The best restaurants in the central square right now

Find rich Ethiopian stews, energetic hamachi crudos, hand-rolled pasta and more at this culinary hub.

Dinner at the Dial. / Photo by Brian Samuels Photography

Cambridge’s central square is a culinary hub – here you’ll find everything from rich Ethiopian stews to quick Hamachi crudos to hand-rolled pasta (hello, lobster ravioli). Before you head out, take a look at our list of must-try restaurants that deserve their place at the center of our attention.

Asmara Restaurant

The injera bread at this must-visit Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurant, a neighborhood staple since 1986, is worth the trip on its own. Deliciously soft and spongy, the wheat bread is part of the meal in the same way as the utensil; use it to mop up every last drop of rich sauces, from mild yellow curries with fresh tomatoes to spicy butter sauce with onions and peppers in Asmara’s house beef specialty Tibsy. (Go ahead and lick your fingers, we promise no one will notice). While you can sit at a standard table, you can also enjoy a communal dining experience sitting on the floor around a mesob, a traditional woven basket that carries your feast feast.

739 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, 617-864-7447,

Cloud & Spirits. / Courtesy picture

Cloud & Spirits

Inside lush digs with a wall of foliage and exposed pine beams, executive chef Ron SH rains down bold flavors on seasonal menus that fuse Western and Pacific-inspired cuisines: Also check out the crudo Brilliant hamachi accented with savory sun-roasted sun-dried tomatoes. like the Hainan chicken arancini, which marries an Italian-style fried rice ball with the rich spices of the Chinese province. The creative drinks, meanwhile, are a breath of fresh air — think Cloud 9, an old-school version topped with a tuft of cotton candy. One of them and you’ll feel like you’re floating.

795 Main Street, Cambridge, 617-945-1158, 617-945-1158,

Donut Villa Dinner

This nostalgic restaurant serves up bites for breakfast and lunch in a casual restaurant-like setting. In particular, the namesake donuts are gaining starring roles – they’re not just stuffed with coffee, but dipped in honey and toasted like French toast, used to support poached eggs for “Donut Benny”, and halved for have a sandwich a bacon cheeseburger. On top of all that, there’s a wide offer of vegan bites, from scrambles with homemade seitan sausages to waffle confections topped with coconut whipped cream, making Donut Villa a dependable home for entrees. herbal basis.

20 Prospect Street, Cambridge, 617-714-5018,

The dial. / Photo by Brian Samuels Photography

The dial

At Dial, executive chef Justin Urso ups the flavor by drawing inspiration from around the world: local favorites, such as cod cheek fish and chips with smashed peas, share menu space with faraway feasts , like Thai skillet. – seared scallops with coconut rice and green curry broth. The sexy, lounge interior, on the other hand, is the kind of place you’ll want to chill with your friends as you feast on small plates and work your way through the cocktail menu. Is a margarita your mainstay? Be rebellious with the “Rage Against the Tajin,” which sees tequila tricked with mango, ghost chili tincture, and tajin spices. Enjoy it on the expansive terrace or head upstairs to the Blue Owl, an industrial-style rooftop bar that overlooks Central Square.

2 Columbia Street, Cambridge, 617-349-2967,

Photo courtesy of Little Donkey

little donkey

James Beard Award-winning chefs Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer whip up small plates with plenty of punch in this bright, brick-walled beauty. Come for Istanbul’s cult meat dumplings, pockets of perfection topped with sour cream and red pepper butter, and light-as-air Parker House buns with green goddess butter; stick around for the creative raw bar selections, including the Hamachi crudo with the sweet and sour edge of pickled Japanese plum. Oh, and the tons of oysters? Top them with caviar – you know, when you’re not wrapping those eggs in a potato roll sandwich with whipped butter and chives. This donkey knows decadence.

505 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, 617-945-1008,

The mad monkfish

Creative riffs on sushi, ramen and pan-Asian plates in a laid-back atmosphere? It’s music to our ears. Then there is the real Music: Live jazz sessions on the weekends, where you can pair steamed pork and shrimp shumai with bands like the Sonny Barbato Trio. Thai curries are also a symphony of flavors – panang rolls into a spicy crescendo thanks to red curry cut with peanuts and kaffir lime leaves. Chef Ginger Phomjun’s virtuoso skills in the kitchen also shine through the fairytale-themed sushi selections, like a Sleeping Beauty roll with amberjack, salmon and ripe mango that will leave you feeling full. and happy, forever.

524 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, 617-441-2116,

Guchi’s Midnight Ramen in Pagu. / Photo by Tracy Chang


Chef-owner Tracy Chang’s Japanese-Spanish cuisine is heading to Tokyo via Toledo. On the program: black cod croquetas enhanced with spicy chili aioli, salmon ceviche brightened up with yuzu and mouth-watering golden paella with shiitake mushrooms and a host of other vegetables. If there’s just one stop on the menu, though, it might be the cheesy wafflato, a savory waffle concocted with caramelized shallots and smoked mozzarella. Does that sound a bit crazy to you? Sure, but it’s a home run drizzled with honey.

310 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, 617-945-9290,


At chef Chris and Pam Willis’ new American trattoria, rustic reclaimed wood and a crisp white tiled fireplace provide a chic yet warm backdrop for Italian-inspired dishes that change regularly, depending on the season. Of course, you can enjoy it a la carte, but do yourself a favor and save a seat for the three-course prix-fixe exploits. What to expect? Perhaps succulent lobster ravioli swimming in nettle broth, aged steak tartare alongside Sardinian flatbread, and hopefully lamb chops backed by buttered apple couscous. Whichever way the fries land, be sure to go for the decadent chocolate torta for dessert.

928 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, 617-945-1761,

The Kendall Square burger at Veggie Galaxy. / Courtesy picture

vegetable galaxy

At most dinners, meats are the main event. (See: heaps of ham hashes, all topped with bacon.) The twist at Veggie Galaxy is that all of the stellar plates are all vegetarian — and modifiable to be vegan — without sacrificing the craving for hearty comfort food that draws us in. . first place. How do you pick a single shining star from the range of all-day breakfast and lunch-to-dinner offerings? Start with the homemade cookies smothered in southern-style seitan sauce, or pop in for a special Wednesday-only special: a hot Nashville chicken sandwich (it’s also seitan) with enough spicy hot sauce to help you through the Humpday Crisis. Finally, give in to the gravitational pull of the menu’s “Cauli Corner,” where versatile cauliflower is used for vegan fish and chips with homemade remoulade, Buffalo cauliflower with vegan blue cheese dip, and more.

450 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, 617-497-1513,


We’ve already dubbed this gem one of the best neighborhood restaurants in town, but don’t take our word for it. Plates of house-made pasta – spaghetti drenched in a vibrant green sauce of English peas and mint, snail-shaped lumache swimming in a clam seafood broth – vouch for it. (Plates of wood-grilled steak and parsnips, plus octopus drizzled with charred scallion vinaigrette, come with the help.) Word may have gotten around Viale, but its small patio, surrounded by spattered walls of graffiti, remains a bit of a secret. Find out during the warmer months by rushing for brunch, when you can enjoy breakfast sandwiches of fluffy homemade English muffins, plus shrimp and oatmeal with pleasantly Spanish chorizo. paprika.

502 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, 617-576-1900,

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