Middle East Restaurant and Cafe US Map & Phone & Address

472 Massachusetts Ave Cambridge; (617) 354-8238

How does one begin to describe the vast, venerable Middle East? It’s a bit of a Moroccan pleasure palace in the heart of Central Square, sprawling around a busy comer, offering delicious food and adventurous music in various chambers. The main restaurant, a few doors down from the corner of Brookline Street, has the charm of Casablanca large plants everywhere, intimate booths and tables. And, non-smokers be warned: The air is heavy with people enjoying the freedom that is Cambridge.

Connected, by a hallway to the music lounge, is another dining room known as the bakery (with its own door on Mass. Ave.). You can indeed nibble a piece of homemade baklava and sip herbal tea; but the same full menu is available here as in the other room There is also an extensive list of international beers, including An- chor Steam, Pilsner Urquell, Xingu, and New Castle Brown Ale.

The food itself is terrific, elaborate preparations of smooth stews, kebabs, and exotic bean dishes. Mine loved the msa’ah ($7.75), a hefty serving of baked eggplant, sauteed onions, tomatoes, and chick peas, served over rice pilaf. Charcoal-grilled kebab entrees, all priced from $8.75 to $9.75, include scallop, swordfish, and shrimp skewers along with the standard beef, lamb, and chicken.

Lunch is an even better bargain at the Middle East, with entrees ranging from $3.50 to $5.75, and generous portions. There are exotic salads and homemade soups as well. Live music is offered nightly, some with no cover charge; see the listing under Entertainment Music for details. Kitchen hours are 11 a m. to 1 a m. seven days.

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