Harvard Food Services cuisine has never exactly excited anybody's palate, and with food prices eliminating some of what you like and soy substitutes replacing the rest, Harvard Square restaurants may be visited by more Harvard students than they have in the past.
This list of restaurants does not pretend to be comprehensive--it almost totally excludes the more expensive restaurants around Harvard, and it misses more than one good Harvard snack spot. We have also excluded most of Cambridge's watering holes--unless they also serve bar fare.
Ice cream addicts will find three places in Harvard Square--a Baskin-Robbins chain (1230 Mass Ave), Brigham's (1702 Mass Ave), and Bailey's (21 Brattle St.).
Midwestern natives will note with annoyance that those 16-cent and 31-cent B-R cones are 25 and 45 in Cambridge. Bailey's probably has the highest quality ice cream, but a one-scoop cone costs 35 cents. If you're willing to pay, try mocha almond or the chocolate.
Brigham's is more famous for the "townies" who loiter in front of the store than for its ice cream. But the ice cream is good and cheaper than Bailey's and Baskin-Robbins. The store is closed while it is being re-decorated red, white and blue. For you Mother's Day types, Brigham's also sells high-quality candy.
When the late-night munchies strike, Harvard students usually flock to the fast-food places around the Square. Besides Elsie's, Tommy's and others of that genre, a variety of pizza and sub shops cash in on the nocturnal hunger pangs.
A Crimson review of pizza last year touched off a "debate," as the pizza gourmets came out of the woodwork to defend their favorites. Joe's Pizza at 1 Linden St., and its sister shop on Plympton St., feature a thin crust. Pinocchio's at 74 Winthrop St. sells subs and pizza; most people who like a thicker crust frequent Pinocchio's.
The 24, at 24 Holyoke St., serves Greek food, but offers a small pizza which boasts nice cheese. The 24 also features grinders. Other pizza parlors exist farther away from the Square--check the Yellow Pages for the ones which deliver.
The Harvard greasy spoon is a well-established institution impervious to almost anything short of a full-scale nuclear attack. Elsie's and Tommy's have been feeding Harvard students since Christ was a corporal, and at 24 Holyoke St., where the 24 Restaurant recently replaced Hazen's, the greasy spoon will endure until the resurrection. Each eatery has its adherents, but they all serve about the same kind of food, Prices are highest at Tommy's. Bartley's Burger Cottage at 1246 Mass Ave has the best hamburger on the Square, far and away the best.
House grills are not of much interest to anyone but the people who live in the Houses. But almost every House has one; they're convenient, they're cheap, and they almost all have some specialty that is pretty good.
The grills generally offer sandwiches, frappes, ice cream, hamburgers, and munchies--though their offerings vary from House to House. More than one grill will sell you beer. Some carry yogurt and some minor health foods.