HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >

Garlic Free Dining in Cambridge- Need help with finding a restaurant

viperlush Oct 5, 2010 02:27 PM

I will have guests visiting in a couple weeks and I am in the process of choosing a restaurant for a Friday night. My requirements are:

1) One guest is allergic to garlic so I need a restaurant that is accommodating and can prepare garlic free food.
2) Not too far from Central Square. So preferably somewhere in Cambridge or w/ relatively easy parking. Not going to be using public trans.
3) Entree prices <$25.
4) Takes reservations. Not a deal breaker, but guest (and truthfully I as well) gets crabby if needs to wait.

I was thinking The Helmand, but I am not sure about the garlic free requirement. I've eaten at the Baltimore location, but I can't remember if there is garlic free food on the menu. Is anyone familiar with it?

My other thought was Baraka or Moqueca but again I'm not too sure about the garlic.

Green Street, The Blue Room, Hungry Mother, ECG, are all more than what they will want to spend.

If I must, I'll just get a reservation for Rendezvous, but I am trying to branch out more.

And on the side, I made a reservation for Sportello for that Sat night. Will the no garlic requirement be a problem there?


Baraka Cafe
80 Pearl St, Cambridge, MA 02139

Hungry Mother
Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

348 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02110

The Blue Room
Hampshire and Portland streets, Cambridge, MA 02139

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. PinchOfSalt RE: viperlush Oct 5, 2010 02:45 PM

    Your best bet to get garlic-free food is to call ahead and discuss it with the chef. Having said that, garlic is used in a great many dishes in the Middle East and around the rest of the Mediterranean, so you may have some challenges with ethic restaurants representing that part of the world.

    10 Replies
    1. re: PinchOfSalt
      viperlush RE: PinchOfSalt Oct 5, 2010 03:32 PM

      Yeah, I'm just getting tired of going to "non ethic" restaurants whose menus are interchangeable and entrees are around $25. They are always accommodating and easily handle a garlic allergy (more like an intolerance). And it seems like the only options that aren't like that are "ethnic" cuisines where it is hard to remove garlic from a dish or there is a language barrier. It's frustrating.

      1. re: viperlush
        PinchOfSalt RE: viperlush Oct 5, 2010 03:58 PM

        Northern and Central European cooking do not use much garlic (also Britain and Ireland). Unfortunately I am drawing a blank apropos an ethnic restaurant that fits your other criteria.

        Have you considered seafood? It should be fairly easy to order seafood that does not have any garlic in the preparation.

        Another thought is Gran Gusto. My memory is there is a nice variety of entrees under $25, they take reservations, and parking is not difficult. You should not run into any language difficulties. While garlic is no doubt integral to many of their dishes, perhaps the chef can suggest some options or even do something special if you discuss it in advance. They have a website, so you could check the menu before calling.

        Gran Gusto
        90 Sherman St, Cambridge, MA 02140

        1. re: PinchOfSalt
          viperlush RE: PinchOfSalt Oct 5, 2010 04:50 PM

          Thanks for the help.

          Usually we go to Rendezvous one night and a French restaurant the other night when they are up.

          Seafood is a thought. I offered B&G Oyster as an option for Sat night instead of Sportello, but my BF reminded me that his parents tend to order red meat when given the option.

          I like Gran Gusto, but they are coming from NJ where every other restaurant is Italian so I don't really want to do Italian both nights they are up.

          I think I'll get the BF to call some places tomorrow.

          Gran Gusto
          90 Sherman St, Cambridge, MA 02140

          348 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02110

          1. re: viperlush
            teezeetoo RE: viperlush Oct 5, 2010 06:16 PM

            try spanish - taberno de haro is excellent and should be able to work with you. call and find out.

        2. re: viperlush
          StriperGuy RE: viperlush Oct 5, 2010 05:23 PM

          Nicely said: "menus are interchangeable and entrees are around $25." Bored to death of em myself.

          And intolerance is about right as garlic allergy is so exceedingly rare as to almost be, mmmmm imaginary.

          1. re: StriperGuy
            nlg RE: StriperGuy Oct 6, 2010 09:26 AM

            I dealt with my husband's garlic "intolerance" with chopping up the garlic in tiny little pieces.

            In any case, so many great places to eat in that area - but I doubt if any will meet the garlic-free, ethnic, inexpensive criteria. I would go where most of the guests would like the food, and find out (ahead of time) which dishes have the least amount (or no) of garlic in them.

            1. re: nlg
              davis_sq_pro RE: nlg Oct 6, 2010 01:29 PM

              Reminds me of a relative of mine who for years had a so-called "onion allergy." Onions were routinely avoided, carefully picked out, and so on, under his watchful eye. Until one night when he ordered a bowl of onion soup. The difference that night? His wife wasn't with him. Turns out, she wouldn't let him eat onions because she was convinced that they'd cause gas, and they'd agreed years before to just tell everyone that he was allergic... *sigh*

              1. re: nlg
                viperlush RE: nlg Oct 6, 2010 04:33 PM

                The sad thing is my BF's dad loves garlic, but had to stop eating it years ago due to gastro-intestinal distress. Since they are guests (and we only have the one bathroom) who am I to test his level of tolerance?

                We ended up calling Muqueca and they said that they can accomodate the no garlic request so we made a reservation.

              2. re: StriperGuy
                sockii RE: StriperGuy Jun 2, 2014 06:14 PM

                No, it is not imaginary.

                Garlic allergy and intolerance are very real. I have suffered from garlic intolerance all of my life. Trust me, it is not imaginary to spend several days violently ill, sweating, vomiting and curled over in pain because a dish had raw garlic in it when I was told it didn't. (I can handle well-sauteed garlic, because high heat cooking breaks down the allicin released when garlic is sliced. Allicin is what I have a reaction to.) And it is an inherited condition, as I found out from my (Italian) father when I was in my 40s and hadn't seen him for over 2 decades...he has the same problem with garlic that I do.

                Sorry to drag up an old thread but I get really annoyed by people dismissing real medical issues just because they haven't experienced them personally. A lot of people have garlic intolerance and allergy, it's just not as common as nut or some other issues.

                1. re: sockii
                  opinionatedchef RE: sockii Jun 2, 2014 08:18 PM

                  Future suggestion for no-garlic cuisines:
                  I believe that garlic is a forbidden ingredient for some caste of Indians (Brahmins maybe) so I believe it may be infrequently, if ever, used in Indian cooking here in the U.S. (I am, however, aware of garlic being in Garlic Kulcha and Garlic Naan. ) Asafoetida, a root or tuber ground into a powder, with diuretic affects on some, has a very garlic-like flavor and is used (as a garlic substitute?) in Southern Indian cooking.


          2. gabreality RE: viperlush Oct 5, 2010 06:33 PM

            I'm pretty sure Sportello should be fine with the garlic thing.
            As far as an "ethnic" place goes, Helmand definitely will have garlic in most of their food.
            Have you thought of Koreana? There's plenty of meat, and the garlic is on the side so you can choose to not put it on the grill.
            - Gaby

            154 Prospect Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

            348 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02110

            7 Replies
            1. re: gabreality
              viperlush RE: gabreality Oct 5, 2010 07:35 PM

              <I'm pretty sure Sportello should be fine with the garlic thing.>
              If not we can just send him to Drink and he can have a liquid dinner. :)

              <Have you thought of Koreana? There's plenty of meat, and the garlic is on the side so you can choose to not put it on the grill>
              No I haven't. Looking at their menu they do have unmarinated beef. It may work. Thank you!

              154 Prospect Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

              348 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02110

              1. re: gabreality
                digga RE: gabreality Oct 5, 2010 07:53 PM

                Dude, are you serious (re: Korean food)?!

                The foundations of Korean food are basically garlic, chili (as in kojichang or the powder form), soy sauce, sesame oil, and kimchee. I would not take the garlic-adverse to a Korean joint.

                (Some anecdotal evidence...My mom constantly keeps a huge jar of peeled garlic in her pantry..she spends an afternoon every once in a while peeling them for future use and it gets used up QUICKLY.)

                1. re: digga
                  viperlush RE: digga Oct 5, 2010 07:58 PM

                  Yeah, that is why I originally ruled out "Asian ethnic food". However Koreana does have unmarinated meat to grill as well as tempura. He can't eat garlic, but doesn't mind being around it. It meets requirements 2-4.

                  154 Prospect Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                  1. re: digga
                    SeaSide Tomato RE: digga Oct 6, 2010 08:58 AM


                    Question on this peeled garlic in a jar. How long does it keep? is the jar airtight or open-ish?

                    I might like to do this myself given the amount of garlic I use.



                    1. re: SeaSide Tomato
                      Scruffy The Cat RE: SeaSide Tomato Oct 6, 2010 11:52 AM

                      just be careful:

                      "BOTULISM WARNING
                      Regardless of its flavor potency, garlic is a low-acid vegetable. The pH of a clove of garlic typically ranges from 5.3 to 6.3. As with all low-acid vegetables, garlic will support the growth and subsequent toxin production of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum when given the right conditions. These conditions include improper home canning and improper preparation and storage of fresh herb and garlic-in-oil mixtures. Moisture, room temperature, lack of oxygen, and low-acid conditions all favor the growth of Clostridium botulinum. When growing, this bacterium produces an extremely potent toxin that causes the illness botulism. If untreated, death can result within a few days of consuming the toxic food. "

                      1. re: Scruffy The Cat
                        SeaSide Tomato RE: Scruffy The Cat Oct 6, 2010 12:10 PM

                        Or I could peel as I go!!

                        Thanks Scruffy

                        1. re: SeaSide Tomato
                          digga RE: SeaSide Tomato Oct 6, 2010 06:56 PM

                          Good god....no one in my family has ever contracted botulism from peeled garlic. My mom always keeps the stored in an re-used peanut butter jar in the fridge. Dnd if you shop in Korean markets, you'll see a similar product. The turn-over time in a typical Korean household is REALLY short.

                2. c
                  cambridgedoctpr RE: viperlush Oct 6, 2010 12:26 PM

                  how about japanese? sushi? There are plenty of choices starting out with O Ya and moving downward.

                  O Ya
                  9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

                  Show Hidden Posts