It’s possible, and it’s easy, if you decide in advance what you want and plan to do, and choose the best options realizing that it’s a narrow range.
In Harvard Square, for example, last night we started at Park, which is a first rate bar that sells food, too. The crowd is a mix of races, genders, ages, and draws from schools, neighborhoods, and visitors. Your best bet here is to sit at the bar and order an old Raj gin martini. That brand goes for about $49 a bottle, but here a healthy pour is $14, which is a great deal. Skip the food. Skip the glasses by the wine, which are no less than $9 a glass and from producers you wouldn’t care about otherwise.
Dinner in Harvard Square ranges from upscale and stodgy; upscale and misguided Italian; upscale and bad Italian; a couple of places that sell paws and innards with so many ingredients you just know that a celebrity runs the kitchen; and, a full range of burger and pizza places. It’s like having your parents visit at college or eating in a dorm.
The one stand out is Night Market. This is a terrific, pan-Asian restaurant in a cellar on a side street, and you might as well be in a great izakaya or pub in Bangkok or Tokyo or Kyoto. We’re talking a cool room, great service, and delicious, small plates of grilled lamb and cumin meatballs, mushroom gyoza, dan-dan noodles, and rice with ground pork.