Kendall Square/MIT

Cafe du Pays

Kendall Square is famous for its tech scene, but we’re far more interested in the type of innovation you can eat. From a stellar take on French Canadian fare to wood-fired pizza perfection, this neighborhood at Cambridge’s eastern tip won’t disappoint.

From house-cured pastrami and salmon to scratch-made bagels, Mamaleh’s Delicatessen puts in the hard work needed to make a modern Jewish deli even Bubbie would approve of. It’s easy to fill up on Potato Knish and jam-topped Minnie’s Blintzes, but try to save some room for main-event dishes like the house-signature Reuben and one of the many, many smoked fish plates served with a bialy or bagel. Wash it all down with an old-timey soda or a phosphate (a tangy soda made with phosphoric acid), or really lean into that afternoon nap with a boozy milkshake (we’re partial to the Malted Brandy Alexander).

The Automatic may have opened in 2016, but it feels like the type of beloved quasi-dive that’s been around forever. It’s the sort of place where you can order a shot and a beer, a perfect dirty martini, or even dare to try a Mudslide or Frozen Hardly Blue Margarita (you’re in good hands). The same ethos applies to the food menu, where you’ll discover marrow-topped Freaky Fries, secret sauce-slathered burgers, and a seriously spicy Frito Pie From Hell.

“Let’s do French Canadian tonight,” isn’t a phrase heard often, but it should be. As evidence we’ll cite Café du Pays, a delightful take on Quebecois cuisine from the folks behind nearby Mamaleh’s Delicatessen and State Park. Spoiler alert: You’re ordering the gravy-smothered Poutine. But don’t neglect the north-of-the-border dishes that still seem exotic, like the Tourtière (a pork and venison meat pie) or the Cretons (a spicy, fatty pork spread).

Sure, it may feel like every Boston neighborhood has an outpost of Tatte within walking distance at this point, but only Kendall Square has three. Even better, one of those locations—101 Main Street—also houses the bakery and cafe chain’s baking facilities, so you can get the beloved Monkey Bread and flaky croissants at their absolute freshest. But don’t overlook the sandwich and salad selection, featuring winners like a roasted cauliflower- and spiced labneh-stuffed pita, and the hearty Fattoush salad topped by oversized, oh-so-crunchy za’atar croutons. Tatte also serves brunch all day from Friday through Sunday, so there’s no excuse to miss it.

Wood-fired ovens, dough made with a 12-year-old sourdough starter, fist-sized Garlic Knots with the perfect amount of char: We can think of a few reasons why Obama famously chose Area Four for a presidential pizza summit in 2015. Fortunately, no oath of office is required to sample the Wellfleet Cherrystone Clam & Bacon pizza, nor the Carnivore topped with sausage, soppressata, and bacon. If you’re more likely to roam the opposite side of the Charles, you can score chewy, charred-crust pizzas at Area Four’s South End location.

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