Harvard Square

Tatte Bakery & Cafe

Wander this bustling crossroads on the other side of the river and you’ll find there’s something for everyone—upscale plates for the classy, grab-and-go patisserie for the hurried, or nourishing bowls for hungry minds.

What first resembles a run-of-the-mill Japanese spot—after all, its name is Cafe Sushi and it does reside in a strip mall—is hiding one of the city’s finest omakase experiences. Take the plunge and you’ll enjoy eight courses of stunning seafood with tweezer-applied toppings and detailed introductions from the chef. A great sake selection and affordable sushi combos make for excellent casual lunch and dinner experiences, too.

Dim lighting, hanging plant life, and a perpetually mellow hip-hop soundtrack contribute to subterranean Alden & Harlow’s laid-back vibe. But all that affable energy helps to conceal the serious thought and energy that goes into an ever-changing menu of seasonal and locally focused small plates. While chef Michael Scelfo obviously loves veggies, he’s also crafted one of the most sought-after burgers in town, released in limited numbers at 5 and 11 p.m. each night.

Santouka is a ramen chain hailing from Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, which—lucky for us—has brought its signature silky shio (salt) broth to Harvard Square. Other variants, like the soy sauce-laden shoyu or porky tonkotsu are also on offer, benefiting from add-ons like dunkable soft-boiled eggs. Noodles may be king, but combos encourage snacking on side dishes like gyoza or extra helpings of tender pork cheeks.

Budding local chain Tatte Bakery & Cafe now serves its East-meets-West treats in six Boston neighborhoods, but Harvard Square hosts its largest, two-story location. Stumptown coffee and hearty sandwiches on homemade bread provide everyday nourishment, but a more decadent menu with Greek pancakes and a famous Shakshuka turn the white, airy rooms into a bustling brunch spot on weekends. Pastry lovers flock here for delights like Monkey Bread and Pistachio Croissants, and if you’re a fan of matcha lattes, know that Tatte’s is the one to beat.

Waypoint

Min Kim

Michael Scelfo is doing to seafood at Waypoint what he did to vegetables at Alden & Harlow in this airy, above-ground dining room with an awe-inspiring raw bar. The menu is a choose-your-own-adventure book of seafaring delights: Pizzas, pastas, sharing plates, and roasts-for-two provide endless combinations. An absinthe-focused bar program, meanwhile, mixes cocktails that are every bit as inventive as they are potent.

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