10 Eliot Street (Harvard Square)
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 492 9646
Click here to go Inside Charlie’s Kitchen.
Charlie’s Kitchen is as close as you are going to get to a dive bar in Harvard Square. It’s genuinely dive-y, especially in comparison to the row of more expensive pubs and restaurant/bars directly behind it.
With $4 dollar drafts, a standard menu containing everyone’s late night/drunken favorites, Charlie’s is a decently priced place to meet for late restaurant cooking staples. The main draw, however, is that unlike most of the other bars clustered around it, food is served until 2AM. Which means that if you’re hungry after midnight, Charlie’s is your only real option in the area where you can get food with your alcohol (and sometimes, let’s be honest, this is the most important thing). It’s surprising to me how few places serve food late, but from extended personal experience I can tell you that if you are looking for food after midnight, the pickings in Harvard Square are slim. Felipe’s serves great Mexican food until 2AM, and Pinocchio’s Pizza offers heaping, gooey cheesy slices until 1AM on weeknights, and 2:30AM on weekends. But that’s about it, unless you want to spring for dry and shriveled hot dog from 7-Eleven that’s been rotating for 48 hours, minimum. A lot of the other waitstaff who work at restaurants near the square congregate at Charlie’s for food and drink after they get off their shifts, so even on weekdays the place has a nice crowd.
The decor is what you’d expect – dark, partially lit by neon signs advertising various beers. When you enter, there is a long bar to the right outfitted with old-school diner chairs, and to the left a row of booths – comfortable although, if you have a large party, it’s a squeeze.. The food is bar food, and it’s good for what it is, especially if you factor in the price ($4 will get you a grilled cheese and fries, $5.25 a double cheeseburger). The waffle fries are delicious, although I’d personally stay away from the pulled-pork sandwich – too much sauce, and a general road-kill aesthetic. Stick to wings and burgers and mozzarella sticks – the less ambitious the option, the better it will probably be.
In the warmer months, Charlie’s opens their back patio, and it’s becomes a rather perfect place for a late Cambridge lunch. It’s green, and sunny and the food and drinks are still cheap, a good combination.