Best of Boston

2000 Best Bistro

Chez Henri

“French with a Cuban twist” is how chef/owner Paul O’Connell describes his Cambridge eatery. We say twist away, especially if that means more Cuban sandwiches (pork three ways, cornichon cheese and vegetables grilled into a melty, crunchy, stick-to-your-ribs meal), conch fritters, and chorizo sausage with scallion mashed potatoes. Chez Henri’s small, narrow bar fills quickly with local neighborhood intelligentsia, who’d rather play a pick-up game of backgammon than watch “Must See TV.” On any given night, a regular cast of characters informally gathers to socialize or quietly enjoy a periodista—just one of the notorious Chez Henry speciality drinks. For all the casual camaraderie in the bar, the dining room beckons with floor-to-ceiling windows that remind diners of Paris. It’s in here that the menu gets more serious, with thoughtful nods to the French classics ad tasty inventive offerings like duck tamales. Note: You simply can’t beat the steak frites anywhere in town.

1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, 617-354-8980,