You’re two months into your freshman year, and already sick of the food at the Berg. Luckily, it’s almost Freshman Family Weekend, and you should take full advantage of the opportunity to explore the Cambridge food scene with your loved ones. Don’t know where to go? Well here’s a list of the best spots near campus in Cambridge to take your family for dinner over Freshman Family Weekend.


Located in Central Square, one stops away on the Red Line from Harvard Square, Chef Tracy Change opened up PAGU. There is a spacious outdoor patio and beautiful interior where you can even get an interactive experience by sitting at the chef’s counter. The menu creatively combines Chang’s childhood experience growing up in her grandmother’s Japanese restaurant and cooking abroad in the Basque region of Spain. Some signature dishes include the Campfire Black Cod, Shiitake a La Plantaxa, Guichi’s Midnight Ramen, and even Squid Ink Oyster Bao. Definitely check out PAGU if you are in need of some Japanese-Spanish fusion tapas.


In the mood for some Eastern Mediterranean food? Oleana has got you covered with its cozy interior and peaceful patio restaurant located in Inman Square. You can go crazy on mezes such as the Warm Butter Hummus, Whipped Feta, Peach and Peppers that has golden beets in it, or the Sultan’s Delight, which has tamarind beef with smoky eggplant puree and pine nuts. There are also some delicious Mediterranean style main dishes including fish, lamb, and chicken. Definitely save some room for desserts like Turkish-style profiteroles, chocolate marquise, fig leaf pudding with ginger beer granité and baked Alaska.


Head to Giulia near the Quad to enjoy some classic Italian dishes. The charm of this restaurant makes the fresh pasta that much more enjoyable. Some highlights from the menu include burrata di andria served with warm figs, hazelnut butter and sourdough. The pumpkin and squash agnolotti del plin is a perfect fall dish and will be even better than you PSL you drank earlier in the day. Top the meal off with a citrus and olive oil cake or a warm almond torta. You can’t go wrong with anything you order.

#SpoonTip: Have a big group and want to celebrate? Book the pasta table where your party can enjoy a family-style tasting menu that changes seasonally. 

Alden & Harlow

Hidden in Harvard Square sits Alden & Harlow, a creative take on American food with bold flavors. In creating this restaurant, Chef Michael Scelfo cultivated the feeling of eating at home at your kitchen table, making it the perfect place to take your family on Freshman Family Weekend. The burrata with roasted plums, tarragon and candied walnuts are a great starter to share with your family or even the Kale salad with a creamy pistachio dressing. The salt roasted beets and torched peaches are also delicious. Alden & Harlow menu is inventive and you won’t get these dishes anywhere else. For dessert, they have a smoked chocolate bread pudding or a sesame praline. This subterranean restaurant is the perfect location if you want a cozy place to eat that is not too far from Harvard’s campus. If you can’t make it to dinner here, Alden & Harlow is a wonderful option for Sunday brunch. 

Little Donkey

Little Donkey in Central Square offers tapas inspired by global cuisine and local market fares. They have your favorite childhood foods amped up with bold flavors such as pizza bagels and pigs in a blanket. Their black pepper popovers with Wagyu steak tartare is a great option for the table to share. Their Matzo Ball Ramen, Farro Kimchi Rice and Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wings are delicious main dishes. They even have charred avocado to fuel your avocado addiction. To end the meal, enjoy their chocolate chip cookie dough nips, a churro ice cream sandwich or a banana ice cream sundae. Little Donkey should definitely be on your college restaurant bucket list, and what better way to cross it off the list than to go with your family during this fun weekend.


Orinoco is another hidden gem in Harvard Square located right on JFK street. This Latin restaurant feels very rustic and was founded by native Venezuelans who bring the Latin American flavors and the feel of Latin culture right to the table in this cozy restaurant. The menu features different types of arepas, empanadas, and pepitos, which are French bread sandwiches with tostonisitos. The plantains that are served with many of their dishes are perfectly cooked and provide a sweet flavor that meshes perfectly with the rest of the plate. Their Quesillo dessert is a home-made traditional Venezuelan custard topped with caramel provides the perfect end to this dinner. If you’re looking for a casual place to go that's nearby campus, check out this sweet spot.   

Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage

Founded in 1960, Joe and Joan Bartley opened up this Harvard Square staple as they perfected the classic American sandwich: the hamburger. Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage is frequently rated the best burger place in the country. Three generations later, the Bartley family has maintained this wonderfully cute restaurant. Immediately when you walk in you’re greeted by the warm faces of the waiters and the clever signs and pictures that cover the walls that are sure to make you laugh. There is a wide variety of burger options ranging from the “Tom Brady ‘Triumphant’” with cheddar, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, and red onions, or Guy Fieri’s favorite “Triple ‘D’” which is a double burger with bacon, cheese, BBQ sauce, and grilled onions. Make sure to pair your burger with their famous homemade onion rings or their nacho French fries. They also serve endless options of different kinds of frappes that you can enjoy. 

#SpoonTip: You don’t need your family to go to Mr. Bartley’s! Since it is right in the Square, it’s easy to go to with your friends for lunch or dinner, so make sure to treat yo self all year long.  

Legal SeaFoods 

Don’t worry; we did not forget the classic Legal Sea Foods located in the courtyard of the Charles Hotel. If you’re tired of Red’s Best in the dining hall but are still craving classic Boston seafood, this is the place for you and your family. This restaurant has the best seafood in the Square. Along with their Legal classics, which include their signature crab cakes, they have char-grilled fish, surf & turf, and crispy fried options. To start, try out the New England fried clams, the calamari, or the Buffalo popcorn shrimp. They even have options for those individuals in your family who don’t love seafood and prefer food from the land. Not only is the dinner menu delicious, but their desserts are out of this world. You can get a Boston cream pie, a warm chocolate pudding cake, cheesecake, or even their featured dessert that changes each time.

“Family” is all about sharing meals, and with the approach of freshman Family Weekend, I suggest that you make your reservation soon because these restaurants are filling up.