Lists of “Best Italian Food” or “Best Mexican Food” exist for nearly every city on the continental United States. Sometimes, however, you don’t know what kind of food you’re craving. Sometimes, you just want a definitive student guide that tells you where you should eat based on your mood, or work load, or even desired level of rage.

With these desires in mind, we compiled a comprehensive list of where to go when…

You need to grab lunch for under $10 between classes
 – Market in the Square

student guide

Photo by Emma Noyes

Yes, you’ve been there at 4 am when everything else is closed and your drunk self needs a Grand Canyon. But trust us: it’s still just as delicious during the daylight hours, it only costs 7 bucks, and it’s a 3 minute walk from the Yard.

What to order: The Grand Canyon. Breaded chicken, bacon, mozzarella, avocado, Russian dressing, and pretty much anything else you might want. A gourmet meal in under 5 minutes.

#SpoonTip: If you have a bit of time, sit and stay awhile at one of their counters. Situated right in front of enormous windows, they make an ideal spot for some always-eclectic Cambridge people watching.

You’re cramming for exams and the library is full
 – Your House Library

student guide

Photo by Vanessa Li

Maybe you need the thick stench of LamCaf lattes and yesterday’s socks to propel you through exams. If not, literally every single house has its own library, and they’re usually empty AF.

#SpoonTip: If you have a friend in Dunster, get them to sign you in. The view of the river almost makes studying for Ec 10b feel bearable

What to order: No, the libraries don’t have food (we wish). But one benefit of studying in-house is easy access to dining hall study breaks without the noise and chaos of the dhall itself. Indulge in a PB & J, then get back to it.

You’re sick of Starbucks/Dunkin’ Donuts – Cafe Algiers

student guide

Photo courtesy of @alexander_esq on Instagram

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill panini- and salad-serving city café. Algiers offers up Middle Eastern specialties like hummus and falafel alongside specialty drinks like mint coffee. You won’t miss that iced mocha-frappa-caramel-ccino nonsense for even one second.

What to order: A mint coffee, of course, with all the whipped cream possible. If you’re hungry, too, we recommend a savory salad plate followed by one of their sweet treats.

#SpoonTip: The café also has an outdoor seating area on the 2nd floor. It only fits a few people, but if you manage to snag a table on a warm day, you’ll feel like you’re part of a great Cambridge secret.

Your parents are visiting and they’re footing the bill
 – Giulia

student guide

Photo by Irene Limb

“Gee-what?” We know, we know. You never go past the Law School when searching for dinner plans. This journey is worth the extra distance, though. Consistently rated one of the best Italian joints outside of the North End, Giulia (pronounced, “Julia”) serves up homemade pasta that’s hard to beat.

What to order: The wild boar pappardelle. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of their pastas, as they’re all made in-house and quite literally melt when they hit your tongue.

#SpoonTip: If you know about their visit several weeks in advance, get on OpenTable and book that sh*t now. Spots fill up quickly.

You’re going on a Tinder date
 – 9 Tastes

student guide

Photo courtesy of @Boston_Bites on Instagram

We’ve all been to Spice, but not everyone has ventured to their sister restaurant, tucked quietly underneath JFK St. Featuring the exact same menu (literally), but with a more secluded location, 9 Tastes is the perfect hideaway spot, especially if you’re trying to avoid your friends… Who might accidentally start blabbing about the girl you were talking to last night. Oops.

What to order: Whatever you like from Spice. Seriously. It’s exactly. The. Same. We recommend pad thai.

#SpoonTip: The river is only a block away. If you’re really looking to impress your date, take your food to go and eat dinner sitting on one of the benches next to the Charles.

You’re trying to be healthy
 – Sweetgreen

student guide

Photo by Emma Noyes

Your friends have been saying that it’s going to open for the last fifteen months. The website even has the address listed (39 JFK St). Once its doors finally doing forth unto the world, the Square will finally have a solution to its depletion of healthy dining options.

What to order: The Rad Thai with added avocado. In our opinion, there’s nothing better than creamy avocado with spicy shrimp. Nom nom nom.

#SpoonTip: Until that fateful moment when they swing open their doors on JFK, take the T to Copley and walk a few blocks to their downtown location.

You’re “doing it for the Insta”
 – Tatte Bakery

student guide

Photo by Claire Dinhut

Yet another Boston staple that has yet to open. If you follow any food accounts, you know that brunch standbys like shakshuka and avocado toast easily rack up the points. Well, your Insta game is about to break the internet, because Tatte has both of those and many more.

What to order: See above. Pair them with a belly-warming cappuccino (the warm weather will be gone by the time Tatte arrives, after all).

#SpoonTip: If you need your brunch Insta now, now, now, it’s a quick T ride to Charles MGH Station to visit Tatte’s other Cambridge location.

You turn 21
 – Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar

student guide

Photo courtesy of @Boston_Bites on Instagram

With 9 different margaritas, a long list of wine and cervezas, and even more besides, Lolita is the perfect “introduction” to alcohol. Their cocktails are some of the best that we’ve ever had. Visitors plunge into a dark, thumping atmosphere, replete with glowing red lights and opportunities to do things you might regret the next day.

What to order: Oh, we forgot to mention—the food is freaking delicious. Don’t miss the wild shrimp tacos, skillet corn bread, or guacamole three ways.

#SpoonTip: For drinks, you can’t go wrong with any of the margaritas, but the broken heart is our favorite.

You’re hungover
 – PARK Restaurant

student guide

Photo courtesy of @tettybong on Instagram

It’s Sunday morning (or, realistically, afternoon). You had too many margaritas at Lolita last night, and you need to eat away your feelings. Instead of trudging to Zoe’s for the 864th weekend in a row, try something new: PARK not only has delicious brunch food, they also serve a full selection of their famous cocktails that perfectly satisfy the hair of the dog.

What to order: Apple and cheese stuffed French toast with cinnamon-apple compote. Just let that sink in.

#SpoonTip: Vegetarian friends? Treat yo’ selves to the chickpea burger, which is served on both their lunch and brunch menus. It’s dank enough to please even a meat eater.

You’re trying to be fancy
 – Toscano

student guide

Photo courtesy of @the_brunch_bunch on Instagram

Sometimes, you just want a nice meal with white tablecloths and (probably empty) wine glasses. No student guide would be complete without a way to get bougie without blowing the bank.

What to order: The prosciutto “speck” pizza. A protein and a carb, all packed into one $14 blessing.

#SpoonTip: We know that the entrees are $35. Instead of panicking, cheat the check by devouring the free bread and olive oil, ordering a few appetizers with some wallet-friendly pizza, and sharing it all amongst your table. “Trying” to be fancy is the key word, people.

You want a slice and it’s not 2 am – Cambridge, 1.

student guide

Photo courtesy of

Don’t head over to Noch’s every time you’re craving a slice of pizza. Right across the street from Border Café sits a hidden gem undiscussed by most Harvard students: Cambridge, 1., a trendy joint serving a variety of options with the main emphasis on charcoal-grilled pizzas.

What to order: The nduja, broccoli rabe, and taleggio pizza. No, that is not a spelling error. Just try it, we promise.

#SpoonTip: Their selection of toppings is so vast that you’ll probably experience monumental FOMO before you even order. No fear: you can order by the half-portion. Bring a group of friends and mix and match.