The Border Cafe in Cambridge is an odd combination of Tex-Mex and Cajun food that is an extremely popular restaurant in the heart of Harvard Square. My first visit was around 2002, and since then I have been craving a return.
This restaurant occupies and older corner building with worn wooden floors and door frames. Inside there is a bar, but after 6pm it is usually packed with people waiting for a table. Meals start with fresh chips and salsa, and if you are smart, you'll get one of their great margaritas. The Tex-Mex side of the menu has all of the usual Mexican dishes like quesadillas, tostadas, fajitas, enchiladas, tacos, and more at great prices that range from $6 for beef or chicken tacos to $14 for their best steak fajitas. The Cajun side of the menu is unique for the Boston area, and it offers catfish, shrimp, chicken, steaks, etouffee, and a few hamburger options. Cajun prices are slightly higher, bu all meals are still reasonable at $10 to $17.
The Border Cafe is a small chain with locations in Massachusetts (Cambridge, Saugus, and Burlington), New Jersey (Fairfield and Woodbridge), and Delaware (Christiana). The Harvard Square location is the original restaurant that started this chain back in 1987.
Without a doubt, the Border Cafe in Harvard Square, Cambridge is a perennial favorite. I've been coming here for 15 years now and though the restaurant has had its ups and downs, the combination of food and atmosphere keeps us coming back.
Where else can you get a such a delicious meal for under 10 bucks?? The food is priced for the student crowd but you'll find plenty of old-timers like me there too. It's always crowded, but if it wasn't, it wouldn't be good, would it? You will probably have to wait in line outside in order to wait in the bar for a table (they don't take reservations), but it's worth it. The margaritas are quite nice too!
Favorite Dish: I always get the Chicken Guadelajara. Chicken breast stuffed with chorizo sausage and smothered in melted cheese. And it comes with a great rice dish and the most heavenly biscuit in the world!
Gone but not forgotten is the Mexico City Ravioli which was ravioli stuffed with spicy chorizo and had a lip smacking spicy cream sauce with sweet red peppers. Don't know why they got rid of it, it was so delicious!
I've taken friends to the Border Cafe a few times for lunch & it's always pleasant. Service is friendly, it's not crowded, and the chips & salsa are pretty good. They serve sodas in HUMUNGOUS cups with free refills. Lunch menu is the same as the dinner menu, so it's not super cheap, but it's good. Most of the meals are quite large, so 2 people could share.
Favorite Dish: Both the catfish tacos and the blackened salmon salad are excellent.