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Harvard Square Lunch Saturday afternoon?

Hey there! This weekend my parents and my boyfriends' parents will be meeting for the first time and we are going to a football game at Harvard. I am looking for a good, low key place to go after the game for lunch in Harvard Square. I am familiar with the area but I am looking for something that might be off the beaten path a little bit because we don't want to get swamped with a long wait after the game (should be 3ish). There will probably be 8 of us. I was thinking John Harvard's or something like it. Any good suggestions?

Thanks!

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  1. I think John Harvard's will be busy after the game. My advice would be to head to the south end of the Square and go to The Garden at the Cellar (991 Massachusetts Ave). It's low key and affordable, with very good food. I'm addicted to their rosemary-truffle fries. Man, I wish I could go there for lunch today!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Dea

      John Harvards will be swamped around game time and the food isn't that great anyway.
      Garden at the cellar would be very good, but check their kitchen hours- 3 might fall out of their normal service. Another,even more laid back option, also on that side of the square is Petsi pies on Putnam a block or two down from Mt. Auburn. Soups and sandwiches, and get save room for pie. It's much more casual- counter service only, and the food isn't as spectacular as Garden at the Cellar can be. Similar level of informality is the crepe place at Mass Ave and Arrow street. Dedalus and Trata on Mt Auburn just before DeWolfe street might or might not be packed, so you could check them out on the way towards central.
      If you want to stay right in the square I'd suggest ethnic foods to avoid the crowds- what about Tamarind Bay or Bombay club?

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      Tamarind Bay
      75 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

      Trata
      49 Mount Auburn St, Cambridge, MA 02138

      1. re: cpingenot

        I don't think the Square will be terribly crowded by 3 pm - that is after lunch time, and these games just don't draw enormous crowds anymore. What about Casablanca, or Cambridge 1? Henrietta's Table is always a safe choice, and convenient. If it is nice, you could get sandwiches etc. at Darwin's and picnic. Cafe of India on Brattle is another good Indian choice.

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        Henrietta's Table
        One Bennett St., Cambridge, MA 02138

        Cafe of India
        52 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138

    2. Shay's pub on JFK street is dark, casual with terrific food, great beer and wine selections (no full bar) and should not be too busy, you will be able to get to know each other without yelling

      5 Replies
      1. re: momoftwo

        Did you just say Shay's has terrific food? Huh?

          1. re: momoftwo

            Do tell mama! Last time I was there for food (admittedly a looooong time ago) it was pretty poor. Pints and crowd are fun, and it's always a great place to hit on that first warm evening in the spring for people watching.

            What's good food-wise?

            1. re: yumyum

              Admittedly, I too go for the drinks and the conversation. The bartenders are engaging and intelligent. But I have had the hummus plate (ok, so no real cooking there ;) the baked brie, the burgers are to die for, fries are yummy, the quesedilla, yum and several specials, pork loin was great.... I think I like it becuase it has a nice pub vibe but the food is more inventive than the chicken fingers standards at other pubs.

              1. re: momoftwo

                Thanks for filling it in for me. MAYBE next time I'm there (April?) I'll hit up some food just to see. I've had some really good times at Shay's but none of them had anything to do with the food. ;-)

      2. I would definitely avoid John Harvard's. Some good suggestions so far, though. I'd second Cambridge 1 and Garden at the Cellar (if open) for something sit-down with table service. Tamarind Bay is also a good suggestion. If you want to get even more off the beaten path, Pho 'n Rice and Zoe's (both on Beacon St) are good, as is The Kebab Factory on Kirkland. For soup and sandwiches, Crema Cafe and Darwin's are both great (I think the Darwin's on Cambridge St is a bit less crowded and easier to find a seat at, but YMMV).

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        Tamarind Bay
        75 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

        The Kebab Factory
        414 Washington St, Somerville, MA 02143

        Crema Cafe
        27 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138

        Pho 'n Rice
        289 Beacon Street, Somerville, MA 02143

        1 Reply
        1. re: greenzebra

          I would try Harvest in the square: http://www.harvestcambridge.com/

          It's a bit $$ but a great experience. You can call for hours and reservations.

        2. Cambridge Commons, just outside of Harvard Square going towards Porter serves a decent burger. Also the Temple Bar is very good (across Mass Ave and a little further up)

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          Cambridge Common
          1667 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

          1. Vegetarian Planet? I have no idea how busy it would be after the game.

            1. no need to leave the square. Casablanca is a great spot ;quiet , comfy banquettes, conducive to happy conversation and exc. food.