Meet Your Scout’s Honored Winners: Food & Drink

Season to TasteSeason to Taste. Photo by Ren Fuller

CATERING: SEASON TO TASTE

Season to Taste chefs connect the farm to your table with locally focused catering services. A commitment to small, New England food purveyors is the throughline for each of their curated, client-specific menus—whether for a wedding or a more casual affair. The conscientious, seasonal plates are backed up by equally high-quality hospitality service to complement your event or gathering.

2447 MASS. AVE.(617) 826-9037SEASONTOTASTECATERING.COM

 

OVERALL PLACE TO SPLURGE/OUTDOOR DINING: OLEANA

Tableside travel is the specialty at Oleana, where consistently winning plates whisk diners away to Turkey and beyond. Chef Ana Sortun and co. have held a beloved place on Hampshire Street for more than 15 years, featuring local produce and far-away flavors on the meze and large-plate menus. And the outdoor patio is a veritable urban oasis, with vines, trees and sprouting herbs offering a lush and lovely backdrop to the precisely executed, beautifully spiced eats.

134 HAMPSHIRE ST., (617) 661-0505 OLEANARESTAURANT.COM

 

RESTAURANT IN INMAN SQUARE: TUPELO

Cambridge gets a dose of Cajun and Creole flavor courtesy of Inman Square’s Tupelo. Guests can settle in for Southern hospitality and comfort food classics—think fried chicken, po’ boys and buttermilk biscuits—inspired by the cuisines of Virginia and Louisiana, then finish the meal with locally made desserts from Petsi Pies (the businesses share an owner) and Toscanini’s.

1193 CAMBRIDGE ST., (617) 868-0004 TUPELO02139.COM

 

RESTAURANT IN PORTER SQUARE: GIULIA

There’s more than pasta at Porter Square’s resident Italian restaurant, Giulia, but the handmade noodles (and tortelli and paccherri and then some) certainly take the spotlight, prepared during the day on the dedicated pasta table and served up during dinner with of-the-moment accompaniments and classic sauces. Chef Michael Pagliarini and his team round out the menu with meat, fish, veggies and sweets, each evoking the passion and pleasure of true Italian dining.

1682 MASS. AVE., (617) 441-2800 GIULIARESTAURANT.COM

 

RESTAURANT IN CENTRAL SQUARE/SERVICE STAFF: LITTLE DONKEY

Dynamic kitchen duo Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer finally brought their culinary stylings to this side of the Charles (insert praise Emoji) with Little Donkey.The chefs loosen the reins on the tapas-style menu, showcasing their favorite culinary influences in globally remixed dishes and super-fresh raw bar offerings that are all over the map (in a good way). Knowledgeable and attentive staff are there to lead you through the inventive, shareable options, all in the funky and freewheeling spirit of the square itself.

505 MASS. AVE., (617) 945-1008 LITTLEDONKEYBOS.COM

 

RESTAURANT IN HURON VILLAGE: HI-RISE BREAD COMPANY

The original Hi-Rise location in Huron Village is a blissful carb heaven, bustling with bread-making action. The sights, sounds and smells of the open-kitchen process make the cafe an ideal hangout for pane- and pastry-lovers, who can dine off the robust menu or stop in for to-go dinner dishes, wine, liquor and beer (and a loaf or two, of course).

208 CONCORD AVE., 617-876-8766 HI-RISEBREAD.COM

 

RESTAURANT IN HARVARD SQUARE: ALDEN & HARLOW

Underground hit Alden & Harlow has become an indispensable part of the Harvard Square culinary fabric. Set below sidewalk level on Brattle Street, chef Michael Scelfo’s flagship spot features modern and well-balanced menus that elevate humble veggies and evolve with the seasons. Elegant, unique preparations and equally thought-out librations keep diners coming back to the hospitable and homey locale.

40 BRATTLE ST., (617) 864-2100ALDENHARLOW.COM

 

RESTAURANT IN EAST CAMBRIDGE: LONE STAR TACO BAR

Tacos, tequila and Tecate are the recipe for success at Lone Star Taco Bar. Like its Allston sister, the East Cambridge restaurant is little in size but fierce in flavor. Housemade ingredients and artisanal products amp up the menu of Mexican street eats—including an array of $4 taco options—primed for pairing with margaritas, mezcal and cerveza.

635 CAMBRIDGE ST., (857) 285-6179 LONESTAR-BOSTON.COM

 

RESTAURANT IN KENDALL SQUARE: AREA FOUR

Wood-fired rusticity meets industrial design at the original Area Four. The decor has all the sleek minimalism and open space you’d expect given the tech-y Kendall Square namesake neighborhood, while the from-scratch kitchen serves up smoky, savory pizzas made from the restaurant’s signature dough. Sides and mains cater to the “not pizza” crowd, while the attached cafe takes care of those in need of a java fix.

500 TECHNOLOGY SQ, (617) 758-4444 AREAFOUR.COM

 

CHEF: MICHAEL SCELFO, ALDEN & HARLOW AND WAYPOINT

And speaking of Scelfo (above)… ever since he ventured into chef-ownership with Alden & Harlow, the guy’s been racking up the accolades. The James Beard Award semifinalist recently added the seafaring Waypoint to his name and has a third Harvard Square concept on the way. If his first two restaurants are any indication, diners can expect surprising but approachable plates inspired by the best of the region and the season.

 

FOOD TRUCK: BON ME

Bon Me came into being as part of a citywide food truck contest—and thank goodness for that. Since its 2010 inception, the Vietnamese-inspired eatery has grown to include a squad of trucks and a handful of brick-and-mortar restaurants. Each iteration deals in delicious Asian interpretations—like soba noodle bowls and a riff on the banh mi sandwich that inspired the name. As a bonus, the team makes a point of accommodating dietary sensitivities so they can cater to the masses, wherever they may be.

(617) 989-9804, BONMETRUCK.COM

 

COCKTAILS: PARK

Snag a stool at Park Cambridge for balanced libations courtesy of the bar team. Fresh juices and housemade syrups add to the creative list, including a rotating house punch. If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, you can always opt for the Tender’s Whim, letting one of the beverage gurus shake you up something exclusive based on your taste.

59 JFK ST. , (617) 491-9851 PARKCAMBRIDGE.COM

 

BEER PROGRAM: CAMBRIDGE COMMON

Beer is the common denominator at Cambridge Common, with an array of options for both aficionados and casual sippers. The Mass. Ave. bar keeps the lineup fresh with daily-changing draft lines, including nitro and cask options. And 30-plus taps means there’s a pint for every palate, from innovative craft beers to classic standbys.

1667 MASS. AVE., (617) 547-1228 CAMBRIDGECOMMONRESTAURANT.COM

 

BREWERY OR DISTILLERY: CAMBRIDGE BREWING COMPANY

Cambridge Brewing Company has been keeping the city in suds for over 25 years, and they’re hardly slowing down. Head to the Kendall Square source for award-winning beers from the forward-thinking brewers (sake-beer, anyone?). A focus on sustainability extends to the kitchen, so you can pair your draught with seasonally appropriate bites and make a day (or night) of it.

1 KENDALL SQ., (617) 494-1994 CAMBRIDGEBREWINGCOMPANY.COM

 

BAR EATS: STATE PARK

When it comes to neighborhood bars, State Park is the whole package. On top of the retro lodge decor—dim lighting, wood paneling, beer paraphernalia—the restaurant boasts a lineup of not-your-classic comfort foods. In between pool shots or shuffleboard victories, patrons can fuel up on satisfying chicken katsu sandwiches and beer cheese fritters; this is a subterranean restaurant that’s bringing bar food to a higher level.

1 KENDALL SQ., BUILDING 300, LOWER LEVEL (617) 848-4355 STATEPARK.IS

 

RESTAURANT IN NORTH CAMBRIDGE: TABLE AT SEASON TO TASTE

Tucked away in North Cambridge, you’ll find an intimate prix fixe experience at The Table at Season to Taste. The cozy restaurant size affords every diner a view of the chefs at work as they plate multi-course dinners that wow from first to last. Book a table for carefully prepared plates sourced from local farmers and small purveyors, or grab a spot at the standing-room bar for a taste of what the chefs have in store.

2447 MASS. AVE., (617) 871-9468CAMBRIDGETABLE.COM

 

BAKERY: IT’S A TIE! PETSI PIES and FLOUR

 

The pie’s the limit at Petsi Pies. The Cambridge outposts of the Somerville cafe continue in the sweet (or savory) family tradition, with all manner of baked goods for noshing, plus soups, sandwiches and standout coffee.

Meanwhile, chef Joanne Chang and the Flour bakery team urge their guests to “eat dessert first”—and with all sorts of sweets on hand, it’s easy to oblige. The line of bakery-cafes has inspired two cookbooks with its well-stocked pastry counters, which are always brimming with cookies, tarts and the famed sticky buns.

31 PUTNAM AVE., (617) 499-0801594 CAMBRIDGE ST., (617) 945-5278PETSIPIES.COM

114 MT. AUBURN ST. (617) 714-320540 ERIE ST. (617) 945-0322190 MASS. AVE. (617) 225-2525 FLOURBAKERY.COM

 

VEGAN OR VEGETARIAN: LIFE ALIVE

Feel-good food is the name of the game at Life Alive. The Mass. Ave. cafe forgoes meat, instead breathing new life into healthy-eating staples. Hearty, warming bowls and flavor-packed wraps make it fun (and nutritious) to get your daily greens, while smoothies and fresh-squeezed juices offer fruity, liquid refreshment.

765 MASS. AVE., (617) 354-5433 LIFEALIVE.COM

 

KID-FRIENDLY DINING/OLD FAVORITE: S&S DINER

S&S Diner is nearing on 100 years of restaurant service. The tried-and-true Inman Square staple, owned by the Mitchell-Wheeler family, welcomes you and yours for traditional diner fare any time of day. Highlights include an on-site deli, expansive menu and cushy booths (great for kids!) during brunch, lunch or dinner.

1334 CAMBRIDGE ST., (617) 354-0777 SANDSRESTAURANT.COM

 

TAKEOUT: PUNJABI DHABA

Bold flavors and great prices are the currency at family-owned Punjabi Dhaba. The father-son duo behind India Pavilion serve up tastes of Punjab at the Inman Square eatery, modeled after roadside Indian restaurants. Their authentic dishes have been pleasing the takeaway crowd since 1998, and they’re now available until 11:30 p.m. every night for after-hours hunger.

225 HAMPSHIRE ST. (617) 547-8272 PUNJABIDHABA.CO

 

COFFEE SHOP OR CAFE: 1369 COFFEEHOUSE

What makes 1369 Coffeehouse so buzzworthy? It’s the premium caffeine fix to be sure—with top-notch coffees and teas on offer—but it’s also the indie coffeeshop atmosphere that makes the Inman Square and Central Square locations important additions to their neighborhoods, ideal for convivial meet-ups or solo sipping and laptop time.

1369 CAMBRIDGE ST., (617) 576-1369757 MASS. AVE., (617) 576-4600 1369COFFEEHOUSE.COM

 

BUTCHER: SAVENOR’S

Savenor’s has a long history (more than 75 years) of delivering high-quality cuts and customer service. Famously frequented by Julia Child, the Inman Square butcher provides a nose-to-tail experience, doling out preparation tips and meat know-how alongside whole animal butchery for at-home cooks and established chefs.

92 KIRKLAND ST., (617) 576-6328 SAVENORSMARKET.COM

 

BRUNCH: HENRIETTA’S TABLE

Brunch is serious business at Henrietta’s Table. Saturdays have prix fixe and a la carte menus, while Sundays see the Charles Hotel restaurant’s famed buffet offerings, with everything from omelettes to oysters. The breakfast-y plates and lunch fare at Sunday brunch are all-you-can-eat, making Harvard Square the mid-morning destination for a hunger fix.

1 BENNETT ST., (617) 661-5005 HENRIETTASTABLE.COM

 

BREAKFAST: THE FRIENDLY TOAST

Have a little kitsch with your coffee at The Friendly Toast. Retro vibes abound at the funky and fun Kendall Square restaurant, which is decked out with throwback decor. The menu is bursting with savory and sweet brunch plates—like waffles, Benny’s and then some—plus eclectic and appetizing dinner dishes like burgers and enchiladas that make the homey spot so, well, friendly.

1 KENDALL SQ., (617) 621-1200 THEFRIENDLYTOAST.COM

 

SWEET TOOTH SATISFIER: TOSCANINI’S

The closest Cantabrigians can come to a real-life Wonka factory is Central Square’s Toscanini’s. Since 1981, the ice cream store has been churning up offbeat, original flavors, keeping the city cool scoop by scoop. Coffee and pastries are available, too, but it’s the one-of-a-kind frozen treats that are the specialty, all year round.

899 MAIN ST., (617) 491-5877 TOSCI.COM

 

CHEAP EATS, LATE NIGHT HAUNT: CHARLIE’S KITCHEN

Hanging around Harvard Square after dark? Charlie’s Kitchen has you covered. The longtime favorite has two bars (three, if the outdoor beer garden is open) serving an extensive menu of evenly priced plates into the wee hours. Groove to the jukebox tunes upstairs or take in the diner-style ambiance downstairs with a beer and burger in hand.

10 ELIOT ST., (617) 492-9646 CHARLIESKITCHEN.COM

 

BARISTA: RACHEL SCHACHTER, DARWIN’S

Darwin’s and Boston go hand-in-hand for Rachel Schachter, who has worked at the coffee shop for as long as she’s lived in the city. Her favorite part of keeping Cambridge well-caffeinated? Making great drinks for great patrons. “Our regulars are true locals and are invested in the community, which includes not only the store but each of us as people,” says the barista. Her other piece of wisdom? Add a little lavender syrup to your mocha order—that’s a tip she picked up from one of the many loyal Darwin’s customers.

1629 CAMBRIDGE ST., (617) 491-2999, DARWINSLTD.COM

 

DATE NIGHT SPOT: TEMPLE BAR

Whether it’s the first date or the fifteenth, couples can get cozy at Temple Bar. Dark leather and warm wood accents make for a sophisticated atmosphere while secluded booths and two-tops give duos an intimate spot to stoke the romance over plates from the New American menu and cocktails from the bar.

1688 MASSACHUSETTS AVE., (617) 547-5055, TEMPLEBARCAMBRIDGE.COM

 

BARTENDER: MORGAN CARNEY, GRAFTON STREET

Cambridge native Morgan Carney has been with the Grafton Street team for 14 years and has seen the Harvard Square area grow and change from his post behind the bar. The bar manager and general manager crafts a hospitality experience for the restaurant’s diverse clientele—“from famous scholars, actors and athletes to locals and construction workers”—with unique cocktail creations (try his whiskey-brewed Irish Cold Brew) and a genuine passion for tending bar.

1230 MASS. AVE., (617) 497-0400 GRAFTONSTREETCAMBRIDGE.COM

 

ECO-FRIENDLY BUSINESS: CLOVER

Quick, tasty and healthy? Clover Food Lab’s mission to change the fast-casual landscape is well underway in Cambridge with a slew of locations dedicated to sustainably sourced vegetarian dishes available in minutes. The team continually strives to improve speed and taste without sacrificing their commitment to fresh, clean, organically leaning ingredients and good-for-the-earth practices like compostable goods.

5 CAMBRIDGE CTR.,  496 MASS. AVE., 1075 CAMBRIDGE ST., 1326 MASS. AVE. CLOVERFOODLAB.COM

 

This story originally appeared in the September/October issue of Scout Cambridge, which is available for free at more than 200 locations throughout the city or by subscription.

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