Flyby Laments: Border Cafe

By Julia E. DeBenedictis

As many of us packed up all of our belongings and left Cambridge last March, there were plenty of things to say goodbye to — the warm spot by Canaday, our favorite House pooch, and literally anyone from the class of 2020 (rip). Yet, little did we know we’d also be saying goodbye to some iconic establishments in the Square: from Café Pamplona to Parsnip to Legal Sea Foods, it seems no restaurant was safe from Covid’s path. But this time, it’s personal. Border Cafe has been the unofficial second home of Flyby Blog for years, hosting many a margarita-filled gathering of bloggers. When the restaurant closed its doors for the first time due to a two-alarm fire, we were heartbroken. As it shutters its doors for the final time due to the long pandemic, we’re damn near inconsolable. Oh Border, you will be missed. This is our final love letter to you, dear. Gone, but never forgotten.

Felipe’s this, Jefe’s that — Border, you were always in a league of your own. The only way to express the absolute desolation of losing Border is through the classic emoticon of jaded acceptance, :/. I’ll miss getting full on chips and salsa before even ordering, and all the laughter and love that came with Border Blog gatherings. Thanks for the mems, baby.

—Peyton A. Jones ’22

How do you write a love letter to a soulmate you never met and will never get to meet? Border, I’ll be honest. I’m hurt. I can’t count the number of times I’ve walked past you and then decided I’m feeling in the mood for something else, only to settle for dhall food. To be fair, I thought we had years left to finally get acquainted. Sigh. Maybe at another location or in another life. I guess I was just waiting for the perfect occasion — the best guacamole in the Square deserves nothing less.

—Janani Sekar ’23

Oh Border Cafe…How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth of each bowl of queso, to the breadth of each fajita, to the height of each endless chip basket. Your Cajun Favorites made Harvard Square feel a little more like home, and I’ll search high and low for somewhere that can provide me with both crawfish etouffee AND chips and queso without breaking a sweat. Maybe someday I’ll take a drive to Saugus and we can be together again — until then, I’ll get by with a Felipe’s burrito and nostalgic smile in your direction.

—Rachel L. Reynolds ’22

This is not the way it was supposed to happen. Harvard reunions for years were supposed to feature Border frozen margs and loaded-with-goodness quesadillas. The pandemic took senior spring and commencement from me — but this is the last damn straw. All I can do is remember the good times we had, Border, and wish the best for your employees and your Saugus location. We’re always together in my heart.

—Stuti R. Telidevara ’20

Dear Border Cafe, I actually didn’t know about you until I heard about the news that you permanently closed down...considering you closed down the first time before I even knew I had been accepted to Harvard. So tbh, I’m not really devastated. But know that you’ll be missed (by the upperclassmen).

—Alexandria T. Q. Ho ’24

Devastating is our loss. I had heard legends of the frozen margs, and was so excited to have finally turned 21 and get to experience one for myself. Border, you were the host of many boisterous dinners featuring great food and great company. Thank you for always making vegan adjustments when I asked. May your spirit live on in the hearts and stomachs of Harvard students forever.

— Rocket Claman ’21

Ah, Border. Though we only met once in this lifetime, I still dream of you, your ~moist~ beef fajitas, and your warm-but-not-scalding-and-did-we-mention-free tortilla chips. But you know what they say: of fire did these culinary delights start, and unto fire shalt they return. Border dared to soar above every other institution in the Square, but alas, the legendary café flew too close to the sun on wings of guacamole. May your heaven contain frozen margs and all the sides you can possibly imagine.

— Ellen S. Deng ’23

Border didn’t take reservations because it didn’t have to. How I yearn for the evenings when I waited to be seated, perched on the edge of the front wooden bench, gazing longingly at the baskets of hot chips on tables before me, glancing plaintively at the host stand, my ears perking at the crackle of sizzling fajitas and finally, at the reassuring vibration of the Border buzzer. The hour then came for revelry and gluttony. It’s also no exaggeration to say that Border got me through the fall 2016 HUDS workers strike, where I could gorge myself several nights a week on Border’s cheap and filling eats (one could craft a whole meal out of 99-cent sides), with the added benefit of not being a scab. The queso was top tier. Even the Border water, served in tall plastic cups with the perfect amount of ice, was superior. Imy Border bb.

—Lydia L. Cawley ’20

As soon as we get more than one competent driver on the Blog (thanks, Hannah J. Humes!), we’ll come visit one of your other locations, we promise. Till then, old friend <3



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