When Joanne Chang first fell in love with Harvard Square, her mind was on complex equations, not on the sticky buns that are her calling card these days. She attended Harvard College, graduating with a degree in applied mathematics and economics, headed for a career as a management consultant.
As it turned out, consulting wasn’t in her future. Nevertheless, 25 years after graduating, Chang returned to Harvard Square to open a branch of her wildly popular Flour Bakery and Cafe in 2016. (She now has eight locations in and around Boston.) “For me, it’s very, very nostalgic, just walking around,” says the James Beard Award–winning pastry chef, who recently released her cookbook, Pastry Love: A Baker’s Journal of Favorite Recipes.
Here, Chef Chang take us on a tour around her favorite neighborhood to give us a local’s take on sights to see, where to shop, and, of course, the best spot to grab a great bite.
In Good Taste
“My all-time-favorite Boston restaurant, other than Myers and Chang [which Chang owns with husband Christopher Myers], is Cafe Sushi. The sushi is impeccable and reasonably priced. It’s not crazy rolls with weird ingredients; they’re traditional, with a little something unique.”
“Another of my favorite places is Benedetto, in the Charles Hotel. It used to be Rialto, where I was pastry chef, so I know the kitchen well. They do amazing pasta by hand. And the dessert is simple but really good: great ice cream, beautiful cakes, and beautiful tarts.”
Time to Browse
“Black Ink is a cool little knickknack and gift store, with books, mugs, cards, and stocking stuffers. It’s all unique, and they rotate their stock frequently.”
“Harvard Book Store is one of the few independent bookstores left. Everyone who works there is so nice. They’re very active in wanting to help you find the right book. I always go to the cookbook section, and in the front they have a nice selection of options recommended by the staff.”
Sights to See
“I love visiting Memorial Church, in the middle of Harvard Yard. It’s beautiful. And Sever Hall, to the right of Memorial Church, has an archway that’s fun, especially for younger kids. If you stand on either end of it, you can whisper, and the sound travels so you can hear it on the other side.”
“Walking down to the Charles River to watch the crew boats in the morning is a quintessential Cambridge experience. The river is also beautiful at sunset.”
“The ART [American Repertory Theater] is a gem. If you can get tickets to a show there, you definitely should.”
—By Jeanne O’Brien Coffey