Foodie Finds: the 5 Best Places to Eat in Cambridge, Massachusetts
People from all over the world come to the small city across the Charles River from Boston to work, study, create, and among other things, enjoy the hundreds of restaurants which offer cuisines from Ethiopian to Mexican, priced in ranges for high dollar spenders, families on an outing, and grad students on tight budgets. High end Henrietta’s Table and student friendly Bartley’s Burger Cottage make all the guidebooks, but there are other great choices, too. Here are my top five favorites in and near Cambridge for places with great food, great character, and great prices.
1920 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge MA 02140-2191
At Christopher’s, the beef burgers and the vegetarian ones are equally good, and you can get your nachos with jack cheese, cheddar, goat cheese, or all three if you’d like. Wood floors, exposed beams, and in cold weather, an inviting fireplace, make Christopher’s a great place to gather with friends, take a date, or bring the family -- everybody’s welcome, and all the menu choices are good. They are also sourced, where possible, with local and organic products. It’s in Porter Square.
1105 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
The thing about Zoe’s is breakfast. Or lunch, Or dinner. The reason I say breakfast is that if omelets are on your mind, Zoe’s is it. They serve them all day, with more than two dozen combinations of fillings they’ve thought up, and thirty ingredients from which to build your own. It’s a Greek American place, decorated like a retro diner, and a few steps below street level off busy Mass Ave near Central Square (there’s an interesting looking seafood place upstairs -- different owners -- which I’ve not tried yet, but their blue neon sign will tell you Zoe’s is nearby). Breakfast, lunch, and dinner food includes all American and all Greek favorites, and specialties which mix the two, as a well as some of the best sweet potato fries in Massachusetts. They serve a selection of Greek wines as well and Greek and American beers alongside soft drinks, tea, and coffee.
47 Palmer Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Veggie Planet is hands down my favorite place to eat in Cambridge. The menu runs to whole wheat pizza with Romesco sauce, mushrooms, feta cheese, and grilled onions, or, if you’re if not feeling quite that adventurous, one topped with Cabot Cheddar cheese, fresh tomato,.broccoli, and sage. There are about a dozen pizza variations, macaroni and cheese, rice dishes, noodle dishes, fresh salads, and a changing variety of soups. Just in case vegetables are not your thing, they also serve great ice cream and tasty brownies. Veggie Planet has recently added a beer and wine license, too, which is especially appreciated by those who come for dinner. Then most of the space turns host to Club Passim, a historic music venue that in earlier days was home to up and coming stars including the likes of Joan Baez and Tom Paxton, and these days sees top musicians such as Richard Shindell, Hanneke Cassel, and Matt and Shannon Heaton take the stage. The decor is informal, the atmosphere is welcoming , and it’s just a few steps off Harvard Square.
Going slightly beyond Cambridge for these next two, but they are easy to get to by the MBTA and bus, and they’re worth it, in two quite different ways.
247 Elm Street
Somerville MA 02144
The Burren is an Irish American pub, and you’ll often find Irish and other sorts of music being played here. They offer set dancing classes and pub quiz nights as well. On weekends they offer a brunch menu that ranges from a really full Irish breakfast to lighter fare, and during the week lunch and dinner find happy eaters chowing down on burgers, chicken sandwiches, chips ‘n curry, and guinness beef stew, as well as salads and pasta. There’s Guinness on tap, too, along with about a dozen other beers. The Burren is in Davis Square
Danish Pastry House
330 Boston Ave
A little out of the way, near the campus of Tufts University in Medford, the Danish Pastry House offers croissants, Spandauer, Wienerbrod, Thebirkes, and kringle...and dozens of other bakery and pastry concoctions too. It’s fun just to look at them all, even if you’ve just come in for a cup of tea or coffee, or perhaps to have a sandwich or salad at lunchtime. Danish Pastry House a small place, just a few tables, so you may want to plan on take out. If you do stay, though, it’s a light filled, airy spot in a small row of buildings that doesn't look as though it’d house a restaurant at all. Great to visit any time of year, but especially around a holiday time, when both the pastries and the decorations in the windows take on a seasonal flair.
This is part of Wanderfood Wednesday at Wanderlust & Lipstick - head over there to check out more great food from around the world!
Kerry Dexter is the Music Editor for Wandering Educators.
Kerry's credits include VH1, CMT, the folk music magazine Dirty Linen, Strings, and The Encyclopedia of Ireland and the Americas. She also writes about the arts and creative practice at http://www.musicroad.blogspot.com Music Road.. You may reach her at music at wanderingeducators dot com.