Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA tips?

Sorry. I was thinking of getting lunch on Monday, myself, but the prospect of waiting in the heat (as I’d had to the Monday before) wasn’t attractive. I got a BLAT (BLT with Avocado) sandwich with turkey at Tatte instead. I may try Chik Chak next Monday for lunch if it’s not too hot.

The new (?) panelle sandwich at Clover sounds interesting, although a bit gussied up. I may have to overcome my antipathy to them and try it. The best version I’ve has was these beauties in Palermo, simply stuck into good bread:


I had the Clover interpretation of a panelle sandwich last week and it was ghastly. I know that I’m a Clover crtic, but I defy anybody – even the biggest Clover fan – to justify this pathetic excuse for food. You get a gluey, entirely tasteless, 1/2-inch-thick square of some substance that they’re fondly imagining they can pass off as chickpeas, in a harsh, astringent dressing of olives, etc. I ate about a third, then tossed it.


Did you have another shot at it today? I was there at noon, but the line was too long (I looked at it closely as I sauntered by – yes, I was the the guy in the olive-green T-shirt who was doing all the flashy sauntering – trying to figure out which smartly-dressed bloke was passing through). So I grabbed an indifferent lobster roll from Captain Marsden’s instead. I had what-passes-for-work to return to.

I actually got there Friday but haven’t had a chance to mention it. The beef kebab in a pita was really good, and I’d sure get it again. Loved the kebabs themselves and the soft pita. One flaw was that all the hot sauce was in the bottom, but I could live with that.

One other thing I didn’t love was that at prime lunch time they were super slow and it took me like 20 minutes to get through the line and get my sandwich. Since I only take a half hour for lunch, that wasn’t ideal! On my walk home yesterday tho they were there at 5 (unlike last week) and I probably could have gotten one right quick.

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Glad the kebab worked out. Too bad about the hot sauce. It’s really good when eaten with the meat.

Yes, they are very slow. That was the main reason I did not stand on their line yesterday. I know from past experience how snail-like progress on it can be.

I’ve been to a few more places since I started this, and have repeat visited some others. Might as well do some updating to keep this thread alive, if there’s any other new intel please do let us know.

Did get to both Cafe Sushi and Santouka finally, and was largely happy with both. I went to Cafe Sushi before the renovation, but my lunch there was pretty great. Santouka I thought was respectable for ramen, though I’d rank it well below Yume Wo Katare and Tsurumen and it’s usually pretty crowded. Still, a good bowl of noodles and a worthwhile stop as they are well run and super efficient.

Cilantro and Dumpling House have proved steady if not spectacular. Good offerings to be had at both, though. Grafton Street (a work fave) is the sort of place you might take your parents to and get a nice meal. It’s y’know, fine, and they get bonus points from me for opening early for World Cup games this summer, though their coffee was terrible. They do make a perfectly good lunch sandwich, on the other hand.

Bonchon Chicken has ok Korean wings for a chain and I do like it once in awhile. Their daikon is way too sweet and the basement atmosphere plus the 57 JFK construction makes it kind of uninviting though, I’ll admit.

The Chik Chak truck only comes Mondays now, so I keep missing it–I always have my own lunch after the weekend. There’s one new truck this fall that’s called The Pull Up that does latino food that looks kind of promising.–will try and report back.

Lastly, the new Smith Center at 1350 Mass Ave has debuted some food options. (Aside: the redesign of this space is an architectural triumph, imo). Pavement Coffee is middle of the road and I have not gotten good reports on Swiss Bakers. But then there’s Blackbird Donuts. I’m mostly not all that excited about dessert, but I have to say that the donuts here are top of the line. On the yeasted side, the lemon coconut is aces and the Boston creme has an amazing interplay of just-on-the-borderline-of sweet layers of chocolate, donut and creme filling. As for the cake donuts? The chocolate old fashioned here is about as good as a donut gets, again treading just along the edge of the right amount of sugar. A dense, concentrated flavor of chocolate as well. Sublime.

I probably will try the Saloniki outpost that opened this week in the near future, so I’ll let you know how that goes!


I went to Cafe Sushi for lunch today, and contrary to my prior experience I have got to say it was pretty average. My mackerel pressed sushi was good and the tsukemono are still aces, but the nigiri I ordered was fair at best. The rice seemed a bit soft, one nigiri was improperly formed, the tamago was eh and the salmon eggs tasted kind of flat.

It also was pretty slow and my waitress was much more interested in another table than she was in waiting on me. I know lunch is maybe not the best time to go here and maybe it’s much better later, but if I want a fairly run of the mill lunch sushi experience there’s plenty of other places to go in the square. Next time I’ll walk a little further and try out Sakana, the new place up the street.

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I think the best bets at lunch time are the Chef’s Special Sushi Lunch or the Chirashi. But the omakase at dinner is definitely in a whole different league, no question.

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Yes. I had the omakase with Chef Seizi Imura last night. I also added another course and a tamago and eel sandwich as dessert. It was really wonderful and I chatted throughout with Imura-san, discussing sushi in NYC; other dining spots in Cambridge and Somerville, vinegar and pickling. He’s charming and enthusiastic. I tried about 5 sakes as well, the sommelier knows her list well. All in I think it was $195 before tip. That’s for one.


cool, thanks for chiming in! I guess for me the next time I’ll just save up for a special occasion dinner and skip the more pedestrian lunches.

not surprised about you discussing the pickling: the tsukemono there is really great. very delicate and delicious.

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Certainly not your every day lunch, but if you’re a big carnivore, Gyu-kaku offers pretty good lunch deals. You just have to be ok smelling like grilled meats afterwards. :grin: I don’t love the air circulation at the Harvard Square location though (much better with their Beacon St location).

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thanks. have not tried this place yet, but it’s now on The List!

I tried Whole Heart Provisions in the Smith Center for lunch recently and really liked it. Their menu is all grain/salad bowls, and the one I had had wonderful roasted eggplant and crispy chickpeas.


Didn’t realize they had a Harvard Square outpost. I do delivery from their Central Square location. Love their food!

Woman, GretchenS, I had the Chef’s Special sashimi for lunch today, and it was very ordinary: although the menu presents both it and the special sushi lunch as a selection of interesting fish with interesting accompaniments, what I got was two slices of tuna, with a dash of wasabi, some of mackerel (one rather chewy) with miso, some seared salmon with a sprinkling of scallion, …

The accompanying rice was very good though: the grains separate and with just the right resistance.

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Huh, what a bummer. I have had the Chef’s Special sushi lunch and enjoyed it, sorry your sashimi lunch wasn’t better! I have also enjoyed the chirashi at lunch.

Ok, another summer, another round at the Monday Harvard Science Center Chik Chak food truck. The beef kebabs were as splendid as last year, especially when hot. Really, it’s worth going there just for those, and for their splendidly herbal hot sauce. Everything else there was decent, but not spectacular. (I took two for the team and triple-ordered.) The felafel were crisp, but could use more complexity, even the hint of it that might be provided by parsley. The hummus was creamy, but again a bit flat, as was the baba g (nicely smoky, slightly tangy, but just a little lacking).

The dishes that were slightly lackluster may suffer only by comparison with the lustrousness (lustrosity? lust-inducingness?) of the kebabs. Even without the kebabs they probably represent a better lunch option than most food trucks in the square.


and we are suitably grateful for your sacrifice!! :slight_smile:

the kebabs sound great!


I didn’t think this warranted a separate thread. However, I picked up take out from Dumpling House last night and was quite surprised to find it very quiet (easily less than half full at 6:30p). This is for a place that usually is full and quite often has a line even on typically off nights during the week. I am wondering if their business has taken a temporary hit due to fears about this new Wuhan virus, and if other restaurants frequented by Chinese nationals are seeing similar effects. It could be an anomaly but it is definitely the quietest I have ever seen the restaurant at that time.


Let’s hope it’s just the weather, and maybe this scared a few folks off from venturing out in the evening. If it is, it wouldn’t surprise me given some of the over-reaction from the SARS days. I remember rumors floating around around the various Chinatown restaurants, chefs who may have been infected…it was pretty bad. :pensive: Many of the restaurants are small family owned businesses so a hit like this, even for short-term, can be tough.