The "Lunch in Harvard Square" Blog - Restaurant Reviews

Since starting to work in the Square in mid-August, I'm trying to eat lunch at a new restaurant every day until I can't find any more. Here's my list of the Top Ten Lunch Restaurants in Harvard Square (Food Only). Got a suggestion on a new lunch spot for me? New Restaurants to Try in Harvard Square.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Harvard Coop Cafe

23. 9-20 Harvard Coop Cafe. Summary: It's a cafeteria in the middle of a general merchandise/bookstore that takes full advantage of its proximity and its name. In other words, the environment around the cafe is much more important than the cafe itself. Food was nothing special, surroundings were unique.

The Coop (pronounced "coop" as in chicken) has been around forever. It holds a near monopoly on textbook sales to Harvard students, despite the intrusion of the Internet and used textbook sites; to combat this, professors update their books each year and force students to buy them new. Otherwise the Coop sells school supplies, some clothing, lots of posters, and general interest books. And, it has a cafe on the mezzanine level, past all the images on the wall of famous Harvard graduates ("Where is JFK?" a man asked the cashier as I walked past), past the seals of the various Harvard graduate schools. It's kind of like entering a Hollywood version of Harvard - lots of dark wood, tons of books, lots of history staring at you. I'm sure it's kind of fun for tourists.

As for the cafe, it's very simple. Muffins, sweets, drinks, coffees, teas, and some lunch stuff. I had their special, which changes daily: pasta with tomato/meat sauce, garlic bread, small salad, for $6.95. One woman working, no line. She scooped out pre-cooked pasta into a sieve, poured hot water over it, then ladled sauce from a crockpot on the pasta. Salad dressing in single serve, tear-at-the-top container. Kind of like how I would expect airplane food to be prepared and served. Reasonable price, and you don't get more than you pay for.


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