Cambridge, Massachusetts, is one of the most appealing cities to visit on the USA’
s East Coast. Settled back in 1630 by the English puritans, the city is now home to two of the world’s most prestigious universities, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As a result, it has a lively social scene. Here are some of the best Cambridge restaurants in which to soak up the cerebral surroundings.
Restaurant, American, $$$
Renowned in Cambridge for high-quality dining, Harvest
has won numerous awards for its food, wine and service. Serving contemporary New England cooking, it can be found right on Harvard Square where it has been a regular sight since the 1970s. Harvest describes itself as a welcome respite from the hectic life of the square, boasting elegant decor and a relaxing ambience. With a long history of eminent chefs, it is currently run by celebrated Head Chef Mary Dumont, who takes strong interest in local produce, so expect seasonal menus, innovative creations, as well as American classics. It also has a great outside space on the square which is ideal for enjoying Harvest’s renowned Sunday brunch when the weather gets warm.
Craigie on Main
Brasserie, Restaurant, French, American, $$$
Winner of countless awards and located right on Cambridge’s Main Street, Craigie on Main is one choice you simply cannot miss. Run by talented Chef Tony Maws, winner of Boston’s Best Chef, this bistro-style restaurant specialises in creative, French-inspired cuisine, or ‘refined rusticity’ in Craigie’s terms, and takes pride in its ethos of only using the best seasonal, local and most importantly organic products in its dishes. Taking only the best daily produce as it comes in, the menu inevitably changes with what is in season, so there is always a variety of exciting new meals to try. The restaurant also lavishes great attention on its innovative cocktail menu and select wine list which, again, gives preference to organic vineyards and sustainable agriculture.
Bar, Restaurant, American, $$$
An inspired mix of smart gastropub and dive bar, Atwood’s Tavern is one of the best spots in Cambridge for those who like to be serenaded as they eat. Although modest and unassuming from the outside, located slightly apart from the busiest areas of Cambridge, inside is a whirl of activity, as this pub – restaurant – club pulls in diners night after night with its live music. Its large bar holds more variety of beer (often locally brewed) than you could ever want or need and a small stage at the back of the restaurant permits local bands and singers to perform while listeners dine. Bar snacks on offer include calamari, mussels and chips and charcuterie plates, while mains include braised beef, fish stew, Mac and Cheese and all kinds of burgers. Winner of Hidden Boston’s Best American Restaurant 2013, this place should definitely be sampled by those in search of an experience as well as a delicious meal.
Restaurant, Healthy, Vegetarian, $$$
This should definitely be first choice for all those to whom their body is their temple. At Life Alive
expect fresh, local, organic foods prepared with the primary mission of cleansing the soul through the care of the body. A well and truly artificial-preservative free-zone, this organic café specialises in fresh, flavoursome, wholesome food created to leave its diners feeling full of life, with an inspired selection of Thai-style noodle and vegetable dishes, grilled wraps and super food-packed salads. There is also a great choice of smoothies and juices with plenty of fantastic detoxifying and nutrient-rich ingredients. Artistic decor and a chilled, hippy atmosphere make this a perfect spot for light lunches, particularly for those with an interest in healthy eating, the local community and the environment.
Restaurant, Contemporary, American, Seafood, $$$
A cosy little establishment located on Broadway, Bondir
prides boasts a delightful, farmhouse style setting whilst serving first-class yet unpretentious food. Owned by Chef Jason Bond, this is an excellent choice for those who prefer their food fresh and locally-sourced from the New England region. The menu will vary daily according to the season and whim of the chef, but expect plenty of seafood, meat and salads, all with a creative twist courtesy of Bond. A few of the most mouth-watering dishes include roasted Rouen duck breast, cured Scituate scallops and Angus beef bavette. With a variety of simple but delicious fare served on mismatched antique plates, friendly service and an elegant rustic backdrop, Bondir is always a popular choice. Just be sure to book ahead as the 26-seat salon fills up fast!
Restaurant, Hotel Restaurant, Contemporary, American, $$$
You can find the ArtBar
located in Cambridge’s Royal Sonesta Hotel, but do not let that put you off, as the hotel boasts an outstanding collection of art which decorates the walls of its restaurant. Offering an excellent selection of contemporary regional and seasonal American cuisine, the restaurant has also won several dining awards including the Diner’s Choice Winner at OpenTable. ArtBar aims to use ingredients sourced from local and organic farmers to create such delicious choices as their famous Maine lobster roll, spicy oysters, grilled artichokes and steaks, as well as soups, sandwiches and flatbreads at lunch. The restaurant also has outside seating along the Charles River, with some beautiful views over the Boston skyline. Pride is especially taken in imaginative cocktails at their large bar and world-class wines.
Restaurant, American, Contemporary, $$$
A sophisticated and spacious yet cosy and comfortable setting with award-winning food, Catalyst
is another excellent choice for quality cuisine in a relaxing, unpretentious setting. Food is carefully crafted from locally-grown organic produce as well as sustainably-sourced meat and fish, and the menu is continually changing as the best food comes into season in the region’s farms. You will be able to enjoy modern American cuisine with numerous international influences, and a well-stocked bar promotes a fantastic selection of wines, beers and cocktails. The dining room is modern and sleek, with hues of brown and towering windows, although wooden boards and an open fireplace bestow a distinctly homely atmosphere which prevents it from becoming pretentious. When the weather is warm enough, Catalyst also provides a landscaped outdoor space for diners to enjoy.
Market, Bar, Restaurant, American, Contemporary, $$$
Certainly an interesting setup, Commonwealth comprises both a market and café area in the front while you can head to the back for a sit-down meal in its restaurant. The farm-style, rustic decor is a wonderful use of the restaurant’s large spaces. On the café side there is plenty of seasonal produce to buy and a great selection of sandwiches and salads for a light lunch. The restaurant menu also offers some wonderful choices, including Clam Chowder, Greek Salad and flatbreads to start, followed by New Bedford scallops, Long Island Duck and Lamb Shank for main. Another of the restaurant’s selling-points is its use of local ingredients, so menus inevitably change with the seasons. Striving to achieve flavoursome, filling food and a relaxed atmosphere ‘reminiscent of Sunday dinners,’ Commonwealth is certainly a delicious, although not cheap, option.
The Elephant Walk
Restaurant, Brasserie, South American, French, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free, $$$
One of two locations in the Boston area, the Cambridge branch of The Elephant Walk
has been serving Cambodian and French cuisine for twenty years now. A family-owned fusion establishment, it offers a wide selection of food for all kinds of diners, including vegetarians, vegan and gluten-free options. Inspiration for dishes comes from the cultural influences of its owners whose roots go back to Cambodia, and many of these dishes can be found in traditional Cambodian culture. Other dishes incorporate culinary innovation and modern ideas with typical ingredients to produce exciting and innovative menus. You can also try your hand at cooking up Elephant Walk-inspired dishes with culinary classes taught by the restaurant chefs, which are run throughout the year.