A Guide to Cambridge’s Best Dining Options This Season
Cambridge is the place to eat if you’re looking for an incredible outdoor dining experience this spring. With a fine selection of gourmet restaurants and plenty of options for safe outdoor seating, this Massachusetts town is always worth a visit. Read on to learn more about the best places to enjoy a meal with friends and family and experience the beautiful New England fresh air in Cambridge.
Pammy’s is a stylish New American hotspot owned by husband and wife team Pam and Chris Willis that incorporates the feeling of a classic Italian neighborhood trattoria into the chic environment of Cambridge’s Harvard Square. Pammy’s incredible dishes are heavily Italian-inspired, and the restaurant is also known for its wine list, which sources bottles from fantastic local and international wineries.
Pammy’s serves a fabulous “prix fixe” menu at $69, which includes three dishes. Diners can choose from fantastic offerings, including chicken liver pate served with chicories, boquerones, and pink muscat grapes or a wild mushroom risotto topped off with white truffle butter. For something hearty, try the bone marrow dish prepared with Meyer lemon and served with escarole kimchi and a parmesan biscuit or the pork chop served with broccoli di ciccio, pine nut milk, and a haskap berry jus. The dessert menu is quintessentially Italian, including a tiramisu made with Bavarian cream, espresso, and rum, and a bread pudding served with mascarpone ice cream.
Pammy’s is also renowned for its drink menu. The wine list offers incredible white and red wines, including a 2013 Semillon and a 2017 Sangiovese Chianti di Colli Senesi. Try a sour or sweet dry ale, or one of Pammy’s stellar handcrafted cocktails: there’s the vodka, lemon, and hibiscus Mallow Vibes, the mezcal, and lime Wicker Man, and the Stay Gold, which blends pecan amontillado, sherry, rum, amari, and maple.
This Mediterranean eatery is the perfect place to enjoy a decadent wood-fired pizza or gourmet pasta dish while soaking up the sunshine. Share some small plates with your party—choose from the Viale meatballs made with marinara and buffalo mozzarella, the seared calamari served with crispy potato, baby broccoli, and preserved lemon-squid ink aioli, or the Faroe Islands salmon crudo topped off with blood orange vin, fennel pollen, and zaatar cracker. Viale is also renowned for its delicious east coast oysters, available by the half dozen and served with cocktail sauce, champagne mignonette, and lemon. If you’re craving a salad, try the Little Gem Salad, which contains ruby red grapefruit, cashews, and pecorino, or the shaved Brussels sprouts salad, featuring crunchy quinoa and topped off with red pepper, blue cheese, and dijon vin.
Diners can also enjoy a wood-fired pizza, from the classic margherita or pepperoni cup and mushroom varieties to the gourmet pistachio pesto or spicy sausage and rabe options. You may want to grab a delicious plate to share with the table, including the fabulous flat iron steak cooked to your specifications and served with smashed local potatoes, roasted shallots, and a Sangiovese reduction, the squid ink spaghetti made with shrimp and house sausage and topped with rye breadcrumbs, or the monkfish served with pine nut brown butter, cauliflower, golden raisins, and salsa verde. Finish off your incredible dessert with a tasty treat like the cinnamon and cocoa tiramisu or the choco-chip cannoli, topped with sweet ricotta and fennel pollen.
Viale is also an excellent place to enjoy an outdoor brunch! Every Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM, patrons can dine on snacks like apple fritters, saffron arancini, or the iconic oysters served with cocktail sauce and mignonette. Brunch favorites at Viale include whole wheat pancakes topped with dulce de leche, eggs Benedict served on a homemade English muffin, and the shrimp and grits with Spanish chorizo.
As a renowned gourmet eatery on Cambridge’s famed Brattle Street, Harvest is one of the most popular places to dine in town. This Zagat-rated modern New England restaurant was purposefully designed to feature soothing earth tones, dark wood, and elegant, pastoral artwork. Diners can relax safely on Harvest’s outdoor back patio, which features aesthetically pleasing string lights as well as overhead heaters and a gas fireplace for those chilly nights.
Stop in for brunch and dine on the famed Harvest Breakfast: two sunny-side-up eggs, home fries, and smokehouse bacon, all on delicious sourdough toast. You’ll also love the unique fried chicken & foie gras waffles—a fun take on an old favorite that tops a Belgian waffle with dolgo apple puree, burnt honey, and foie gras butter. Be sure to order a round of mimosas or Harvest Bloody Marys for the table!
If you’re craving lunch, try the Harvest Burger, available with either Savenor’s beef or a vegetarian-friendly Impossible Burger topped with pickles, Cabot cheddar, and mustard aioli, with french fries on the side. You can also get the true taste of New England with a Scituate lobster roll, served on a griddled roll with a cucumber pickle.
Of course, Harvest is also known for its delicious dinner time fare. The raw bar is always a favorite, including east coast oysters in blood orange and pink peppercorn mignonette and a salmon tartare served with apple, chive creme fraiche, horseradish sprouts, and potato chips on the side. Patrons can also enjoy a selection of cheeses served with dolgo apple puree, pecans, and toast. The cheese selection includes a crumbly and earthy Middlebury blue, a semi-soft Ashbrook, and a buttery and earthy Invierno.
For your entree, choose from decadent selections like the Prime 14 oz. Brandt beef striploin served with a bone marrow bread pudding, parsley, and sauce au poivre, the fresh Atlantic Halibut including herb and parmesan roasted cauliflower and pickled romanesco cauliflower, topped with capers and lemon beurre blanc, or the housemade lobster and shrimp mousseline ravioli garnished with braised greens and tarragon lobster sauce.
Harvest offers a wide beer selection and a fantastic wine list, as well as a variety of handcrafted cocktails. The Harvest Sangria is a delicious blend of red wine, citrus, apple, cinnamon, and ginger. The extravagant Take Me Anywhere features Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac, pineapple gomme, benedictine, creme de cacao, lime, and bitters.
This hip and stylish restaurant and bar is one of Cambridge’s most popular places to enjoy delicious Mexican fare. Naco Taco bakes their homemade bread, grinds fresh masa in-house every day, and makes all of their tacos and tortas entirely from scratch. Thanks to the restaurant’s comfortable and heated patio tables, patrons can enjoy a delicious meal in the sunshine this spring.
Select two or three corn tortilla tacos from a variety of options, including al pastor (charbroiled pork, pineapple, cilantro, and onion), chipotle chicken with shredded iceberg lettuce and crema, fried cod with cabbage slaw, and pulled pork with radish and cilantro crema, and many more varieties. Naco Taco is also known for its fantastic tortas, sandwiches made with either homemade bread or served over a shaved vegetable salad. Choose from the Ahogada (pulled pork and bacon with cilantro aioli and guajillo chile broth), Cambalache (hard-boiled egg served with pickled jalapeno, avocado, cebollitas, and tomato), the Hawaiana Burger made with grass-fed Wagyu beef and topped with pineapple and chihuahua cheese, and the Milanesa, which features fried chicken, cabbage slaw, encurtidos, and cascabel aioli.
Not hungry enough for a full meal? Check out Naco Taco’s delicious appetizers and sides, like the lobster bacon street corn, frijoles charros con chips, and the tasty plantains con queso. Healthy treats include the quinoa bowl, filled with quinoa, rajas, grilled corn, carrots, cilantro, spinach, shiitake mushrooms, and a cumin ginger dressing. You and your group can also cool down with a pitcher of delicious margaritas in flavors ranging from Picante (jalapeno tequila with lime) to Rose Blush (grapefruit) to Wildfire (mezcal, elderflower, and lemon). Naco Taco also offers a wide variety of amazing beers to try, perfect for a warm spring or summer afternoon.
Kick back and relax on Shy Bird’s covered patio! Locals love this cafe, rotisserie, and bar all in one; with breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner on the menu, great food is being served at Shy Bird no matter the time of day. Shy Bird’s stellar breakfast menu includes favorites like egg and cheese on a Portuguese muffin, the Shy Bird Sandwich packed with cheddar cheese, avocado, and spicy aioli, and the avocado toast with a ricotta salata. Pair your meal with a warm cup of delicious coffee, from espresso to macchiato.
For dinner, start your meal off with a cup of Butternut Squash Soup or a delicious dish of Hash Brown and Smoked Salmon topped with sour cream and chives. Shy Bird is also known for its stellar sandwiches, from the Ranch Fried Chicken to the iconic Shy Burger topped off with American cheese, shredded lettuce, and Shy Bird’s special sauce. Of course, Shy Bird prides themselves on their chicken dishes. Grab some SB Dunks, extra-crispy fried chicken bites available with six, twelve, or twenty pieces and paired with fabulous dunking sauces like Pecorino ranch, Polynesian, and honey mustard.
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