You should be experiencing major FOMO if you graduate from Harvard without eating at one of these places!
1. Night Market
75 Winthrop St
Partly because of its subterranean nature and unassuming front, Night Market has gone unnoticed by many Harvard students—I personally have never stepped into it until senior year. But the moment I dug into the Dan Dan Noodles, I knew I had to go back. This is a heaven if you like strong tastes like me. I also recommend the Shaky Shaky Beef and the Xinjiang Lamb Kebabs. The chef puts on many creative twists on Asian street foods. Because of the relatively small and dark interior, the atmosphere feels very chill, and you can look at some interesting Cultural Revolution-themed wall murals while enjoying your meal. They don’t accept reservations, so try to go on the early side if you want to be guaranteed a table. Also, they are only open for dinner, because, duh, it’s the Night Market.
56 John F. Kennedy St
I have friends who have spent four years at Harvard without ever stepping into—or even noticing—Orinoco. To be fair, this Venezuelan restaurant is hard to find because it’s tucked away in a small courtyard on JFK St. There have been times when my dinner dates have difficulty finding it even with Google Maps. But the food is simply wonderful and never fails to delight me. Every time I introduce a friend to Orinoco, he or she becomes a converted Orinoco fan and keeps going back and raving about it. The highlight is really the meat—try the lamb for the entree and the bacon dates for the appetizer. They also don’t take reservations, but good thing is that they are also open for lunch, which is much more affordable and quiet.
3. Formaggio’s Kitchen
244 Huron Ave
If you like wine and cheese, this place is heaven on earth. It is only a 10-minute walk from the Quad, but non-Quadlings should check it out, too, because a visit to Formaggio’s Kitchen will improve your quality of life by 20% for the following week (at least for me). This is the only place on earth where I have been able to find my favorite cider (Eden Barrel Aged Northern Spy Ice Cider). This is where Harvard’s Wine Society gets wines for its tasting events. If there’s a wine or cheese that you have been having difficulty to find, chances are you will find it at Formaggio’s. The best part is that they have free samples for just about everything, from gourmet cheeses to dessert wines. You can also buy specialty foods that is hard to find anywhere else, like cookies, chocolates, and granola.
4. The Kirkland Tap & Trotter
425 Washington St, Somerville
The best thing I’ve eaten all semester was a Chermoula rubbed lamb leg steak at The Kirkland Tap & Trotter, a fantastic restaurant that’s only a 9-minute walk from Annenberg but hardly any Harvard student knows about. Besides a huge selection of beer and cider, it also has some excellent meat dishes. When I cut the aforementioned lamb steak the juice oozed out in a stream and the taste was flavorful beyond description. The portion for the dishes there was just right; for the first time in ages I actually finished my food at an American restaurant. KT&T also boasts fried oyster Wednesdays, fried chicken Sundays, and hot dog Mondays. Make sure to make a reservation before you go.
1030 Massachusetts Ave
Waypoint is underappreciated mostly because it’s so new; I have full confidence that within a year it will become an established Harvard Square classic like Alden & Harlow, which was started by the same chef. I am in love with Waypoint even though it has a seafood-heavy menu and I don’t really eat seafood. The few non-seafood dishes I’ve tried there have been just incredible. I still dream about the Maine lamb shoulder roast I once had at Waypoint—I was literally served with a mountain of glistening lamb, and just the sight of it was mouth-watering. The mound of meat is covered by a thick layer of fatty lamb that melts in your mouth. Even beyond that layer, the meat is so tender that it falls apart with the lightest pull. It is a carnivore’s dream. But the dish is also a good balance between meat and veggies that are equally flavorful: it is surrounded by a ring of anchovy, marrow beans, pickled lemon. I recommend the dish (which costs $64) to be shared among three people. If you feel like dinner at Waypoint is too pricey (it’s a three-dollar-sign restaurant after all), try going for weekend brunch, which can be as reasonable as $20 per person. Need another reason to go to Waypoint? The menu includes 20 types of absinthe.
6. Dali Restaurant and Tapas Bar
415 Washington St, Somerville
Dali is a traditional Spanish tapas restaurant that’s only a 9-minute walk from Annenberg (right next door to The Kirkland Tap & TrotteR). When I visited, I enjoyed some delicious small plates (the best one was Chuletillas—grilled baby lamb chops with peach sauce), a house sangria that came in a jar, and a great flan. The dark, lively atmosphere makes it a great date spot.
7. The Maharaja
57 John F. Kennedy St
Did you know that The Maharaja has a $11 lunch buffet seven days a week? At least I didn’t, until this semester. This is a great place to go out for a weekday lunch when you want to chat with someone over a meal in a semi-classy setting but don’t feel like spending the money for an American restaurant. The mango lassi is also amazing.
8. Flame Hot Pot and Sushi
1001 Massachusetts Ave
If you like spicy food and hot pot, Flame should become your new favorite. This is one of the very few places in Harvard Square where you can get food that is called “spicy” and actually tastes spicy. Try the spicy soup base for the hot pot and some classic Sichuan dishes. Make sure to wear clothes that you are going to wash anyway, because otherwise they will smell like hot pot for a few days.
9. Broadway Marketplace
If I told you there’s a Whole Foods right outside Lamont, how happy would you be? Well, there is actually a little Whole Foods-like supermarket that’s only a 4-minute walk from Lamont. If you need some groceries or specialty foods (like baked goods) and don’t have the time to go to Trader Joes or H-Mart, Broadway Marketplace should be your go-to. The stuff is a little pricey, but you save the cost of Ubering to any other alternative supermarkets. You can even have a meal here—there’s a salad bar, and the market has Sushi Wednesdays every week with discounted sushi boxes. And guess what, you can use Crimson Cash here too.
10. Dado Tea
50 Church St
Despite the name, Dado Tea not only sells tea—it also has healthy and tasty foods that are great for a quick meal when you’re on a budget. It has weekday breakfast special for $5 and lunch special for $7 (includes a sandwich of your choice, a snack, and a drink). The best part is the savory food menu, which includes lite versions of Asian favorites like bibimbap, udon, dumplings, miso soup, and my favorite: curry bowl (Japanese curry with diced chicken, potato, carrot, garlic and onion served over multigrain rice along with green salad). I’m constantly searching for cheap food in the Square that’s not cold, and I was very delighted to discover these items in a tea shop.
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