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Dominican Restaurant Las Palmas Puts Down New Roots in Former Jefe’s Location

Dominican restaurant Las Palmas has put down new roots in Harvard Square, moving into the former home of El Jefe's.
Dominican restaurant Las Palmas has put down new roots in Harvard Square, moving into the former home of El Jefe's. By Sarah G. Erickson
By Caroline K. Hsu and Sidney K. Lee, Crimson Staff Writers

Las Palmas, a restaurant serving up dishes inspired by the Dominican Republic, relocated this summer to a new space just one block away from its former home in Smith Campus Center.

Now located at 83 Mount Auburn St. — the former location of El Jefe’s Taqueria — the revamped location features a more spacious dining area for customers and a larger cooking space.

“People can come in, they can sit down, we can cook everything on site — and we can offer a bigger menu,” said Seila J. Green, the owner of Las Palmas.

The Cambridge location is the second for the chain, which also opened up in Roslindale, Massachusetts. Plans to move into a bigger space emerged last year in an attempt to become “more visible” and “expand” the Las Palmas brand, according to Green.

Green said Las Palmas is deeply committed to serving authentic food. The restaurant is “totally inspired by the Dominican Republic. No question about it,” she said.

Gabriela M. Vasquez Rosado ’26, a Dominican student, said she found the food reminded her of home.

“As a Dominican student on campus, getting homesick and stuff like that, it feels really nice to be able to go there and have food that is authentic to my culture,” she said, recalling finding solace in the restaurant when homesickness crept in last semester.

Maia Patel-Masini ’25 said Las Palmas “did the seasoning so well.” Las Palmas also serves Malta, a drink popular throughout the Caribbean, which Masini said she has “never seen a store sell,” except for in the international aisles of some supermarkets.

“We emphasize on bringing original flavors from the Dominican Republic,” Green said. “It’s a combination of a lot of flavors together. And they’re all originals.”

The new location boasts a “lively” atmosphere, with vivid greenery, neon lights, and a “homey” feel — a stark contrast from its previous incarnation at Smith. Green invited students to “just bring your laptop, eat some great food, and sit there.”

Las Palmas was previously housed in the Smith Campus Center prior to its recent relocation.
Las Palmas was previously housed in the Smith Campus Center prior to its recent relocation. By Angela Dela Cruz

Masini praised the “cute little setup” of Las Palmas, pointing to its hanging vines and prominent flag of the Dominican Republic.

“I love how it just feels kind of fresh in there,” she said.

Masini said she had “never seen anyone go” to the Smith location, so she was “really happy” when she saw Las Palmas open up in its new space.

Green emphasized Las Palmas’ dedication to expansion and cultural outreach within the Boston area.

“We are expanding and getting people to know our cuisine and our culture,” Green said. “I’m bringing all the flavors together so people can learn more about us.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Las Palmas provided “thousands of meals” to frontline health care workers and families in the Greater Boston area, according to its website. They served doctors who worked in hospitals, ensuring they received adequate meals during the crisis.

Though Las Palmas has not yet had a grand opening celebration, Green said staff are working toward hosting future opening festivities.

“The students are back so we’ve been very busy, luckily,” Green said. “This upcoming month should be busy as well.”

—Staff writer Caroline K. Hsu can be reached at caroline.hsu@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @CarolineHsu_.

—Staff writer Sidney K. Lee can be reached at sidney.lee@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @sidneyklee.

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