Cambridge, MA 02138
About Crema Cafe
It’s a rare treat to discover a great restaurant that has yet to be discovered. Cambridge, MA’s Crema Café (right in the heart of Harvard Square) may have been this kind of place at one point, but judging from the line perpetually looping away from the counter, that day has long passed; now, it seems, everyone and their friends and family knows and loves Crema.
I’ve visited the cafe half a dozen times, and it is consistently packed (rainy days, sunny days, every day). The atmosphere is clean and simple – wood floors, tables, chairs, exposed brick walls. A flood of fresh flowers by the coffee bar adds a unique and cozy twist.
Despite the welcoming setting, however, this is not the place to leisurely dwell over fair trade coffee (if, for example, you are catching up with a long lost childhood friend, go elsewhere). A chalkboard on the wall in the main seating area upstairs politely but firmly reminds customers that while they are free to enjoy their meals at a table, they should do so in under an hour.
Dining with other guests
Space is tight, but if you are unable to find an individual table, you can usually find a seat at one of the cafe’s two long communal tables (one upstairs, one down) where strangers eat face-to-face. It’s certainly not an intimate or private experience, but it is often a fun one.
Customers frequently strike up conversations with one another; usually, discussions are prompted by one person inquiring over what another customer has ordered. It’s an excellent way to people watch and food watch; you can plan your next order by looking at what’s being eaten around you.
“What’s that you’re eating?”
This how I discovered the Sweet Potato Sandwich: sweet potato, avocado, green apple, sprouts, hummus & caramelized shallot vinaigrette between two pieces of toasted wheat. The girl I first saw eating it did so with impressive poise, but in reality, this sandwich is a delicious mess.
The sauce gets everywhere. The taste, however, is worth the chaos – the starchy sweetness of the sweet potato paired with the crisp sharpness of the green apple slices works so well I’m surprised you don’t find this combination more often.
What ultimately, I think, draws a crowd is the originality of Crema’s lunch creations. In addition to a standard drink selection (hot chocolate, an impressive selection of loose leaf teas, lattes, etc) Crema offers the Ginger Steamer (with fresh ginger broth and lemon and honey) and the Red Crema (Rooibos latte with honey and cinnamon).
The food is even better. Alongside the Sweet Potato Sandwich, Crema offers the Thai peanut sandwich: Spicy napa slaw, Thai peanut sauce, cucumber, fresh basil & crushed peanuts on a toasted baguette. More traditional sandwiches like Grilled Chicken, and Turkey are enlivened by a “zesty cotija cheese-corn spread,” and “jicama slaw” respectively. You may learn new words after ordering from this place, and they are all delicious.
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Crema Cafe Map & Directions
[pw_map address=”27 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA”]