Taki's redefines fast food with unusual depth and breadth
Near Draper LaboratoriesBy Aaron R. Prazan
Almost every day, the average MIT student's schedule prevents him or her from eating at least one regular meal. Either from skipping breakfast in order to get an extra half hour of sleep, delaying lunch to get some reading done after class, or working late in lab and eating a candy bar for dinner, everyone has gone hungry. The routine malnourishment of MIT students seems out of place in Cambridge, a city with more restaurants per capita than cars. Venture a block in any direction and a cafe of some sort appears on the corner. Located near Draper Laboratories, Taki's is the perfect cure for the frequently neglected appetite.
No matter which meal you miss, Taki's will accommodate. A great breakfast, light or heavy, is served anytime of day for about three dollars. For half of the price of a bowl of cereal, fruit, juice, and milk at the Lobdell Food Court, Taki's has eggs, bacon, pancakes, and more. An unbelievable array of sandwiches goes far beyond any lunch patron's imagination. From a simple submarine to something called an "accident" sandwich, Taki's has a quick lunch for anyone in a hurry, and it's never over five dollars. Taki's is also open later for dinner. Order ahead, and pick up a pizza that beats any available on campus in quality and price.
In addition to breadth, Taki's food selection has depth. The most noticeable thing about the place is the immense menu board that runs the length of the dining room. When it comes to home-cooked meals, Taki's has most everything conceivable. For instance, I have searched the city for a decent Rueben sandwich. Not only does Taki's have the corned beef, Swiss, sauerkraut, and Russian on rye sandwich, but it is almost big enough for two and can be had for under four dollars. Specials like stuffed peppers, meatloaf, and steak for under five dollars seem common enough. The truth is, however, that these simple meals are often forgotten. I cannot remember the last time I ate a simple Greek salad or even a simple knackwurst. Taki's complete menu is a real treat in a food genre usually characterized by limited choices.
Despite the traditionally greasy style of food served at Taki's, every effort is made to accommodate the health-conscious. Huge salads are always very fresh and more than a meal in themselves. The pizza is so free of grease that even after saving leftovers over night, the box I had did not have a stain on the bottom. Of all the sandwiches I've tried at Taki's, none has had fatty cuts of meat. Burgers are broiled, not fried. While it is true that some food is inherently fatty, Taki's really tries to keep it minimally so.
Another advantage Taki's has over most on-campus food is its people. Family-owned and operated, Taki's has the kind of charm that is often lost in more polished restaurants. The friendly Greek cooks always have a smile and a kind word. Regular customers are on a first name basis with them. Taki's is the kind of place where you can order "the usual" and be understood. Cordiality takes a few seconds longer, but that time is definitely not wasted.
On the surface, Taki's is just an average quick food stop. Go inside, and it is a stronghold of quality. There is a simple and unbelievably broad selection of food. Friendly service and cooks who treat even new customers like old friends are welcome details. Going along with a considerate attitude is a considerate cooking style. Overall, Taki's is, despite its humble appearance, one of the best restaurants around. Coming soon: The Search for the Best Pizza in Boston, The House of Blues.