A real Square meal
On the Cheap by Arto Payaslian
It's a Tuesday and you're at work, sitting in front of your computer trying to
look busy. All of a sudden, you think steak and cheese -- you decide to
eat lunch at Leo's Place, in Harvard Square, and all is right with the world.
The narrow but comfy diner at 35 JFK Street has existed in some form for more
than 25 years, and is as much a part of Square culture as the Hong Kong, the
ART, or the Brattle. Leo's has even enjoyed a little fame bubble recently:
after Ben Affleck named the cheeseburgers here his favorite, Channel 4
News showed up to film a segment.
But Leo's isn't just about cheeseburgers. Everything is homemade:
chicken-noodle soup ($1.90 for a cup), shrimp stir-fry ($6.45), lasagna
($5.50), rice pudding ($1.25). "We grew up with a lot of folks around here,"
says chef Richie Bezjian, who is co-owner with his brother, Raffi. "I reached a
point where I realized I could create dishes other than a basic cheeseburger
plate." Richie now serves his own recipes, like butternut-squash soup, spicy
stir-fry, and all kinds of omelets.
"There you go," Richie says as he drops your steak-and-cheese plate in front
of you. The steak is choice fresh beef: not frozen, not fatty, not gray. You
start with the salad to get the vegetables out of the way. As you finish your
meal and think about leaving, Raffi makes a fresh pot of coffee and puts on a
funk CD. So you'll be a little late getting back to work. You were just
pretending to be busy anyway.
Leo's Place, located at 35 JFK Street, in Cambridge, is open weekdays from
6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and on weekends from 6:30 a.m. to
6 p.m. Call (617) 354-9192.
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