The Best Restaurants in Harvard Square

Graduate from ho-hum meals to A-plus soufflé pancakes and masterful bowls of ramen.

Harvard Square offers a cuisine crash-course you won’t find in a classroom. Hit the books (well, the menus) at these 20 restaurants, cafés, and bars to discover ahead-of-the-curve farm-to-table fare, pizza with legacy sourdough starters, and sushi that’s a study in simplicity. Rounded out by house-made pastas swimming in sauce and more, the meals on the syllabus here ace the taste test.

This guide was most recently updated in October 2023; stay tuned for periodic updates.

A white bowl is full of clams, artichokes, a creamy broth, and lightly browned monkfish filets.

When chef Tony Susi joined the Bar Enza team, monkfish acqua pazza was one of the dishes on his first menu. / Courtesy photo

Bar Enza

Local pasta maven Tony Susi (Sage, Geppetto) came onboard in 2023, breathing new life into this Italian restaurant at the Charles Hotel. Think restaurant that happens to be in a hotel rather than hotel restaurant. Start small (tomato focaccia with whipped ricotta and fennel pollen; arancini with smoked mozzarella) before dipping into the pastas (tortelli with butternut squash screams autumn) and heartier entrees like an Abruzzesse-style fish stew or roasted chicken with black truffle butter.

Charles Hotel, 1 Bennett St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-661-5050,

Black Sheep Bagel Cafe Cambridge bagel sandwiches and coffee

Black Sheep Bagel Cafe. / Courtesy photo

Black Sheep Bagel Cafe

If the name didn’t tip you off, bagels are the main attraction at this “maaa and paaa” (haaa!) café. Try fun flavors like a Cajun spice bagel with fresh jalapeño cream cheese, or dive into the sandwich-and-toast portion of the menu for multi-topping combos like avocado toast with lemon, Aleppo pepper, microgreens, and optional additions like lox or bacon. To drink, a chai latte or café con leche fits the bill.

56 John F Kennedy St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-945-2189,

See also: Where to Find the Best Bagels in Boston Right Now

Overhead view of a bowl of ramen with a thick, orange broth, slices of meat, and ground pork.

Bosso Ramen Tavern’s karami ramen, with ground pork, beef, fried onion, and chili oil. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Bosso Ramen Tavern

Since opening in 2022, this Japanese izakaya has been making waves. Start with a smattering of small appetizers—namely the smoked salmon potato salad (trust us) and scallop carpaccio—before getting hooked on the sushi, especially the scallop roll brightened by yuzu. Vegans can savor the zippy umekyu sushi (a combo of pickled plum and cucumber). Do dive into the Best of Boston ramen, too—especially the house specialty (and aptly named) umami ramen. With a pork bone base buoyed by chicken broth, it’s a savory bowl, with wood ear mushroom along for the ride. And stay tuned for a proposed sibling spot to open on Boston’s Newbury Street, with a slightly different focus.

24 Holyoke St., Harvard Square, Cambridge,

Overhead view of a salmon donburi bowl and seared tuna in black plastic takeover containers on a wooden table.

Café Sushi, delivered. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Café Sushi Shoten

Sticklers might protest that this Best of Boston gem is technically between Harvard and Central squares (though closer to Harvard). But no one has any quibbles about the bold flavors in this bright and sleek sushi spot. Previously known for its outstanding omakase, it has taken a pandemic-era spin into a focus on takeout, delivery, and retail—but there’s still so much to love. (And there are a few seats available if you don’t want to take your order all the way home before digging in.) Chef Seizi Imura plays both deceptively simple (the pristine nigiri, for starters) to outright stylish with out-of-the-bento-box ingredients. Japanese herring with iced onion, anyone?

1105 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-492-0434,

See also: Fall in Love All Over Again with Café Sushi

A green latte and marbled brownie sit on a wooden table.

Matcha latte and a La Saison marble brownie at Faro Cafe. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Faro Café

Drink a flat white, play chess, and snack on pastries—some sourced from the absolutely delightful La Saison Bakery—at this greenery-filled, laptop-free nook. This is the perfect place to connect with friends and strangers over a latte. Watch Instagram for details on evening events—live music, poetry nights, chess tournaments, life drawing, and more.

5 Arrow St., Harvard Square, Cambridge,

Felipe’s Taqueria

Pardon the grilling, but what’s a sure-fire way to crank up the flavor of your meal? Find the answer with a bite of the wood-grilled steak, chicken, and marinated vegetables on the menu at this lively and casual haunt. The magic char is thanks to the grill’s mix of hickory, maple, and oak, and you can savor the smokiness in everything—from the tomatoes in the fresh salsa to the deep-fried burrito that’s stuffed with citrus-marinated steak and doused with queso. Wash it down with a frozen strawberry margarita on the always-hopping roof deck (when weather permits), and now you’re cookin’.

21 Brattle St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-354-9944,


Tucked away from the bustle of the main square, Forage is worth seeking out for an upscale showcase of local, seasonal sourcing and global inspiration. Think dishes like roasted wild hen-of-the-wood mushrooms with confit garlic, capers, raisins, pine nuts, and Calabrian chili; or chicken with ginger broth, shiitake, Atlantic wakame, crabapple, leek, and umeboshi pancake. A la carte dining is available, but if you can swing it, go all-in on a tasting menu (choose omnivore, pescatarian, vegetarian, or vegan), with optional wine pairings and a cheese course. (Also, watch for special dinner events showcasing particular ingredients and wines—you’ll want to sign up for the mailing list.) Bonus: There’s a heated patio.

5 Craigie Circle, Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-576-5444,

Harvest Cambridge

The Harvest patio. / Courtesy photo


With a grand patio boasting a pergola, Harvest is about as picture-perfect as you can get. Factor in dishes like campanelli with house smoked duck bacon, and it’s no surprise that this local legend that emphasizes New England farmers and producers has been delighting diners since 1975. Seared Atlantic salmon with honey Dijon glaze stands the test of time, though that’s not to say executive chef Nick Deutmeyer can’t get downright avant-garde in the garden. See what seasonal ingredients he and the team are showcasing as you pass the hours by the indoor or outdoor fireplaces.

44 Brattle St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-868-2255,

Henrietta’s Table

First things first: As of fall 2023, the all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch buffet is back, hallelujah. With that out of the way: Before everything was dubbed “farm-to-table”—accurately, or with a little fudging—there was Henrietta’s Table, which has been sourcing organic produce from local purveyors for over 20 years. And speaking of fudge, do check out the chocolate bread pudding with vanilla bean ice cream and caramelized rum bananas. From his skylight-flooded American restaurant within the Charles Hotel, chef Peter Davis dazzles daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast of poached eggs served over baked Harrington ham and anadama bread, or stop by for lunch and try masa-crusted monkfish with a cheddar biscuit. For dinner, savor seared sirloin from Maine’s Pineland Farm alongside creamy mashed potatoes.

Charles Hotel, 1 Bennett St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-661-5005,

Shio ramen at Santouka Back Bay

Shio ramen at Santouka’s Back Bay location. / Photo by Kelsey Cronin

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka

Founded in Japan in the late 1980s, this now-international chain features a mild shio (salt) ramen made with a tonkotsu broth, which has a slow-simmered pork bone base. The busy Harvard Square location—one of a trio locally—continues the tradition, offering the signature shio ramen with pork belly, bamboo shoots, kikurage mushroom, naruto, scallions, and umeboshi. There are a variety of other ramen options, too, not to mention rice bowls, bento boxes, and more—all good lunch options for a busy day.

1 Bow St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-945-1460,

Joe’s Pizza

This New York City export, established in 1975, arrived in Harvard Square in fall 2023, and crowds are already buzzing about the proper NY slices, thin-crust and foldable, with classic, no-frills toppings like pepperoni and olives. Founder Joe Pozzuoli, who still operates the company, originally hails from Naples—but between Naples and New York? Turns out he spent time in Boston and opened Cleveland Circle icon Pino’s Pizza, which continues to churn out excellent slices today. (He was bought out by his partners years ago.)

3 Brattle St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 857-259-6085,

The Maharaja

Crowning a window-wrapped building that overlooks the bustling square, Maharaja proffers Indian fare in fit-for-royalty portions. The novel-length menu has something for everyone. Those craving comfort should look no further than the crowd-pleasing and creamy chicken korma. In the mood for tandoori? Savor the grilled jumbo shrimp that’s marinated in cream and served alongside paneer. Biryanis bring the heat, and vegetarians find a feast in the sham savera—spinach and cheese dumplings cooked in a buttery, tomato-forward sauce. Sop up the last bit of sauce with keema naan, which is stuffed with ground lamb, but save room for dessert, as the gajar halwa, a carrot pudding served warm and with a kick of warming spices, is the perfect cap to the meal.

57 John F. Kennedy St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-547-2757,

See also: The Best Indian Restaurants in Boston

moeca plate

Moëca. / Photo by Emily Trotochaud


This is a bit of a hike down Mass. Ave., heading into that is-it-Harvard-or-is-it-Porter territory, but for the purposes of this guide, we’ll consider it close enough—and it’s a worthy destination even if you’re coming from farther away. It’s the younger sibling to Giulia (a few doors down, and maybe slightly more Porter than Harvard, but hey—definitely go there, too, if you love Italian and can get a reservation). You’ll find a creative array of seafood-focused dishes that don’t stick to a particular regional cuisine: barbecued mussels to start, perhaps, with hazelnut, vadouvan, and beet molasses; followed by smoked scallop taramasalata with cucumber, dill, and pita; heading into a pasta course of spaghetti with Maine lobster, fermented chili, and shiso. It’s a whirlwind. Definitely save room for dessert.

1 Shepard St., between Harvard and Porter squares, Cambridge,

Crispy empanadas are topped with a salad of mixed greens on a small white plate. In the background, an arepa and side salad is visible.

Empanadas (foreground) and arepas at Orinoco in Harvard Square. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal


Away from the college-student-crowded streets, Orinoco whisks diners to Venezuela, with a menu inspired by the roadside restaurants in the Andean nation. Antojitos might mean “little cravings,” but this small-bite section of the menu packs a mighty punch, with the savory bomb of almond-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon, plus pieces of white cheese served in plantain slivers. Elevate the inimitable shredded-beef-stuffed empanadas from a snack to full-fledged meal with a side of crispy yuca fries or starchy tostones balanced by bright mojo. The restaurant doesn’t offer reservations, so head in early to beat the dinner rush. If your travels take you elsewhere around town, pop into the South End and Brookline Village locations, too.

56 John F. Kennedy St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-354-6900,

Russell House Tavern

This cozy multi-story gastropub has been going strong for over a decade, serving up raw bar items and comforting fare like steak frites, Bolognese, pulled pork-topped pizzas, and cheese boards. Conveniently, it’s pretty much always open, offering daily brunch, a mid-afternoon abbreviated menu, dinner, and late-night.

14 JFK St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-500-3055,

Overhead view of a very pepperoni-covered pizza with a slightly charred crust.

Source’s pepperoni pizza, with caramelized red onion and vin cotto. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal


The true source of Source’s Best of Boston wood-fired pizza—besides the decades of know-how brought by owner Daniel Paul Roughan and executive chef/partner Brian Kevorkian—is all thanks to one original batch of sourdough starter. That sourdough starter, named “Mother,” is so pampered she’s currently enjoying some R&R at an off-site facility, while her offspring, dubbed “Sister,” serves as the new starter for the daily-made dough. This family lineage results in a lighter-than-air crust that’s a soft and chewy landing for a host of toppings, from crisp-edged pepperoni to a boatload of veggies. Then, there’s the Eddie Special, a stoner-luring smorgasbord of smoked ricotta, bacon, Buffalo chicken, red onion, and poblano ranch. Pie perfection, along with a handful of pastas and small plates (hello, miso chili caramel Brussels sprouts), is dished out in the industrial-hip space, which opened in late 2020. As tempting as it may be to start your day with leftover cold pizza, roll over to weekend brunch for pizza dough doughnuts tossed in cinnamon sugar, and “wait, this is a pizza place?”-levels of delight stirred by the stacks of soufflé pancakes.

27 Church St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 857-856-6800,

Overhead view of brisket, cornbread, watermelon, and Brussels sprouts on brown paper on a silver tray.

A brisket plate at the Smoke Shop BBQ. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

The Smoke Shop BBQ

Restaurateur Andy Husbands’ local barbecue chain has grown to an impressive half dozen locations, including one in the heart of Harvard Square. Our recommended order: the sticky-sweet agave wings, which are smoked and flash fried; a brisket plate with your favorite barbecue sides; and butter cake for dessert. Bring the kids—Smoke Shop is very family-friendly. (The kids’ mac and cheese consistently gets a big thumbs up from at least one toddler of a Boston staffer.)

8 Holyoke St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-547-7427,

Stoked Pizza. / Photo by Scott Goodwin

Stoked Pizza Co.

Head just a bit down Mass. Ave., toward Harvard Law, to find yet another great Cambridge pizza option. We love the crumbled pepperoni with hot honey best, and the cheeseburger pizza is also hugely popular. Not only does Stoked make killer pizza (with tons of vegetarian- and vegan-friendly options), but the hospitable team also offers a sneakily good selection of tropical cocktails. Sure, you can get takeout and delivery, but you’ll love sitting down for a full-service meal here.

1611 Massachusetts Ave., Harvard Square(ish), Cambridge, 617-945-0989,


Hard to say what’s more welcoming at this homey spot: the brick walls and the warm wood surroundings, or the soul-boosting bowls of minestrone soup? Answer these and other existential questions with an avalanche of antipasti—especially the beef carpaccio studded with gem-like capers and parm slices, and the charred calamari served with a mustard sauce. The rest of the menu traipses through Tuscany, proffering pizzas, house-made pastas (with the rigatoni ramped up by double-smoked bacon), and cheese flights heightened by truffle honey. Plus, with four different riffs on risotto, you’ll definitely be booking a return trip.

52 Brattle St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-354-5250,

Two bao sit in a metal steamer basket, one chicken-shaped with fried chicken and one pig-shaped with pork.

Wusong Road bao. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

Wusong Road

Do you like tiki drinks? Wusong Road is the ultimate tiki destination, with a gorgeous, intricately decorated interior and concept that pays homage to owner Jason Doo’s childhood growing up in his family’s American Chinese restaurant in Malden. Accompany tasty drinks in fun glassware with old-school Peking ravioli; scallion pancake roll-ups with hoisin-sauced brisket; fusion-y snacks like aloo tikki tots and Korean cheesy corn rangoons; and the optionally boozy, dessert-y “cease and desist whip”—ahem, “definitely not ‘D*le Wh*p.’” A note to Harvard faculty and students: Swing by for a lunch combo and show your school ID for a discount.

112 Mt. Auburn St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-528-9125,

See also: The Most Beautiful Restaurants in Greater Boston