Cambridge/Somerville Dining Report

It's been a long time since I've spent enough time in Cambridge and Somerville, MA, to eat out at enough restaurants that I can get a sense of the food vibe--at least the cheap lunch food vibe--around here. The past two weeks have changed that. Here's my report.

Sushi. Cafe Sushi (1105 Mass Ave) good; Blue Fin (1815 Mass Ave, i.e. Porter Exchange) better -- and there's a Japanese grocery there too.

Vegetarian. Veggie Planet (47 Palmer St., down in the Passim basement) is great. They have toppings they will put on either pizza or rice. I had Mexican something or other over rice and when it arrived I was a bit skeptical, but it was delicious. Also, Harvest Coop, 581 Mass Ave., a good, slightly yuppified coop grocery store. Is this the same coop that was in Central Square (on the other side of the street) in the late 80s--but was much more deeply countercultural (i.e. kinda dirty, to my nineteen-year-old eyes)? I don't know.

Crazy Dough's (The Garage, 36 JFK) has replaced that other pizza place that used to be there that I don't remember the name of. Cheap. Slices with creative toppings. Some online reviewer doesn't like the crust, but their thin crust crust (they also have thicker square slices also, but I haven't tried them) is just the kind I like -- thin in the middle, crispy/bubbly at the edge. I also had pizza at Grafton Street, which was three times as expensive and not half as good.

There used to be a decent Mexican place in The Garage, but it went the way of the much bemoaned Coffee Connection and Formaggio. But for a cheap burrito, Boca Grande, 1728 Mass Ave, just as good if not better than it was and it's now got tofu burritos (and other stuff) -- yay!

Montien, 1287 Cambridge St. (Inman Square). OK. Claims to have won Best of Boston awards, but can't hold a candle to much cheaper places in Chicago.

Indian. Diva, in Davis Square. Davis is the restaurant news of the decade -- there was almost nothing there when I lived nearby. Diva has good Indian food but DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES eat in their new Diva Lounge next door. We were seated there while waiting for a table and ordered appetizers. Mine was trying to be hip, but tasted vile: a soggy poori shaped like a duck, inside of which was some watery sour cream mixed with flour (I kid you not -- at least that's what it tasted like); one or two slices of tomato and potato, and three chick peas. Then it gets worse. When our table in the main dining room was ready, we asked for our check and put down a credit card, and waited. And waited. The Diva hostess, who had already told us our table was ready, came back and told us we had to settle up before coming in to sit down. We said that we knew that and were just waiting for the waitress to handle our check. She looked put out, said "well, one of you could come in," and flounced away. If she wanted the table filled, how was it not her job to get our check taken care of quickly? Fortunately once we finally did sit down to our entrees in the main restaurant they were very good.

Homophobic conversations. For some reason, this is a feature of Cambridge restaurants also. Almost every time I sit down to eat lunch in Harvard Square, I am privy to some kind of homophobic conversation--among students or, in one weird case, a local politician (I think) talking with a visitor to the area. What's up with that?


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