I’m not bigoted against vegetarians. On the contrary, I have many vegetarian friends. I talk and joke and laugh with them as if they were real people. I am a big enough person to tolerate them, even if they have not been enlightened by that most divine truth: the Maillard reaction is proof that God loves us and wants us to eat meat.
When was the last time you ate at a restaurant alone? For that matter, when was the last time you went out alone, took a walk alone, or amused yourself alone? It seems to me that when people have fun, they go in duos, trios, quartets, a whole crowd. Those that dine solo are branded “forever alone” by society and self. However, recent failures in my love life have made the thought of dining company intolerable, so I recently decided to eat lunch alone at Strega Waterfront.
Just a month before the end of the semester — and my life at MIT — I decided to go out and have a nice, stress-relieving dinner. On Tuesday we went to Hungry Mother, a tiny restaurant just in the corner of Portland and Bristol streets, in front of the Kendall Square Cinema. I discovered it by luck and since then I had always planned to visit it. What an amazing surprise!
If you’re particular about coffee, you know about Area Four already — their shots are dense, their lattes are tiny and strong, and if, like me, you have a shameful preference for vats of the watery American stuff, they do a great job at that, too.
When I need a thoroughly non-MIT place to escape to, Atomic Bean Café is one of my favorite places ever. Tooling may be a way of life but I too, need my regular dose of free WiFi, delicious espresso, and even ridiculous pastries made with kale.
It’s a Saturday evening, and you’re hungry. You ate brunch at 10 a.m. and haven’t had a bite to eat since then. It’s been a long, busy week, and between classes during the day and psets at night, you’ve been grabbing a quick burger and fries or plate of pasta most nights for dinner. You need to take a break and recharge — so why not grab some friends and get dinner at Life Alive, a restaurant with a relaxing atmosphere and a revitalizing menu?
Boston is famous for its fantastic fish, clam chowder, lobster, crab rolls, and oysters, but I was raised on different sort of food. My home state, Texas, is famous for its Tex-Mex and BBQ. When I get homesick for Mexican food, there are plenty of restaurants that will sort of fill the void until I can go home. But when I’m craving real BBQ, when all I want is a brisket sandwich on jalapeño toast and drenched in sauce, I can only sigh, think of home, and move on. The other day, though, I happened to walk by Sweet Cheeks Q, a restaurant near Fenway proclaiming Texas-style BBQ. I had to stop in right away. What I found both delighted and disappointed me.
One of the most underrated assets of MIT is its location. A 10-minute bridge walk takes you into the heart of Boston, and a 10-minute bus ride gets you to that other university. What this means is that great food is never too far away. As company info sessions wind down, it is time to go out and explore the restaurants that our city has to offer.
After every Netflix binge that inevitably includes an all-too-frequent viewing of Jiro Dreams of Sushi, I am always left looking for a way to satisfy my cravings for raw fish. After determining that a flight to Tokyo isn’t the most efficient or economical option, I turn to the choices that Boston and Cambridge have to offer. If you too suffer from recurring bouts of hamachi withdrawal, I’d recommend giving either (or both) of my go-to places a try.
Unless you are a freshman, you likely recall walking down Mass. Ave. toward Central and seeing for the first time the large white and blue sign that proudly declared “Pu Pu Hot Pot.” While I never set foot inside Pu Pu Hot Pot, when I saw that the banner had been replaced by a sleek new sign, I felt bereft. The walk to Central would never be quite as funny as it used to be. However, I had a hunch it might be tastier, as the new sign announced that a new restaurant would be taking its place, Patty Chen’s Dumpling Room. I love a good dumpling, and dislike going all the way to Chinatown to get good ones. The thought of homemade dumplings close by was incredibly enticing, so I headed over as soon as it opened.
As a student at MIT, it is often hard to find reasons to branch out from the standard food options surrounding campus. However, staying in the “MIT bubble” deprives students of the chance to eat out at many of the great restaurants a little farther away from this part of the city.
The Elephant Walk has locations in both Cambridge and Boston, and its most unique aspect is that it serves from an extensive menu of both French and Cambodian dishes. At the Cambridge location for a casual dinner, it took me a while just to read through the menu and choose dishes that would allow me to taste a variety of the restaurant’s offerings.
You’ll find Le’s Vietnamese Restaurant inside The Garage in Harvard Square, and if you haven’t been, it’s definitely worth checking out. The atmosphere is very peaceful; the walls are warm colors, and paper lantern-like lighting hangs overhead. There is an extensive menu of Vietnamese dishes, but I have to say, if you go, you should try the pho.
I was really happy when I first heard that the Boston West Saferide had changed its route. It meant that it would be much easier to get to Allston, the liveliest hub of Asian restaurants in the area. Unlike Chinatown, where the majority of places serve Cantonese or Taiwanese cuisine, Allston is a true melting pot of various Asian cuisines. If you are craving Asian food but do not know exactly what you want, I suggest that you just hop on the Boston West and explore what Allston has to offer.
If you’re interested in fine dining in Boston, Barbara Lynch is a name that is probably worth learning. Ever since founding No. 9 Park fifteen years ago, her influence in the Boston restaurant scene has grown, along with the number of restaurants in her culinary empire. The “Barbara Lynch Gruppo” now boasts six restaurants (No. 9 Park, Menton, B&G Oysters, The Butcher Shop, Sportello, and Stir), a bar (Drink), and a catering company (9 at Home). Each offers its own focus, and a couple even have prices that make them semi-accessible to college students. Despite their differences, they all share critical acclaim.
Although the restaurant name may not sound very appetizing, The Salty Pig is a great option if you are in the mood for charcuterie. To get to The Salty Pig, you can walk through the Prudential Center and cut through Copley Place. Once you exit the mall, the restaurant will be right there.
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.
I am not a vegetarian by any means. I always go for a beef patty over a veggie patty, or a chicken Caesar salad over a regular Caesar salad. Back at home, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever stepped foot into a vegetarian restaurant. But, so I’ve been told, college is “the time to try new things,” and so I’ve started to venture into the world of meatless restaurants.
For many, IAP is a time to learn the invaluable life skill of cooking. But IAP is also a great time to explore the restaurants that Cambridge has to offer, especially those near campus. A brief walk down Massachusetts Avenue yields Shalimar of India, a mid-size restaurant in Central Square.
Gastropubs are on-trend right now, and Stoddard’s Fine Food and Ale near Downtown Crossing has certainly embraced the spirit of that movement. With a menu that features comfort food, an extensive cocktail list, and (unsurprisingly) ale, this quirky restaurant is a solid choice if you are near the Common. The first thing you notice is the building itself, which is narrow (as are so many restaurants downtown) but which features two floors of bar space. Stoddard’s proudly embraces its history as the former home of a corset factory, decorating the walls with some samples straight out of the 19th century. The bar itself is lively and welcoming. You definitely get the feeling as you walk in that this is a restaurant that wants you to stick around, but anyone looking for a somewhat subdued dinner may want to turn around and walk right back out the door.
Craigie on Main has held the position of the upscale restaurant near MIT since before I arrived. Recently, the restaurant’s chef Tony Maws opened a more casual eatery out on Washington Street in Somerville. His new brainchild, The Kirkland Tap and Trotter or KTT, is an excellent choice if you are looking to celebrate a little bit without breaking the bank.
Tucked away between Central Square and Harvard Square, Garden at The Cellar is one of those casual places that you can regularly count on to find great food at reasonable prices. Since they don’t take reservations, we repeatedly postponed the visit, but this time we decided to check it out anyway.
If you are a frequent customer at Flour, you may know that the bakery is owned by Joanne Chang, a chef who has made a name for herself in the Boston area. Besides running the four branches of the popular bakery, Joanne also heads an Asian fusion restaurant in the South End — Myers + Chang. Even though it is no easy trek to get there, I decided to give the restaurant a try and decide if the hype was deserved.
Caribbean food, with its warmth and traditional spices, seems like the perfect way to escape this never-ending Boston winter, at least for an hour or two. Some ‘Ting Nice, located in a run-down building right on McGrath Highway in Somerville, attempts to provide some respite, but fails to fully deliver on that promise. While their menu has a wide variety of Caribbean options, the dishes themselves were uneven and left me wishing this restaurant could live up to its potential.
For our latest night out on the town, we ventured into the financial district and visited Blue Inc., a place for wild culinary adventures helmed by Chef Jason Santos of FOX’s “Hell’s Kitchen.” It was a little hard to get there — it was a 10 minute walk from the Downtown Crossing T station — but the food and the handcrafted cocktails were definitely worth the trip. Blue Inc. serves mostly new American-style cuisine, although many of the dishes are inspired by Asian spices and flavors. With six in our group, we were able to share and sample a variety of dishes.
Shabu-shabu, the Japanese style of hot pot, actually translates to swish-swish, echoing the sounds that the ingredients make as you stir them in the soup at your table. It makes sense that Swish Shabu has evoked this auditory experience with their name, as they provide a dining experience that is a treat for all of the senses. Not only are the cook-it-yourself meats and vegetables delicious, the presentation is excellent and the pleasant service adds to an overwhelmingly positive meal.
On the corner of Newbury and Gloucester Street, Back Bay restaurant Cafeteria offers a classy interpretation of a typical cafeteria menu. Dinner prices range from $12 to $18, and the polished, upscale atmosphere resembles nothing of a stereotypical cafeteria. The menu includes a few quirky selections, like Cheeseburger Spring Rolls and a Boston Cream Burger, but there are also a variety of traditional American comforts like grilled cheese and macaroni and cheese.
Dine Out Boston, formerly Restaurant Week, took place this year on March 16 – 21 and 23 – 28. Even though the second half of the citywide event coincided with spring break, the two-week celebration is a great chance for students to try out some high-end restaurants at slightly more affordable prices.
After a short walk from Andrews station on the Red Line, you may find yourself thinking you are in Poland when you walk into the tiny room that houses Café Polonia. You will be greeted warmly by a strong Eastern European accent and menus written both in English and Polish. The Slavic comfort food delivers on authenticity as well as quality, making the quick trip down to Dorchester worth it any day of the week.
It seems that every time I visit the Union Square area, I find a new spot that makes me wish that Somerville neighborhood was closer to campus. Highland Kitchen was a find that reaffirmed that sentiment. With well-executed and unique renditions of international comfort food as well as a modest and fun vibe, this restaurant is one that I could see myself returning to night after night.
The quest for the perfect steak may take you places: you might have to go on a pilgrimage to unfamiliar faraway lands, cross a language barrier with the chef to find your favorite cut, or spend a late night at someone’s grandma’s kitchen. Tango was all of that to us — a virtual trip to Argentina, a mine of perfect cuts, and a table for home-cooked meals.
Sunday, Aug. 17 marks the start of my favorite biannual holiday: Restaurant Week (RW) in Boston! Starting then, restaurants in the area will offer special menus at a fixed price to entice new diners to enter their doors. Technically, the two-week event is now called “Dine Out Boston,” but it will always be RW to me. The name and format change occurred this past winter, and officially participating restaurants can now offer two- or three-course meals for $15, $20, or $25 for lunch. For dinner, restaurants can now choose between $28, $33, or $38. From my past experiences with Restaurant Week, I’ve picked up some general guidelines that help ensure your RW meal is worth it.
I’ve been walking past Naco Taco every day since it opened this past spring near Central Square. Its constantly-populated patio and brightly-colored-taco-truck exterior always caught my attention, and last week I decided I needed to give the joint a try.
Fast casual eateries seem to be popping up left and right these days, and I think it’s wonderful. Bon Me and Clover are two great local ones, and I never have anything against Panera or Shake Shack, even if they are national chains. Compared to the average sit-down restaurant, they save time and money, and the quality of food isn’t too shabby either.
Weekends were made for brunch, and the recent polar-chill weekend was no exception for me and my buddies, Julia and Krystal. We ventured over to Loyal Nine in the East Cambridge area, and we were welcomed into a light-filled, rustic-themed restaurant. Our booth’s raw wooden seats looked (and felt) as if they just came out of a woodworking shop, and our napkins were what I like to call “faux washcloths” — those white square linen cloths with a single washed-out blue stripe. The water came in a pour-it-yourself tall bottle, and I could see a bit of the open kitchen on the other side of the room. The ambience was the perfect recipe for an artsy Instagram post, but their actual food recipes could have used some help.
Specializing in South Indian and Sri Lankan dishes, Suvaai offers up sumptuous subcontinental soul food for a price that won’t make your eyes water – even if its punchy curries might.
If you've recently walked up Mass Ave towards Random Hall on a weekend night, you've probably noticed the lines out the door at the new Central Square hotspot, Roxy's/A4CADE.
From meatless Mondays to glossy vegan cookbooks, embracing a plant-only diet is becoming both easier and much more appetizing. Hopping aboard this trend is By Chloe, which recently opened its eighth location (and only its second outside New York) in Boston’s Seaport district.
The restaurant, which opened late in February, is two blocks from Copley Square and looks like a nondescript Comm Ave basement on the outside, but offers an intimate, moody atmosphere indoors thanks to its small dining spaces and rustic, magnolia-tinged decor.
With a variety of seating arrangements, innovative offerings of fried chicken and a hospitable attitude, BB.Q chicken might be the next stop in your nights out if you’re open to new experiences.
Around the corner from Eliot Hotel, Back Bay restaurant UNI opened in 2002 with contemporary twists on traditional Asian cuisine. From the outside, it seems like an unimpressive shabby nightclub; but through the wooden door was an upscale, classy restaurant, dimly lit and with an elegant atmosphere.
Nestled right outside of Harvard Square, Waypoint is Michael Scelfo’s second restaurant after the excellent Alden & Harlow. Featuring beautiful coastally-inspired dishes, elegant modern décor, a carefully curated raw bar, and prices to match, Waypoint is the type of nice restaurant you might not expect to find MIT students very often.