Food Finder: The Guide to Eating and Dining in Harvard Square


(*: Must Go/Recommended)

9 Tastes
50 JFK Street (across from the Kennedy School) |
9 Tastes is a great Thai restaurant, tucked in the basement of a building on JFK. It’s well-priced for what you get ($7.95 Pad Thai). Go with friends or a date, but expect it to get loud and busy, especially on weekend nights. It won Best of Boston award from Boston magazine 2007 for Best Neighborhood Takeout in Harvard Square.

Arrow Street Crepes *
1154 Massachusetts Avenue |
Arrow Street Crepes makes delicious crepes, both savory (meat, veggies, and cheese; also vegetarian) and sweet (chocolate and fresh fruit). Unfortunately, the crepes cost approximately double what you would pay even in Paris, but you get more in terms of ingredients and flavor. Every crepe is made fresh in front of you. For lunch, go with a friend: after each having a savory crepe and then splitting a sweet crepe for dessert, you’ll both be full and happy.

Au Bon Pain
2 locations: 1360 Massachusetts Avenue (by the T stop) and 1100 Massachusetts Avenue (by Mather) |
Known as ABP so as not to confuse people with the question of should-I-pronounce-this-a-la-francaise-or-not, Au Bon Pain has speedy service and good food at fair prices, from wraps and sandwiches to salads, soups and rice bowls. It also has a generous selection of breakfast items like muffins, croissants, and scones from the “bakery” as well as breakfast sandwiches. Everything is made fresh. Open until midnight M-F and Sunday; 1am on Saturday.

1 Bow Street |
31 flavors of ice cream – how will you get around to trying them all? Go during Dollar Scoop Tuesdays, from 6 – 10pm. It’s in the same store as the Dunkin’ Donuts and also sells ice cream cakes – perfect for celebrating a roommate’s birthday back in the room if you guys don’t have time to go out to Finale’s.

3 Arrow Street |
This is not your kid brother’s Danimals yogurt. Berryline is literally yogurt that’s frozen, not the kind-of-like-ice-cream “froyo” that comes out of the soft-serve machines in the dining halls, which means that it’s a little more sour and a little less sweet than the yogurt you’re used to, with a thicker texture. The frozen yogurt comes in plain and other flavors like blueberry and banana, and you can add toppings including fresh fruit, nuts, graham crackers, chocolate chips, and more. It’s delicious and healthy, which could only mean one thing: it’s on the expensive side, so consider splitting a bowl with a friend or significant other.

71 Mt. Auburn Street |
Boloco puts a creative spin on the traditional burrito with creations like Summer (my favorite, with mango salsa), Teriyaki, Cajun, and Caesar at $5.25 for a regular and $6.25 for a big one. They also serve salads and smoothies and the new additions of breakfast burritos ($2.50 regular, $3.50 big) and coffee.

Bombay Club *
57 JFK Street (by Staples) |
Upscale and elegant, Bombay Club serves up quality, authentic Indian food. They offer more choice than some of the other Indian restaurants in the Square, and the price is not too much higher.

Border Café
32 Church Street |
Border Café offers a wide-range of Tex-Mex and Cajun dishes, from quesadillas and tacos to burgers and Tuscaloosa catfish. For those old enough, they also make great drinks. The atmosphere is lively and fun – call ahead for a reservation if you’re going with a group as they fill up fast. Open til 1am M-F,  2am on Saturdays and midnight on Sundays.

Boston Tea Stop*
54 JFK Street
Stop in and grab a bubble tea or stay to play favorite childhood games like Connect Four and Guess Who with friends. Boston Tea Stop has a variety of bubble tea flavors, hot or cold, with boba or lychee as well as more substantial food items like mochi and dumplings. Limited seating; if you’re going with friends, best to have a back-up as to where to hang-out.

45 ½ Mt. Auburn Street (seriously,  45 and a half) |
Daedalus is a two-story restaurant and bar with an outdoor terrace on the second floor. They serve good American food (sandwiches, burgers, salads, dinners) with excellent service, though some find the portions to be a little small for the price. The ambiance and the drinks are the best parts of Daedalus. Oh, and Justin Timberlake ate there with Jessica Biel last year.

Felipe’s *
83 Mt. Auburn Street (The Garage) |
Felipe’s is home to Harvard students’ favorite cheap burritos. There’s nothing fancy about their burritos, but they sure are good (and large). They also have tacos, quesadillas, and platos. Try one with agua fresca,  jarrito (soda) or horchata (cinnamon rice milk) for the full Mexican experience.

Finale’s * (also just dessert)
39 Dunster Street |
Finale’s offers the best desserts in Harvard Square. You can go there for a sit-down lunch or a fancy-ish dinner, but expect the appetizers and entrées to be small. Don’t worry though, the point of going there is definitely to leave room for dessert. You can also just go for the dessert in the non-restaurant part. The Molten Chocolate cake is a must. Finale’s also makes special birthday cakes.

FiRE and iCE *
50 Church Street |
Fire and Ice is definitely one of the coolest restaurants in the square. All the raw ingredients (pasta, veggies, meat, seafood, salads) are set up on iced stands, and you go around filling up a bowl with whatever you like. Pick a sauce at the sauce station, then give your bowl to one of the people behind the grill in the middle and they’ll cook it for you. It’s all-you-can-eat, and every night except Monday (college night), you can try to get away with making another plate of food to doggy-bag. The drinks are also quite good if you’re old enough and there’s a bar if you just want to watch the game with a drink in hand.

Le’s Restaurant *
36 JFK Street (the Garage)|
Le’s (formerly Pho Pasteur) is the best Vietnamese place in the square. It might also be the only Vietnamese place, but we’ll let that slide. Pretty much everything on their menu is cheap, delicious, and filling, though the best dishes are still Le’s noodle bowls (pho – pronounced like  “fuh,” not like  “foe”). Go with a group of friends; the atmosphere is lively (usually crowded), and Le’s won’t break anybody’s bank.

Mr. Bartley’s Gourmet Burgers *
1246 Massachusetts Avenue |
Mr. Bartley has been offering  7 ounces of delicious beefy goodness cooked to your liking since 1960. You can also trade out the beef patty for a turkey or veggie burger. The gourmet burgers are a little pricey, but there’s a reason that they’ve been voted “Best Burgers (In America)” by The Boston Globe. They come with delicious and creative toppings, with witty names and descriptions to boot (like the John Kerry burger – “he voted for it before he voted against it”). Try their yummy-but-no-I-really-shouldn’t-keep-eating-these sweet potato fries and onion rings, and don’t forget the milkshakes and frappes. You can call ahead for take-out or order there. Take it to go and enjoy in the Yard, or stay for a sit-down meal, but be warned – there are no bathrooms at Bartley’s, and seating can be quite cramped. You’ll most likely be sitting next to people you don’t know, but hey, that’s how you make friends (or stalkers).
NOTE: Cash only. Closed Sundays.

Pinocchio’s Pizza (Noch’s) *
74 Winthrop Street |
Craving late-night pizza (or anytime pizza, for that matter)? Noch’s is the place to go. The slices (both Sicilian thick crust and Neapolitan thin crust) are cheap and the taste spot-on. They also have sandwiches and subs. Open til 1am M-Th, til 2:30am Friday and Saturday, and til midnight on Sunday.

Shabu Ya * 
57 JFK Street |
Shabu Ya is a brightly lit, modern-feeling restaurant, with vibrant colors and a friendly wait staff. It’s best known for shabu-shabu, or hot-pot, but Shabu Ya also has a great selection of sushi. It can be a little on the pricey side, depending on what you order.

Spice *
24 Holyoke Street |
Spice is a good, not-too-expensive Thai restaurant that’s closer to (parts of) the Yard than 9 Tastes. They can also get pretty crowded and busy on weekend nights.

Zero Brattle Street |
Sweet is the new cupcake bakery in the Square. They make cupcakes look so good that you almost don’t want to eat them for fear of ruining the prettiness of them. But you’ll get over them soon enough. They are cupcakes, after all. Voted Boston’s Best Cupcakes 2009 by The Improper Bostonian.

Uno’s Chicago Grill
22 JFK Street |
Uno’s is a great (and safe) choice for any meal, whether it’s a date or a group birthday dinner. There’s something for everyone, from their sliders and deep dish pizzas to salads and pasta. And the best part is definitely dessert – don’t leave without getting the Deep Dish Sundae. It’ll change the way you think about cookies.

Zoe’s Chinese
289 Beacon St, Somerville
Of the Chinese restaurants by Harvard, Zoe’s has been my favorite, with more authentic Chinese dishes than other places in the Square. It’s a bit of a walk for anyone who doesn’t live in the Quad, but ultimately worth the effort.

Zoe’s (Diner)
1105 Massachusetts Avenue |
Zoe’s is an All-American diner with a splash of Greek. The diner offers such varied dishes as Greek French Toast, Reuben sandwiches, boneless wings, and Tex Mex salad. They have a great omelet menu, with such creations as the California (with avocados) or the open-face Pizza Omelet. Take away and have a picnic by the river or stay and enjoy the diner experience. Don’t forget your root beer float.


IHOP * – 16 Eliot Street. Why star IHOP, you ask? Because what if you want pancakes at 2am?
Open til 4am daily with breakfast, lunch and dinner options.
Chang Sho – 1712 Massachusetts Avenue (past Harvard Law). Recommended: crab rangoons. Fancier feel than the other two restaurants listed below.
Hong Kong – 1238 Massachusetts Avenue. Need a greasy midnight snack? Look no further. Open til 2am Sun – Thurs and 2:30am Fri and Sat.
Yenching  –  1326 Massachusetts Avenue. Recommended: scallion pancakes, dumplings, honey ribs.
Cafés/Coffee fix
Au Bon Pain – by the T stop and Holyoke Center on Mass Ave; another one further down Mass Ave towards Mather House
Burdick’s * –  52-D Brattle Street. Delicious chocolates and the best hot chocolate in the square. Closes at 9pm.
Dunkin’ Donuts – Corner of JFK and Eliot St; another at the intersection of Bow St and Mass Ave
Greenhouse Café (Science Center)
Starbucks – 36 JFK St (in the Garage); another one on Church Street, next to Lizzy’s across from the COOP.

Greek Corner * – 8 Eliot Street. Best of Boston 2008 (Greek Food) by Boston Magazine. Cheap, but cash only.

Ice cream:
Ben and Jerry’s – 36 JFK Street (in the Garage).
Herrell’s * – 15 Dunster Street. 13-time Best of Boston winner.
JP Licks – 1312 Massachusetts Avenue.
Lizzy’s – 29 Church Street. Famous for the Mad Dog Mango sherbet. It’s spicy. No, seriously.

Café of India – 52A Brattle Street.
Tamarind Bay * – 75 Winthrop Street. Earned Zagat Survey’s highest ratings.
Tanjore* – 18 Eliot Street. Authentic regional Indian food.

Tommy Doyle’s – 96 Winthrop Street, by Staples

Bertucci’s – 21 Brattle Street. Italian dishes; brick-oven thin-crust pizzas.
Cambridge 1 – 27 Church St. Charcoal-grilled pizzas, food til midnight, open til 1am every day.
Crazy Dough Pizza Co. – 36 JFK St (The Garage). Gourmet pizza by the slice or whole pizzas.
The Upper Crust Pizzeria * – 49b Brattle Street. Gourmet thin crust pizza; free delivery to Harvard. College Day Tuesdays – 10% off Eat-In and Take-Out orders (as in, no delivery).

Chipotle – One Brattle Street. Environmentally conscious Mexican food.
Qdoba * – 1280 Massachusetts Avenue.

Wagamama – 57 JFK Street (by Staples).

Grafton Street Pub and Grill – 1230 Massachusetts Avenue. Really busy around and after dinner.
John Harvard’s Brew House – 33 Dunster Street (by The Garage). You can go there to watch games.

B. Good (burgers) – 24 Dunster Street.
Charlie’s Kitchen (burgers) – 10 Eliot Street.
Flat Patties (burgers) – 81 Mt. Auburn Street (in the Garage).
Grendel’s Den – 89 Winthrop Street (near Staples).
Oggi Gourmet * – 1350 Massachusetts Avenue (in Holyoke Center). Pizzas, sandwiches, and salads. Try one of their amazing giant cookies with nuts, craisins, and a bajillion other things.

Legal Sea Food – 20 University Road (by the Kennedy School and The Charles Hotel)

Sushi/Sushi and more:
Café Sushi – 1105 Massachusetts Avenue.
Shilla – 57 JFK Street (by Staples). Korean and Japanese.
Takemura* – 18 Eliot Street (basement).

Upstairs on the Square – 91 Winthrop Street. Fancy menu, fancy prices.
Sandrine’s Bistro (French-Alsatian) * – 8 Holyoke Street. Prix fixe menu available (multiple courses) at $40 dollars a person. The chef was recently knighted by the French government. Yeah.

Susan Zhu (szhu@fas) ’11 meets the demand for gourmands.