“The Departed” is a semi-regular feature in which we eulogize long-closed, yet still-missed, restaurants of Boston.
When we were small, a trip to Harvard Square always meant a trip to the Tasty Sandwich Shop, a Cambridge institution on the corner of JFK & Eliot Streets that had been open since 1916. With only 16 seats, the Tasty was more of a lunch counter than a restaurant, but we never saw less than 40 people in there at any given time. Harvard professors stood elbow to elbow with the punk kids that hung out in the Pit. Old men playing chess on the tables in front of the Au Bon Pain would come in to grab a sandwich to go, bumping into Cambridge families as they left. The food was basic as all get out, but it was always delicious. As we got older and started venturing into Harvard Square with friends and without parents, we’d inevitably eat at the Tasty, since it was all we could afford with our meager allowance. One day in 1997, we headed for the Tasty on a rainy day, ready for a good hot dog and some fountain Coke, and it was all boarded up. A few months later, an Abercrombie and Fitch opened up in the same spot. That pretty much says it all, eh?
The Tasty is immortalized in both “Love Story” and “Good Will Hunting”, but the building that once held the Tasty is now a branch of Citizens Bank. We’re still a little sad every time we walk by there. Although we now have enough money to at least get a sandwich from Cardullo’s, sometimes, we really just want a tuna melt. Furthermore, we’re still bitter that we never bought one of those t-shirts that showed the Harvard insignia with “Very-Tasty” replacing “Veritas”. At least Bartley’s Burger Cottage and Hong Kong are still around to remind us of the old Harvard Square.
[Photo: Andy Lee’s Homepage]