Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
Sep 17, 2009 03:58 PM

Cambridge Delicious low key dinner ideas please?

Here for 12 days (Kendall).
Where is the best food in the vicinity?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. What's your definition of low-key? When I think low-key, I think casual and inexpensive. A few of my favorites in Cambridge, nearish to Kendall:
    Boca Grande
    Iggy's (mostly takeout)
    Friendly Toast for breakfast (casual place and service, but can be really busy at times)
    Emma's Pizza
    Miracle of Science

    For a nice dinner, try Blue Room. Good food, laid back atomosphere.

    Also, do a search for the Kendall Lunch thread. Lots of good ideas there for cheap local eats.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Eatin in Woostah

      I agree with many of those suggestions! Tupelo, Emma's, and Miracle of Science are all great. Mulan's not bad. I haven't tried Friendly Toast yet, but really want to! Atasca (Portuguese) and Helmand (Afghan) are also within a 15 minute walk, and are both excellent (make sure you make a reservation at Helmand otherwise you won't get in). If you are willing to go slightly further (20-25 minute walk), Inman Square has some great restaurants like Muqueca, East Coast Grill, and Casa Portugal.

      1. re: jgleeche

        Seconding the Helmand recommendation - one of my absolute favorite restaurants - but as a woman I would feel very uncomfortable walking there from Kendall Square alone, or even as a couple. The route isn't through a "bad" neighborhood, but it's almost all industrial - not many people walking around after 5 and the lighting isn't great.

        Helmand is a block from the Cambridgeside Galleria Mall. The mall has a free shuttle that runs from the Kendall Square T stop every 20 minutes - the service stops at 7. If you want to eat early you could take the shuttle over and easily pick up a cab at the mall to take you back. If you have access to a car, street/meter parking is pretty easy, or you can park in the Galleria garage - $2 for the first hour and a dollar an hour after that.

        It's also T accessible, but you would have to take the red line from Kendall into downtown Boston and then pick up the green line to the Lechmere stop - spending 30-40 minutes to wind up a mile or two from where you started.

        1. re: pasuga

          Barmy and I have walked from Kendall to the Helmand on more than one occasion, and not felt at all unsafe. It's true that the neighborhood is industrial and there's not a lot of foot traffic, but it's honestly not scary. However, if you're traveling alone you might indeed prefer to hop in a cab - it's a very short trip, a little over half a mile.

      2. re: Eatin in Woostah

        Casual- yes, inexpensive less important than the food.

      3. Add Hungry Mother to the list (especially if Blue Room and ECG make the cut).

        Also Atwood's for above average pub food and a fantastic beer selection.

        Con Sol for "Iberian" food also is a pretty good bet.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

          Agreed on Hungry Mother, Blue Room (only been there for brunch), Muqueqa.. adding lunch at Kebab Factory (Indian lunch buffet), Garden at the Cellar (gastropub), Oleana (can be pretty reasonable, depending on how you order.. very relaxed atmosphere)..

          1. re: marilees

            Frequently catch dinner at the bar at the Blue Room before a nearby movie, and alway happy with the varied selections, friendly, efficient service and reasonable prices.

            1. re: marilees

              Of Course! Garden at the Cellar. It's probably a 20 minute walk from Kendall, but well worth it. Definitely try their rosemary truffle fries (I think it's one of the best, of not THE best fries in Boston) or their tater tots, which are quite unique. Baraka Cafe (Tunisian, North African) is also a great place.

              1. re: jgleeche

                Garden at the Cellar is nearly a mile and a half from Kendall Square. If you can walk that distance in 20 minutes, more power to you. I sure can't!

                A hop on the T will shave off much of that distance, but not all, because the restaurant is almost exactly halfway between Central and Harvard Squares.

                1. re: Allstonian

                  That's true - I probably underestimated the walking time a bit. 30 minutes is probably a more realistic estimate. It's probably a 10 minute walk from either Central or Harvard Square T stop.

            2. re: Canadian Tuxedo

              I don't know about Hungry Mother. My take on them after finally going there for the first time is that they want to be low key, and have a low key vibe, but are charging pretty high key prices for some of their food. My husband got their steak special for $32 the other night and it was pretty mediocre, especially for the price. Tough meat with bands of fibrous tissue, not a lot of flavor and no seasoning. Not as good as a london broil thrown on our grill for $5.

              1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

                Is Hungry Mother a dining-alone-at-the-bar kinda place?

                1. re: Blumie

                  There were people dining alone at the bar when we were there. I guess if I went back I would probably take that approach and order a bunch of starters and extras, and stear clear of the entrees.

                  1. re: Parsnipity

                    Very much a dine alone at the bar type place. No TV, but friendly bartenders and high end but not exorbitant foods. Do not be afraid to go for an entree, either.

              2. Cafe Baraka in Central Square is a good bet.

                1. I had a great meal at the Independent in Union Square in Somerville this weekend. Every entree but steak was under $20! It's got a pub vibe to it, but it's much better than what some people call a gastro pub. We started with garlicy shrimp, six decent sized shrimp cooked perfectly. I had bangers and mashed for $12. Awesome. My gf had a chicken and dumplings special that was almost as good as the chicken at Hungry Mother. The Independent has a huge beer selection and excellent signature cocktails using home made bitters.

                  1. Central Kitchen on Mass. Ave.