Home to Harvard University, Cambridge is frequently considered part of Boston, but it's technically its own city. Whether you're staying downtown or in Cambridge, you'll want to try at least one of the top restaurants below, which range from a popular Jewish delicatessen to a farm-to-table New England eatery.
At Alden & Harlow in Harvard Square, chef Michael Scelfo has earned quite the reputation over the past several years for his high-quality, innovative, and flavorful American dishes.
The menu changes regularly, but past dinner options include lamb 'nduja bolognese, crispy Berkshire pork belly, and vegetarian-friendly dishes like honey-roasted carrots and roasted porcini mushrooms. Whether you're there for dinner or brunch, you'll want to try the "Secret Burger," one of the few dishes that has become a menu staple.
Open for dinner Tuesdays through Thursdays, BISq in Inman Square is the sister restaurant to Somerville's popular Bergamot. This restaurant and wine bar offers comfort food in the form of Instagram-worthy American small plates (think delicata squash tempura, shrimp and grits with adobo and creamed corn, and fried chicken with Thai bird chili salt, buttermilk ranch, or chipotle BBQ). The complimentary wine list primarily includes natural, organic, and bio-dynamic selections from France and Germany.
Cafe Sushi has been a Harvard Square staple since 1984, offering a wide variety of classic Japanese and other signature makis, small plates, and more. One of the draws to this restaurant is their Omakase, a chef's tasting menu that includes several courses of delicious dishes. Keep in mind that this takes up to 2.5 hours and you'll have to make a reservation ahead of time. For drinks, choose from wine, beer, or their extensive collection of premium sakes.
Chef Tony Maws calls Craigie on Main's French-inspired cuisine "refined rusticity," with an ever-rotating menu that draws from whatever seasonal ingredients he can get his hands on. Sample entrées include a slow-roasted dayboat grey sole with Maine mussels, and a roasted heritage pork loin with cotechino sausage.
But the Craigie Burger is in part why this restaurant has become so well-known. They only offer 18 a day at the bar, so grab yours before they sell out. If you're too late or not in the Cambridge area, you can also get one at the Time Out Market in Fenway.
If you're looking for Italian food in Cambridge, try Giulia, located within close proximity to both Porter and Harvard Square. While their menu changes frequently, you can expect dishes like pappardelle with wild boar, celery root gnocchi with lobster, and potato culurgiones with smoked pork belly and littleneck clams.
No matter where you prefer to sit or your party size, you'll want to plan ahead and make a reservation, as this restaurant can get booked up. You can also check out their sister restaurant, Benedetto, which is inside the Charles Hotel.
Harvest serves up New England ingredients in a farm-to-table setting, with an open kitchen that allows you to watch the cooks in action. Open for more than 40 years, this restaurant has since been redesigned to introduce fireside dining, though in the warm weather months (or even in chillier temps with heaters), many prefer to enjoy a meal on the private Garden Terrace.
In true New England fashion, you can count on a variety of seafood dishes ranging from Scituate lobster bisque to a locally sourced raw bar and Georges Bank haddock. But there's plenty to offer beyond seafood, like the 12-ounce brandy prime beef strip loin, red beet and butternut squash tortelloni, and Sunday prime rib roast.
Mamaleh's in Kendall Square is a modern Jewish delicatessen, with a contemporary twist on traditional deli meals and a big menu of milkshakes and old-fashioned sodas. The restaurant owners opened Mamaleh's with the goal of making anyone who walked through their doors smile, as the name comes from a Yiddish term meaning "endearment for a young child."
Start off your meal with matzo ball soup and a sandwich; you have your pick of options, including pastrami, corned beef, house-cured lox, and egg salad. Don't miss out on an order of Minnie's blintzes with raspberry preserves for dessert.
You can also try a portion of the Mamaleh's menu at their pop-up at the Time Out Market in Fenway.
In between Central and Harvard Squares is Pammy's, a "New American restaurant inspired by the feel of an Italian neighborhood trattoria." We say that in quotes because there's no better way to describe this restaurant, run by a local husband-and-wife team who want your meals to not only be delicious, but also a memorable experience with loved ones.
With that, the menu has several innovative pasta dishes like taglierini with wagyu oxtail, chocolate, and horseradish, in addition to yam caramelle with espresso brown butter, apple, and smoked chestnut. Main dishes range from an Italian eggplant dish to a 45-day dry-aged rib-eye.
For modern American cuisine paired with a fun and casual restaurant vibe, you'll want to try Puritan & Company. Their ingredients come from local, reputable farms to create main dishes like phyllo-wrapped cod, seared scallops with grilled lamb T-Bone, and crab salad toast. They also have a raw bar, a selection of pasta dishes, and several unique vegetable offerings. If you're there with a group, check out their six-course seasonal offering, though the whole table must agree to participate.
Fans of "Top Chef" will want to try out chef Carl Dooley's The Table at Season to Taste. Here you'll find a four-course prix fixe menu each day, with internationally-inspired dishes that use local, seasonal ingredients. The menu changes frequently, but you can expect courses like veal meatball and white kimchi stew, roasted local scallops en barigoule, and grapefruit trifle.
With only 20 seats available in the restaurant, you can also try their wine bar where they offer small plates to pair with your drink of choice.