Boston's Hidden Restaurants

Joe Sent Me

2388 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140
(617) 492-1116 Find location!

Photo of Joe Sent Me, Cambridge, MA Drinking spots that model themselves after speakeasies (Prohibition-era bars that illegally sold alcohol in the 1920s and early 1930s) are often some of the coziest and most charming places to get a bite to eat and a drink. One such establishment locally is Lucky's Lounge, a wonderful little basement spot in Boston's Fort Point neighborhood that has little in the way of signage in keeping with the speakeasy theme. Another such bar can be found across the river in Cambridge, and while Joe Sent Me definitely isn't as physically "hidden" as Lucky's, it is also a place that is filled with character--and serves food that is quite a bit better than what you might find at other neighborhood joints.

For those who don't know, the term "Joe Sent Me" was a password used in order to get into speakeasies back in the day, and Joe Sent Me in Cambridge certainly has that kind of Prohibition-era feel, with a dark interior, lots of exposed brick, a pressed tin ceiling, and a black-and-white tile floor. The left side of the space is dominated by a long bar, with a relatively spacious dining area in front to the right. More seating can be found in a hallway area leading from the front dining room, with a more private-feeling dining area at the end of the hall in the back. The jukebox and bar (which is only slightly partitioned off from the dining area) can make the place rather loud on busy nights, though the noise level is typically not too bad. During the warmer months, a tiny outdoor area out front has a few tables set up along the sidewalk on Mass. Ave.

Joe Sent Me features a menu full of pub grub and comfort food, with a few twists here and there. A few of the highlights include outstanding handcut fries, similarly good sweet potato fries, fried pickles with a bit of a kick from being marinated in jalapeno juice, some of the best wings in all of Cambridge (and they can be ordered with a white-hot "diablo" sauce or as BBQ wings), tenders coated with an excellent buffalo sauce, cheeseburger sliders that aren't dried out like they so often are at some other bars, char-grilled burgers that use high-quality Angus beef and have more than 10 different options for toppings, and a signature fish and chips plate with tender fish and not much grease (they are lightly fried). Among the sandwiches at Joe Sent Me is a marvelous option called Joe Montana's West Coast Wrap, which is stuffed with the aforementioned turkey tips and combined with bacon, spinach, mushrooms, and a creamy guacamole. Beer, wine, and liquor are available here, with the beer selection including a few craft brews.

A hidden gem of sorts, Joe Sent Me resides in a mini "restaurant row" in North Cambridge that includes several terrific little-known dining spots. And even though it seems a bit out of the way to folks who travel by the T, the Davis Square subway stop is actually only a short walk from the place, and a bus stop is extremely close by. (Parking is also pretty easy in this part of the city.) If you like speakeasy-style spots such as Lucky's Lounge, you'll probably love Joe Sent Me, as it has the true feel of a "secret" bar without being overly secret. [Ed note: A location of Joe Sent Me can also be found on Main Street in Waltham.]