I’ve been meaning to put this together for a while, but I needed to wait until I really got to figure out eating in Boston. Like my beloved Montreal List, I’ll continually add to it when I find something great. I’ll start with my favourite cheap eats, and then move on to the pricier options that are well worth it.
(Every list of Boston cheap eats that I’ve come across elsewhere includes items like a hot pretzel with mustard for $7 as a cheap eat and I will not allow this absolute treason to continue any longer. I’m talking about full meals for under $15, ok? GOOD.)
Here’s where you can and should eat in Boston, for under $15.
Charlie’s Pizza, Allston. This place is completely unassuming- you’d walk right past it and not know that you’d be missing out on a Truly Important Pizza Experience. Charlie’s is perfect. Ordered by the slice, the pizza is somehow even better than when ordering a whole pie, but even the whole pies are the Platonic Ideal of an American cheese pizza. The thin crust flops under the weight of the tomato sauce and the piled-on, stretchy cheese, and it has a crust that’s perfectly poofy and delicious with ranch dressing. Also I love the people who work there.
S & I Thai, Allston. This tiny little Thai place is right on Brighton Ave, and has one of the best value dinner deals I’ve ever seen- choice of soup, choice of appetizer, and a huge portion of noodles with choice of meat for a total of ~$8.95. It’s really delicious and comes out fast. You can eat at one of their five small tables or take it to go. The food is perfectly seasoned, and it’s not greasy like many other takeout places. Be warned that when they say spicy, they mean spicy. Get a mango juice to quench the burning.
Cafe Rustica, Somerville. Cafe Rustica is the perfect European-style lunch place. Their espresso is fantastic, and they serve some of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. Try the salami-capicollo-provolone one, all dressed, or the equally wonderful fresh mozzarella-tomato-pesto one. The sandwiches come on fresh baguette, but you can opt to have them on focaccia instead, which I do on occasion. The ingredients are so fresh and flavorful and it’s just a dream. Their cookies are great too, and the men who run the place are awesome.
Dumpling House, Cambridge. This place is POPULAR- it’s always packed and I totally understand why. I’ve been there in a group of 3 and in a group of 10, and either way, the food is fast and just incredible. The pork mini soup dumplings are one of my favourites, as are the steamed pork and leek or cabbage dumplings, which are just as good fried. The scallion pancake makes a great side dish if you don’t want to eat exclusively dumplings, and it’s also got a huge menu full of other Chinese dishes- noodles, meats, seafood, veggies- but since dumplings are one of my favourite foods in the world, that’s what I like to stick to.
Union Square Donuts, Everywhere. The vietnamese coffee donut that I tried while at the Boston Public Market’s location of Union Square Donuts was a religious experience and honestly I’m not even going to try to describe it, just go get one. I didn’t take a picture because I basically blacked out while eating it.
Monica’s, North End. This little store sells all the best Italian goods- cured meats, cheeses, fresh pasta- but it fills up at lunchtime because of their positively STACKED Italian subs. Just look at them!
The Hot Dog Stand Outside Macy’s, Downtown. I am an avid fan of street meat and Boston does it very well. They have sauteed onions and peppers which is a nice touch, and several types of sauces beyond yellow mustard and ketchup. As someone who loves a hot dog with dijon, mayo, hot sauce and little barbecue sauce, I appreciate that. It’s also super cheap, as you can imagine.
Cafe Dello Sport, North End. Stellar espresso, great gelato, and a perfect place to post up and get some work done while eavesdropping on old men talking in Italian.
Milennium Restaurant, Roxbury. Home of some of the best Dominican food I’ve ever had, they have a truly fantastic bowl deal where you can pick your meat, rice, and veggies- I went with yellow rice, plátanos, and roast pork- plus a drink, for $7.50. It’s unbelievable. Tastes homemade and hits the spot.
And here’s where you can eat for a little more money:
Zaftig’s, Brookline. I love a Jewish deli, and this one is full of abstract paintings of women who are a little zaftig themselves and I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THAT. The matzah ball soup is wonderful, as are the pickled green tomatoes, lox platter, and knishes.
Genki Ya, four locations. Delicious, super fresh sushi. If you’re on a date, splitting the spicy triple roll combo- tuna, salmon, and yellowtail- is a great deal, and it comes with soup and salad. They also deliver, which is great when the fridge is extremely empty and you have no will to go to the grocery store.
Curio Coffee, Somerville. The coffee is delicious, if a little pricey, and the place itself is beautiful, but the main event here is the waffled cinnamon bun. JUST. UGH. WOW.
B&G Oysters, South End. This is my favourite place in Boston to put my Apps and Oysters Method into effect. Load up on lots of oysters and then just get a few appetizers to share- don’t spend your hard-earned money on a $30 grilled fish dish or a seafood pasta. The appetizers are where the most flavour lives, and they complement the briny beautiful perfect oysters.
Sushi Factory, Allston. It’s all you can eat sushi, plain and simple. Great for when you’ve been saving up a sushi craving and want to not crave it again for a month or two.
Cunard Tavern, East Boston. This super-hip brunch place very quickly won me over with A) flavour! So much flavour! and B) reasonable prices for how nice the place is and how special the food is. I got the chipotle hollandaise bacon cheese burger with an egg on it (it was truly unbelievable), and my friend got the Elvis sandwich and a bloody mary.
That’s all I’ve got for you for now, but it’s good to be back on here posting. Look out for some recipes in the next few weeks, and hopefully plenty more places to be added to this list.