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Cheap Eats

Harvard “Square Meals”

By Eun Lee

Staff Writer

It’s a typical afternoon. You’re done with classes and starving, but you’re not in the mood for Lobdell or eating out of the back of a truck by the side of the road. As you contemplate where to find suitable sustenance purchasable by the few crumpled dollars in your pocket, a bus going to Harvard Square passes by. As much as you think you might know about Harvard Square food, chances are you’d still be surprised by how much it has to offer. Tucked away from the loud noises and flashing signs, here are some restaurants that are hidden treasures of Harvard Square.

Tommy’s House of Pizza

49 Mount Auburn Street


(617) 497-4849

Tommy’s is the ideal restaurant for any college student. It has a nice, casual atmosphere where you are free to hang out with a group of friends after a hard week of classes and just relax and have fun. They offer a wide range of menu items including huge subs ($3.95-$4.75), burgers (1/4 lb. served with fries, $4.50), pasta ($5.25-$6.95), calzones, and salads, but they are world famous for their pizza. Tommy’s pizza is unique because it comes with its yummy trademark sesame seed crust (you can also order pizzas without sesame seeds).

Tommy’s offers a wide range of toppings ranging from the typical (Italian sausage, pepperoni, etc.) to the unusual (homemade meatballs, pineapple, broccoli). The prices range from $6.50 for a 12” medium pizza (toppings are $0.75 extra) to $11.95 for a party size 18” pan. They also sell by the slice.

Tommy’s provides free delivery and are open until 3 a.m.

The Skewers

92 Mount Auburn St

(617) 491-3079

The Skewers is a Middle Eastern restaurant, but even if you are not all that into ethnic foods, it’s still some good eatin’. They offer take-out service and also have vegetarian-friendly meals that contain no meats or animal fats. The prices for entrÉes range from $2.95 to $6.50 and can be ordered as sandwiches (served with lettuce, tomato, and onion in Synan bread) or dinner combinations (served with rice pilaf and Greek salad). If you’re going out to eat with a friend and feel famished after problem sets, I would recommend the Maza Plate for 2, which is $13 and comes with shwarma (gyros), beef shish kabob, hummus, baba ganoush, falafel, rice, and a salad. If you are not that hungry, though, you can get large Greek salads served with wedges of pita bread for $3.25 or try any of their other entrÉes. If you have room after dinner and feel like a treat to take back home, try their delicious baklava ($1.25).

L.A. Burdick Chocolates Cafe

52 Brattle St.

(617) 491-4340

Okay, so maybe you’re not hungry. You just want somewhere quiet and nice where you can just feel completely comfortable and get away from your worries. Whether you’re looking for a place to warm up from the cold or a nice place to chat with friends, Burdick Chocolates is the place to go! This quaint coffeehouse beats Starbucks hands down in all aspects.

Burdick’s specializes in freshly making their own chocolates, which they also use in their desserts and hot drinks. They offer a wide variety of teas, coffee, and cold drinks which range in price from $1.75 to $4. I would strongly recommend the white chocolate espresso ($4.00), which comes in a heaping mug and makes you feel all warm and squishy inside. If you feel like giving yourself a treat, try Burdick’s specialty dessert, the Elderberry flower parfait with apricot and raspberry, or any of their other divine dessert items (trust me, they are all wonderful). They also sell their chocolates at $41 per pound (approximately 70 pieces), and have items that would be great gift ideas for a special occasion. Something to try while you’re there: the chocolate mice that are just too cute to eat!

Pho Pasteur

35 Dunster St.

(617) 864-4199

Don’t let the name or the fact that you’ve never tried Vietnamese food before throw you off. My sister always used to say “Don’t be a food-phobe,” and going out to try food you’ve never tried before can be a satisfying experience if you do it with the right mindset.

Pho Pasteur is a nice Vietnamese restaurant located in The Garage in Harvard Square (there is also another location in Chinatown). They offer take-out, but I would recommend eating at the restaurant to get the full Pho experience. As you’re sitting there, admire the neat lights that look like night caps and try to make sense of the chopsticks while trying the variety of sauces on the table. The atmosphere is cozy enough that you can go with a bunch of friends on a Friday night or go for a special occasion.

The best part about Pho Pasteur is that it is relatively cheap compared to many other restaurants in Harvard Square. They offer a wide range of menu items, like Pho (hot noodle soups), cold noodle dishes, salads, and a variety of other mouthwatering entrÉes. If it’s your first time, I would recommend ordering the Goi Cuon, or fresh spring rolls ($3.95) and a bowl of Pho (prices range from $4.95 to $6.25 for a piping hot bowl of noodles in your choice of soup base). But most importantly, experiment, try things you haven’t tried before, and have fun!

Fire and Ice

50 Church Street

(617) 547-9007

This restaurant is unique in that it really has no distinct cultural background whatsoever for its food. I don’t recommend this restaurant if you are branching out to try authentic ethnic dishes, but it is a fun place, especially if you are going with a big group of people.

Fire and Ice is set up so that they have buffet-type bars stocked with raw meats and vegetables for you to put in your own custom-made meal. Then, you pick a sauce from a wide variety of sauces they offer. There is a big circular griddle in the center of the restaurant where the servers cook everyone’s dishes of raw meats, vegetables, and sauces. (If you are a vegetarian, you can ask specifically to have your dish cooked separately so that it will not get contaminated with meat.)

The best part is that you can go back for more food as many times as you want, and they also have a salad bar. However, that bad part is that your clothes smell afterwards, and the food is not all that well done, since it is mass produced. The last time I went, my roommate had burnt chunks in her meal, while mine didn’t seem to be cooked all the way. You should go to Fire and Ice for the fun of taking part in the cooking process, not the end result. It is also a bit pricey (it is $13.75 for all entrÉes).