In 1960, Joe and Joan Bartley took over the Harvard Spa, a small convenience store facing Harvard Yard. The plan was simple: perfect the hamburger, the quintessential American sandwich. For years, a small grill accompanied greeting cards and paper goods. As word travelled, the menu took off, and Mr. and Mrs. Bartley’s Burger Cottage became the Harvard Square institution of today.
A perennial recipient of “Best of Boston” awards from The Boston Globe, The Improper Bostonian, and Boston Magazine, the food has been praised by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Esquire, and The Food Network. The laundry list of celebrity customers and fans includes Johnny Cash, Jaqueline Onasis, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Bill Belichick, Al Pacino, Adam Sandler, Tom Werner, and Katie Couric.
Three generations of the Bartley family have been serving perfect hamburgers for over 48 years. Customers line up down the block each day at lunch for a coveted seat, devouring our homemade burgers, onion rings, sweet potato fries, frappes, and lime rickeys. We serve the freshest beef imaginable and cook it perfectly to order. No one can compete with us in volume of hamburger prepared, so we’re able to be incredibly demanding of our suppliers. Our perfect onion rings are battered and fried to order.
Bartley’s has a fast-paced, wacky atmosphere. Our dining room looks like a dorm room, filled with posters, bumper stickers, and funny signs. In the summer months, a small outdoor café gives diners the chance to people-watch in the sun. Future husbands and wives have met across our signature central table for single diners.
In a time when burger chains frantically try to expand across the country and world with frozen beef and uniform spaces, Bartley’s has a simple aim: one perfect restaurant. After 50 years of honing their menu and ingredients, The Bartley Family has the ability and experience to consistently offer quality the chains simply cannot. Bartley’s didn’t invent the hamburger. We just perfected it.