The Finest Ethnic Dining in Cambridge, MA

Cambridge, MA, home of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is known for its beautiful natural scenery and its eye-catching historic architecture. It positions itself as a liberal bastion where education is revered. In fact, it has even advertised itself as “a city where counter-culture still lives, classic culture thrives, and multicultural is a way of life.” In addition to these fine features, Cambridge is also home of an eclectic collection of ethnic eateries that should also be part of its advertising focus.

Oleana Restaurant


Image via Flickr by hahatango

This Mediterranean-Turkish restaurant has been praised as having the best food in town. Located just a little over a mile from the Royal Sonesta Boston Hotel, it has an award-winning patio area that is ideal for summer evening dining. Of course, the food is what truly sets Oleana apart. Ana Sortun has an outrageously creative knack with food. You’ll understand once you’ve tried her lamb steak with Turkish spices and fava bean moussaka, or the delectable chickpea crêpe with smoked cinnamon aioli.

Pastry chef Maura Kilpatrick’s desserts are another highlight, with homemade ice creams like cocoa rose ice cream with date rose truffle, or the salted butter ice cream with butter crêpe.

Craigie on Main

This French-American restaurant boasts celebrated Boston chef Tony Maws. He combines his French-inspired rustic style with an unrelenting passion for using organic ingredients at this spacious bistro located just a mile away from the Hyatt Regency Cambridge Hotel.
Try one of the 18 different burgers with the house-made bun. The chef includes dehydrated miso, suet, and bone marrow for a truly delicious combination. For more of a French experience, start with charred octopus and oysters, and then the pork three ways as an entrée. It’s a subtle merging of sensations brought together with surprising bursts of flavor at exactly the right places.


This Italian restaurant located between Porter and Harvard Squares, less than a mile from the Charles Hotel, provides a spirited blend of cooking with gracious hospitality. You can’t go wrong if you start with the bruschetta and burrata tomato salad. Follow it up with pastas like orechiette, fusilli, papparadlle, and agnolotti. Then try one of the many desserts, like affogatao, white cap flint corn cake, chocolate terrine, or panacotta.

The Helmand

This Afghani restaurant, named after an Afghani river, and located not far from the Boston Marriott Cambridge Hotel, offers dishes that are both delicious and fun to pronounce. Try the dwopiaza and sabzi. Take in the swirling aromas of coriander, turmeric, and cardamom. Dishes with lamb or pumpkin are truly a revelation here.
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Gabriel Winston, a Hipmunk writer, likes to write about unusual places, when possible about caves in South America, though fashionable digs across North America are also interesting. He lives in Alberta, Canada and loves hiking and recording his trips on film and on his blog Where the Dog Never Lies.