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Must-Go Food + Drink in Inman Square

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I'm on the verge of making the (long awaited) departure--or graduation, depending how you look at it--out of Allston to Inman Square next month. I've been to the area only a handful of times, mostly to get my fix at All-Star Sandwich Bar and an occasional stop in Bukowski's. Aside from those places, where should my first stops be to eat and drink? Though I haven't been, I know places like East Coast Grill, Dixie and H&H, but if there are some good spots flying low under the radar that's more what I'm hoping for. Any thoughts?

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East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

Bukowski's
1281 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

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  1. Not sure what you mean by Dixie or H&H (S&S?) and the neighborhood is small enough that it's hard to keep a good place a secret, but East by Northeast has great Chinese noodles, and I'm a big fan of Tupelo for its Suthern food. Trina's Starlite Lounge can be fun for cocktails, but I really can't recommend the food, personally.

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    Trina's Starlite Lounge
    3 Beacon St, Somerville, MA 02143

    East by Northeast
    1128 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

    4 Replies
    1. re: LeoLioness

      Wow, sorry. I had a feeling after I wrote H&H it was something else, as if my newbie status wasn't more apparent. The Dixie reference was to a BBQ place right in between East Coast Grill and Bukowski's. Thanks for the tips though!

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      East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
      1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

      Bukowski's
      1281 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

      1. re: el_caballero

        Are you thinking of Jake and Earl's Dixie Barbecue? That was in the location you discribed and was wonderful but it dissappeared in the nineties to make way for an ECG expansion.

        1. re: chuck s

          ECG left their sign up - hence the confusion.

      2. re: LeoLioness

        I often like the dog of the day at trinas, when I've had them. that's the one thing that i've really enjoyed. i've heard mixed reviews on the chicken & waffles (in the vein of i think that they're inconsistent, not differing opinions) but haven't had it myself. beyond that i'm with you on that statement.

        big fan of ExNE

      3. East Coast Grill does some BBQ, there isn't a place in the middle.

        The Druid.

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        East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
        1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

        1. Christina's Ice Cream.

          I like Ole Mexican Grill but it seems to be in disfavor around here.

          Midwest Grill for Brazilian Rodizio.

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          Midwest Grill
          1124 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

          1 Reply
          1. re: scratchie

            Let me second the recommendations for East by Northeast (new-fangled Asian small plates, high quality ingredients and great execution) and Ole Mexican (menu can be hit or miss, but margaritas, guacamole, baja tacos, and carne asada are surefire hits in my book, and the brunch is excellent), Olecito (taco/burrito joint, mostly for carry-out, across the street from Ole). I like the cocktails and the chicken and waffles at Trina's Starlite Lounge. Not a huge fan of Midwest Grill but then I'm not a big meat eater. Dying to try Tupelo but haven't made it yet. Big fan of the Druid for their fish and chips, soups, bread, and general bar atmosphere. Christina's ice cream of course, and the amazing Christina's spice store next door. I don't make it to East Coast Grill often but I really like their brunch.
            Enjoy exploring!

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            East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
            1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

            Midwest Grill
            1124 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

            Olecito
            12 Springfield St, Cambridge, MA 02139

            Trina's Starlite Lounge
            3 Beacon St, Somerville, MA 02143

            East by Northeast
            1128 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

          2. Muqueca - a bit further down Cambridge Street - awesome fish-centric Brazilian chow.
            Christina's rec is seconded
            I'm also a fan of City Girl Cafe's pizza (in house tastes best)

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            Muqueca
            1010 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

            1. A bit further down Cambridge St towards Lechmere is Atwoods Tavern. Its a chill bar with a pretty good beer selection. In the other direction is Darwins, one of my favorite spots for a sandwich. Casa Portugal hasn't been mentioned yet.

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              Casa Portugal
              1200 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

              1. I'd like to mention a few paces not discussed yet, and definitely worthwhile. All of these are just on the outskirts of Inman Square, all within walking distance from the center of the square. You can find most of their websites and locations on www.inmansquare.com along with other restaurants and local businesses.

                Koreana, for Korean barbeque. Fun environment, and good quality. They have several barbeque tables, where you can order a special menu and cook directly on your own table.

                Kebob Factory, for the highest quality Indian food in the area. The relatively small place can get crowded on busy nights. Great for take-out too.

                Mulan, for excellent Taiwanese take-out (or stay there), reasonable prices and authentic unique cooking. ( http://www.mulan-ma.com/

                )

                Oleana, considered one of the best restaurants on the entire east coast. Not inexpensive, but the prices are far from unreasonable, considering the high quality food and experience compared to many other restaurants in a similar price range.

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                Oleana
                134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

                Koreana
                154 Prospect Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                The Kebab Factory
                414 Washington St, Somerville, MA 02143

                1. Thanks so much for the tips! So far I think Trina's and Ole's are going to be among the first stops. I love Mexican food, and the opinion seems to be split which just makes me more curious.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: el_caballero

                    I love mexican too and go to great lengths to cook authentically...that's why I don't like Ole. Check it out and let us know what you think. If you cook, you'll love exploring Christina's spices, next to Christina's ice cream.

                    S&S is okay if you want to want to walk half a block and get some poached eggs. The deli stuff is mediocre, go to the druid instead for a sandwich or pub fare. S&S salad dressings are especially chemical. I haven't been in a long time so I don't know what the current pricing is, but a few years ago you could get a bottle of wine for twice the price of one glass, if that is a consideration for a recent grad. East Coast grill brunch is fun and stopping in for appetizers like the fried oysters is good if you are conserving $$$.

                    I'm a big champion of Oleana....not everyone here is. They are great about letting you split, just have appetizers, share, etc.

                  2. Well if we are going to include Mulan which is basically in Kendall, then I am going to throw in The Courthouse Fish Market and Restaurant. Fresh from the dock fish cooked to order. Either order off their standard menu or pick your fish in the market and they cook it for a $1/lb. Head out Cambridge towards Lechmere.

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                    Courthouse Fish Market
                    484 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02141

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: smtucker

                      The love for Punjabi Dhaba seems to have waned on this board. I haven't been for awhile, but loved the street food on tin plates. Anyone been recently.
                      Also, in the same corner as Kebab Factory is Dali, and the recently opened (to strong reviews here and elswhere) Bergamot.

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                      Punjabi Dhaba
                      225 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                      1. re: justbeingpolite

                        I still love Punjabi Dhaba. I prefer it to Kebab Factory's overpriced, bland fare (in my experience with Kebab factory, at least.) If you like Indian food hot and spicy, ask for it "hot" at Punjabi Dhaba and you won't be disappointed. The mixed veggie platter for two is an especially great deal.

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                        The Kebab Factory
                        414 Washington St, Somerville, MA 02143

                        Punjabi Dhaba
                        225 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02139