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Jun 15, 2009 06:56 AM

Let's talk Cambridge

I apologize in advance; this is somewhat of a selfish thread. I am moving to Cambridge in August, and while I am sure that all of the information I need currently is available on chowhound, I'd love to compile it all in a single thread.

I will be living in Mid-Cambridge, just south of Inman Square, about a half a mile north of Central Square, and right in the middle of Harvard and Kendall Squares. What I need to know to maximize my chow possibilites?

Here's what I already know:

Inman Square:

East Coast Grill -- I've been eating here for 25 years. I know well what works and doesn't work there, so no need to rehash that here.

Druid -- Been enough times to know that, given my new location, I'm likely to be a regular at the bar. Have tried both the burger and the fish sandwich; on to other things!

Christina's -- Love it.

S&S -- Not a fan, but I haven't been in years and years. Should I give them another shot? If not, where do I go for breakfast?

Koreana -- Don't see it discussed much any more. Should I check it out?

Oleana -- I know I need to go.

1369 -- In my archives, I still own a t-shirt from the old Sunday afternoon blues jam at the 1369 Jazz Club. Should I make this my local coffee bar, or am I better off at Starbucks or Carberry's?

Where else? What about the Portuguese places?

Central Square:

I have been to Central Kitchen several times, but that's about it for my recent Central Square experiences. I know I need to go to Craigie on Main, Green Street and Salts. Where else?

Kendall Square:

I haven't explored it at all. I was a regular at Rachel's Kitchen, but have not been to Hungry Mother. Other than that and the Friendly Toast, are there other places I need to try:

Harvard Square:

I'm a Bartley's guy, so that's covered. I've also been to Rialto and Henrietta's many times, and Upstairs on the Square once. What should be on my list?

Somerville and other neighboring areas:

Anything else I'm missing?

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  1. Inman - no need to check out S&S. As for Portugeuse, I'm a big fan of Casa Portugal. There is this fish and banana dish that sounds like a gross combo, but somehow it works. Must be the butter. I also really like the sausages and clams (sometimes separately, sometimes together, depending on my mood.).

    Kendall - Mulan for Taiwanese.

    6 Replies
    1. re: beetlebug

      Also in Kendall - Emma's for pizza.
      Atasca is down that way, as is Con Sol - both Iberian-Portuguese.

      1. re: Bob Dobalina

        Hey Bob---how is Con Sol? I haven't heard much about it on this board.

        1. re: bella_sarda

          I went once and enjoyed my meal there. Not so much that I've beaten a path over there again, but I'd gladly go if the opportunity arose

          1. re: bella_sarda

            I have to admit - I have not been in some time - but based on the couple of times I went when they first opened, good basic rustic Portuguese chow. Good job on the clams - stews - stick to the basics.


            Would love to hear your impressions if you go.

            1. re: bella_sarda

              Con Sol shut down a few months ago, unfortunately. It was fantastic the one time I went last year. A really sad loss. :(

              Con Sol
              279A Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

        2. Inman:

          Punjabi Dhaba is cheap Indian - I like it, but have not been since trying Guru.
          ASSB - Still makes good sandwiches - still just a tick overpriced.
          City Girl Cafe - decent lunches and salads - I have seen great looking pizzas turned out on occasion, though the one I had was clearly not made by the same person.
          The Biscuit - I like their whole wheat scones - coffee is decent

          Somerville: You are relatively close to Union Square so Sherman Cafe (Lemon scones in the a.m. still the best for me), the Korean spots - Wu Chon House (the pretty one) and Buk Kyung II (the not-so-pretty one) are both good. Precinct is the re-constituted Tir Na Nog group I believe (Have not been yet). The Independent - The Neighborhood - Capone's - and my personal favorite - Machu Picchu Charcoal Chicken for pollos a la Brasa.

          1. Inman: Tupelo is very good, Midwest Grill is fun, Muqueca is also very good. Olecito on Springfield is another favorite. I disagree on S&S; it is what it is, but it has largely met my expectations. I like their breakfasts, which are simple and generally good. They have good lox and matzo ball soup. It is not the best restaurant in the neighborhood, but is not supposed to be. It is a good standby for simple things.

            1. In Central Square, I'd add Rendezvous for fine dining (but not exorbitantly expensive), Baraka Cafe for excellent North African food (no booze, cramped quarters, but very charming). For coffee in Inman I vote for 1369, but the pastries at Carberry's are generally better (esp the pear danish). A bit farther afield, there is Petsi's Pies (for excellent pies; and some love their scones, although i'm not a humongous fan) on Beacon St. in Somerville, as well as Zoe's Chinese food right across the street. I second the Sherman (union sq) for scones, and for excellent sandwiches and salads. Bloc 11 (another cafe in Union) has a great atmosphere, outdoor seating, great coffee, and a killer breakfast sandwich (egg and prosciutto on some really fine bread), but I prefer Sherman's pastries. I strongly second the Pollos a la Brasa (Macchu Picchu) recommendation as well.

              There is a new southern-food place, Tupelo, near Inman (on way to East Cambridge), but I haven't been yet. You might also want to check out East Cambridge for fish markets (New Deal, Courthouse; the latter has a restaurant too), Skampa for roast beef, Atwood's Tavern (live music), and various other places.

              It's a great chow neighborhood...enjoy!

              1 Reply
              1. re: bella_sarda

                Second Atwood's - chow is decent and value-priced. House-made veggie burger is very good to this omnivore.

              2. Welcome to the hood! And just in time for me to leave. Here's my brain dump:

                Salts and Craigie - definitely. Between the two of them, I have almost no desire to do upscale dining anywhere else in the Boston area. Craigie deserves the stellar reputation it has here; I think Salts is if anything a little underrated, its cuisine going toe-to-toe with any I've had just about anywhere. Salts' signature duck for two is ok, but not really indicative of the transcendent rest of the menu.

                Chez Henri bar - skip the dining room, but be sure to keep the Cuban sandwiches (I actually prefer the veggie version to the pork, but they're both awesome) and great cocktails on your radar screen.

                Third Sherman, second Petsi, personally I really dislike 1369 at this point. BUT -- Crema in Harvard Square is just phenomenal. As pastries go in town, I put Crema second only to Clear Flour, and Clear Flour doesn't have anywhere to sit. Crema's coffee (both drip and espresso) is also outstanding. Specific baked goods to try: pain au currant, almost croissant, homemade English muffins, any quiche.

                Agree that S&S is lackluster, but I'll occasionally go for a bagel and lox.

                Berryline - great Pinkberry-style tart frozen yogurt in Harvard Square, as well as a second location on Mass Ave up towards Porter.

                Gran Gusto - a little outside your orbit, but worth the drive to Huron Village (plus they have free parking). Some of the best Neapolitan-style pizza I've had outside Italy. Other food is excellent too. If they have a fresh cheese special, get it. Stracciatella or burrata imported from Campania is not to be missed.

                City Slicker - some of the best takeout/delivery you'll find, on Somerville Ave on the close side of Porter Square. Interesting pan pizzas, great salads, I love their personal-size meatloaf.

                Tacos Lupita - very good Mexican/Salvadoran on the close side of Porter, the tacos al pastor are my favorite.

                Addis Red Sea - same menu as the one in the South End, on Mass Ave between Harvard and Porter, significantly better than Asmara in Central.

                3 Replies
                1. re: finlero

                  I'm a Crema regular, but I gotta say, their pastries are hit or miss: the vanilla cupcake and the brownie are both awful. But I love the atmosphere and the coffee and that molded french custard dessert that I can never remember the name of.

                  1. re: bella_sarda

                    As a Crema regular as well, while I agree that some of their pastries are not great, I love their English muffins (either with egg or just butter and jam), and generally find there sandwiches to be good, if not quite up to Darwin's level.

                  2. re: finlero

                    agree on that stracciatella from Gran Gusto-- so decadently buttery/creamy (when they have it)...