From cured pastrami and salmon to fluffy, scratch-made bagels, Mamaleh’s Delicatessen does what it takes to make a modern Jewish deli. That’s why the counter-service spot has seen success expanding into Brookline and High Street Place. The Cambridge original is the largest location, with indoor dining and house cocktails like a Seeded Rye Old Fashioned, Pickles the ’Tini, and the Malted Brandy Alexander boozy milkshake. Whether you swing by for smoked fish breakfast sandwiches or are there to peruse the fridges of take-home items, you’ll feel well taken care of by this comforting cuisine.
The Best Restaurants around Kendall Square in Cambridge
Where to Eat and Drink in Boston's Seaport
Where to Eat in Brookline
The dining scene in Kendall Square is filled with innovation and imagination, which certainly fits the neighborhood. Home to MIT and big-name technology and life science companies, this Cambridge nabe does it all, from breakfast, lunch, and dinner to afternoon pick-me-ups. In an area with truly a little bit of everything, here’s where to find the best restaurants in Kendall Square.
We can think of a few reasons why President Obama famously chose Area Four to lunch with local business leaders during a Boston-area visit in 2015. This Tech Square pizzeria combines time-tested techniques with innovative ideas, earning itself mass appeal the prez would surely appreciate. Pizzas like Not Pepperoni, topped with lean and zesty soppressata; and Wellfleet Cherrystone Clam & Bacon—not to mention, softball-size Garlic Knots with extra red sauce for dipping—begin with an 18-year-old sourdough starter and are fired in a real wood-burning oven. Also impressive: A dog-friendly patio, great bar selection, and A4’s daytime cafe serving Barrington Coffee and house-made baked goods like slices of rich and caramelized banana bread.
One of the original brewpubs in Boston, Cambridge Brewing Company produces a broad range of beer to appeal to its diverse visitors. Celebrated CBC brewmaster Will Meyers balances classics with creativity in craft beer: Originals such as Flower Child, an American IPA, and Cambridge Amber Ale continue to earn new fans, while seasonal and experimental brews like Lemon Yellow Sun, a golden sour ale with yuzu and lemon, invite us to return often to see what’s new. The food menu takes on brewpub favorites like CBC Nachos and Beer Battered Fish ’n Chips with local ingredients, and runs frequent specials and fun festivals. Kick back with a brew or two on the dog-friendly patio, get a table with friends, or belly up to the bar inside.
A rare bird in Boston, Shy Bird, located near the Kendall Square T, is open all day, everyday. The Rotisserie Chicken is the star of the show, but the rest of the menu is far from being just the supporting cast. The SB Dunks are a must-order: extra-crispy chicken bites brined in buttermilk, herbs and spices, along with fresh salads, sides, and fried chicken sandwiches. For weekend brunch, eggs and hollandaise sauce adorn the bird. It all matches with clever cocktails like the floral, food-friendly Shy Lady, plus non-alcoholic drinks and curated wines and beers. From Eastern Standard-ex restaurateurs Andrew Holden and Garrett Harker, this counter-service spot is good on the go, or makes for an effortless outing. Order online for takeout or delivery, or pull up a seat (ideally on the covered sidewalk patio) for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
What started as a pop-up grocery store in the spring of 2020 has turned into one of our favorite cozy restaurants. From the group that brings us Mamaleh’s and State Park, Vincent’s is named after the original business at this address—and represents the team’s versatility and resilience. (This place was formerly their French Canadian bistro, Café du Pays.) Vincent’s brings scratch-kitchen cooking to lunch and dinner, leaning into a New American style; with Texas Roadside Brunch on the weekends. An instant-favorite option is the Bodega Breakfast Sandwich, or one of Vincent’s breakfast tacos like Shotgun Willie, with smoked pork hash, red onion, cotija, and pickled peppers. Nab one of the few coveted bar seats, or dine outside on the charming corner patio.
The flagship location of the Big Dipper Hospitality Group (Mamaleh’s, Vincent’s), State Park is a restaurant with great food disguised as a dive bar. Must-have hits include the Nashville Hot Chicken dinner, a modern take on a Japanese-style Chicken Katsu sandwich with pickled shiitakes and “shrabbage,” Narragansett Beer Cheese with dilly beans and ES Provisions pretzel bites, and whatever’s on the dessert menu. Drinks are also notable, like the industry-favorite State Park Cocktail of Miller High Life, rye, amaro Braulio, and a twist of lemon. With amusements on offer like pool, a dog-friendly patio, live music, and a jukebox, the slogan “your friends are already here” is usually true.
Sumiao Hunan Kitchen
Sumiao Hunan Kitchen puts Hunanese cooking on the map in Greater Boston. This contemporary Chinese restaurant focuses on the bold cuisine of the southern Hunan province. Not familiar? Start with the Nom Numb Wings, a spicy, craveable appetizer of fried, bone-in chicken with dried chili and peppercorn oil; or the Five Spice-Braised Beef with garlic and chili sauce. The Kendall Square spot also stirs up an innovative cocktail program, with drinks like Perpetual Motion featuring China’s national spirit, baijiu. Sumaio offers both indoor and seasonal outdoor dining as well as takeout and delivery.
Toscanini's Ice Cream
Toscanini’s is not your average ice cream shop. Established in 1981, this Cambridge creamery has racked up some serious accolades by the New York Times, Boston magazine, and Bon Appétit. Forty years later, Tosci’s has two locations in Central and Kendall Square and still scoops ever-changing, unique flavors such as Goat Cheese Honey, B3 (brown sugar, brown butter, and brownies), and Vienna Finger Cookie (talk about a throwback!). Can’t imagine a special occasion without an ice cream cake? The Kendall location offers custom cakes and pints to-go. Also look for Toscanini’s at local restaurants and shops like Coppa, Formaggio Kitchen, and Gibbet Hill Grill.
Updated by Jacqueline Cain. Eric Twardzik contributed reporting.