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An Afternoon at Tasty Burger in Harvard Square

Welcome to a special Burger Week edition of Eater Scenes, a photo series capturing the action at a particular restaurant at a specific day and time.

It's just shy of 2:30 on a Monday afternoon. Not the normal lunch hour and way too early to be considered dinnertime, but the crowd at Tasty Burger in Harvard Square is a constantly trickling one. There's hip hop playing at a level that's just slightly higher than what is the norm at most restaurants, so it feels like a party. The majority of the crowd at this hour is college-age and early-20-somethings, with several exceptions. There is a young woman who joins her mother for a burger. They are speaking Spanish rapidly, caught up in a big discussion. They eat fast, engrossed in their conversation, yet taking to heart that this is "fast food," and lingering isn't for them. Once the last bite is taken, their jackets are on, and they are off.

Another table of younger woman is just about to get up. From the looks of it, they finished their burgers hours ago and have been holed up gossiping. As they put on their jackets, the song Uptown Funk, comes on. Seemingly forgetting where they are, all three of them in unison, as if planned, start dancing, half grinding, and wearing a facial expression that is usually reserved for the clubs. Almost out of a cheesy musical, the majority of the staff start dancing and singing along to the song, just as a girl and guy enter.

They look as if they both just woke up. She wears dark aviator sunglasses the whole time and can't fight the urge to join the dance party — head bobbing, swaying, snapping to the beat. The guy that she's with seems oblivious to all of the dancing and is more interested in ordering. The song ends and the dancing trio of gossipers leaves. Indoor Sunglasses Girl and the guy have taken a strong interest in their phones and don't look up until their order number is called. They grab their burgers and leave, passing by a professionally-dressed older woman who seems to have entered by mistake. She looks around, pauses to take in the space, almost as if to say, "Huh. So this is what this place looks like on the inside." She walks up to the condiment bar to grab a straw. She leaves.

A gaggle of girls comes boisterously up the stairs from the downstairs seating area/game room. Once they reach the top of the stairs, they're squinting, eyes adjusting to the bright sunlight, almost as if they've been down there all afternoon, drinking beer, playing pool, and naturally, eating burgers. They start a round of hugging and loud goodbyes before they go their separate ways.

An older gentleman with a long, silver pony tail comes in, places his order, pours himself a soda from the fountain, and grabs a seat on one of the white leather bar stools that lines the window. He zones out. A few seconds later, a giant splash is heard as his freshly-poured soda spills down his front. He's embarrassed as he rushes over to get a handful of napkins to mop up the mess.

Meanwhile, a younger guy sits by himself and frequently gets up to get more napkins, abandoning his burger. He has taken way too much ketchup and has spilled some onto the table and his hands. He cleans himself and the table up and then he's back to the business of finishing his burger. Once he finishes, he lingers about 20 minutes more, engrossed by his phone. It's order up for the pony-tailed soda-spiller, and he's got a sack of burgers, a special available for take-out only, five burgers packaged into a crisp, white, handy paper tote. His mood changes from embarrassment to visible happiness, and he's on his way out the door.

A group of high schoolers, three boys, arrive next. They're excited to be seen there, and they take their time walking the length of the restaurant. They are telling jokes to each other, laughing and playfully hitting each other. They stop at the menu that is posted the far wall, right before the register. They study the menu for several minutes, continuing their joking. The laughter picks up as they decide not to order anything and leave.

Throughout the afternoon, several individuals arrive, order a burger, and take a seat at one of the stools by the window, getting an excellent view of the action of Harvard Square outside. They are all different in age, gender, and profession, but all have one thing in common — they anxiously eat a couple of French fries almost as soon as the signature white paper bags are handed to them.

A young son and his business suit-clad father arrive next. The father is on the phone, and the boy studies the menu. They make their order and grab a seat along the window before deciding that a table is where they'd prefer to enjoy their burgers. They get their order and talk, presumably about school, life, and whatever else boys talk to their dads about. It's a complete mixed bag of burger-eaters at Tasty Burger on a Monday afternoon, and that contributes to making this local, retro-style burger space so enjoyable. The people who constantly patronize it prove that the humble burger is not just a trend but a food that is just as popular as ever, a classic that never goes out of style.

Tasty Burger (Harvard Square)

40 JFK St, Cambridge, MA 02138 617 425 4444

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