(617) 492-4646 | View Website

143 1st St, Cambridge, MA | Directions   02142

42.366516 -71.078025

Open Hours

Sunday To Thursday From 05:00 PM To 10:00 PM Friday To Sunday From 03:00 PM To 11:00 PM

Restaurants, Afghan, Traditional American  more

More Cuisine: Middle Eastern, Vegetarian

Price: $$

Tags: Date Spot, Group Dining, Local Favorite, Romantic Dining

Payment Methods: American Express, Cash, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa

Neighborhoods: East Cambridge

Aushak, Mantwo, Bowlawni, Banjan, Kaddo, Aush, Mushawa, Shorwa, Shor Nakhod, Salata... more

Reviews for Helmand

Doesn't Recommend
over a year ago

Worst Lady manager and (apparently head waiter/host) – Few years ago, I had gone to Helmand without a reservation with my husband - it was very nice and food was very good.

This time I went with my husband and my toddler - I could not believe the arrogance, rudeness, and irritation with which they greeted us, as soon as they saw the stroller.

The RUDE, RUDE lady, who didn't even smile, first asked if we had reservations (we did not) and said we have to fold and put away the stroller. FINE.

Then, as I walked inside toward a table (thinking that they are going to give a table for three, and noting that it is 5PM and most tables are empty), they looked at me as if I committed a crime... and immediately, the lady host started walking toward me getting ready to say something and then, the (head?) waiter gestured to her - I could see him waving his hand behind his back) - indicating that "let me handle these people"....

Then, he showed us a tiny table for two - the worst possible space you can imagine if you have a toddler with you - next to the display case. There was no space to put the diaper bag and my bag down and I had to ask for an extra chair to put them on..The waiter asked me that I have to put away baby's diaper bag....he argued with me "you need your stuff here with you? [why?]).... I said, I have baby food in there and I have to feed the baby at some point...then he left me alone...

It was so crammed, when they served food, I had to put the bread basket on the display case.... mind it, we have toddler and we had to keep our plates away from him too...but, there was no space to push the plates or the cutlery... it was awful... they did nothing to welcome the baby... no crayon... nothing.... the RUDE lady walked by our table a couple of times and said how cute the baby is .... she was so fake, I felt like smacking her.....

And, they put extra salt in my food... at that point I was so annoyed, I didn't feel like arguing...

the only consolation was that our server was nice.. but, as I talked with him in hindi, the waiter who seated us, was giving me such nasty looks, as if he was suspecting I was saying something to make more trouble....

I went there all the way with a stroller, took the subway and walked for 15 mins to get to the restaurant early to meet with my husband there...just because my husband and I had such good memories from it before....and they treated us like animals...

There people who took over are insensitive, rude, arrogant.... I am not sure where and how and why the owners of this restaurant found these people to work for them....

WILL NOT RETURN and please do NOT go there with a baby....... the food is not worth it....

Doesn't Recommend
over a year ago

Extremely slow service combined with slow management – We used to come to Helmand once a week 5 years ago, until the old friendly, caring manager relocated to Baltimore.

I can not understand how this restaurant can get repeat business truly not caring about their customers.

And tonight we had a reservation and waited 90 minutes to get a table for 3.

Doesn't Recommend
over a year ago

Awful Service – Even though we had a reservation (as this restaurant requires since it's always packed) we got a lousy table and to make matters worse, the service was even lousier. When a friend of mine complained about the service (very politely of course) the hostess was so rude; she actually said: "people make reservations here weeks in advance, if you don't like it you can leave". No where have I witnessed such awful treatment and such cockiness! Last I checked, they weren't Nobu or the Ivy!

Doesn't Recommend
over a year ago

Decent food, BRUTAL service – Inside of 5 minutes after sitting down I knew the service was brutal. First, we're at a table of 10, and my girlfriend decides to tag along. She's already eaten, but wants to be with us. She'll order an appetizer and a drink. When it comes time for us to order an entree, she politely says that she's already eaten. The response from the waiter "Uhh... we're a FULL service restaurant." Frankly, I didn't know if they were offering to give her a little somethin' somethin' in the back room or what. I mean, I know what a "full service" massage parlor is, is that what they were suggesting. After she asked, it turns out that meant "you better order an entree". So we did. The one plus is that the food arrived WICKED FAST (wasn't that hot, but maybe that's just the style). The food was so-so overall.

Then, I head up to wash my hands in the bathroom. I head into the men's washroom where there's (literally) a toilet on the floor. I don't mean bolted to the floor, I mean cracked and sitting open on the floor. I step over it to get to the sink. I begin soaping my hands, when a woman (yes, this was a men's bathroom) enters and tells me that I need to use the women's bathroom (yes, I'm a man) on the OTHER side of the restaurant. Recall my hands are now covered in soap. So I walk across the restaurant, of course the women's bathroom is occupied. So I wait (yes, with soapy hands) until the bathroom is free. Of course, the lousy paper towels in the bathroom disintegrate in your hands because they're so cheap that I'm still picking white junk off my fingers by the time I'm back at the table.

The service only went from bad to worse, but I'm limited to 2000 characters here. In short: food so-so, service BRUTAL. Better luck elsewhere.

Doesn't Recommend
over a year ago

Avoid Group Dining – I organized a formal dinner at Helmand in Cambridge (for a group of 12), and called two weeks in advance for a reservation. I called again two days prior to confirm, and was told that I would be charged $100 if I brought fewer than 8 persons. I assured them that we'd be more than 8. In fact, the day of, I politely asked if they could please accommodate two more persons. The hostess and manager said no, without explanation. We asked the waiter as well, were told to wait 30 minutes, and did so. However, they still did not accommodate our group. The experience was embarrassing and I hope no customer with a large group ever experiences what I did last night. Two persons from our group excused themselves to make the situation less awkward. We were gracious, had dinner and tipped the server accordingly.

While I admit the food is good, my experience with the SERVICE there was really quite disappointing. I will never return to Helmand in Cambridge again.

Helmand has 14 fewer customers now. I lost my appetite when treated so rudely. What's the point of serving good food when the service leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth?

over a year ago

Not as scary as the reviews make it sound! – Friends had dinner party here and I was VERY put off by the reviews here, but honestly, it was a great dining experience. The service was FINE - quick, but not rushed, and very polite. The food was great, came out quickly, and the bread was spectacular. It has a parking lot and they give you passes to park, which was fabulous. Nice decor, good experience - maybe they've made changes since some of these reviews?

Doesn't Recommend
over a year ago

Great food, incredibly bad service. Last time I will go there.

We called for a reservation and were only offered one at 9:30pm. We arrived on time, were seated, and given menus. But we did not get to order anything until 9:55pm. No drinks, no bread, nothing. The food came out fast, but halfway through someone came over and asked if we were finished, and wanted to take the plates away. Water glasses were never refilled the entire evening. Later the waitress, who seemed extremely over-extended, told us that the kitchen closed at 10pm, so we couldn't have dessert or coffee. When we protested that it was the restaurant that offered a 9:30pm reservation, she grudgingly offered to see if there was any desserts, left, "if the cooks haven't locked the fridge already".

over a year ago

ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! – I was there last night (Monday) and the place was completely packed!

This was my third visit, and as always the food was absolutely delicious!

Our server was a great guy, who complemented all of our choices from the menu 

We didn?t feel rushed, we didn?t feel like we waited forever for our food ? the timing was just perfect. Overall, it was a great experience and I can?t wait to go back there!!!

The hostess however was pretty much useless, since she just pointed towards our table, and we had to wait for the waiter to bring us menus ?

over a year ago

Felt too rushed to enjoy. – I had dinner at Helmand last night and have to say I have never felt more rushed at a restaurant. There were 4 of us and we had a reservation, yet the service was so quick and inpersonal that they should condsider listing themselves as a Fast Food restaurant. The food was excellent but the speed with which we were given our courses (literally finishing appetizers as the waiter hovered with our main course) and check, having never been asked if we would like more drinks or coffee or even how the food was, was enough to give you indigestion. Great place to go if you are in a hurry!!!

over a year ago

Decent food and service – OK, I was really apprehensive about going to The Helmand at first because of the bad reviews about their service. But the opportunity of eating "Authentic Afghani Food" was too good to let go.

Food: The food was was pretty good. I had a lamb dish, which was very similar to an Indian curry dish. The lamb was perfectly cooked and the curry was a taste explosion. We also had the Bucklawa - a sweet stuffed pastry. I have eaten the Bucklawa before and I must say that The Helmand makes the best tasting one. The turkish coffee was awful- however, I am not a Turk and I don't know what it should taste like so I will leave that to someone who can make that judgement.

Service: The service was OK too. I had a reservation and I got a table on time. The hostess and the waitress were pleasant.

Ambience: This is where the Helmand loses points. The place itself is well kept, but the tables are way to close. I had to raise my voice to be heard across a table for two!! And this annoying guy next to us kept blabbering loudly throughout the dinner. Very unpleasant.

Parking: Lots of on-street parking available. We did not find a free spot though...even on a Wed. night.

Price: Slightly pricey. I would say about $30 per person.

Good for once in a while dining if you are looking for a change.

DEFINITELY make a reservation, even if it is on the same day.

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