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The Critics Ate Barbecue and Bagels This Week

It’s a Kendall Square cornucopia with reviews of Smoke Shop and Mamaleh’s

View of the bar at Smoke Shop in Cambridge
Smoke Shop
Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

Nestor Ramos pays a visit to Andy Husbands’ Smoke Shop in his review for The Boston Globe this week. Bemoaning the grime that has come to be a hallmark of other barbecue spots, Ramos praises Smoke Shop’s polished, shiny restaurant and on-point barbecue. "Most nights, the brisket is at least as good as you’ll find around here and usually a far bit better," Ramos writes, calling out its smoky and rich flavors. The pulled pork is moist and the fried chicken is "a surprise winner," he writes, while the belly fried clam and pork skin dish is "pretty much perfect bar food," and "the best bar wings" come pretty close to delivering. Ramos recommends the butter cake crack for dessert.

Smoke Shop also gets a write-up from MC Slim JB for The Improper Bostonian this week. The smoked meats "often shine brilliantly, especially by the wan standards of Yankee barbecue," Slim writes. Like Ramos, he appreciates the wings, calling them "terrific," and he also finds "spectacular" ribs and "exemplary" brisket. Other recommended dishes include shrimp & grits, a "fine plate" of fried chicken, and the butter cake.

The Globe’s Catherine Smart has some insights into Mamaleh’s, located just across the courtyard from Smoke Shop. She samples some classic Jewish deli offerings (counter service only before 11 a.m.), including salmon and smoked fish plates served with bagels or bialys. The bagels are chewy and New York-style, and the chocolate babka is thickly sliced and dense, Smart writes. The beverages, when served at tables, are "thoroughly chilled, and very delicious," including the root beer float, the pineapple lactart float, and the booze-filled brandy Alexander. She also praises the chopped chicken liver, the substantial Reuben and Rachel sandwiches, and the beef kreplach. And the black and white cookies, of course.

Meanwhile, the Globe’s Devra First stops into Lucy’s American Tavern for a quick bite of "bar food from every corner of the world." She finds everything from Chinese-style steamed pork buns, Mexican street nachos, and fried pickles to poutine, fried chicken and sweet potato waffles, and a smoked meat barbecue board.

Mamaleh's Delicatessen

One Kendall Square, Building 300, Cambridge, MA 02139 Visit Website

The Smoke Shop (Cambridge)

1 Kendall Sq., Cambridge, MA 02139 (617) 577-7427 Visit Website

Lucy's American Tavern

13 Granite Avenue, , MA 02124 (617) 326-6677 Visit Website