My Harvard College Five-Year reunion was this past summer. I didn’t get to go because I had a summer seminar to attend. As I toiled away at an assignment, I thought back to times at college when my friends and I would take a break from papers and problem sets to get frozen yogurt, ice cream, pie, or pretty much anything with sugar. I mentally mapped out where my friends and I would go during our five-year reunion, and what I would get once there. I can’t help it; I plan everything around food. Odds are that I wouldn’t end up getting to each place listed here in the span of one weekend, but I’m going to list everything here anyway so that you might be able to benefit from the delightfully sweet offerings of the Harvard Square area.
- Berryline (1668 Massachusetts Avenue)
Two words: housemade mochi. For those unfamiliar with mochi, it’s a sweet and sticky rice-based cake that goes perfectly with frozen desserts. At times, it reminds me of a classy marshmallow. If you get mochi at Pinkberry or another frozen yogurt chain, it’ll be on the sweeter side and might have a slightly tough texture depending on how long it’s been out. But Berryline’s housemade mochi is less sweet and more pillowy soft, mostly on account of high turnover (i.e. everyone wants mochi on their frozen yogurt). And this is the tart sort of frozen yogurt; not that “frozen dairy product that thinks it’s ice cream but really it has an identity crisis” froyo. Their flavors rotate often, but sometimes you get lucky and they have their Nutella flavor. My go-to when Nutella isn’t available is a plain yogurt with berries, mochi, and chocolate chips.
*Note: Berryline has a location closer to Harvard Square (3 Arrow Street), but it is not wheelchair-accessible.
2. Petsi Pies (285 Beacon Street, Somerville, MA)
Unfortunately, the Petsi Pies location on Putnam Street (a short trek from Harvard Square) recently closed, so I’ve listed its Somerville location instead. If you love fruit pies, then the journey to Somerville absolutely will be worth it. Petsi’s mixed berry pie is my favorite, but their cherry pie is also a delight. I will always advocate eating fruit pies for breakfast, because you’re eating fruit and you’ve got all day to burn off the pie anyway (note: this is not legit nutrition advice, please don’t take my pie-for-breakfast suggestion at face value).
3. L.A. Burdick Chocolates (52 Brattle Street)
Wait, but isn’t there a Burdick in NYC? Why am I mentioning this location? Well, back when I was a college student, there was no Burdick in NYC, and so I was introduced to the magnificence of Burdick hot chocolate on a fall day in 2010. Since then, I’ve gone back for their pumpkin latte (the only pumpkin latte I have had thus far that has real pumpkin in it), caramel latte (which is just the right amount of sweet), chai lattes, nearly every pastry in their display case (the chocolate mousse cake is my favorite), and so many earl grey chocolate bon bons. So many. Heck, I love Burdick so much that I ordered wedding favors from them for Kim’s wedding.
4. J.P. Licks (1312 Massachusetts Avenue)
Every Brooklyn native is familiar with the Carvel Ice Cream cake and the crunchies that separate the layers of ice cream. J.P. Licks makes the closest comparison I can find to the Carvel ice cream cake. But if you’re not in the mood for an entire ice cream cake, go for any ice cream flavor that contains cookies. My go-to is always a scoop of Cookies ‘n’ Cream, and when I’m feeling like I can handle another scoop, I add a scoop of Coffee Cookies ‘n’ Cream. What can I say? I love cookies.
5. Lizzy’s Homemade Ice Cream (29 Church Street)
Some will say that you either prefer J.P. Licks or Lizzy’s, and can’t list both. But Lizzy’s wins when it comes to hot fudge sauce. Seriously, get that hot fudge sauce on any scoop you want.
6. Honeycomb Creamery (1702 Massachusetts Avenue)
This is a bit of a cheat, because this opened after I graduated college, but it was around when I went back to Harvard for Ed School. Their flavors rotate, so some of the flavors I tried when I was there might not have been available during the reunion. I believe their Honey Lavender flavor is a mainstay, and I adore lavender, so I might be a bit biased when I say it was amazing. They have an option (pictured) where you can get four scoops and four waffle wedges. It’s great to share, or to test your ice cream fortitude.
7. Flour Bakery (114 Mt. Auburn Street)
This is another sort of cheat, because Flour didn’t open a Harvard Square location until after I graduated college (they’re everywhere in Boston), but I went here once a week while at Ed School. They’re most well-known for their sticky buns, but I’m a much bigger fan of their brown butter cinnamon roll. Although, if we’re being real here, you cannot go wrong with any of their breakfast pastries. And if it’s not time for breakfast, then their chocolate cream pie is the stuff of dreams. Their sandwiches are also great, and will provide an excellent buffer in between your breakfast pie and your post-lunch pie. Hey, reunion’s only one weekend long! I need to fit as much pie into my imaginary schedule as possible!
If you lived in the Cambridge area at any point, you might note a few glaring omissions. Finale, for starters, had a menu full of boozy hot chocolate. Crema Café had in-house baked goods and a perfectly balanced milky hot chocolate. Note that I say “had,” because both places have, sadly, gone out of business since the time I graduated. That the rent in Harvard Square is climbing at a ridiculous rate is the only explanation I can offer.
I’ve also left out Mike’s Pastry. A location recently opened up across the street from Harvard Yard, and from what I hear it gets plenty of traffic. Why didn’t it make the cut here? Well, I’m more of a Modern Pastry gal when it comes to my cannoli (sorry, half of Boston). If you do find yourself at Mike’s, go for the oversized rainbow cookie.
And as a final note on omissions, I use a wheelchair. If I cannot physically enter an establishment, then I cannot give an opinion on the treats that establishment sells. Honeycomb Creamery, unfortunately, has a rather large step to enter. If you use a fully-motorized chair, I’d park outside Honeycomb, yell at them for not having a ramp (unless they’ve gotten one in the past couple of years), and then drive down Massachusetts Avenue a few blocks until you get to Berryline.
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