Best of Boston in Harvard Square!

 

Experience the Best of Boston right here in historic Harvard Square! From outstanding restaurants to trendy music venues, there’s something for everyone. Whether you want to enjoy some of Boston’s best live theater, dine at some of the best sea food and Italian restaurants, or simply get lost in a book store, Boston Magazine has rated many businesses as the Best of Boston!


Outstanding Chef
Michael Scelfo—Alden & Harlow
Just when we thought Michael Scelfo couldn’t top his first venture, Alden & Harlow, last year he opened Waypoint, an of-the-moment spin on New England coastal cuisine where brash flavors (smoke, salt, and plenty of umami) buck up against luxe ingredients to dazzling effect. And odds are good that Scelfo’s bold empire will continue to grow: The chef has hinted that he’d like to open a third concept soon.
Alden & Harlow, 40 Brattle St., (617) 864-2100, harvardsquare.com/alden-harlow


Pastry Chef
Renae Connolly—Benedetto
Renae Connolly’s desserts are such exquisite works of refinement and balanced, we’ve come to think of her as a real-life Sugar Plum Fairy. Whether you indulge in a wedge of classic torta al limon jazzed up with a bright-pink prickly-pear gel stencil on the plate, or a rustic elderflower granite elegantly surrounded by a sugar lace toile, its sweetness cut with tart poached rhubarb and bright basil meringue, the finale to your Italian feast will be on point.
Benedetto, 1 Bennett St., (617) 661-5050, harvardsquare.com/restaurants/benedetto


Sommelier
Lauren Daddona—Les Sablons
After watching Lauren Daddona create expert parings for Frank McClelland’s intricate haute cuisine at L’Espalier, we wondered how the Wayland native would ply her needle-threading genius against the simpler French fare at Les Sablons. Like a boss, it turns out. Her tight opening wine list is high/low connoisseur’s dream, offering fun and value at every price point—whether you’re down for a quirky $44 Morgon or a $525 Bordequx from the legendary 1982 vintage.
Les Sablons, 2 Bennett St., (617) 268-6800, harvardsquare.com/restaurants/les-sablons


Clam Chowder
Legal Sea Foods
You don’t mess with success. Legal’s classic formula—a creamy base, loads of clam flavor, firm potato chunks—has been warming Bostonians’ souls for decades. It even has a White House endorsement, having been ladled at every inauguration since the Reagan era.
Legal Sea Foods, 20 University Rd., (617) 491-9400, harvardsquare.com/legal-sea-foods-charles-square


Lingerie
Forty Winks
Yes, lingerie is sexy. But it can also be cool. And thanks to Forty Winks, there’s no need to eschew your fashion-forward sensibilities, or comfort, for the typical underwire and lace. In an elegant boutique with plush armchairs and chandeliers, owners Rachel Wentworth and Meredith Donaldson have assembled a collection of intimate apparel that fits a variety of body types and styles, from Marlies Dekkers’s trendy line of bras to Eberjey’s delicate chemises and Stella McCartney’s designer body suits. In other words, underthings so beautiful you’ll wish you didn’t have to wear anything over them.
Forty Winks, 56 JFK St., (617) 492-9100, harvardsquare.com/forty-winks-lingerie


Low-cost Blowout
Drybar
Choose from one of nine signature blowouts ($45), then hand yourself over to a professional who will wash, dry, and style your locks into a bouncy, shiny submission in just 45 minutes. What’s more, you get to do it with a magazine in one hand and a beverage in the other.
Drybar, 1081 Mass Ave., 2A, (617) 208-4049, harvardsquare.com/drybar


Neighborhood Bests—Harvard Square—Eat
Orinoco
Tucked down an alley, the Cambridge location of Venezuelan-inspired eatery keeps it simple: The succinct beer and wine lists are well curated, the meats masterfully grilled, and the arepas as authentic as they come north of Maracaibo.
Orinoco, 56 JFK St., (617) 354-6900, harvardsquare.com/orinoco-latin-kitchen


Neighborhood Bests—Harvard Square—Shop
Black Ink
Step into this bric-a-brac wonderland to find everything you never knew you needed. Stock up on quirky tchotchkes for those unexpected moments when you need a gift, or find calligraphy-ready pens with DIY inspiration strikes.
Black Ink, 5 Brattle St., (617) 497-1221, harvardsquare.com/black-ink

 

Neighborhood Bests—Harvard Square—Play
Oberon
Only in the People’s Republic will you find a venue where a donkey show—or rather, The Donkey Show—is a weekly staple. But this is no one-trick donkey, er, pony, tapping the local arts scene to pack its calendar with events.
Oberon, 2 Arrow St., (617) 547-8300, harvardsquare.com/arts-entertainment/oberon

 

Theater Company
American Repertory Theater
Even by its own cutting-edge standards, the A.R.T. had yet another landmark year, one that began with a searing performance by monologist Anna Deavere Smith about the state of African Americans in school and in prison, and ended with Arrabal, a mesmerizing tango show about one woman’s search for her missing father in repressive Argentina. The coming season promises more of the same with the world premiere of Warhol Capote, based on real conversations between the two famous artists.
Loed Drama Center, 64 Brattle St., (617) 547-8300, harvardsquare.com/arts-entertainment/american-repertory-theater


Small Music Club
The Sinclair
With a cozy, intimate vibe and a who’s-who of trendy touring acts (upcoming headliners include Sonic Youth legend Thurston Moore), the Sinclair has in short order made itself the hippest place in town for a show. Expanded offerings have included emo night, as well as the occasional offbeat comedy show or Point Break Live! experience.
The Sinclair, 52 Church St., (617) 547-5200, harvardsquare.com/sinclair

Indie Cinema
Brattle Theatre
The fortunes of mainstream movie theaters may ebb and flow with success of the latest comic-book adaptation, but this small theater will always have a stellar lineup of the odd, the obscure, and the cultishly adored. Whether it’s running a Bad Hombres/Nasty Women series (grit your teeth like Clint in A Fistful of Dollars) or taking part in film festivals throughout the city, the theater is sure to introduce you to the next movie that makes you rethink cinema.
Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St., (617) 876-6837, harvardsquare.com/arts-entertainment/brattle-theatre

Literary Series
Harvard Book Store
Forget scrambling to get into a hot new watering hole: There’s something delightfully-Cantabrigian about waiting in line for a big-name author reading on a Friday night. Everyone from tweedy academics to former Supreme Court justices fills this institution’s eclectically brainy events calendar, a virtual reading list for anyone invested in staying on top of the year’s biggest most important book releases.
Harvard Book Store, 1256 Mass Ave., (617) 661-1515, harvardsquare.com/harvard-book-store

Eyewear
SEE
You own more than one shirt, right? And probably a couple of pairs of shoes? Well, See is committed to making sure you have glasses to match every outfit, too, working with designers from all over Europe and the United States to create on-trend specs that look more like fashion accessories than vision enhancers. The bright boutique displays all of its eyewear on open shelves, never in locked cases, so you can try on pair after pair until you find the perfect fit.
See, 1276 Mass Ave., (617) 868-1500, harvardsquare.com/see-inc