Escape the Harvard Bubble!
First, it was Al’s and Yenching. Then went B. Good and Panera. And now, at the end of this school year, gone will be the beloved Greenhouse Café in the Science Center. Where is a Harvard student to eat?
I suggest trying somewhere in Allston. Given the dwindling number of options in Harvard Square, I decided to take the 66 bus to Allston on my free Thursday afternoons to see what the town over had to offer. Well, there are quite a few. While eating in Allston may not be convenient for eating in between classes and meetings, it is a wonderful place to go to get out of the Harvard Bubble and treat yo’self on a free afternoon or evening. Here are a few recommendations:
- Sofra Bakery and Café
Chef Ana Sortun wanted a new project after the success of her renowned Mediterranean restaurant in Boston, called Oleana. Inspired by the bazaars she encountered on a trip to Turkey, she created Sofra Bakery and Café to make Mediterranean flavors approachable to the American palette. The menu boasts the staples of Mediterranean food, like shawarma, falafel, and hummus, but also offers small dishes made with a mix of Mediterranean and local ingredients. By small dishes, I mean small dishes. Sofra is not the place to go if you are looking for large portions. However, great things can come on small plates! I ordered the Mezze platter with warm pita, beet tzatziki, Moroccan carrots, hot pepper labne, kale, and whipped feta. While I enjoyed everything, the hot pepper labne, a spicy and creamy yogurt spread, and the beet tzatziki were the stand out stars. Luckily for me, a newly converted addict of hot pepper labne and beet tzatziki, Sofra sells several of their menu items to take home!
- Garlic n’ Lemons
After my positive experience at Sofra, I couldn’t seem to shake my craving for more Middle Eastern food. My next restaurant adventure in Allston was to Garlic n’ Lemons, a Lebanese restaurant featuring shawarma and falafel wraps and plates. While Sofra had a more gourmet take on Middle Eastern food, with its intricate flavors and small portions, Garlic n’ Lemons had more of a fast-food feel. And the portions were huge! My lunch companion ordered a shawafel wrap, with beef shawarma and falafel, and I ordered the spicy chicken shawarma plate. When our food arrived, we were genuinely concerned that we would never be able to finish it. While the shawafel wrap was “only okay”, the spicy chicken shawarma plate was dynamite. For $11.50, you get a mountain of shredded pieces of spicy chicken drenched in a creamy garlic sauce, atop a bed of Greek salad and flavorful, tender potatoes.
- Roxy’s Grilled Cheese
The Roxy’s Grilled Cheese food truck makes an appearance in the Science Center Plaza every Friday, but if you happen to miss it their brick and mortar location is in Allston. The restaurant actually offers a few more options than the truck, including several vegan grilled cheese sandwiches. Upon the recommendation of the two workers behind the counter, I ordered the Pimento Grilled Cheese, which also is not offered in the truck. The bread was slathered in butter and grilled to a perfect crunchy exterior, contrasted with the oozing, spicy cheese. Another perk of the store is the authentic PacMan game in the corner of the store- perfect for distracting yourself from your hunger while you wait for your grilled cheese!
Conveniently located a few doors down from Roxy’s, FoMu boasts I-can’t-believe-its- really-vegan ice cream. Unfortunately, the ice cream was so tasty that there was no time to take a picture of it before it was gone. I ordered the peanut butter fudge ice cream with hot fudge topping, and my friend got a brownie sundae with caramel ice cream and caramel sauce. Made with coconut milk instead of real dairy products, this ice cream has a hint of coconut flavor, but still maintains the creaminess of real ice cream. Even the hot fudge and caramel topping is vegan too! And because it’s all vegan, it’s healthy…right?
So as Harvard continues its quest to take over Allston with engineers, perhaps students might also trek to these exotic eateries!
Caroline Gentile ’17 (email@example.com) plans to buy several containers of hot pepper labne and beet tzatziki the next time she goes to Sofra, and hoard them in her mini-fridge for late-night snacking purposes.