In this series, columnist Lingbo Li will tackle all your questions about foodie life at Harvard and in the Cambridge/Boston area. Got a query? Leave a comment or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are some places I should try in Central if I'm on a tight budget?
Central Square is the middle child. Towards the River, there's MIT, the genius younger sibling who was able to multiply before uttering "mommy" and sports eyesore architecture. On the other side is Harvard, the overachieving eldest child with a fondness for pastels and boat shoes. Judging by what's cropped up in between, it's a tension that works.
My top pick for Central is actually a glass of lemonade at Baraka Cafe, possibly the best lemonade in the world—or at least the best I've ever had. It's a spice and rosewater-infused ambrosia, complex and full-bodied without overdoing the floral notes. This is a drink that makes powdered mixes pale and lemon juicers ache with newfound aspiration.
After a pitcher of that, you're off to Moody's. Felipe's is to 2 a.m. in Harvard Square as Moody's Falafel Palace is to 2 a.m. in Central Square. Bring cash and stuff your face with lamb shawarma (better than their falafel) for super cheap. Or just go with classic fast food: There's a McDonald's down the street. Rediscover a Big Mac with fries from the place that invented it. Plough and Stars serves a killer Irish breakfast, along with $3 PBRs.
Moving from America and the Middle East to the Far East, the spicy dumpling appetizer called Suan La Chow Show at Mary Chung's is a classic. And though I haven't made the trip yet, the Sichuanese food, and not the Thai offerings, at Thailand Cafe has earned some rave reviews.
Dairy is the best antidote to a burning tongue. Regardless of whether or not their "best ice cream in the world" proclamation holds true, the cold stuff is unquestionably pretty damn good at Toscanini's. It's also inventive, which always scores points in my flavor-tripping book. If you drift farther towards the river, more towards Kendall Square, there's Almond Joy pancakes and cheese fries with spicy strawberry-habanero dipping sauce at Friendly Toast. If all these eating doesn't wear you out, you can always catch a show at the Middle East later.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.