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Apr 4, 2011 02:35 PM

Some lunch recs in Cambridge to complement my Boston trip?

Visiting your lovely town for a few days this week, staying at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge.

I've got a rez @East Coast Grill for Wed night, and a rez @Erbaluce for Thur night, but I need some lunch recs, preferably in Cambridge, and in walking distance (I like to walk, so anything in the radius of 3-5 miles is fine.

ANY cuisine, really - preferably seafood, Vietnamese, Thai, or Middle Eastern, but if you know of a fantastic salad or sandwich place, I'm all ears. And mouth. Oh, and not too crazy expensive, please (under $20).

Thanks mucho.

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  1. All Star Sandwich Bar, on the same block as East Coast Grill, for sandwiches!
    Bartley, in Harvard Sq., for burgers. Expect a line.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Blumie

      If you are in the area of all star sandwich or east coast grill during the day, stop in at Christina's spice shop right next door to the icecream store they have a lot of spices to cook with when you get home.

    2. look at the menu for baraka cafe, in central square.

      check threads for portuguese restaurants in Cambridge...some excellent seafood dishes.

      1. Sichuan at Thailand Cafe on Mass Ave.

        Floating Rock (Cambodian), if they open up this week (

        Floating Rock
        485 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

        2 Replies
        1. re: emannths

          Oooh yay! Sichuan!!!! My favorite cuisine (right after Italian and "seafood." yep, seafood is a cuisine) :-D

          1. re: linguafood

            Do not be tempted to order the thai food though.

          1. re: rknrll

            Good call on the fish sandwich at the Druid.

            If you want something very close to the hotel, you must go to a little fish shop a couple blocks away called Louies' Alive N Kickin' Lobsters. They will make you a lobster sandwich. There is no seating inside, just lobster tanks and a fish case, but there are a couple picnic tables outside in the parking lot if the weather is ok. It is so close to your hotel that you could always stop by and pick one up to eat back in the room. I'm not sure of the times though, Give them a ring first to make sure they are open: (617) 876-0451

            After East Coast, hit up Christina's for Ice Cream.

            1. re: Snowflake

              I'd made a note of the lobster sammiches at Alive N Kickin' - had seen it on yelp & it looked promising. Can't go to Boston w/out having a lobster sandwich after all!! Glad to see it's got cred on this board as well.

              1. re: linguafood

                It's a fine sandwich, but just a quick note it's not a lobster roll. It's lobster salad on toasted scali. I'm trying to think of a great place in Cambridge for a lobster roll, but coming up short. Never mind, you will enjoy the sandwich for its own charms.

                1. re: yumyum

                  I don't care what it's called. It sounds fantastic, even tho I don't know what a toasted scali is. Toasted whatever is the way I (lobster) roll :-D

                  And a mile is doable, and close (for a Yurpean).

                    1. re: emannths

                      NICE! And toasted? I'm there Thur come hell or high water!!!!

                  1. re: yumyum

                    yumyum the Courthouse seafood lobster roll is sometimes outstanding, sometimes good in my experience. No filler added, sometimes mixed to order but often prepared, and the bun is toasted but not grilled. I prefer it to the Alive and Kickin' sandwich, but sometimes wish courthouse would add a griddle and a charbroiler instead of using their oven broiler tray, although in compensation its good for their core business of broiled fish.

                    I like both All Star Sandwich Bar and the Druid fish sandwich (and Atwood's which is only open for lunch certain days), but if I was picking a lunch in that neighborhood for someone out of town it would be between Courthouse, Portugalia, and the Snack Bar. Courthouse has decent takes on local fried specialties -- clams with medium bellies, smelts, the lobster roll, plus does fresh bluefish and decent fried oysters. If you want to be more adventurous you can pick a fish at their market 2 doors down and have it cooked to order (this works with certain bivalves too if they aren't very busy) and they charge you simply $1/lb extra. Portugalia has two of their better salt cod dishes on the lunch menu, has half bottles of wine, sometimes has specialties like cod tongues. As Matt_H mentions they have a prego no pao (lunch menu and always in the bar) as does the snack bar, I tend to prefer J+J's to both which doesn't serve it in the dining room and has the better version of bacalhau a lagareiro (BTW its known for breakfast, but the Neighborhood also does a prego and has a portuguese lunch). The snack bar has a servicable carne de puerco a alentejana, but does best with the alcatra and other items on the specials menu, their febras is the basis for the portuguese man-o-war (rabbit is regularly on the specials menu). All of these are open for lunch on Saturday, but given that its lent the fish market itself is going to be mobbed then so might not be able to open clams/oysters/etc (its also not the perfect time of the season for variety in local fish, so shellfish maybe a better bet). If you go to Cambridge Street on Saturday, check out Fernandes fish market for portuguese cheeses and if you want fried torresmo (pork belly) and both Courthouse and Central bakery sell 6-packs of good portuguese queijadinhas/pasteis de nata & feijao (bean).

                    linguafood, I also liked fredid's suggestion for Izzy's and Fri/Sat you can have a sub made with their roast pork shoulder, as well as things like chicharron de pollo, pastelitos de bacalao and other fried selections, yellow rice. No mofongos, even though pictures of them are plastered all over their placemats.

                    Also if you head towards Union Square you have the Neighborhood (again most known for breakfast and I stick to the portuguese one), Peruvian chicken, a good Korean market, another market specializing in local products, and Capone's foods. Plus JJ's is about a 10 minute walk away.

                    PS Courthouse Seafood's french fries are back to being awful (always frozen food service, but they had improved their frying) so you might just sub their decent rice pilaf or order fried seafood boxes instead of plates.

                    All Star Sandwich Bar
                    1245 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                    Izzy's Restaurant
                    72 Spring St, New Bedford, MA 02740

                    1. re: itaunas

                      I was thinking of you itaunus because I recently tried the Prego at the Snack Bar and agree ... the one at J+J is far far superior. Snack Bar also felt a lot like a neighborhood sub place that does a few Porto dishes, instead of a Porto place that does some gringo dishes like J+J does. I had my heart set on a Prego that day or I would have tried one of the blackboard specials as I suspect that's where the magic happens.

                      1. re: yumyum

                        Any good place for oysters / raw bar in Cambridge (proper - a few recs seem a bit far from where I am...)?

                        1. re: linguafood

                          East Coast Grill or Island Creek Oyster Bar (across the river, but only 1.5 miles). I haven't had them there frequently, but I wouldn't hesitate to get them at a Legal Seafoods location (Harvard Sq and Kendall Sq) either.

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

                          Island Creek Oyster Bar
                          500 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                          1. re: emannths

                            I was thinking of Island Creek Oyster bar, but according to their website, they're not open till 4 pm. I was hoping for some bivalves for lunch......

                            Island Creek Oyster Bar
                            500 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                              1. re: linguafood

                                BTW in addition to the option I mentioned above (oysters and littlenecks but minimal selection), Portugalia does littlenecks on the halfshell (many Portuguese restaurants do), and some "older school" Italian restaurants. But if I were going to want a selection for lunch I would go to Neptune seafood which is close to East Cambridge, but not necessarily your hotel.

                          2. re: yumyum

                            Since the Snack Bar is Azorean (most Cambridge Portuguese restaurants are continental), not certain "Porto" is the right term. :-) JJ's is more of a full service restaurant in part because they offer beer/wine, whereas the Snack Bar has to rely mostly on their lunch business (although if they do get mentioned on an upcoming show that could change things). That said, generally one of the sons runs the pizza/sub side of things (in the style of a house of pizza) and the parents do the portuguese food (including the bifana & prego) in a separate kitchen. I think of it as more home cooking style, but its certainly authentic down to shrimp sautes and the like. I go to the Snack Bar mostly for takeout from the specials (and rarely carne a alentejana or bacalhau a gomes de sa delivered), Portugalia for a reasonably fast lunch, JJ's when I have more time (partly because the lagareiro is appealing and takes a long time, also because they aren't quick). I would do more takeout from JJ's if their rissois de camarao were any good (for this and pasteis de bacalhau Portugalia _is_ much better).

                          3. re: itaunas

                            Itaunas, how do the pasteis de nata at Courthouse and Central Bakery compare to the ones at Casal Bakery? Ive tried them at Casal and was kind of disappointed, admittedly that was probably over a year ago.

                            1. re: Matt H

                              Casal has always been inconsistent, even when they were baking onsite. I assume the now have a comissary somewhere. They were so bad the last time I tried them (with a really overpowering candy type liquer flavor -- think bubblegum instead of a subtle orange liquer) that I don't even care to know.

                              Central gets them from Chocolate com Pimenta in New Bedford once a week (Thursdays?) when they sometimes arrive still warm and Courthouse I believe has some from there, plus another bakery (possibly more frequently). Central only does savory in-house, but as long as you get them fresh and not on the subsequent monday I recommend them. They also sell out, so that is another reason I mentioned Courthouse as a decent backup. I haven't had great luck with pastries from Fernandes, but they have some different suppliers.

                              1. re: itaunas

                                Tried the Pasteis de nata at Central today and definitely a huge improvement over Casal. The pastry could have been a bit flakier, but very good and tasty overall. Would definitely stop by and pick up another pack regularly.

                                To the OP, I apologize for taking your thread in another direction, but if you are looking for a pasteis de nata with your Portuguese lunch you know where to go.

                      2. re: Snowflake

                        It is within the OPs walking range, however Alive n Kicking is neither very close nor a few blocks away. It is more like a mile walk up Putnam from the Hyatt.

                    2. Diced Chicken with Hot Sauce lunch special rice plate at MuLan
                      If you're in the mood for a conventional-style sandwich (fresh baked bread, roasted meat of some kind) they are pretty great at Flour, but a little overpriced
                      I would only recommend Baraka if you have ~2 hours to commit to the experience (literally); it can be very slow, especially at lunch.

                      Baraka Cafe
                      80 Pearl St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                      228 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139