The Best Restaurants & Bars In Cambridge, MA

Forget Boston—the best culinary gem is just across the river

While Boston is undoubtedly one of New England's most popular dining destinations, we've had our eye on its up-and-coming neighbor for quite some time.

Cambridge, home to both Harvard and MIT, is full of bars, coffee shops, great ethnic restaurants, theaters and live music venues. It's also the city that none other than iconic culinary figure Julia Child once called home. And over the past few years, a variety of standout restaurants have opened in Cambridge, including award-winning ventures from forward-thinking chefs like Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette (Little Donkey) and Marc Sheehan (Loyal Nine). These cutting-edge endeavors join a dining community full of respected spots like Harvest and Craigie on Main.

From fine dining to fast casual, here's everything you should be eating in Cambridge right now.

① Little Donkey (Central Square)

Little Donkey's globally inspired menu from Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette gives guests the opportunity to explore flavors they might have never experienced before. Their dishes highlight cuisine from all over the world, like matzo ball ramen and kung pao octopus head. Remember to save room for dessert—you're not going to want to miss out on the raw (but safe) chocolate chip cookie dough served straight up with a side of milk espuma.

② Parsnip (Harvard Square)

Located in historic Harvard Square, this sophisticated spot occupies the space that once held neighborhood favorite UpStairs on the Square. The new decor is a beautiful mix of chic and rustic, and chef Peter Quinion's approach to fine dining is casual yet modern. Diners can enjoy a balanced combination of vegetarian, meat and fish plates, such as spaghetti alla chitarra, duck breast and herb-crusted cod.

③ Saloniki Greek (Kendall Square)

For a quick Greek-influenced lunch, look no further than Saloniki Greek by James Beard Award-winning chef Jody Adams. You can build your own pita sandwich or combination plate, served with a side of Greek fries. Or, if you're looking for a lighter option, the winter kale salad will absolutely do the trick. Take note: Since it's located right by MIT's campus, it's usually bustling during the school day.

④ Shepard (Porter Square)

This trendy hot spot, helmed by co-owners and Boston culinary powerhouses René Becker and Susan Regis, is where locals and visitors can experience top-notch modern American cuisine. Chef de cuisine Peter McKenzie offers a simple, thoughtful menu composed of both small and large plates, like crab head custard and pork fat fried lobster. Since the restaurant sources its ingredients from local farms, the lineup changes often and is highly dependent on what's in season.

⑤ Mamaleh's Delicatessen (Kendall Square)

Diners craving bagels with smoked lox will be thrilled to discover this full-service Jewish deli and bar. The menu is filled with fun riffs on staples like potato latkes with bowfin caviar and kreplach, or wontons filled with caramelized onion and ricotta. House-made raspberry lime rickeys and pomegranate-ginger sodas are available daily, and breakfast is served all day. So a delicious pastrami egg and cheese sandwich is always within reach. 

⑥ Moona (Inman Square)

Led by executive chef Mark McMann, this intimate bistro specializes in tasteful Eastern Mediterranean dishes. The menu is made up of shareable small plates like musakhan rolls, octopus and mussels, as well as a few larger entrées including grilled black bass and duck breast. There are also jars of house-made spice blends, jams and pickles to buy and take home.

⑦ Glass House (Kendall Square)

Located in the heart of Kendall Square, this is the perfect place to fill up after a walk along the scenic Charles River. As its name implies, the 6,500-square-foot space is surrounded by glass windows and features a spacious outdoor patio. Choose from a variety of interesting dishes from chef Ben Hennemuth, like lasagna Bolognese, curried goat stew or a classic Boston lobster roll.

⑧ Loyal Nine (East Cambridge)

This local favorite will be your new go-to for brunch, lunch and dinner. Chef Marc Sheehan's New England-inspired cuisine is sure to blow you away, with options like fried oysters with chicken legs, and coriander-roasted sunchokes. Sheehan takes the freshness and quality of his ingredients very seriously, so all of his seafood is strictly sourced from the Northeast.

⑨ Flour Bakery + Cafe (Central Square, Harvard Square and Cambridgeport)

James Beard Award-winning baker Joanne Chang continues to grow her pastry empire, stationing three out of her six locations in Cambridge. It's the perfect stop off for your morning coffee and croissant, and it also offers hearty sandwich and soup options for a substantial lunch. Pro tip: Don't skip out on the legendary sticky buns.

⑩ The Hourly Oyster House (Harvard Square)

If you're in the mood for a traditional New England seafood feast, then this vibrant oyster emporium is exactly where you need to be. The restaurant serves local classics like lobster rolls and beer-battered fish and chips, and each meal starts with homemade salt-and-vinegar chips. Guest also receive complimentary taffy from neighborhood legend Cabot's Candy as a special post-meal treat.

Pack your passport—and an appetite—as we hit the world's hottest culinary destinations on and off the grid all month long. Now Boarding: your next trip to paradise.