No one eats at the dining halls. They're nice places to visit, but you wouldn't want to eat there. As you wander the byways of this college town, peering into restaurant windows and pondering where to get some real food and drink, keep in mind that you are not the first-and probably the least eminent-visitor.
Some say Jean Paul Sartre wrote Nausea at the Cafe Pamplona, still a haunt for aspiring existentialists. Cafe Algiers, where Humphrey Bogart really met Lauren Bacall, is another Cambridge cafe of the same pseudointellectual pedigree. Located under the Brattle Theater (which shows great old Bogie movies), Algiers sports a smoky, sophisticated clientele and expensive food and drink.
Piroshka's is probably one of the most reasonably priced of Cambridge cafes, (which is not to say cheap), but though it has a fairly varied menu, it seems to be out of half the items most of the time. Try its desserts.
Mrs. Olson, that famous Folger's palate, sups at the Coffee Connection in the Garage on Dunster St., where you'll find the largest selection of coffees at the highest prices, a variety of teas, and outrageously expensive desserts. Up Brattle St., at The Blacksmith House, Cotton Mather used to fire his brimstone with a cup of tea and one of their excellent pastries. Behind the Coop at Passim's, Alan Ginsberg still howls his poetry and listens to their live, and good, music.
Pat Sorrento and his boys eat at Harvard Pizza, where they can watch T.V. and chew. Strangely enough, Harvard Pizza's reheated slices are often better than their made-to-order pies.
Pinocchio's, with branches on Winthrop and Linden St., is generally packed with a gregarious-sometimes obnoxious-late-night crowd. Despite the noise and the antics of its area (especially at Linden St.), the pizza is generally very good-very cheesy, with lots of basil in the tomato sauce.
Luciano Pavarotti can often be found at Bel Canto, ballooning himself on the most interesting pizza in Cambridge-some say the best. Bel Canto offers weird toppings like broccoli and walnuts, thick white or whole- wheat crusts, and generous-through costly-servings.
A tour of Cambridge restaurants is a lesson in the cosmopolite ethos. While the general populace is presumably worldly enough to eat almost anything, each restaurateur clings tenaciously to his particular brand of commercial ethnicity.
French food is well represented in the mid-priced to expensive range. Marco Polo, a well known Francophilic big spender, wines and dines his friends at Voyagers. The food is reputedly quite good, if overpriced, but no student has ever been wealthy enough to verify it. Isabella took Columbus to Ferdinand's on Mt. Auburn St., another posh place with good eats. The Sunday brunch there-and at Autre Chose up Mass Ave.-is usually very good, and reasonably priced.
Chez Jean, on Shepard St. off Mass Ave near the Radcliffe Quad, serves reasonably priced well-prepared, if somewhat undistinguished French country-style food.
Who eats at the Harvest on Brattle St.? Business and law students-they're the only ones who can afford it. But if you can too, the food is excellent, with imaginative and carefully planned daily specials.
In the cafe vein, Swiss Alps on Mt. Auburn and its offspring LaFondue on Boylston St. visited occasionally by Hannibal and his elephants, serve a lot of cheesy stuff, plus quiches, eggs and good tomato soup. The Patisserie Francaise, a few doors up from La Fondue on Boylston St., has good coffee, but only mediocre pastries.
China watchers identify Cambridge's Chinese restaurants not only by the food but also by political alignment. Supporters of the People's Republic take their business to the Maoist Yen Ching, while Madame Chaing and Taiwan nationals eat at the House of China on Eliot St. For the non-aligned, both places have some good dishes. House of China's lunch specials are better than the Yen Ching's buffet, which is overstuffed with celery. But Szechuan meat sauce noodles and spicy chicken are great at the Ching. Lucky Gardens, a long walk up Western Ave., is also pretty good, and the moo goo gai pan at the Hong Kong is edible, and available late at night.
Pancho Villa raids the Casa Mexico every now and again, a good but overpriced place on Winthrop St. Iruna's, further on down Boylston, served Spanish food to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Some of their dishes are very good, but beware the bland paella. At Paco's Tacos, you'll often see Colonel Sanders chewing the fat and enchiladas with Paco.
Bulldog Brower earned his awesome reputation wrestling with the food at Tommy's, an Armenian-American greasy spoon on Mt. Auburn, a spot of frenetic late night activity annex to the Cambridge Press Club.
Wimpy shovels in the best burgers in Boston from Bartley's Burger Cottage when he's in town. Buddy's Sirloin army mess appeal attracts the likes of Gomer Pyle.
Euell Gibbons chows down at Conscious Cookery behind Coolidge Bank, where the Sikhs serve up wholesome health food on the You-Can't-Fool-Mother-Nature principle. Especially good are the avocado and alfalfa sprouts sandwich, and the generous salads. In the same area, Sails serves tuna with good taste Charlie. At Grendel's next door, Hrothgar isn't welcome, but Beowulf comes anyway, for the chocolate fondue and salad bar.
Ahmed serves Moroccan food to duelling ayatollahs, but less wealthy types frequent the Hungry Persian on Eliot St.-inexpensive, good Middle Eastern food. Sophia Loren stuffs herself with Formaggio's thick and creamy sandwiches in the Garage, (boursin and roast beef on homemade bread and their chocolate chip cookies are perennial favorites) while Suzanne Somers gets her cheesecake from Rowinsky's on Mt.Auburn St.
Star watchers look for Henry A. Kissinger '50 at the Rendezvous on Holyoke St. where he lunches on the Vietnamese special and reminisces with the owner, a former South Vietnamese diplomat. JFK '40 and his progeny eat at Elsie's on Mt. Auburn St., a lunch spot so famous the tour buses stop there. Elsie's is probably the best lunch bargain around-generous helpings, good low prices. Everyone who's anyone has the roast beef or turkey deluxe. (TD to the initiated).
Local flamenco dancers fill up across from the K-school at La Pinata, where the food runs less than a dollar per gallon.
When food is not substantial enough, and you want drink, beware of those who check ID's. Gov. Edward J. King has spoken; you have to be 20 years old to imbibe. But with false credentials or a mature visage, you may have your pick of the bars and patrons.
Father's Six, on Bow St., is Billy Carter's favorite Cambridge pissing hole. Father's wins the daily Paddy Wagon Award for obnoxious heavies.
Madame Rosa resides in the Hong Kong on Mass. Ave, along with Dracula who enjoys the bats, and Sid Vicious who enjoyed the company and his cat there. The Kong's famous upstairs bar is also the home of the Cambridge Press Club.
P.G. Wodehouse wouldn't tipple atOne Potato, Two Potato but you might find Archie C. Epps III, dean of students, at the Mass Ave, bar and restaurant. It serves sodas and Bloody Marys in 16-oz. measuring cups. Wodehouse can be found at 33 Dunster St, a book-lined haven with a stained glass window portraying Richard Nixon and a very complete salad bar.
For his latest book, Studs Terkel interviewed the patrons of Charlie's Kitchen. Archie Bunker and cheeseburgers, across from the new MBTA station.
Martin Kilson, professor of Government, opens the Casablanca every day. The atmosphere is slick, but the food is taste and reasonable, and the drinks are all right.
If you get lonely for the sight of some administrators, and you can't get through to them in their offices, try the Wursthaus. Most of them take each other to lunch there, feasting on its dreary German fare.
Get your booze for summer cocktail parties at the Harvard Provision Co. on Mt. Auburn St. The pro has the most complete selection of hard liquor in the Square.
Varsity Liquor and the Wine Cellar also sell alcoholic substances, but you can get a better beer selection at Broadway Market on Broadway or Martignetti's on Soldiers Field Road.
If you came to Harvard for frozen nirvana, you're in the right place. Belgian Fudge is one of the most popular and convenient Cambridge ice cream havens. The ice cream, hand-mixed in the Mass. Ave and Garage stores, reaches its peak in Rocky Road, Oreo Cookie, and pina colada. But it's a fat 75 cents cone.
Baskin Robbins on Mass Ave serves the traditional 31 different flavors. Down the street, Brigham's is as plain as Dorothy Hamill. Brigham's logo is red, white and blue, and its ice cream chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, mostly. O.K., but you won't rave about it.
You will rave about Steve's. It is quite a trek to Somerville, but Steve's is worth the half-hour wait on line. At Steve's you can design a frozen edifice of delicious made-on-the-premises ice cream and m and m's, fruit, whipped cream, coconut and other nuts, crushed Heath Bars, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and the quintessential maraschino cherry. If you aren't drooling now, you will be after you've waited in the round-the-block lines just to get in the unpretentios little store with the salt-rock ice cream mixers in front.
Not quite so far up Mass Ave is Sacco and Vanzetti's hangout-Emack and Bolio's. This store has excellent ice cream by the standards of even a Harvard ice cream connoisseur-and it's cheaper than Steve's.
In the other direction on Mass Ave you can find the spot Peter Cottontail drops off super-rich Haagen-Dazs ice cream, at Uncle Bunny's. Despite its name, the store is not geared to kids or cornballs, and its sundaes are huge and luscious.
But in the end, ice cream parlor sitters return to Bailey's, that venerable institution on Brattle St. Closest to an old-fashioned soda fountain, Bailey's sports tables and the most sumptious sundaes in the Square.
But food and drink are not all in life. Students here also seek finer and more permanent things.
Books and Records
James Bond scouts out Discount Records every now and then for the latest New Wave imports. Both Ingmar Bergman and Captain Queeg choose to but the latest rock and disco releases at Strawberries, though. Beggars Banquet boasts such patrons as Keith Richard and Brian Jones, but Jeanne Dixon shops strictly at Deja Vu. Both stores offer used records, hard-to-get items and bootlegs.
Many Harvard families have purchased their books from the Harvard Bookstore for generations-the Saltonstalls '01, Lodges '02, Lamonts '03, and even Harry Elkins Widener '04. One branch sells publishers' overstock and used paperbacks, the other the latest hardcovers and high-quality paperbacks.
In Brattle Square, Wordsworth has the largest selection of paperbacks, and the best prices in the Square.It's open late, too.
St. Thomas More will browse for used hardcovers in the subterranean caverns of the Church St. Bookstore, after his own store-the Thomas More Bookshop on Holyoke St.-closes following Harvard University's refusal to renew its lease.
Reading International on Brattle St. was a haven for Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels as they wrote the famous anthem. Paperback Booksmith, which is "dedicated to the fine art of browsing," is the Bermuda Triangle of Brattle Square-people don't buy books there, they just disappear.
Syivia Plath hung out at the Grolier Bookstore on Plympton St. and enjoyed its extensive poetry collection until her untimely death-by-suicide off the store's front steps.
Everyone else goes to The Coop.
So you've already heard how many millions of volumes Harvard boasts. But did you know the University has 97 libraries? Only if you are extraordinarily myopic will you spend all your studying time in Lamont. Harvard libraries can be some of the most relaxing and stimulating preserves in Cambridge-you just have to know where to look.
Widener is the granddaddy of the system. Like Bloomingdale's, it sports a lot of everything, but finding it takes the perseverance of-well-a scholar. The ten floors of dark and musty stacks are reminiscent of catacombs, but at the same time the crumbling tomes inspire a rather stately awe. The basement floors are always cool, and despite rumors to the contrary, there are no ghosts of moth-eaten professors still trying to find their way out.
Pusey Library, connected underground to Widener and Lamont, keeps hours many bankers would envy, but if you don't mind studying on sunny afternoons, it is a workaholic's paradise. Even whispers echo loudly there, where the most jarring noise you may hear all day may be a soft footstep on the carpet. And it's beautifully air-conditioned.
Lamont is the standard undergraduate library where most books are kept on reserve. But beware: it is stuffy, squeaky and conducive to conversation by would-be students too bored to stare at books. If you insist on studying here, check out the Farnsworth Room on the fifth floor.
Science types congregate in Cabot Library in the Science Center. Cabot is air-conditioned. But Cabot has a dual personality unique among Harvard libraries-it either blasts you with intense pre-meds, whose doggedness is frightening, or it lulls you to sleep within a half hour.
On the more esoteric side are the smaller specialty libraries. Tozzer Library, on Divinity Ave., caters to anthropology students. Lack of funding prevents it from staying open any later than 9-to-5 Monday through Friday, but its overstuffed chairs attract a crowd anyway. The history library in Robinson Hall and the philosophy library in Emerson are cozy and quiet like a well-stocked den, but they may get hot this summer when the breeze dies down.
Among graduate school libraries, Andover Library at the Divinity School is worth the trek if you really want to avoid humanity-in the older section of its stacks you may be the only person on the floor for hours on end. At the Education School's Gutman Library the walls are as brightly colored as a modern elementary school's, but the chairs are comfy. If you own a briefcase you'll look like everyone else at Baker Library at the Business School, but a number of undergraduates swear by it. The Public Affairs Library at the Kennedy School of Government is best for lounging and reading newspapers.
House libraries can be excellent spots for long-range study, especially since you can (almost permanently) leave your books and memorabilia lying around in a pigpen sprawl. Leverett has the most handsome library, but it may get stuffy, and both it and Winthrop House boast bottomless cushioned chairs. For chugging on late at night. House libraries are your best bet.
If however, you hit the point you'll be sick if you lay eyes on another Harvard library, there is escape. The Boston Public Library (Copley Square on the Green Line) is immense, and you won't find many Harvard types hanging around there.
M-Th 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
F-Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
M-F 8:45 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sat. 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Sun. 4-10 p.m.
M-Th 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
F-Sat. 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Sun. 2-10 p.m.
Boston rock and roll is reeling. Critics call it "new wave" but the musicians and their devotees uniformly say it's "punk." Whatever you prefer to call it, it's Boston's genuine sound, some of the most exciting music around, branded by a particular rancor, commenting on everything from politics to love to disco.
Of all the bars, The Rat (beneath the Rathskellar in Kenmore Square) still stands as Boston's rock and roll armpit. Patti Smith, J. Geils, the Cars all played gigs at The Rat during their more petulant days, and the bar continues to attract the best rock and roll talent around, due mostly to its history and undeniable atmosphere-distinguished by a symbiotic crowd, acid-worn rug, resourceful dressers, peaceful crowd and fearless bouncers. Go there. Songs have been written about the Rat. ("Le's Go to the Rat"-Willie Loco Alexander and the Boom Boom Band).
Cantone's (15 Broad St. in Boston) is another interesting place: it is a family-style Italian restaurant by day, a punk rock stage by night. The Space is worth mentioning only because of the talent it occasionally features, but it used to be a gay disco, and the floor isn't particularly useful for anything else.
The Paradise (969 Commonwealth Ave.) is Boston's chic club, often featuring the same bands you will hear at The Rat. The difference is largely a matter of style-the admission is $7.50. the patrons call it "new wave" and refuse to try phenobarbital.
Boston's best bands-judged by popular demand and the consensus of many auteurs-are [in no particular order]: The Neighborhoods, La Peste, Thrills, The Girls, The Nervous Eaters, Unnatural Axe, Robin Lane and the Chartbusters. The Real Kids [now in L.A.] and Human Sexual Response, Look for them.