HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >

Discussion

Oleana vs. Ole Grill

  • Geoff Dec 1, 2010 07:43 AM
  • 27
  • Share

Greetings from a DC hound. I'm mostly unfamiliar with your neck of the woods, except for Oleana in Cambridge. Have been several times and it's been consistently outstanding. Am getting together with a friend on a Saturday night - what I care about is great food with flavor, and an environment suited to lots of chatting and conviviality. Oleana has certainly fit that bill for me in the past. My friend also suggested Ole Grill (same neighborhood etc). What's your take? I love authentic, flavorful real Mexican food; would Ole fit that bill? Is it a reservation kind of place? etc? Any feedback would be helpful, thanks so much.

-----
Oleana
134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. Ole is good and very pretty inside, but definitely a notch or two below Oleana. I think it would be a very fun place to meet a friend and you would likely enjoy whatever you order there, but there are a couple other newer places in the neighborhood that you might consider, all of which are excellent in their own way: Bergamot (New England/New American), East by Northeast (Modern Asian), Hungry Mother (French/American Southern) (all have been extensively covered on the boards, if you want to read more about each). You might also consider a restaurant that just opened last week, Bondir, right in that area as well. I haven't really heard any reports but the chef was very good in his previous employ, at Beacon Street Bistro. It also serves New American food.

    If you do pick Ole, you would definitely want a reservation--it is quite busy on weekends. They are more authentic than most Mexican places in the area (serving Mole, Pipian Verde, etc.) but I would say less authentic than some other places in Boston, like Angela's in East Boston.

    -----
    Hungry Mother
    Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

    Oleana
    134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

    East by Northeast
    1128 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

    1. Oleana is extremely different from Ole.....really, apples and oranges. Boston is known for unauthentic, not good Mexican food. Ole is sort of authentic, but not real Mexican in my opinion, they do have a mole but it is not as complex as authentic in my opinion, and a big, noisy room.I agree with checking out Hungry Mother and East by Northeast...look at the menus, or EVOO also in Cambridge not that far away.

      -----
      EVOO Restaurant
      350 Third Street, Cambridge, MA 02143

      Hungry Mother
      Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

      Oleana
      134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

      1. Ole is fine for what it is, but if flavor is what you're after there are, as others have said above, better options in the area.

        1. There are 20 better options in that neighborhood. I would NOT eat at Ole.

          I am drawing blanks on names right now, but East Coast Grill is one of the many places in that area that are better.

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

          16 Replies
          1. re: StriperGuy

            Well, there aren't 20 better places in the neighborhood, maybe 3 or 4.... and Ole is perfect for what it is and pretty authentic. After dinner be sure to walk down the street and have ice cream at Cristina's

            1. re: baldbert

              I have had REALLY poor food at Ole.

              1. re: baldbert

                I'm not a fan of Ole either, but to be fair I haven't been there in sevearl years, they might have become better.

                I'm seconding recs for bergamot, ExNE, hungry mother and oleana. Granted, none of those are mexican :)

                As for ECG, I'm really only a fan for brunch & special events. I find it to be too overpriced for what you get to be worth it for normal dinner.

                1. re: jgg13

                  There is the Brazilian seafood stew place (names, names, names?) the trendy asian place, the southern place, Kebab Factory, Mulan, heck Rendezvous, Central Kitchen, West Side Lounge, etc etc etc.

                  -----
                  The Kebab Factory
                  414 Washington St, Somerville, MA 02143

                  Central Kitchen
                  567 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

                  West Side Lounge
                  1680 Mass Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    Muqueca = Brazilian seafood place
                    Tupelo = Southern place
                    East by Northeast = Trendy Asian place

                    A lot of folks (including me) really like Angela's in East Boston for authentic Mexican, if you are not tied to the Inman Square nabe.

                    1. re: Bob Dobalina

                      I don't think ExNE is the trendy asian place, I took that to be Ginger Exchange. Who knows.

                      -----
                      Ginger Exchange
                      1278 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                      1. re: jgg13

                        How is Ginger Exchange anyway? I have not really been to that space since it was Montien.

                        1. re: Bob Dobalina

                          I've never been. It's always looked too "trendy asian place" for me, which is why I figured that's what StriperGuy was talking about ;)

                          I've heard mixed reviews from friends. There's definitely a sort of person that would like it and one that wouldn't, but I'm not sure how best to describe those sorts. I took a quick scan of the yelp reviews - they seem to echo what I've heard from friends, both positive & negative.

                          1. re: jgg13

                            Ginger Exchange is *fine.* The sushi is actually not bad but most things are somewhat costly. It is superficially fun enough with lots of drink options and loud music, but doesn't fill the casual Tuesday night niche that Montien used to fill when you wanted carry out. The sushi is definitely better than at Spice and Rice. I have gone there when I get a groupon, but for the money I would much rather go to East by Northeast and get a bowl of noodles, some dumplings, and a veggie or two for about the same amount of money and a lot more creativity. I think of Ginger Exchange as a bachelorette-party or big group kind of place, which sometimes people feel like but it has its limits for me.

                            -----
                            Ginger Exchange
                            1278 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                            East by Northeast
                            1128 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                        2. re: jgg13

                          I'll confess it was ExNE I had in mind.

                          After the abominable experiences I had at Ole I swore never to return.

                          Do we actually have a few data points that the food at Ole is actually consistently edible? No offense intended baldbert, just had seriously BAD food at Ole a couple of times.

                          1. re: StriperGuy

                            I haven't been to Ole in years, but it seems consistently hopping on the weekends. But being a hound, I am always willing to travel 20 minutes to Eastie for the place I know is great rather than traveling 5 minutes down the street to the just ok or merely good place.

                            Speaking of which, had not been back to Rincon Limeno in a dog's age but went there a couple of weeks back - man, that place is awesome - another great reason to head to Eastie.

                            -----
                            Rincon Limeno
                            409 Chelsea St, Boston, MA 02128

                            1. re: Bob Dobalina

                              LUV Rincon Limeno, every time I am impressed.

                              -----
                              Rincon Limeno
                              409 Chelsea St, Boston, MA 02128

                            2. re: StriperGuy

                              I've eaten at Ole 6 to 8 times, but not for nearly a year now. I found the food edible, but not particularly memorable. The flavors were soft and muted, without the sparkle you expect from onion and cilantro and tomatoes and chillies, or the complexity of slowly-simmered foods. I've eaten a lot of Mexican food in California, though, so I may not be a fair judge. Fair or not, there's better food in that area as many of you have said. I'd personally pick East Coast Grill or Oleana or Hungry Mother over Ole, and usually do.

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

                              Hungry Mother
                              Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

                              Oleana
                              134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

                              1. re: FoodDabbler

                                Yah that jibes with my better experiences, the bad ones, well...

                              2. re: StriperGuy

                                I'm not going to go out on a limb to defend Ole. I actually like their little burrito place better. That being said, I think the food has a little more spark than say the Mexican resto outside of Davis Sq. that people like and where I've always had terrible food, the name escapes me now. plus, the people are nice and it is sort of festive.

                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                  I think the food at Ole is OK to good (if one orders selectively). My issue is that I always get sticker shock when I get the bill. It is always more than I expect, and the food just doesn't live up to the final tab. Whenever someone suggests Ole, I am like...nah.

                    2. I will second the rec for East Coast Grill, if chatting and conviviality is your aim. I like to sit at the bar, slurp down some margaritas and a few oysters, and move on to tuna tacos and a spare rib or two from there. Saturday night might be tough though. Muqueca would be a fun option too. Skip Ole.

                      Oleana is lovely but it's a more subdued and "hushed tones" kind of a place unless you're outside on the patio.

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

                      Muqueca
                      1010 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                      Oleana
                      134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: yumyum

                        My bad. Muqueca doesn't serve booze. If your idea of conviviality involves that, then go somewhere else or drink before and afterwords.

                        -----
                        Muqueca
                        1010 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                        1. re: yumyum

                          Muqueca serves a nice caipirinha and a sweet sangria, along with wine and beer. The old location did not serve drinks, but the new one does. Celebrated many a birthday there recently. Cambridge Street and the Inman Square area are filled with good restaurants if you like that location. East Side Bar and Grille, East by Northeast and East Coast Grill are good choices along that route. I agree with regards to Ole. It would not be my first choice.

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

                          Muqueca
                          1010 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                          East by Northeast
                          1128 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                          1. re: mvi

                            A HA!!! I thought they served drinks in the new spot, but neither their website nor yelp would confirm. Thanks for the info.

                      2. I'd go to Oleana as it's more interesting, but I also happen to be a big fan of Ole.

                        -----
                        Oleana
                        134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

                        1. IMHO they are not in the same league foodwise. I used to live in that area. I only eat at Oleana about once a year now, when my folks come at Christmas and offer to babysit. Once I went with my 6 week old baby and a girlfriend, so I think in the last 3 years I've eaten there 4 times and it was a wonderful meal every time. I rarely ever eat out without kids (just once a year with DH and girls night out once in a very great while) and Oleana is reliable and memorable each time. We've eaten at Ole back when we lived there. Since I don't remember much about it and have never made an effort to return once we left the hood, I'm guessing the food was unremarkable (but it wasn't what I'd call bad either, because I'd probably have remembered that).

                          -----
                          Oleana
                          134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

                          1. I've been to Ole several times in the past year or so, and have liked it better each time. They have recently redone the menu to a more "tapas" style presentation. Ate there tonight with the family and really had an excellent meal. The tops were the fish tacos, the sopa Azteca, tacos al pastor and the jicama salad. My little one got the chicken quesadilla (she's 4 and not adventurous) and that was pretty darn good too.