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The Best Of Kendall Square – An Expert’s Guide To The Neighborhood

Kendall Square

By day, the intellectuals of Kendall Square gather in labs, classrooms and office space to drive innovation and answer some of the world’s most pressing questions in technology and life sciences.  At night, they rest their heads in condos and apartments in Kendall Square just steps from the work they’ve done at Biogen, Google, MIT, Akamai or any of the endless start-ups in the neighborhood.  But what do these scholars, students and innovators do with the time in between; the weekends and the hours after work and class when they want to relax, give their brains a rest and connect with friends?  Fortunately, Kendall Square is as versatile as it is dynamic, so there’s plenty to do for everyone – from residents who like to de-stress with a few games of pinball and a microbrew to those who prefer to relax with artisan lattes and an indie film.  So here’s a birds eye view of some of the best things Kendall Square has to offer it’s residents and visitors.

The Best Part of Waking Up

There’s a lot of brainpower in Kendall Square, so it’s no surprise that the “most innovative square mile on Earth” has a superb collection of coffee shops and cafes to fuel the mind and body. There are a number to choose from, most with attention-grabbing menu items and great communal space (something that can not be undervalued in a neighborhood like Kendall Square), but a few stand out above the rest.  For those who want to start the weekday with a specialty coffee drink and a punch of extreme nutrients in the form of cold pressed juice, check out Beatnik Beverage Company, which certainly delivers on their tagline – #Drinkdifferent.  You may raise your brow at some of the juice ingredients, like activated charcoal, swiss chard and red pepper, but be brave, it’s all delicious!  The only down side to Beatnik is that it’s only open on weekdays, but there are plenty of other great spots for the weekend!  For a heartier but still casual meal, check out Tatte Bakery and Cafe which has a great vibe and free wifi.  Tatte is a favorite among owners and renters of nearby Kendall Square apartments, who love it for their fluffy croissants, delectable pastries, fresh salads and paninis.  Because of the large number of businesses in Kendall Square, many coffee shops and cafes can get crowded, so for a quieter experience visit Brew on the Grid, which has a large, inviting space – perfect for catching up with a friend or relaxing in solitude.  No matter which spot you choose, you’re likely to leave well caffeinated, well fed and ready to make your mark on the world.

Art & Culture

Most people who live and spend time in Kendall Square appreciate demonstration and culture in many forms.  There are numerous opportunities to observe the brilliance of artists and innovators at the many Kendall Square museums and art centers.  For science and technology, the MIT Museum is full of discoveries made at its namesake university, including exhibits centered around robots and Artificial Intelligence, holography and kinetic art.  Kendall Square’s “right-brained” residents and visitors will not be disappointed by the abundance of art centers and installations.  The MIT campus alone is home to 50 works of fine art and architecture, including pieces by famous artists like Frank Gehry and Sol LeWitt.  The MIT List Visual Arts Center hosts cutting-edge multimedia art exhibitions by avant-garde artists, and Le Laboratoire Cambridge is a science-based art and design center modeled after Le Laboratoire Paris, which was founded by a Harvard professor.  Enlightenment abounds in Kendall Square, so plan your time wisely!

Mid-Day Snack

Though there are a number of top-notch sit-down restaurants in Kendall Square, one of the best ways to enjoy lunch is to grab a bite from a local food truck (we like Savory Food, Sate Grill-on-Wheels or Clover, a fantastic  local chain focused on sustainability across all of their operations) and, weather permitting, head up to the Kendall Square Roof Garden for an outdoor picnic.  This open-air park is one of the city’s hidden gems, known mostly to those that own or rent apartments in Kendall Square.  The large, verdant space is open from dawn to dusk and offers guests a peaceful, lush space filled with trees, flower beds, benches, picnic tables, a ping pong table and an impeccable view of the Boston skyline.  It’s a short escape from the bustle of the city, and an exceptional place to picnic, study, meditate or have a get-together with friends.

Happy Hours

Kendall Square is a lively neighborhood throughout the entire year, but there are some seasonal specialties worth mentioning.  From mid-December to mid-March there’s a community ice skating rink located in the heart of Kendall Square, offering a festive way to stay active in the winter.  The Zamboni-maintained rink has skate rentals, lessons and private rink rentals, and is located in a landscaped courtyard.  In the summer (on Wednesdays from 11am-6pm), Kendall Square is home to a Farmers Market that brings together local farmers to provide fresh produce to those that work and live in the area.  For the civically-minded residents that own and rent nearby Kendall Square apartments, the Farmers Market is a great opportunity to support local farm owners while making health-conscious decisions about natural foods.  The Charles River offers also offers great summer recreation – visit Paddle Boston to rent kayaks, canoes and paddle boards.  On any other day in the neighborhood, the Kendall Square Cinema is a perfect entertainment option.  It’s a charming theatre with a great snack selection, comfortable seats and indoor, validated parking.  The theater shows a combination of indie, foreign and mainstream (but well-reviewed) films.

Nom Nom Nom

As previously mentioned, Kendall Square boasts a number of delicious and eclectic restaurants.  On a cold Boston evening, the ramen from Shabu & Mein hits the spot, and if it’s pizza you’re after, check out Area Four for artisanal pies and a fantastic weekend brunch.  There are several notable  Mediterranean restaurants to choose from – Desfina, Aceituna Grill, and Saloniki Greek rank highly with locals.  For a fun evening of cocktails and kitsch, Cuchi Cuchi fits the bill.  The servers wear costumes, the food is interesting and the artisan cocktails are superbly executed – perfect for the funky-chic crowd that populates much of Kendall Square.

Post-Dinner Entertainment

If you’ve spent the day exploring all that Kendall Square has to offer, you might be ready to head home, especially if you live in a place with cool apartment amenities like Proto Kendall Square.  But if you have the stamina and the gumption, there’s more to see in this funky, dynamic neighborhood.  Flat Top Johnny’s is one of our favorite places to disconnect from stress and have some good old-fashioned fun.  Flat Top Johnny’s a classic pool hall with an excellent beer selection and seven high-tech pinball machines with themes from cult classics like “The Walking Dead,” “Game of Thrones” and “Ghostbusters.”  If you’re just looking for a place to sit and talk with friends over a microbrew or artisan cocktail, Kendall Square bars tend to have the right atmosphere for communal merriment.  Some bars, like Glass House on Kendall Street, have outdoor patios for the perfect ambiance.

Kendall Square business owners and city planners certainly know their market.  They’ve created within their establishments and public spaces an air of relaxation and decompression to counter the demands of residents’ work and school life.  Word has gotten around, however, and now Kendall Square is a destination for cultural experiences, great food and notable entertainment.  One thing is for certain; if you’ve landed a job and you’re on the hunt for an apartment near Kendall Square, you won’t be disappointed by the depth of your new neighborhood.

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