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Overhead shot of a bowl of ramen with a creamy pale yellow broth, chile oil, soft boiled egg, seaweed, scallions, and crispy pork
Guchi’s Midnight Ramen at Pagu
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Where to Eat and Drink in Cambridge’s Central Square

Ramen, dumplings, cocktails, arcade games

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Guchi’s Midnight Ramen at Pagu
| Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

A diner could go out every night for a month and not begin to scratch the surface of all Central Square has to offer. Whether it’s Chinese or Japanese or vegan diner food you’re after, you can find it in this Cambridge neighborhood.

Narrowing Central Square’s drinking and dining scene down to just 12 must-try spots is perhaps a fool’s errand, but if you only have time for a brief exploration, start with these.

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Pammy's

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It’s not quite Central Square properPammy’s is on the increasingly busy stretch of Mass. Ave. between Central and Harvard — but it’s worth the extra bit of effort, as there’s a reason for all the local and non-local accolades Pammy’s has received. (Here at Eater Boston, it was a 2017 Restaurant of the Year nominee.) Pammy’s serves unpretentious Italian-inspired cuisine in a beautiful space, and it does so at a price that won’t leave diners wondering how they’re expected to make rent the following month. Try the lumache with Bolognese, which is given a kick from the unlikely addition of a Korean chile paste called gochujang.

Lumache Bolognese at Pammy’s
Lumache Bolognese at Pammy’s
Pammy’s/Facebook

The Plough and Stars

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The Plough and Stars has been open for nearly 50 years; it helps form the bedrock of the Central Square drinking, dining, and music scene. Go for lunch Monday through Friday and get a burger and a beer for $10, or head in on Saturday or Sunday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. for a hearty brunch. There’s live music every night, and the Wednesday night blues jam is a must-see for fans of the blues.

plough and stars
French toast at the Plough and Stars
The Plough and Stars/Facebook

Green Street

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Green Street has been doing it for even longer than the Plough — since the Great Depression, in fact. The bacon double cheeseburger is legendary, the pork schnitzel should not be slept on, and the bar is a great bar at which to tie one on (and the cocktails all cost less than $10, which is unheard of in Greater Boston in 2018).

Mac and cheese at Green Street
Mac and cheese at Green Street
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Brick & Mortar

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Great cocktails, check. Great burger, check. Sort of hidden entrance that gives off exclusive vibes, check. Brick & Mortar is doing the modern “speakeasy” thing without hitting patrons over the head with it.

Specialty bar glassware: a horse head with a pony head cozying up to it. A frozen cocktail and neon bendy straws are coming up out of the top. The glassware sits on a curved wooden bar with a brick wall in the background.
Very special glassware at Brick & Mortar
Emily Phares/Eater

Little Donkey

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Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette love opening tapas restaurants (see: Toro.) Little Donkey is no exception, although it stretches the definition of “tapas” away from its proper home in Spain and takes it all around the world. This Central Square eatery serves up everything from pizza bagels to pig ear fries to halibut biryani.

Banh mi at Little Donkey
Banh mi at Little Donkey
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Mary Chung

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Mary Chung makes some of the best dumplings in town: The suan la chow show (pork or shrimp wontons topped with a sweet and spicy sauce and raw mung bean sprouts) are essential. The dun dun noodles are also compulsory.

Overhead view of takeout containers full of Chinese food spread over a wooden tabletop, including two types of dumplings, boneless spareribs, and more
A takeout spread from Mary Chung, including Peking ravioli, boneless spareribs, dun dun noodles with tofu, suan la chow show wontons with pork, and rice cakes with meat and vegetables
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Veggie Galaxy

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This vegetarian diner serves a giant selection of diner classics, minus the meat, and its entirely vegan bakery churns out some of the tastiest cakes, pies, pastries, and treats in Greater Boston. The doughnuts, especially, are must-eats.

veggie galaxy
This work of art is vegan
Veggie Galaxy/Facebook

Craigie on Main

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Tony Maws is constantly changing his menu at Craigie on Main, but eaters can expect seasonal and local ingredients to star on their plates. The notorious burger, served on the bar side, is hard to get (there are just 18 each day), but it’s worth a shot. The restaurant serves a vegetarian version of the burger on Tuesdays, too.

Close-up photo of a burger with lettuce and bacon visible, as well as some thick-cut fries on the edge of the plate
The burger at Craigie on Main
Bill Addison/Eater

La Fabrica Central

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This Caribbean-inspired restaurant is the spot for Brazilian music, bachata, and Puerto Rican soupy rice. Try the arroz con mariscos, which comes with rum-flamed rice and shrimp, calamari, lobster tail, red peppers, and green peas.

la fabrica central
Caribbean flavors at La Fabrica Central
La Fabrica Central/Official Site

Cuchi Cuchi

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At Cuchi Cuchi, an eclectic restaurant and cocktail bar, its small-ish plates — don’t call them tapas — are inspired by a wide range of cuisines (French, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish, you get the point) and should be shared among friends. Try the polvo à lagareiro, which is Portuguese-style grilled octopus with smashed fingerling potatoes.

cuchi cuchi
Portuguese-style octopus
Cuchi Cuchi/Facebook

Tracy Chang’s food at Pagu is inspired by two great world cuisines: Japanese and Spanish. The pork belly bao and the spiced pork croquetas make for great bedfellows.

Four bao are on a long, narrow tray. The two in the forefront are black and made of squid ink. Bright pink pickled onions are visible inside.
Squid ink oyster bao and pork belly bao at Pagu
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Booze and grilled cheese sandwiches from Roxy’s and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game? Uh, yes, please. A4cade is great for a date night — or a night on which you want to challenge all of your friends to a game of Hoop Fever.

A Doctor Who-inspired Tardis drinking vessel with bendy straws and figurines coming out of it
A4cade’s got some fun glassware
A4cade/Zac Wolf

Pammy's

It’s not quite Central Square properPammy’s is on the increasingly busy stretch of Mass. Ave. between Central and Harvard — but it’s worth the extra bit of effort, as there’s a reason for all the local and non-local accolades Pammy’s has received. (Here at Eater Boston, it was a 2017 Restaurant of the Year nominee.) Pammy’s serves unpretentious Italian-inspired cuisine in a beautiful space, and it does so at a price that won’t leave diners wondering how they’re expected to make rent the following month. Try the lumache with Bolognese, which is given a kick from the unlikely addition of a Korean chile paste called gochujang.

Lumache Bolognese at Pammy’s
Lumache Bolognese at Pammy’s
Pammy’s/Facebook

The Plough and Stars

The Plough and Stars has been open for nearly 50 years; it helps form the bedrock of the Central Square drinking, dining, and music scene. Go for lunch Monday through Friday and get a burger and a beer for $10, or head in on Saturday or Sunday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. for a hearty brunch. There’s live music every night, and the Wednesday night blues jam is a must-see for fans of the blues.

plough and stars
French toast at the Plough and Stars
The Plough and Stars/Facebook

Green Street

Green Street has been doing it for even longer than the Plough — since the Great Depression, in fact. The bacon double cheeseburger is legendary, the pork schnitzel should not be slept on, and the bar is a great bar at which to tie one on (and the cocktails all cost less than $10, which is unheard of in Greater Boston in 2018).

Mac and cheese at Green Street
Mac and cheese at Green Street
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Brick & Mortar

Great cocktails, check. Great burger, check. Sort of hidden entrance that gives off exclusive vibes, check. Brick & Mortar is doing the modern “speakeasy” thing without hitting patrons over the head with it.

Specialty bar glassware: a horse head with a pony head cozying up to it. A frozen cocktail and neon bendy straws are coming up out of the top. The glassware sits on a curved wooden bar with a brick wall in the background.
Very special glassware at Brick & Mortar
Emily Phares/Eater

Little Donkey

Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette love opening tapas restaurants (see: Toro.) Little Donkey is no exception, although it stretches the definition of “tapas” away from its proper home in Spain and takes it all around the world. This Central Square eatery serves up everything from pizza bagels to pig ear fries to halibut biryani.

Banh mi at Little Donkey
Banh mi at Little Donkey
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Mary Chung

Mary Chung makes some of the best dumplings in town: The suan la chow show (pork or shrimp wontons topped with a sweet and spicy sauce and raw mung bean sprouts) are essential. The dun dun noodles are also compulsory.

Overhead view of takeout containers full of Chinese food spread over a wooden tabletop, including two types of dumplings, boneless spareribs, and more
A takeout spread from Mary Chung, including Peking ravioli, boneless spareribs, dun dun noodles with tofu, suan la chow show wontons with pork, and rice cakes with meat and vegetables
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Veggie Galaxy

This vegetarian diner serves a giant selection of diner classics, minus the meat, and its entirely vegan bakery churns out some of the tastiest cakes, pies, pastries, and treats in Greater Boston. The doughnuts, especially, are must-eats.

veggie galaxy
This work of art is vegan
Veggie Galaxy/Facebook

Craigie on Main

Tony Maws is constantly changing his menu at Craigie on Main, but eaters can expect seasonal and local ingredients to star on their plates. The notorious burger, served on the bar side, is hard to get (there are just 18 each day), but it’s worth a shot. The restaurant serves a vegetarian version of the burger on Tuesdays, too.

Close-up photo of a burger with lettuce and bacon visible, as well as some thick-cut fries on the edge of the plate
The burger at Craigie on Main
Bill Addison/Eater

La Fabrica Central

This Caribbean-inspired restaurant is the spot for Brazilian music, bachata, and Puerto Rican soupy rice. Try the arroz con mariscos, which comes with rum-flamed rice and shrimp, calamari, lobster tail, red peppers, and green peas.

la fabrica central
Caribbean flavors at La Fabrica Central
La Fabrica Central/Official Site

Cuchi Cuchi

At Cuchi Cuchi, an eclectic restaurant and cocktail bar, its small-ish plates — don’t call them tapas — are inspired by a wide range of cuisines (French, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish, you get the point) and should be shared among friends. Try the polvo à lagareiro, which is Portuguese-style grilled octopus with smashed fingerling potatoes.

cuchi cuchi
Portuguese-style octopus
Cuchi Cuchi/Facebook

Pagu

Tracy Chang’s food at Pagu is inspired by two great world cuisines: Japanese and Spanish. The pork belly bao and the spiced pork croquetas make for great bedfellows.

Four bao are on a long, narrow tray. The two in the forefront are black and made of squid ink. Bright pink pickled onions are visible inside.
Squid ink oyster bao and pork belly bao at Pagu
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

A4cade

Booze and grilled cheese sandwiches from Roxy’s and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game? Uh, yes, please. A4cade is great for a date night — or a night on which you want to challenge all of your friends to a game of Hoop Fever.

A Doctor Who-inspired Tardis drinking vessel with bendy straws and figurines coming out of it
A4cade’s got some fun glassware
A4cade/Zac Wolf

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