The Best Restaurants in Cambridge

May 1, 2018
·
by Zagat Staff

The area's top spots.

Waypoint
Pizza · $$

Chef Michael Scelfo (Alden & Harlow) lures guests to this "trendy" Harvard Square–side kitchen with "incredible, innovative" coastal cuisine, including everything from seafood-topped pizzas and pastas to shared plates of roasted meats and fish and classic caviar service; a "fantastic" , "knowledgeable" staff tends to the aquatic-inspired dining room, complete with a gleaming raw bar, open kitchen and cocktail bar pouring "unique" concoctions, some made with absinthe.
Little Donkey
Breakfast · $$

Fans say the "hype is well-deserved" at this "hip" Central Square spot, where chef-duo Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette (Toro) deliver "super-inventive" , globally inspired small plates that "keep you on your toes" , plus unique raw-bar eats and "inspired" cocktails; the airy room – with floor-to-ceiling streetside windows, exposed brick and slatted wood furnishings – can get "packed" , but "knowledgeable" service adds to the reasons to "go back."
Giulia
Italian · $
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.5

"Fabulous" homemade pasta steals the show at this Porter Square Italian, where fans praise the "great care" evident in "exquisite" , "thoughtfully prepared" plates with "precise flavors" and seasonings that work in "symphonic harmony" ; "unpretentious, attentive" service enhances the "comfortable, stylish" oak and brick–filled space – that is, "if you can get in" ; P.S. the pasta prep space is repurposed as a chef’s table at night.
Cafe Sushi
Japanese · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.4 · Service 4.1

"Chefs work like jewelers" arranging fish so "fresh" it’s practically "just off the boat" into "delicious" , "creative" sushi dishes at this longtime Harvard Square joint; the surrounds "may not be luxurious" , but the staff is "friendly" and the vibe "down-to-earth" , so all in all, it’s a strong "value.
Alden & Harlow
Brunch · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.4

"Adventurous eaters" descend on this Harvard Square "hot spot" , where the "superb" , shareable New American offerings are "seasonal" and "inventive" , and there’s also a notable ‘Secret Burger’ (available in limited quantities at dinner); "accommodating" service and "creative drinks" from "excellent mixologists" assure "lively" crowds at the "exciting bar" and an atmosphere of "electricity" in the subterranean space featuring a "contemporary" spin on rustic decor.
Area Four
Breakfast · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.1

These "upbeat" siblings "will make any solid American hipster content" with their "delicious" , "inventive" pizzas featuring "scrumptious" dough and toppings that bespeak a "farmer’s pedigree" , all served with "rarefied" craft beers by "enthusiastic" staffers; the Kendall Square original, which opens earlier, is also a "go-to" for morning coffee, while the artsy Ink Block sidekick emphasizes open-flame New American cookery alongside the pies.
Parsnip Restaurant & Lounge
French · $$$

This pretty little Harvard Square treasure goes for simple, seasonal ingredient–driven plates (including a five-course tasting menu) with a modern European sheen, complemented by biodynamic wines and classic cocktails created with interesting housemade infusions. A midcentury-modern style pervades the fireplace-filled bi-level space, from the high-ceilinged dining room to the swank upstairs lounge with a white marble bar.
Loyal Nine
American · $$

Named for a contingent of Colonial-era patriots, this "stylish and simple" East Cambridge eatery offers a "unique menu" emphasizing East Coast Revival cookery, its hand-pottered small plates piled with "imaginative" , "delicious" spins on locally sourced shellfish, veggies and meats; the bar serves an "original" wine list, domestic beers and ciders plus "creative" cocktails, while a "friendly" cafe annex with a "cool" patio turns out coffee and light bites starting at 8 AM.
The Table at Season to Taste
$$$

'Top Chef' alum Carl Dooley sets the table at this "intimate" restaurant within the catering facility of Season to Taste, where just 20 guests are accommodated for an "original" four-course tasting menu (with optional beverage pairings) that marries contemporary French technique with local ingredients and global influence for "outstanding" , "special occasion" –worthy results; the "quiet" , minimalist space also features a standing bar offering drop-ins wine and small plates, and "welcoming" service completes the picture.
Pagu
$$

Though à la carte dining is available, innovative prix fixe menus are emphasized at this hip Cambridge eatery offering Japanese- and Spanish-inspired small plates in a homey space filled with warm, live-edge woods and an open kitchen. Seats are reserved via prepaid ticketing at the restaurant's website.
Forage
$$

Local sourcing and hyper-seasonal menus are the driving force behind this adorable New American dining room just outside Harvard Square, a passion project from alums of the Ten Tables location that once inhabited the space, and one that preserves that former restaurant's farm-to-table ethos with inventively tweaked classic dishes and selection of organic, biodynamic wines.