NFT Boston Harvard Square / Allston (North)

Harvard Square / Allston (North)

Essentials
After nearly 400 years of existence, Harvard Square remains more than just a destination for students. It is, in fact, a beautiful intersection between old and new, where historic buildings and austere colonial brick mingle with trendy chains and hip indie boutiques. The neighborhood shines in spring and fall, but is also a surprisingly charming spot during the holiday season--especially if you need to get some shopping done.

Sundries/Entertainment
Without skipping a beat, a new crop of cocktail lounges, rustic taverns, and international eateries has found its way into Harvard Square's heart. Visit Russell House Tavern and First Printer for rustic fare with a dash of history. For street grub, visit Zinneken's or See more.

>Otto. Old standbys remain, showing no signs of stopping: Charlie's Kitchen for juicy burgers, Shay's for people watching, and Cardullo's for aisles of drool-inducing goodies.

Harvest has a nice garden terrace. Chez Henri has a great bar menu and mojitos--try the cubano and ceviche. Mr. Bartley's is a classic burger joint and London noodle pros Wagamama retrace the journey of our Plymouth forebears.

You can spend a solid afternoon shopping around Harvard Square. Newbury Comics, Black Ink, and Leavitt & Peirce are great for gift shopping (for yourself or anyone else). The Urban Outfitters bargain basement has savings that will melt your face off. Recharge at Tealuxe, and flip through a book at the Co-op or Harvard Bookstore.

Transportation
Harvard Square is as difficult to drive in as it is charming. Throngs of pedestrians are sure to slow down those brave enough to drive, and parking is hard to find. Luckily, all roads, or at least many bus routes and the Red Line, lead to Harvard Square. In fact, the 66 bus may leave you wondering where it doesn't go.




         


This Neighborhood Featured in...
Beautiful Boston & The Pizza Within

By Emily Doutre
Pizza: It's not just for Italians anymore. Thin crust, garlic-stuffed, charred, magic or imported from California (the tomatoes, that is), Emily Doutre's tried them all and now she's reporting. Deal with it.

Read More...
Take One: The Boston Film Festival Circuit

By Nancy Howell
Gay and Lesbian, International, Irish, Jewish and Latino-centered, the Boston Film Festival has it all! Unless you want to watch films about mating sea turtles, in which case this city has nothing to offer you.

Read More...
Authentic Harvard Square

By Sarah Shemkus
There once was a girl named Olga who was wandering around Harvard Square when she ran into a girl named Sarah from her NYU French class. Olga said, "Sarah! I didn't expect to see you here!" to which Sarah responded--her turbid prescripition sunglasses angling to the side, her voice an even contralto, causing Olga to shiver in the Cambridge sun-- "but why would you?" More "authentic" Harvard Square stories are only a mouse-click away.

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Boston's Rock Roots

By Suzanne Cope
I wanna rock! Rock! Long before Bostonians were sailing to America and hanging witches, they were performing live, sold-out rock shows decked out in glittery makeup and five-inch heels while harems of slithering females with golden candelabra headdresses did weird swishy circular hand dances around their faces. Don't believe me? Tell it to Suzanne Cope.

Read More...
When the Weather Outside is Frightful

By Sarah Shemkus
Winter in Boston: Scourge of God or Beauteous Overlay Inspiring Indoor Activities? Only Sarah Shemkus can tell.

Read More...
Living on the Cheap in Boston

By
Cheap things in Boston--whores, crack and donuts. The old sacred triad is true no longer. Lacey Prpic-Hedtke knows better.

Read More...
Literary Boston

By Kevin Spak
Boston: Some call it the cradle of literary civilization, some just call it... uncle. Don't worry. Kevin Spak will set you straight.

Read More...
The Drinking Man's Guide to Boston

By David Sargent
A drinking man must have a drinking plan and for this reason he reads David Sargent's feature.

Read More...

On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Joan Hill
Photo:  Joan Hill

Algiers
The Algiers Coffee House has been a main-stay in Cambridge for decades, and shows it's age, but in a very charming manner. Locals and students sit closely at Moroccan tables sipping tea by the pot, eating their truly yummy falafel platters, and enjoying unique salads in a funky, laid-back atmosphere. Service is friendly and unhurried. Entrees are $8-16 while desserts are $4-8. Try the fresh basbousa (semolina cakes with syrup) for a simple, satisfying sweet with your coffee. The Algiers is not wheelchair accessible, and serves beer and wine.



Posted By:  Charlie O'Brien
Photo:  Charlie O'Brien

Harvard Sq Optical
Prime retail locations don’t come much better than Harvard Sq. Optical's storefront on the outskirts of the famed square. An independent full service optical store. They are 3rd generation owners of this practice dating back to 1946. Starting out in The Harvard Coop, they moved to their present location in 1996. Harvard Square Optical provides eye exams, a wide selection of eyeglasses and shades, contact lenses, as well as, performing all follow up service necessary. The store owner, Neil Cohen, provides the friendly service without the pestering solicitation. If they can't fix your broken frames, they may be able to save your lenses by cutting them down to fit another frame within the same day. Showcasing designer as well as non-designer frames, they have the latest technology in thin lightweight lenses, progressive lenses, titanium frames, flexible titanium frames, stainless steel frames, and plastic frames. In fact, if you see a frame that they do not carry, they will contact other stores in order to find it for you.



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Small Plates
I equate tapas with two words: "delicious" and "expensive." So needless to say, my tapas occasions are few and far between. But a little over a year ago, a new tapas sheriff came to town in the form of Small Plates in Harvard Square, offering tasty bites for much lower prices than other go-to taparias in Boston like Bar Lola and Tapeo. Everything they've got is delicious, though I do wish they had white anchovies on the menu (besides on the Caesar), which I consider a tapas staple (and I'm sure 95% of you consider disgusting). Nearly everything is $10 or less, and the booze selection is sufficient (lots of creative cocktails). It's a very down-to-earth, relaxed experience, with an earthy interior and friendly, knowledgeable wait staff. And in the summer, there's a darling little patio in the back. It's like a little piece of heaven for the short attention spanned (and short on cash) foodie.



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Sweet Cupcakes
As with most trends that initiate in the York that is New, cupcakes are now taking Boston by storm. (Mmmm, cupcake storm ...) And of course, Back Bay and now Harvard are in on the action with Sweet Cupcakes. The recently-opened and suspiciously-sans-sign Harvard location replaces Cross, a high end pen store (sign of the times when they start closing up shop, eh?). As a frequenter of Kick Ass Cupcakes in Davis, I was curious to see how Sweet Cupcakes would hold up. And oh my, do they ever. They definitely seem to offer a wider variety of cupcakes, including a considerable seasonal rotation, though I think I prefer the actual cake at Kickass. Still, I was elated to see Sweet's cupcake version of carrot cake--complete with cream cheese frosting--which I have been craving of late. It's even topped with a real piece of edible gold, which David Cross has nicknamed "the ultimate f**k you to poor people." But whatevs, cuz it was damn tasty. (And it's still less insulting than a $100 fountain pen, no?)



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Henrietta's Table
Henrietta's Table is often referred to as an upscale Cracker Barrel. And after my fabulous dinner there, I can see that this is meant in a good way. It's not just LIKE home cooking; it IS home cooking. Really creative, fresh home cooking. As with most foodie joints in Boston, Henrietta's boasts all the current buzzwords: fresh, local, organic, sustainable. But it's important to recognize that this cooking principle does actually lead to some very delicious food. The combined decor of elegance and earthiness (a la Barefoot Contessa), along with the more-affordable-than-you'd-think prices make for a charming, relaxing dining experience. If you're on a budget, this is definitely a place to put on your Restaurant Week list, or you can go for Henrietta's Yard Sale from Sunday to Thursday each week, which offers 3 courses for $32 or 2 courses for $25. So you really have no excuse to pass up Henrietta's. Don't even try to resist.



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Takemura Japanese Restaurant
It's rare to find creativity and versatility in budget sushi, but underrated and below-the-radar Takemura in Harvard makes it happen somehow. It's nothing fancy--in fact, it's underground. But if you want to something different from the cheap sushi standbys (Boston roll, Philly roll, etc., etc.), this is the place to go. In fact, Takemura screams NFT. The menu is uncharacteristically wide for being so reasonably priced. Lots of rolls, big and small, with all kinds of crazy combinations. The interior is very minimalist and not exactly traditional, other than the intriguing laminated picture menus accompanied by dry erase markers. But, thankfully, a great deal of effort goes into the taste and presentation of the food, and isn't that the reason why sushi is so popular in the first place--edible art? Takemura seems to do a good business despite being so inconspicuous, but I do think they're underrated. Usually hungry college students are willing to give their eye teeth for good, cheap, unusual rolls, so I'm not sure why they're not lining the streets for Takemura. Sometimes I think those Harvard kids don't know what's good for 'em.



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Harvest
When I first moved to Cambridge, I thought Harvest was a hippy restaurant. The name just has that connotation. (If you're a former hippy, at least.) Then I read Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, in which the author references Harvest, and found out that I was way, way off. The folks at Harvest are NOT screwing around. But that's good to know, since it's very much on the pricey side. Yes, Harvest is a place you should take your parents when you know they're going to foot the bill. But you should also take your parents (or any other "financially enhanced" contact) here because it's a great experience. The food, which can be described as contemporary New England, is fresh, creative, and doled out in perfect portion sizes. The ambiance is somewhat formal, but still relaxed, quiet, and conforms to the season: fireside dining in the winter, a beautiful, private garden cafe in the summer. The wine list is extensive and intelligent. And the desserts will break your heart.



Posted By:  Patrick Hellen
Photo:  Aaron Schielke

Hong Kong
Alright non-Tourists, we've got some news for you: The 2009 NFT Guide to Boston is now published and available in stores, so it's time to party. Ok, sure, we'll take any excuse to have a good time, but this is a release party--so at least we have a decent reason for a change. So what does this mean for you faithful reader? First, we would like to meet YOU. To see the people that use our little black book and website to explore the city. Second, for choosing to meet us, we're going to be giving out free 2009 guides, free snacks, and complimentary drinks (while supplies last) to make us seem all the more charming. So come on down to one of our favorite watering holes in Cambridge--The Hong Kong Lounge and Restaurant--where the scorpion bowls will knock you unconscious and the teriyaki skewers will bring you back to life. Food, music, dancing--The Hong Kong has everything you need in a bar, and it's crawling distance back to the T, so our more eco-friendly public transportation crew can come and go safely. We're talking food, we're talking hooch, and you're talking to us about what you love about NFT. Come to the Hong Kong on March 20th at 6 pm and celebrate in style. And spread the word. This party is free and open to anyone and everyone!

Click here for all the details.




Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Charlie's Kitchen
Maybe it's on account of my having grown up in the suburbs or maybe it's that extra semester I spent in college. But for the past few years, I've avoided pub food in the name of the era in which I mindlessly shoveled it down my gullet without a thought to how good (or bad) it actually was. (Really I was just putting it in there to soak up the gallons of alcohol that went along with it.) But then I went to Charlie's Kitchen and remembered all the wonderful things about pubs and pub food that I had been missing. Charlie's is something of a hipster pub, wielding a retro ambiance mixed with punk music. Their burgers are addictive, they have waffle fries (God's gift to the potato), a respectable number of thoughtful vegetarian dishes, and a wide array of beer to keep even the snobbiest of beer snobs (like yours truly) content. In fact, in the warmer months, Charlie's boasts an awesome new beer garden in their cozy little stone walled "back yard." But don't let that stop you from checking Charlie's out in the winter, too. A beer n' burger can warm the soul like nothing else.




Posted By:  Rebecca Katherine Hirsch
Photo:  Adam Blanchette

Harvard Museum of Natural History
Hear ye! After a highly-strategic shrouding in darkness, the Harvard Museum of Natural History is back! And with it, many exhibits of multifarious stripes, including "Language of Color," which features "dramatic specimens with computer interactives, hands-on activities, and a stunning display of live poison dart frogs." Another exhibit, "Sea Creatures in Glass," contains dozens of glass marine animals made by Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka, the father and son artists behind the Glass Flowers. "Looking at Leaves: Photographs by Amanda Means" was recently reviewed by the Globe's Pulitzer-prize winning photography reviewer Mark Feeney. And there's more! On Thursday, October 16th, Harvard professors Drs. Edward O. Wilson and Eric Chivian (one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in 2007) speak nobly upon Chivian's new book, "Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity." This event is free and open to the public; 7 pm. Secret NFT perquisite: Bank of America cardholders are admitted free the first weekend of every month. Have you not been convinced? This, Harvard's most popular museum, has been regaling the cream of the educative crop since 1995. Its edifice and entrails (exhibit-wise) are a joy to behold.



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Tealuxe
Maybe deep down I'm still just a wide-eyed suburban girl, but I am incessantly delighted by the presence of a shop and cafe strictly devoted to tea (not to mention the fact that there are two locations in the Boston area!). Coffee drinkers don't have the monopoly on cafes anymore, and Tealuxe is a breath of fresh air for those of us who still prefer those crushed up leaves that once wielded enough power in Boston to be sacrificial lambs in protest to the British. Though Tealuxe doesn't necessarily push much in the way of fair trade or organic, they certainly carry an abundance of styles (black, white, green, herbal, chai, medicinal, oolong, iced, decaf) and flavors (I'm partial to blueberry white, myself). And contrary to logic (and King George III), they aren't expensive. I've tested the tea waters at shops like Cambridge Naturals and Christina's, but they fall short when it comes to prices, variety, and/or quantity. One caveat: despite its devotion to the powerful diuretic, Tealuxe does NOT offer a restroom. But since seating is limited anyway, you might just opt for a couple grams to go.



Posted By:  Stuart Kurtz
Photo:  Stuart Kurtz

Harvard Museum of Natural History
An American treasure! No matter how many times you go to see the glass flowers, you’ll be floored. No visit to Boston/Cambridge should omit a trip to ogle them. They are botanically correct specimens created between 1886 and 1936 by Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka at the behest of Professor George Lincoln Goodale, founder of Harvard’s Botanical Museum. He wanted life-like “specimens” in bloom year-round. The glass masters worked in Hosterwitz, Germany. The “flowers” were shaped after the glass was hot. Some models were blown. Most flowers have colored pigments. There are nearly 4,400 models. One of the most breathtaking is the little flowering cactus. Each needle is intact. Some of the glass is paper thin, which brings up questions: How do they clean them? How do they move them? You’ll have to go and find out. Fantastic!



Posted By:  Stuart Kurtz
Photo:  Stuart Kurtz

Christ Church Cambridge
This venerable old building has seen despair and anger over the years. During the American Revolution the community forced the Rector and Anglican congregation out. Services ceased for 16 years. In 1778 a British prisoner was accidentally shot by a sentry. The church was opened for his funeral. During all this, the fuming Revolutionaries of Cambridge pillaged the church and fired guns. It's from this time that the infamous bullet holes in the vestibule may date. No one can know for sure, but the legend lives on. George and Martha Washington prayed here on New Year's Eve, 1775. Peter Harrison, of Newport, Rhode Island, the first American architect, designed the building.



Posted By:  Emily Doutre
Photo:  Emily Doutre

I first heard about the Wagamama noodle bar during one of Rick Steves’ episodes from London. And when I found out that they had opened their first US location right in Harvard Square, I had to go. But there are already countless noodle bars in Chinatown, I know. So what makes Wagamama so special? Speed. Because of their unique ordering procedure, you can enjoy a complete and satisfying meal there in less than 30 minutes, if you have to. When you place your order with Wagamama’s waitstaff, they key it in with a remote that instantly sends your order to the kitchen staff, who then begin to cook it immediately. As a result, my waitress explained in her disclaimer, not everything will arrive at the same time. But that’s fine, because you’ll still have all your food within 15 minutes of ordering. Even still, it is worth the wait. The menu features a variety of dumplings and other yummy, nibbly things as starters or sides. And the noodles, oh the noodles! Feast on soupy noodles, spicy noodles, or fried noodles, with many varieties to choose from. Never fear food allergy folks: Wagamama makes every attempt to inform you of all of the ingredients in each dish, and can remove any items that cause you grief, from lactose to wheat gluten to nuts. It’s like a scene out of Tampopo, minus the outlaw trucker.



Posted By:  Denyce Neilson
Photo:  Denyce Neilson

Have you ever wanted to learn how to make soap, build a bird house, bind a book? Or maybe you want to learn more about popular religious practice in modern Hong Kong or how to get a divorce in Massachusetts, with or without a lawyer. Since 1938, the Cambridge Center for Adult Education has been offering hundreds of quirky and not so quirky courses to the public at pretty reasonable prices. You can really find it all here. If you want to learn it, they teach it, everything from Computer Programming Using Java to Create a Dynamic Relationship: Love, Sex and Intimacy. They also offer a wide range of language courses—imagine learning Turkish and American Sign Language all under the same roof. In addition to their courses they also offer various seminars, guest lecturers, a Friday Night Cooking Series, and even an open mic night. With the new fall season approaching, maybe it’s time to go back to school.



Posted By:  Denyce Neilson
Photo:  Denyce Neilson

Harvard Museum of Natural History
Harvard’s Museum of Natural History is not as grand or as popular as New York’s Museum of Natural History, but it’s pretty cool nonetheless. It’s a fun place to visit, especially on Sunday mornings from 9 am to noon and Wednesdays during the school year between 3 and 5 pm when Massholes get in for free! Perusing their interesting exhibits is a great way to pass a couple of hours. Some of those exhibits include the Hall of Mammals, Romer Hall of Vertebrate Paleontology, and Climate Change: Our Global Experiment. They also have some amazing displays of minerals, gemstones, ores, and meteorites, especially Impact!, a video presentation that explores meteorite origins and addresses concerns like, “Will a big meteorite blast the shit out of us any time soon?” The zoological galleries feature prehistoric animals and current species, highlights include the world's only mounted Kronosaurus, a 42-foot-long prehistoric marine reptile. The museum also offers lectures, a film series, and even travel programs. It’s definitely worth a visit, on Wednesdays, when it free!



Posted By:  Denyce Neilson
Photo:  Denyce Neilson

Globe Corner Book Stores
I went into my favorite bookstore and began to take some photos. It wasn’t long before the staff started looking at me funny—funny like “What the hell are doing with that camera?” funny. I told them that I was covering the store for the NFT website. That was all I had to say and their faces lit up as if I had said, “I have some one hundred dollar bills I would like to give you.” I joyfully basked in their glorious reviews and shouts of praise—“We love NFT!” “NFT is our best seller!” “Tell everyone at NFT we love them!” Then they went back to work, and my thirty seconds of fame came to a swift close. If you are a traveler, map reader, nature freak, language junky, or just love a great bookstore, you must pay a visit to The Globe Corner. Their new location is terrific. The building is brand new and the space is larger, making room for more of their extraordinary inventory. I know this may have all seemed like a mutual admiration club love letter, but I really can’t say enough about this bookstore. It’s fantastic and, yes, they love NFT!



Posted By:  Andrew Palmacci
Photo:  Andrew Palmacci

My Thai Vegetarian Café
Tired of just tofu when it comes to eating meat-less? This place knows how to get it done when it comes to getting you the most food variety for your veggie-ingredients, all at reasonable prices. To talk specific dishes, the Pad Thai comes with veggie-chicken and veggie-shrimp and is long on peanutty flavor. Their Pad See Ew, a wide-noodle dish, is tasty and has a nice sauce to it. And the Shrimp Basil Fried Rice gets compliments from those I’ve dined with. They even have—to backtrack menu-wise—veggie dumplings and spring rolls with a kickin’ peanut sauce. Otherwise, service is decently fast and attentive and the setting is spare-ish when it comes to decoration. So, if you want to expand your tastes or simply explore more non-meat options, hit up this place for all-you-can-eat-without-meat.



Posted By:  Emma Lockwood
Photo:  Emma Lockwood

Although I haven’t played in a couple of years, I went to Harvard Square’s Tennis and Squash Shop today to buy some tennis balls. Why? Because Roger Federer won Wimbledon for the, um, FIFTH time in a row. I caught the last few games plus the final moment where he fell to the ground and cried. And in that short time I was lulled into the ridiculous fantasy that if I decided to pick up a racquet and challenge someone to a game, I would kick some serious ass. I can just see myself firing the ball over the net while grunting for effect. The Tennis and Squash shop has everything you’d need to satisfy your Wimbledon itch—plenty of racquets and shoes, and some tennis whites to make you look the part. There’s nothing like a visit to a proper tennis shop to put you in the mood for some cucumber sandwiches and tea. Right after kicking your opponents butt of course.



Posted By:  Joy Mazzola
Photo:  Joy Mazzola

Cambridge, 1
Squished in somewhere between Starbucks and Beadworks on Harvard Square’s Church St. hunkers Cambridge 1. This place expertly and understatedly serves impeccable pizza and quality brews and wine to anyone who happens to notice that it’s, well, (a) there, and (b) a restaurant. The sparse, modern décor consisting of wood and slate even incorporates the sparse flora in back of the building, framing the tree leaves in the windows and making you feel like you’re in a northern Californian wine bar rather than smack in the middle of frenetic Hahvahd Squeah. While it is a nice place to go for just a drink, it would be most regrettable not to try at least half a pizza—the things are phenomenal. Thin, chargrilled crust with toppings like lobster and arugula and corn and grape tomatoes and chevre and bibb lettuce (not all on one pizza, but still—you can imagine the possibilities). One person can easily down a half and leave feeling satisfied but not, like, in gastroenterological distress (a.k.a. “BLEH”). Sorry Cambridge 1, I may have just killed your hip vibe there. Just don’t tell them I said that. And really, do go sample their goods.




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