There are three main reasons to check out Cambridge Common, a restaurant and bar sitting between Porter Square and Harvard Square on Mass. Ave: a fantastic beer selection, addictive tater tots, and an intimate live music venue.
The beer: With 31 beers on tap, 16 of which are constantly rotating, you’d have to be pretty picky to not find one you’ll like. There’s always at least one organic option, and plenty of local microbrews get featured. For the permanent selections, Cambridge Common has the basics (Guinness, Miller Lite, Harpoon IPA) as well as the somewhat more exciting (Victory Golden Monkey, Berkshire Coffeehouse Porter, Ommegang BPA). On a recent visit, the rotating tap included selections like Pretty Things Jack D’Or, Rogue Double Dead Guy, and Mayflower Summer Rye. You’re not going to find a book-sized beer menu here like at Brookline’s Publick House or Allston’s Sunset Grill & Tap, but the selection is strong and reasonably priced. Indecisive? Try the staff’s daily picks in a sampler of four small pours, or create your own sampler.
The tots: Almost every time I visit Cambridge Common, it’s precipitated by an intense tater tot craving. “Oh yeah – just like you remember them,” says the menu. These are the tots that graced your school lunch tray every day for twelve years. The only difference is that Cambridge Common’s version is consistently awesome. None of that soggy stuff you’d sometimes end up with at school. $4.95 gets you a basketful. Go ahead, order seconds. I won’t judge. (You might want to save room for sweet potato fries or curly fries, though. Bottom line: Cambridge Common does potatoes really, really well. Starch- alicious.) As for the rest of the food, it’s solid pub fare – nothing innovative, but pretty tasty, especially when you’re washing it down with beer. Stick with the sandwiches and burgers, which are a bit better than the other entrees.
The music: The Lizard Lounge is Cambridge Common’s basement music venue. Small and cozy and draped all in red, it feels like your especially awesome hippie friend’s living room. The Lizard Lounge brings in excellent bands from near and far, and – great news! – the food is available down there as well. Snag a table – they’re all very close to the musicians, because the space is tiny – and enjoy the show. Preferably with a basket of tots and a big glass of beer.
1667 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
Hours: Mon – Wed 11:30 am – 1 am; Thu – Sat 11:30 am-2 am; Sun 10:30 am-2 am
Rachel Leah Blumenthal is a Somerville-based writer, photographer, and musician. She writes about food on her blog, Fork it over, Boston!, and runs Boston Food Bloggers, a networking community. For more information, visit RachelBlumenthal.net.