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The Best of Harvard Square Dining

You’ve landed at HBS, moved into your new digs and found your stomach rumbling while reading yet another case. Alas, the true metropolis of Boston feels far away. What is a gourmand to do? Fear not! Our quaint little Square can fill your belly cheaply and pretty deliciously if you know where to go. Here are our humble recommendations to get you started on your quest for eats:

BEST PIZZA: Pinocchio’s
74 Winthrop Street, 617-876-4897
M-Th, 11am – 1am
Fri-Sat, 11am – 2:30am
Sun, 1pm – Midnight
www.pinocchiospizza.net

For pizza anytime of the day – it’s always Pinocchio’s. For a quick lunch, dinner, or best of all, late night snack, Pinnochio’s always does the trick. Go for Noch’s signature Sicilian style pizza – deep dish, fluffy and greasy. Just the way pizza is supposed to be. Sold by the slice or by the pie – it’s a perfect option when you’re solo or throwing a party. For those on a low-carb diet, Noch’s also has the regular thin crust version as well as a variety of salads. Other options include pastas and classic subs, ranging from Italian to Steak + Cheese. Perfect to quench the late night munchies.

BEST GROUP DINNING: 9 Tastes
50 JFK Street, 617-547-6666
M-Fri, 11:30am – 3pm, 5pm – 10pm (10:30pm on Fridays)
Sat-Sun, 12pm – 4pm, 4pm -10:30pm (10pm on Sundays)
www.9taste.com

For learning team dinners, section small dinners, and just casual meals out with friends, 9 Tastes is a sure thing. It’s easy to get a reservation, or even just walk-in. 9 Tastes can usually accommodate groups of 6-8 without a problem. With simple Thai dishes – 9 Tastes has something for everyone, including vegetarians. Lunch Box and Dinner Specials are great deals for money conscious students, and an added bonus is that 9 Tastes delivers across the river to Harvard Business School. It’s a $10 minimum and costs $2.00 per delivery, so aggregate orders on your floor, or better yet- have a floor dinner party!

Best Pseudo-Healthy Treat:
Berry Line
3 Arrow Street, 617-868-3500
Mon-Wed 12:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m.
Thu 12:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m.
Fri-Sat 12:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m.
Sun 12:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m.
www.bostonberryline.com/
harvard.html

Harvard Square’s very own Pinkberry/Red Mango copycat. If you’ve been to NYC recently, you will have noticed the fro-yo wars taking over the city, sometimes with a Pinkberry and Red Mango opening right across the street from each other! Unfortunately, or fortunately for us, for we have Berry Line. Started by a pair of Harvard-MIT students, Berry Line is frozen yogurt – with the requisite yogurt taste, not to be confused with the sweetness of soft-serve. This is not Mister Softee. Toppings range from fresh fruits, to cereals, to cookie crumbs. Although it is definitely a lighter treat than traditional ice cream, controversy abounds as to just how “fat-free” these fro-yos are, so I’ll just stick with saying it’s the Best Pseudo-Healthy Treat for the afternoon, dinner, or post-movie munchie.

Best Café: Crema Café
27 Brattle Street, 617-876-2700
M-Fri, 7am – 9pm
Sat-Sun, 8am – 9pm
www.cremacambridge.com/
cremacafe.html

It’s not a late night study spot yet, but Crema Café is a wonderful new addition to Harvard Square for an afternoon snack, coffee, and study session. Exposed brick walls and a loft-like interior add an old-world flair to the café that transports you far away from Boston. Crema Café serves up excellent coffees, teas, and the requisite café sweet treats include a daily selection of cupcakes! For a more substantial bite there are sandwiches, both hot and cold. A noteworthy selection is the grilled cheese – a fancy take on a childhood favorite, but this time with gruyere and caramelized onions. Other snacks include a grilled Nutella sandwich.need I say more? For those who want a daytime study spot across the river, Crema has plenty of seats with electrical outlets so it shouldn’t be a struggle to plug in your laptop. Let’s just hope they decide to extend their hours soon!

Best Fancy Pizza: Cambridge 1
27 Church Street, 617-576-1111
M-Sun, 11:30am – 1am
(Food until midnight)

When your taste buds crave something fancier than Noch’s, Cambridge 1 is your answer. Its signature charcoal grilled pizzas come with anything from the classic tomato, garlic & basil to creative concoctions like lobster & corn and steak & cherry tomatoes. Go with a group of friends so you can share several pizzas – they are pretty light since the crust is thin and crunchy – so order a couple to share and sample new flavors. The arugula salad with olive oil, lemon & shaved parmigiano also serves as a nice contrast to the pizza. The vibe is like a fancy sports bar – complete with a good selection of beers. Come for a group dinner, an after movie snack, or Friday night treat to celebrate the end of a long week.

Best Japanese: Takemura
18 Eliot Street, 617-492-6700
Mon-Sat 11:30am-2:30pm, 5pm-1Am, Sun 12:30pm-10pm

Although Harvard Square is not known for its plethora of Japanese cuisine (thankfully) Takemura offers a selection to satisfy that yearning for sashimi, sushi, and other Japanese delights. It boasts a reasonably priced and wide, if occasionally unconventional, selection of rolls and staples of udon and tempura. It’s nothing fancy but the touches of Japanese accents on the sushi bar and golden wooden tables do add at least a touch of tradition. Takemura can usually seat groups immediately and can take larger parties as well. Importantly, it also delivers- my roommate’s sushi order once made it from phone to our door in 18 minutes! Between Spangler dining and neighboring Korean-Japanese joint, Shilla, Takemura is my pick for basic Japanese comforts in the square.

Best All-Day Breakfast: Zoe’s
1105 Massachusetts Avenue
617-495-0055
Mon-Wed 7:30am-9pm
Thurs-Sat 7:30am-10pm
Sunday 8am-9pm
www.zoescambridge.com

Behind a drab strip-mall facade on Mass Ave, Zoe’s brings us what every functioning campus requires- a full-fledged diner menu featuring no-hours-barred breakfast. Although Zoe’s also offers such random offerings as Mediterannean tzatziki, gyros, hot dogs, and kabobs, you’ll find me there partaking in the crucial brunch staples of pancakes, French toast, and omelettes. Zoe’s gets busy on weekends although the tables turn quickly so the wait usually isn’t long. For the post-big-night brunch, Zoe’s leads the Harvard Square pack trailed distantly by IHOP, your next best and hilariously bad option.

Best New England Cuisine:
Henrietta’s Table
Charles Hotel, 1 Bennett Street, 617-661-5005
Breakfast/Lunch: Mon-Fri
6:30am-11am, 12pm-3pm,
Sat 7am-11am, 12pm-3pm,
Sun 7am-10:30am, 12pm-3pm
www.henriettastable.com

Contrary to common belief, this hotel restaurant does not lack quality and creatively assembled dishes. Henrietta’s Table has a surprisingly well-informed menu- true to the season and bursting with locally-sourced ingredients. The sparingly decorated restaurant harkens back to a New England farmhouse dining room and despite the random tchotschke on sale at the maitre’d stand, the open kitchen and spacious seating are pleasant. Some notable examples of Henrietta’s offerings are “Barbeque Stout Braised Elysian Field Farm’s Pulled Lamb Shank,” “Maine Rock Crab and Corn Chowder with Smoked Bacon”, and “Baked Gloucester Scord.” With entrees priced at $14 and 2 and 3-course prix fixe at $25 and $32, respectively, this is high quality bang for your buck. Henrietta’s also offers an impressive, although not inexpensive, weekend brunch (a la carte on Saturdays and buffet on Sunday).

Best Mexican:
Felipe’s Taqueria
83 Mt. Auburn St, 617-354-9944
Sun-Wed 11am-12am,
Thu-Sat 11am-2am
www.felipestaqueria.com

When it comes to Mexican, shun the numerous national chains and get back to basics at Felipe’s. With its basic menu, cheap prices, and open kitchen, Felipe’s offers fresh ingredients and some of the most satisfying late night chow around. Service is super fast but you must pay cash. Tables turn over quickly so you can usually grab a quick seat with a small group. Apparently, Felipe’s supply of a quick nosh can run short in the late night hours, so stop in before your last drink.

Best Sandwich:
Hi-Rise Bread Company
56 Brattle Street, 617-492-3003
Open for lunch

For those in the know, this little sandwich shoppe is a true gem. Although it faces stiff competition from another sandwich institution down the street such as Darwin’s, Hi-Rise holds its own. Its charm begins with the narrow entrance in a colonial-feeling building and continues to the outside seating under broad shade trees, perfect for the all-too-rare al fresco meals here in Cambridge. An old-fashioned chalkboard menu displays whimsically named sandwiches like “Ken’s Big Mouth” and “Grace’s Newest Nanny.” Although their names don’t reveal much about the sandwiches, rest assured they are chock-full of delicious, wholesome ingredients such as free-range chicken, pulled pork, luscious cheese, and satisfying sauces to name a few. Seating can be rare at this place but it is a great takeout lunch. Remember to save room for the delicious pastries too!

Best Ice Cream:
J.P. Lick’s
1312 Massachusetts Avenue, 617-492-1001
www.jplicks.com
Everyday 6am-midnight

As the newest entrant into the fierce Harvard Square battle of the ice creams, J.P. Lick’s has a 27-year old legacy in the Boston area. Although Lizzie’s and Herrell’s are fine ice cream establishments, connoisseurs of the frozen delights will want to sample J.P. Lick’s inventive flavors such as Coconut Almond Chip and White Coffee, in addition to the classic assortment of chocolates and vanillas. J.P. also serves up ice cream alternatives (if you must) in the form of hard and soft serve yogurts and sugar-free varieties. With its whimsical cow-print themed store and mod lighting, it’s a treat to visit J.P. Lick’s and become part of a Boston tradition.

September 14, 2009
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