Cambridge brims with innovation, from the halls of MIT to the front steps of Harvard, and this even extends to the city’s ever-blossoming food scene. Whether you’re looking for breakfast or dinner (and everything in between), these Cambridge restaurants rival those in any larger city.

Little Donkey

This genius restaurant concept from talented chefs Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer serves Asian tapas in a welcoming neighborhood atmosphere. Expect casually dressed friends sipping cocktails out of grapefruits at the bar while they wait for their tables. The restaurant’s Sunday brunch is also a treat with dishes like Nutella Toast and Chilaquiles and the can’t-miss chocolate almond croissant.  Little Donkey: 505 Massachusetts Ave., 617-945-1008


There has been a spat of similarly name restaurants opening in Boston recently (see PABU and Ruka), but this Cambridge restaurant stands out thanks to the talents of chef Tracy Chang. Go for her decadent ramen with a six-minute egg and tender pork belly and don’t miss the tender squid ink bao stuffed with fried oysters. Pagu: 310 Massachusetts Ave., 617-945-9290


While it didn’t seem like any subsequent Cambridge restaurants could do justice to the former West Bridge space, Mamaleh’s is more than a worthy replacement. On weekends, the kosher deli serves breakfast and brunch items, like lox on a homemade bagel, all day. If you can’t snag a seat, we recommend ordering  the pastrami, egg, and cheese sandwich on soft challah bread and a side of the potato latkes and finding a spot at the stand-up counter. Mamelah’s: 1 Kendall Square, 15 Hampshire St., Cambridge, 617-958-3354

The Smoke Shop

Chef Andy Husbands brings his BBQ prowess to Kendall Square with The Smoke Shop. Order the pit master’s pulled pork, ribs, and burnt ends and sides like bacon mac and cheese and Crispy Grit Fries. The Smoke Shop: 1 Kendall Square, 617-577-7427   


Fans of East Coast seafood will love this Chef Michael Scelfo-helmed gem located between Harvard and Central Squares (a sister restaurant to Cambridge’s Alden & Harlow). Order the Uni Bucatini and Chopped Clam Pizza and don’t miss daily items from the raw bar like the eye-catching goose barnacles. Waypoint: 1030 Massachusetts, 617-864-2300


The restaurant space at The Charles Hotel seems destined for Italian cuisine, thanks to the recent opening of Benedetto (sister to Cambridge’s beloved Giulia) after Chef Jody Adams closed Rialto last year. Perfectly executed dishes like the Rigatoni Bolognese make this a standout among Cambridge restaurants. Benedetto: 1 Bennett St., Cambridge, 617-661-5050

Freepoint Kitchen & Cocktails

Chef Matthew Gaudet, of West Bridge and the North Shore’s SuperFine, serves global flavors at his new restaurant inside Freepoint Hotel. Boston Magazine recommends its decadent breakfasts and tapas-style plates (we love the Irish whiskey-cured salmon with date sauce). And if that doesn’t tempt you, the make-your-own Manhattan bar should help. Freepoint Kitchen & Cocktails: 220 Alewife Brook Parkway, 617-491-8000