Here are 2016’s reader selections for the best of Cambridge’s arts and culture scene—with a few wild cards thrown in for good measure.
Arts & Entertainment
IMPROVBOSTON.COM | (617) 576-1253
Sure, Hamilton is great, but—spoiler alert—Burr always shoots Hamilton at the end. Meanwhile, at ImprovBoston, the crowd helps shape the show, and talented performers pivot on a dime to make you bust a gut. Always wanted to try your hand at comedy? Sign up for a class here and test your skills while making some funny new friends.
CAMBRIDGE ART ASSOCIATION
CAMBRIDGEART.ORG | (617) 876-0246
The Cambridge Art Association boasts a membership of nearly 500 extremely talented artists from all over New England and even as far as New York and Pennsylvania. The association offers its artists the ability to have their work exhibited and gives the general public the chance to check out a wide array of genre-spanning art. No need to travel all the way to the MFA when you can support local, on-the-rise artists. Because everyone wants to be able to say “I knew them when.”
SINCLAIRCAMBRIDGE.COM | 617-547-5200
The Sinclair is something of a quadruple threat. The restaurant is beautifully designed—an intimate first-floor bar and lounge that’s the perfect spot for a first date or catching up with old friends, along with an expansive upstairs area ideal for larger groups. There’s that rooftop patio, one of the finest outdoor dining spots in the city. And that’s to say nothing of the Sinclair’s music hall, which can be rented out for special occasions when it isn’t hosting some of the best touring bands as they roll through Greater Boston.
THE MIDDLE EAST
MIDEASTOFFERS.COM | (617) 864-3278
Like the region from which it takes its name, The Middle East’s offerings span cultures and genres, with something for just about everybody. Catch up-and-comers in an intimate setting upstairs or at adjoining ZuZu. Downstairs, well-established national acts take to the stage for evenings of music that are always unforgettable. Whether you’re upstairs, downstairs or somewhere in between, chances are some of your favorite shows are going to be at this one-of-a-kind club.
BYERINSHAW.COM | ERIN@BYERINSHAW.COM
The work of local artist Erin Shaw has an almost otherworldly quality to it—a bit ethereal, a little fantastical. Her delightful illustrations are the stuff of fairytales, while her handcarved wooden rings and beautiful brass baubles are gorgeous, wearable treasures.
PRINT SHOP OR DESIGN FIRM
CLASSICGRAPHX.ORG | (617) 868-4140
A full-service print and design shop, Classic Graphx has you covered no matter what you need. Have an idea for a brochure, but no graphic design skills? They’ll put together a beautiful, attention-grabbing handout. Already have the design? Then choose from a wide array of papers and printing options to bring your idea to life. Whether you’re printing your thesis or a flyer for your band’s next gig, Classic Graphx will get it done.
CAMBRIDGE.WICKEDLOCAL.COM | 781-433-8282
If it’s happening in the city, you can bet the Cambridge Chronicle’s staff is there to cover it—whether that’s a school committee meeting or an outdoor festival, a high school sporting event or a restaurant opening. With fair, unbiased reporting and a keen awareness of the historical context that continues to shape the city today, this intrepid team keeps the city up to date on the stories that matter.
CAMBRIDGE HISTORICAL TOURS
CAMBRIDGEHISTORICALTOURS.ORG | (617) 520-4030
There’s a lot of ground to cover in Cambridge, both in terms of mileage and in terms of time. First settled in 1630, the history of our city is really the history of America’s beginnings. Conveying that in a digestible way is a daunting task. Cambridge Historical Tours cover it all: the history of the city; a look at the innovations past, present and future made possible here; a historically-oriented pub crawl and even a tour of the city’s most haunted locales for the supernaturally inclined. Even if you’ve spent your whole life here, Cambridge Historical Tours can show you something new.
THE TABLE AT SEASON TO TASTE
CAMBRIDGETABLE.COM | (617) 871-9468
The Table at Season to Taste used to be just that: a farmhouse table available for private parties and pop-up brunches only. Luckily for all Cambridge diners, owner Robert Harris and chef Carl Dooley revamped the space this year, reopening as a 20-seat restaurant. Dooley competed in the past season of Top Chef, but you can catch him up close from any of the tables in this cozy eatery as he applies his culinary technique to masterful four-course menus. Stop by for drinks and snacks at the standing bar or book yourself a seat for dinner to see what fresh (and beautiful) preparations the newcomer has in store.
THE BRATTLE THEATRE
BRATTLEFILM.ORG | (617) 876-6837
Home to both big-time affairs (the Massachusetts Film Festival), quirky curiosities (the Boston Underground Film Festival) and offbeat, ongoing events like Trash Night, which finds the cinema screening “F-grade, sub-cult cinematic wonders,” the Brattle has something for movie lovers of all kinds. Often, there’s something here for book lovers, too—the nonprofit regularly partners with neighboring Harvard Book Store for author talks and events.
PLACE TO PEOPLE WATCH
CAMBRIDGE PUBLIC LIBRARY MAIN BRANCH
CAMBRIDGEPUBLICLIBRARY.ORG | (617) 349-4010
Sure, you can pop by to check out a book. But you can also check out what other community members are up to at the Cambridge Public Library. Grab a seat on the lawn, peek over the top of the latest Dave Eggers novel and watch as countless Cantabrigians traipse in and out of the building to borrow books of their own.
LATE NIGHT HAUNT
CHARLIESKITCHEN.COM | (617) 492-9646
The burgers, the beer garden, the unrivaled jukebox selection— Charlie’s Kitchen truly has it all, including live music and a long-running karaoke night that’s among the best in the city. When the sun goes down, head upstairs, grab a seat at the bar and bask in the glow of that bright neon double cheeseburger sign.
FOLLOW THE HONEY
FOLLOWTHEHONEY.COM | (617) 945-7356
We need bees, which is why we need places like Follow the Honey in Harvard Square, which brings a world of sweet, pollinated goodness to Cambridge. With an emphasis on socially conscious sourcing— whether from local apiaries in Massachusetts or far-flung locations like Tanzania—you can shop Follow The Honey’s wares and know that you’re helping out fuzzy, flying pollinators around the globe.
This story originally appeared in the September/October print issue of Scout Cambridge, which is available for free at more than 240 locations throughout Cambridge and just beyond its borders or by subscription.