Ask anyone who has the best burgers in Harvard Square and I guarantee you'll get different answers. It's a contentious topic, with different groups swearing by different burger places.The most famous and historic burger is probably Mr. Bartley's, a family-owned burger place that has been open for over fifty years. In the summer, there always seems to be a line out the door. Many locals swear by Flat Patties, while other obsess about Shake Shack.There are also several restaurants that serve pretty great burgers, like Alden & Harlow, whose burger made it into CNN's list of "10 Burgers you must eat this year", Russell House Tavern, who uses an English muffin bun, and many, many more.
Tasty Burger, a local favorite who first opened in the Fenway area, opened its first non-Boston restaurant in Harvard Square about two years ago. We'd heard some good things, but I still had never tried it. One recent Saturday, when Bryan said "I feel like a burger," I chose to try Tasty Burger partly because I'd never had it before.
Tasty Burger in Harvard pays homage to a storied restaurant in Harvard's past with a similar name, "The Tasty". The Tasty was a beloved local sandwich shop that was open from 1916 to 1997. One of Tasty Burger's co-owners David DuBois grew up in Cambridge and has fond memories of The Tasty from his childhood. A black and white photo of the original diner hangs inside the restaurant.
The burgers at Tasty Burger are very reasonably priced ($5.75 for most burgers) and a great value for the quality. The beef is Certified Humane® (a certification given by the non-profit organization Humane Farm Animal Care). The steer are grass fed and finished on a grass and grain diet.
The menu includes your basic burgers ($4.25 to $5.85) as well as a selection of more interesting burgers ($5.75), such as The Spicy Jalapeno (spicy cheese sauce, roasted jalapeno), Blue Collar (batter fried patty, sweet & spicy mustard pickle), and Rise and Shine Burger (cheese, fried egg, bacon, and ketchup).
Founded at Fenway, it's no surprise that these burgers are the official burger of the Boston Red Sox.
I ordered the simple Hamburger ($4.25), which comes with lettuce and tomatoes. The meat was only ⅓ pound, which I found to be a very manageable size. I really enjoyed my burger! The beef was flavorful and juicy, while all the other ingredients were fresh. For $4.25, it was an excellent value.
Bryan got the Mushroom Burger, which had sauteed mushrooms, cheese, and Tasty 17 Steak Sauce. He also thought his burger was very satisfying, and totally hit the spot.
We both really liked the fries and the onion rings. A side of 50/50 Fries and Rings only costs $4 and is a HUGE portion. We really didn't expect the box to be that big. The onions rings were pretty thin and very crispy. The fries reminded me of McDonald's fries, but had a bit more structure. They were both really good.
Tasty Burger also has a liquor license, and offers a selection of 30-40 canned beers and 6-8 draft beers, as well as some wines.
We ventured down to the basement just for a peek. The basement has a bar, table service, and a lot more seating. Their sign says that there is live music, trivia, and free pool down here.
This downstairs area definitely makes Tasty Burger a bit different from most other casual burger joints.
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed my burger at Tasty Burger. It sort of reminds me of other casual places that make good burgers, like Five Guys, Shake Shack, or In and Out. We regularly frequent all of the above burger places, so I don't see why we wouldn't start adding Tasty Burger to our rotation. After all, it's only a 10 minute walk from our home!
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