Fans call East Cambridge the city’s last best-kept secret. Yes, it’s home to Kendall Square, not exactly a hidden destination, but there’s growth along the outlying blocks of Cambridge Street, too. Meanwhile, the once quiet NorthPoint section is home to new construction and parkland.
Pardis Saffari, 37, is an economic development specialist for the City of Cambridge, so she knows its neighborhoods inside and out. The Boston native chose to settle in East Cambridge when buying her first condo seven years ago after scouring Cambridge and parts of Somerville.
“I moved here because I felt it was an area with a lot of diversity, with lifetime residents as well as newcomers. We have a lot of MIT students but also people who have lived in the neighborhood for decades. Plus, there’s proximity to Kendall Square, and more and more activity along Cambridge Street,’’ she said. “I knew it was still a growing neighborhood.’’
Saffari is a regular at restaurants like the new and busy Lone Star Taco Bar (an offshoot of the forever jammed Allston original) and Loyal Nine, a coffee shop and restaurant with a pup-friendly patio that focuses on Colonial-era dishes. She also enjoys visiting the neighborhood’s Multicultural Arts Center, “one of the secret gems of East Cambridge,’’ she said.
Meanwhile, she favors North Point Park for al fresco pursuits. It’s home to playgrounds, a skate park, and movie nights that attract young families. There’s also glitzy construction, like the luxury Twenty|20 residential tower.
But humble businesses still remain, including many smaller Portuguese restaurants and longtime specialty food stores along Cambridge Street.
“That’s the great thing,’’ she said. “I might hang out at Lone Star or Loyal Nine, but we also have fishmongers, like New Deal and Courthouse for seafood, or Mayflower Poultry. East Cambridge has that real old-school, new-school vibe.’’
Pardis Saffari of Cambridge
The population of East Cambridge
The price of crispy steel-cut oats, an unusual pan-fried dinner delicacy at Loyal Nine
The area’s bike score as rated by WalkScore.com. The walk score is 90.
The number of anchovies in New Deal Fish Market’s anchovy mayonnaise
Year that Cambridge Street’s Mayflower Poultry — known for its iconic “Live Poultry Fresh Killed’’ sign — opened
The area is blocks from the Kendall and Lechmere T stops, with almost immediate access into Boston via Route 28.
Not much indie shopping
While the area is home to the CambridgeSide Galleria, there aren’t many local retailers that specialize in gifts, clothes, or kids items.
North Point Park
This peaceful enclave with city and Zakim Bridge views is home to a playground and a skate park, and it’s popular with dog-walkers and picnicking pals.
Kara Baskin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.