Smofcon 15 Restaurant and Area Guide

(Updated 12 November 1997)


Welcome to the Smofcon 15 interactive Restaurant Guide. "Interactive?" you ask. "What's interactive about this? I don't see any buttons or fancy web animation." Well, yes, you're right. But it is interactive in the old-fashioned sense that if you write us or email us, we'll respond, and if you have a review to contribute or just comments, we'll try to add them to the guide. Think of it as a fanzine...

So far, the Review Team is Mark Olson (MLO), Tony Lewis (ARL), and Chip Hitchcock (CJH). Our credentials are that we all like food, we all eat, and MLO and ARL work nearby, while CJH lives nearby. The Review Team dedicates lunch hours and dinners to the unenviable task of discovering the best places to eat for Smofcon. It's a hard, never-ending task. Pity us.

Besides food, we'll also review bookstores and other interesting spots around the hotel and elsewhere in the area.

We are starting to add rating stars (*) to the reviews:
*** good.
**** better.
***** really great.


Smofcon 15's hotel, the Doubletree Suites, is on the Charles River in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston. Just upriver is the Harvard Business School, while Cambridge lies on the other side of the Charles. (We'll get a map up here one of these days!) Of the nearby universities, Harvard is closest -- we're located about a city block from the edge of its campus; Boston University is a bit further away on the Boston side of the river. (Unlike Harvard and MIT, though, it's not terribly easy to get to on foot from the Doubletree, and none of us know the area around BU as well, so there'll probably be fewer reviews from there.) MIT is about a mile downriver from the Doubletree. The presence of three major universities makes for a particularly interesting area for eating and shopping.

There are three main eating areas in the vicinity: Brighton, Harvard Square and Central Square, with Kendall Square a little bit further off. Each has its own, special character.

Brighton is a place where real people live, including many students from the nearby universities. The area is full of little restaurants, but lacks the big-name, fancy places you can find in Cambridge. The closest Brighton restaurants are 2-3 blocks from the hotel and quite walkable.

Harvard (Hahva'd) Square is the ritziest area, and the most interesting. It caters to students, so it's not hopelessly pricey, but they're Harvard students so pinching pennies isn't top on the list of priorities. Harvard Square is also the best bookstore area in Boston. Harvard Square is 6-7 blocks from the hotel along the Charles River. Unless the weather is nasty, it's a pleasant walk.

Central Square is roughly halfway between Harvard and MIT. It's definitely a low-rent, student district compared to Harvard Square. Where Harvard Square has boutiques, Central Square has used furniture stores. Where Harvard Square has fine restaurants, Central Square has ethnic ones (though as you get closer to MIT, Central Square boasts some top-of-the-line places, too.) Central Square has at least a half-dozen Indian restaurants, a half-dozen Chinese, and several Middle Eastern, besides seafood, Ethiopian, Mexican, Caribbean and others. Central Square is about the same distance from the hotel as Harvard Square, but straight away from the Charles rather than along it.

All of the neighborhoods anywhere near the hotel are safe for pedestrians. They're all working class/student areas with moderately grungy housing. If you decide to go wandering, take a map, since neither Boston nor Cambridge ever heard of rectilinear street plans. (It's near here that the intersection John W. Campbell raved about in an editorial in Analog that had all one way streets heading into intersection -- and none leading out.) (MLO: I regularly, year-round walk from the Doubletree to Harvard or Central Squares for lunch, but I'd probably recommend a cab at night for people not terribly familiar with the area.)

Restaurant Reviews

We've grouped our reviews by area (we'll do a list by cuisine one of these days, too). The list below is strictly the high points -- places we recommend. We review other good places, too.


Map of Hotel and nearby Cambridge Go Mapquest

Harvard Square

Central Square

Near MIT

Elsewhere in Boston

Other Boston Restaurant Listings

Other nearby places of interest

Interesting things, elsewhere in Boston

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