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When you think of Cambridge neighborhoods, think "Square." This is somewhat of a simplification, but many of the key areas in Cambridge that visitors are likely to visit are indeed squares.
Harvard Square - home to the eponymous university and many shops and restaurants. Many would consider this the heart of Cambridge.
Kendall Square - home to M. I.T. and a range of technology companies. This area is heavier on business than residential and therefore gets quiet in the evenings. It has a number of good restaurants hiding on the side streets as well and a great art house movie theater.
Central Sqaure - once a rough section of town, Central is getting scrubbed up. Woolworths and the dollar store have given way to Starbucks and the Gap, but there is still a certain Grittiness to Central Sqaure. There are some restaurants and clubs well worth a visit in Central Square:
Inman Sqaure - a bit funkier and not directly accessible by T, Inman offers some great dining options. The S&S deli is famous, while Christina’s ice cream offers unique and varied flavors. East Coast Grill offers great carribean inspired food and an eclectic Sunday brunch.
Porter Square - less of a draw for non-locals, Porter is a nice residential area and offers a range of nice shops and restaurants. The Porter Exchange has a handful of Japanese restaurants (sushi, noodle bars, bakeries) that are conveniently together.
East Cambridge - The area of Cambridge around the Lechmere stop on the Greenline and the Cambridgeside Galleria mall is the latest to go under renovations, with new luxury condos popping up along side the tech company sprawl from Kendall Square