out of the osso buco so had the lamb rack, it was overcooked, salty and not particularly large but the port balsamic reduction and crispy polenta were very nicely done. The housemade fettucine were more like hand-shaved noodles and lacked the delicacy I was hoping for. I would probably go back to try the osso buco.

                                  2. FWIW (and that's not much) I saw Hungry Mother reviewed on the Phantom Gourmet this weekend, where they said it was "one of the highest ratings ever" (92 IIRC). I think the lowest score was an 8, and that was for location. They didn't even use the phrase "ooey, gooey" once.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: jgg13

                                      Great. Just what we need -- the Andelman's to go stink the joint up.

                                      Tonight would be a fine night for shrimp and grits. They are ooey, gooey.

                                      1. re: yumyum

                                        I saw them talk about a variety of the newer spots on some of the eps this weekend. HM, Drink/Sportello, and a couple of others.

                                    2. Oleana gets my #1 vote, hands down. The best of the rest is hard to choose based on food alone--Rialto, Blue Room, Harvest, etc. are all excellent. As a transplanted New Yorker used to finding good-to-great Chinese/Taiwanese food easily, though, I am grateful to Mulan for serving up excellent Taiwanese food: their beef with cilantro (with lots of ginger shreds) is a current obsession.

                                      1. In no order:
                                        Central Kitchen
                                        Chez Henri

                                        Going to Craigie this weekend so things may change.

                                        1. These are my favorites...lots of repeats here;)
                                          1. Craigie...Chefs Whim menu Sun-wed is an AMAZING deal, esp if you enjoy offal
                                          2. Oleana
                                          3. Armandos for cheese pizza
                                          4. Hungry Mother
                                          5. Koreana for soup and banchan only...I know I know its not as good as so many Korean spots in Union sq but I grew up going there and Im loyal for life

                                          1. I will add to all those in support of:

                                            Oleana, Craigie, Salts (consistently great meals at all 3 restaurants), Burdicks for the hot chocolate and Dante for the fritelle.


                                            1. In this order:
                                              1. Craigie (food is great, cocktails are fantastic!)
                                              2. Oleana (I've never had a bad anything at Oleana)
                                              3. Hungry Mother (if only the bar had more seats)
                                              4. Rendevous (predictably good. one of the best values around)
                                              5. Upstairs (I know they are all from formaggio but the cheese plate is always wonderfully presented. And, service is the way it should be...)

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: RoseWethersfield

                                                Craigie, Upstairs, Hungry Mother, Rialto, Salts and Rendezvous (ok, that's six)( - I'm not a fan of Oleanas and find it downright uncomfortable physically when its crowded
                                                one rung down but great to me - blue room, green street, atasca, east coast grill, chez henri

                                                1. re: teezeetoo

                                                  Without a doubt, Craigie is the best restaurant in Cambridge where I've had the pleasure of eating. (I have never gone to Salts or Rialto) Chef's Whim all the way! I recently enjoyed their Passover menu as well.

                                                  Other Cambridge favorites include:
                                                  Hungry Mother
                                                  Baraka Cafe

                                                  I appreciate the shout out above for Armando's. It is the only place I can have an acceptable NY slice of pizza.

                                                  1. re: g for food

                                                    No one's voting for East Coast Grill? How sad.
                                                    How about Ten Tables now that it's in Cambridge?
                                                    That said, a lot of good lists already.
                                                    East Coast Grill
                                                    Hungry Mother
                                                    no clear fifth for now (haven't been to TT or Rendezvous)