Arts restaurant review

Southern comfort food

If only you can get to Inman Square


1193 Cambridge St., Cambridge

Tuesday – Wednesday 5–10 p.m., Thursday – Saturday 5–11 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m.

How many squares around MIT can you name? Kendall, Central, and Harvard probably come to mind. You may even be familiar with Tech Square. But one square that I only recently discovered is Inman Square. Located north of Central Square, the neighborhood is a bit out of the way but boasts a wide selection of culturally diverse restaurants. I decided to check it out and went to dine at Tupelo, which offers southern comfort food.

Tupelo was about half full when I got there late on a Thursday night. I immediately noticed that the restaurant was much smaller than I had expected and was primarily lit by the candles on each table. It is also one of those places where the waiters dress casual and where water is served in mason jars.

One of the main reasons I chose Tupelo was because I had never been to a southern food restaurant in Boston, or — to be honest — anywhere else. Therefore, my approach was to try as many different dishes as possible.

For appetizers, I had cornbread, cheddar grits, and corndog. The bread was sweet as expected, but also drier than the usual cornbread. Having never had grits before, I found them to taste similar to oatmeal. Overall, the cheddar grits were very heavy and salty. As it turned out, my favorite appetizer was the pork belly corndog. The crispy exterior complemented extremely well with the tender pork inside, which tasted deliciously fatty and seemed to melt instantly. In fact, it was so good that it entirely changed my perception of corndogs.

Another highlight of the meal was the Cajun gumbo, which consisted of smoked Andouille sausage, pulled chicken, and fresh okra. Again, the dish was heavy and slightly salty, but the thick texture and the unique mix of spices made it a memorable experience. In addition to the gumbo, I had the beef brisket and fried chicken with mac and cheese, but unfortunately neither was particularly amazing. The beef brisket was tender and flavorful, but the side dish of mashed potatoes was mediocre, and the mac and cheese was rich and creamy, but the fried chicken tasted very standard.

For dessert, I am very glad I made the decision to try the brown butter pecan pie with Belgian chocolate ice cream on top, as it definitely surpassed the appetizers and entrees in quality. The cold and soft ice cream perfectly complemented the warm, gooey, and chewy pie. Switching back and forth between the pie and the ice cream, I finished the dessert within a minute.

All in all, I enjoyed trying a variety of southern dishes at Tupelo, although the food was not extraordinary. Still, I recommend paying the restaurant a visit. In particular, the atmosphere is great for casual dates. If southern food is not your priority, Inman Square also offers many options in other cuisines — especially Brazilian and Portuguese. That said, the neighborhood is not directly accessible by the T, so I suggest either taking a car or walking there when it isn’t freezing outside.