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Spicy or sweet? Spicy every time.
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Go to Inman Square and Eat These Spicy Treats

From newcomer Moona to mainstay Punjabi Dhaba, this Cambridge ‘hood brings the heat

Welcome back to Food Crawls, a series in which Eater Boston staffers guide you (virtually) on various food (and booze) crawls in the Boston area.

When we go out, we often find ourselves wanting to try more than one restaurant or bar at a time — a drink and a snack here, another drink and perhaps a dessert there — and want to share our favorite multi-stop combinations with you. These crawls are meant to be relatively walkable, and the amount of food and drink is meant to correspond roughly to a couple of average appetites (so bring a friend), although your mileage may vary. Email us if there’s a particular theme, specific dish or drink, or neighborhood you’d like to see covered in a future installment.

Inman Square is a funny little neighborhood, beloved by its residents but still perhaps a bit unknown to most who don’t live within walking distance. It enjoys a degree of seclusion that Cambridge’s other noteworthy squares (namely Central, Harvard, and Kendall) do not. Much of that has to do with the fact that, aside from city buses (and we all know how reliable those things are), the neighborhood lacks a public transportation hub.

Don’t let that stop you, though: Inman Square is stocked with many excellent eateries. For this particular food crawl, we’re going to go to several spots serving food on the spicier side.

Stats for this food crawl:

  • Total stops: 4
  • Beers swilled: So many. Spicy food requires so many beers.
  • Cuisine types: 4 (Inman’s dining scene is diverse, gang)
  • Tums popped: How’s your gut health?

Nashville Hot Chicken Wings at Highland Fried

1271 Cambridge St., Inman Square, Cambridge

Overhead view of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, slaw, and dipping sauce on a red-and-white checkered paper on a white plate.
Highland Fried’s fried chicken is served with a chile honey, but for real heat, you’ve got to get the Nashville hot wings
Highland Fried

Everyone is still sad about the shuttering of East Coast Grill, but the folks at Highland Fried, which opened in its place, are doing some damn fine fried chicken. Try the Nashville hot smoked and fried chicken wings — not as hot as the hottest thing East Coast Grill’s Hell Night had to offer, but not far off, either. Great with a few crisp beers.

Pollo Azteca at Olé

11 Springfield St., Inman Square, Cambridge

The bar at Olé
The bar at Olé
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Hang a right out of Highland Fried, walk a couple of blocks down Cambridge Street, and then hang another right onto Springfield Street. Olé’s version of pollo Azteca is stuffed with roasted jalapeños and topped with a creamy poblano sauce. The spice and cream balance one another, but you should still drink a few beers with this dish to stay cool.

Anything at Punjabi Dhaba

225 Hampshire St., Inman Square, Cambridge

Paneer chili masala at Punjabi Dhaba
Paneer chili masala at Punjabi Dhaba
Punjabi Dhaba/Facebook

It’s the best Indian restaurant in the city, and everything on the menu is worth eating. The paneer chili masala is a solid choice, and the restaurant will serve any dish as spicy as a customer wishes. Go hot, or go home.

Grilled Whole Fish at Moona

The whole fish at Moona is done with harissa
The whole fish at Moona is done with harissa

You love this place. The grilled whole fish is done with harissa and fresh herbs, and it’s served with hummus. It’s a dish best served to two people, especially at the end of a food crawl, so bring a friend along.

And if the crisp beers weren’t enough to cool you down during your spicy treat odyssey, Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream is right down the street.

Ole Mexican Grill

11 Springfield Street, Cambridge, MA 02139 877 816 9996 Visit Website

Punjabi Dhaba

225 Hampshire Street, , MA 02139 (617) 547-8272 Visit Website


243 Hampshire Street, , MA 02139 (617) 945-7448 Visit Website

Highland Fried

1271 Cambridge Street, , MA 02139 (617) 714-4662 Visit Website