Food and Other Memories of Harvard Square [MA]

ah, the Spaghetti Emporium. I remember the stained glass.
I googled and came up with this Harvard Crimson article from September 1973 on restaurants in Harvard Square.


Blue Parrot - and the downstairs pub Ha’Penny! During the blizzard of 78 most of Cambridge was shut down, the only vehicle traffic was national guard. Blue Parrot was an exception. One staff member was an avid cross country skier and he trekked to the produce wholesalers in Chelsea. I still recall marveling at the salad with fresh greens.


Thanks for posting that @Madrid! Just the other day I was trying to remember the name of the Hungry Persian. I can still almost taste my favorite sandwich there: roast beef in a pita stuffed with fresh mint and other soft herbs and lettuces with a very tart vinaigrette. It seemed to me at the time the most sophisticated thing I’d ever eaten. And I had entirely forgotten The Midget but think I ate there a few times.

When did 33 Dunster St. replace the Spaghetti Emporium, does anyone remember?


I graduated in 1977 so I missed the Blizzard of 78. So regret that. There was a lot of snow in the 1976-77 winter and it even snowed in June right before graduation day. I had very little discretionary $$$ in college and didn’t go out much, except to that bar on Mass Ave near Radcliffe that offered “happy hour” drinks late at night.

I didn’t get to a lot of those because I really was the proverbial poor college student. But I remember some of them from experience and more of the names. I had a very memorable (negative, positive, and funny) experience at the Spaghetti Emporium, probably was between 1975 and 1977. I think it probably became 33 Dunster St. after June 1977, when I graduated and moved away. I returned in 1989; it was 33 Dunster St. then before evolving into John Harvard Brewing.

I came from a small town in North Carolina in 1973 and was blown away by the number of bookstores in Harvard Square. The loss of those bookstores is the saddest thing to me. I was astounded and delighted by the number of people speaking languages other than English on the street. And the number of people eating ice cream on the street while walking over snow drifts. Elsie’s I could afford now and then. The Garage had opened and the Cave Atlantique wine store was aspirational. Cardullo’s was great and the two Charlie’s. Frozen yogurt next to the shoe repair shop on Brattle Street! The Coop record (aka vinyl records) section. The original Legal Seafoods. You ordered, paid, and sat at communal tables waiting for your food, which came out when it was ready, even if the food for the friends you came with wasn’t ready yet. The Janus movie theater.


Another place I had forgotten, so much babysitting money spent there!!

I know I had my first (underage) Tequila Sunrise at the Spaghetti Emporium/33 Dunster Street spot, I guess it was still the Spaghetti Emporium at that point.


Great post. Thanks. I first started visiting Cambridge in 1979 (I was a grad student in NY, but had a friend at MIT) and remember a few of these places.


The drinking age was 18 when I arrived in Cambridge in 1973. I arrived 1 month after I turned 18. So it was easy!


One of the routes I covered when I was a Cambridge letter carrier delivered to this address, and I always enjoyed going in there to drop off the mail!

Beyond Harvard Book, The Grolier and the Million year Picnic I can’t think of too many other old school retail joints left worth going into in the Square these days.


Bob Slate, Stationer, is still there. Not sure how old school, but for a few decades at least. I really miss the Dickson Brothers Hardware Store. The daughter of the man who ran the shoe repair store married into the family that owned Dickson Brothers. The shoe repair shop lasted a lot longer than the frozen yogurt shop next door or very near to it. Burdicks Chocolate has been there a while.


oh yeah, Bob Slate def. counts–I still go there when i need a notebook. I also do like Burdick, but don’t really consider that old school just yet!


Agree. The Window Shop was old school.

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Bought my first 35mm SLR (Fujica 701} at Underground Camera and then ate at Elsies one afternoon in 1973.
Once got so hammered at the Hong Kong that the folks i knew at The Bicycle Exchange let me in after hours to sleep in the back
When I finally started making a little money in the mid 80"s I took mom to 33 Dunster Street because it was nicer than the places I had been dragging her to for years.
She asked if we could go back to Mississippi"s in Kenmore Square because " the crowd was more interesting"

Crap thats a long time ago.


Starting with @Madrid’s post, could this be its own thread, please? (Something like “Food and Other Memories of Harvard Square”.) Otherwise it’ll get lost under December openings and closings, and there’s so much interesting stuff emerging.


Yen Ching. The lunch buffet - a cup of hot and sour soup and once through the buffet line - was something like $3. It was the one place I could reliably find my thesis advisor and where I learned to use chopsticks.

The original Border Cafe, but before that in the same spot was Oxford Ale House. Live music and I still remember the 6 inch wide “tables” (more like shelves) for resting your beer mug, that stretched between posts.

Ha’Penny, downstairs from Blue Parrot was notable for sharing the same kitchen. Several of the specials from upstairs were offered at bargain prices downstairs, hence its popularity with students.

The Voyager, sophisticated continental cuisine in a rooftop greenhouse.

The original Upstairs at the Pudding. I occasionally encountered Mary Catherine Deibel (spelling?) walking laps at the indoor Harvard track.

And Coffee Connection. Starbucks promised not to change their outlets after George Howell sold, but a year later they were all closed or converted to Starbucks. I began a one-man boycott of Starbucks. Can you imagine how big they would be today if I hadn’t?

What was the name of the fondue place - Swiss Alps?


Upstairs At The Pudding! I think I saw The Tubes play there.
and I bet I bought the tickets at Out Of Town.


Wow. Did they do one of their elaborate sets, props and all?

Oh Yenching…

Also have memories of: Elsie’s, Tommy’s, The Tasty Diner, Lee’s, Bartley Burger, Cafe Avventura, Coffee Connection, Mug n’Muffin (don’t think I ever ate in there so much as swapped out seats for those endless coffees with friends-- they must have hated us).


I just learned recently that Bob Slate suffered a flood this past year. Sounds like they are back on their feet but there was a GoFundMe effort.


Oh yikes Yen Ching. A plate full of celery with a few shrimp and some sauce - no celery in the description or name of the dish :rofl: