HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >



  • j


I'd like to invite you all to post your favorite boston area hole-in-the-wall restaurant. What's a hole in the wall? Here is some criteria:

1) food is king. Ambience is an afterthought.
2) diners are willing to forsake certain comforts for quality of food.
3) cheap unpalatable food doesn't count. It's gotta be good - cheap isn't enough.
4) bonus points for any restaurant not already mentioned here


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Shwarma King, Beacon St. in Coolidge Corner

    Delicious falafel and good specials. Lots of vegetarian items and non-veg alike

    no atmosphere to speak of, but delicious food

    1. Arirang House, 162 Mass.Ave, Boston, (between Berkely College of Music and City Sports.)
      A Korean Buffet that transcends the Asian Buffet stereotype.Usually around 12 cold salads,(kimchi, seaweed---all the expected Korean wizardry with raw and lightly marinated vegetables!), and another 12 or so hot dishes,stir-fried veggies, kim-chi with tofu, cellophane noodles, more noodles, more veggies,little zucchini pancakes, also a meat and chicken dish, from what I've seen( I don't eat meat)...But I DO eat seafood!! There's usually one, little fried fish fillets(real!!) or on fabulous days, squid---really, really great squid! White rice, brown rice, miso soup, seaweed soup...Fresh fruit for dessert, and usually, california or veggie sushi rolls....All amazingly fresh, healthy, and non-guilt inducing!! And for $6.95 at lunch, and $8.95 at dinner, I have NO idea why anyone would bother with the next-door McDonalds! I love this place! Whenever I do work for a client I have in the area, they know I'll come back breathing garlic and smiling!!(they also do it take-out, by the pound; a great deal!!!!)
      Thanks for starting this thread---I thought THIS was what chowhounding was all about...

      2 Replies
      1. re: Leslie

        Hey I tried this place over the weekend--it was a great find. I think it more than lived up to the hole in the wall requirements. The food was surely no frills (it is of course a buffet) and boy was it good. Some of the main entrees were a little touch-and-go, but the salads were so good, great rice, great soup, and they had those delicious little fish fillets. It was a big hit with all four of us who went.

        And how can you go to McDonalds next door with that there? I completely agree!

        1. re: Carolyn

          Glad ya liked it!!After I read your response, I HAD to go over there for lunch, and it was SQUID day!!! Not fried,in hot sauce!!! FAB!Yeah, some of the entrees may seem odd, but I figured they were Korean homestyle....But then, I'm a fan of anything containing kimchi!

      2. Taqueria CancĂșn
        65 Maverick Sq, East Boston, MA 02128, (617) 567-4449
        A salvadoran/mexican place: pupusas, tacos, and a really good sopa de mariscos. Spanish skills are a +.

        Taqueria TapatĂ­o on Broadway in East Somerville (not sure about cross street). Very similar to Cancun, better al pastor here.

        Tacos Lupita (mentioned on these boards already) on Elm Street near Somerville Ave. Better pupusas than the previous two.

        Victor's Deli
        710 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144 (617) 625-3076
        (Ball Square, Medford/Somerville). The best chicken/veal parms.

        Izzy's Restaurant and Sub Shop
        169 Harvard St, Cambridge, MA 02139 (617) 661-3910
        Puerto rican on Harvard St/Windsor in Cambridge, near the Kendall Square Cinema. Located in a corner surrounded by public housing, probably one of the only places for latino fare of this sort. Good empanadas, jamaican pies, fried pork, chuletas, ropa vieja, oxtail stew, etc. Subs are also OK.

        Banh Mi Ba Le
        1052 Dorchester Ave, Dorchester, MA 02125
        (617) 265-7171
        Good ol' banh mi (vietnamese sandwich) shop.

        1430 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446, (617) 738-4977
        Probably the best thai place in Boston.

        Galleria Umberto
        289 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113, (617) 227-5709
        Only open for lunch or until they run out of stuff, which is usually around 2pm. Really good calzones, panzarotti (breaded fried mashed potatos with herbs and cheese filling), panini (pizza bread pastry stuffed with spiced ham and cheese -- nice and gewy, drips if you're not careful), arancini (rice balls, breaded and fried, filled with beef and cheese). Pizzas just OK. Wine by the dixie cups too.

        Blue Ribbon BBQ (Arlington and West Newton) not really a hole in the wall, but spare in decor and better BBQ than anything else in town -- and don't tell me about Redbones.

        People's Cafeteria
        23 Edinboro St, Boston, MA 02111, (617) 482-7328
        Pretty decent standard cantonese fare at really good prices. Gotta love their $6.95 evening menu. They make a really good ma-po tofu as well. Someone in the kitchen knows what they're doing.

        Dong Khang
        83 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA 02111, (617) 426-9410
        Very good vietnamese place. Not for your typical pho and bun house. Really good vietnamese "fondue".

        6 Replies
        1. re: Eric Eto


          I think the rotisseria Cancun is a lot better than Taqueria cancun - it's just a couple stores down from the taqueria, on the same side of the street, right there in maverick square. There's really no room to eat in there - get take out and enjoy the roast chicken. Really great tacos, too...

          1. re: JJ

            I've been to both places, but I've had a problem in the past (almost 2 years ago now) that when I went to Maverick Sq., I found the rotisseria closed or barely open. They've probably got that straightened out by now, and also when they first opened, I think they had trouble figuring out whether they would just be a Cancun jr., or offer something slightly different. Regardless, you don't know how happy I was to discover Cancun when it was (and still is to some degree) so difficult to find decent Mexican fare in Boston. The other taquerias opened sometime after. By the way, have you explored parts of Chelsea for more Mexican food? I've heard there's some good places popping up in that neighborhood as well.

            1. re: Eric Eto

              Haven't checked out Chelsea, but i'm optimistic. The rotisseria Cancun is still the only place that i've tried that has anything resembling real mexican/central american food...

              1. re: JJ

                The best tips are in Chelsea at the Newbridge Cafe between Rt. 16 and the Woodlawn section of Everett.

          2. re: Eric Eto

            Great post, Eric - thanks for the tips....

            1. re: Eric Eto

              Rod Dee!!!
              Great homestyle Thai food... not the healthiest fare but so good! For whatever reason, the original Beacon St. location is noticeably better than the newer Fenway branch. Be adventurous, don't just try the Pad Thai!

            2. The Golden Gate in Chinatown. I have a friend who has a theory that the ruder the waiters at a chinese place, the better the food. The waiters here actually throw the silverware onto the table - the food, particularly the panfried noodles , bear out my buddie's theory.

              1 Reply
              1. re: fladd

                We call it "facedowns" in my neck of the woods. You cannot get better chicken fingers anywhere. Love this place. Just remember, no ice!!!

              2. Franklin Cafe. Fabulous funky, smokey bar with exceptional food in the southend.

                1 Reply
                1. re: michelle

                  I don't know if you could consider the Franklin Cafe to be a hole in the wall; too hip and expensive to really fit the description. It's a great place, tho.

                2. Brody's Pub.

                  In Peabody Center. HAVE to go there at least once/week. The steak, lamb tips and salads are great. Speedy service, no fringes i.e. dessert or coffee. Well worth checking out, I guarantee!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Susan

                    well, if we're going all the way to Peabody, O'Fado (Portuguese), up the street from the Dunkin Donut, has the best braised octopus IN THE WORLD!!!!!!

                  2. Punjabi Dhaba in Inman square. A tiny place with LOUD hindi pop music and the best Indian food in town.

                    1. r
                      robert belson

                      Bay of the Sea
                      107 Shirley Ave
                      Revere, MA 781)284-6916

                      Cambodian, unfussy, the large screen tv plays Cambodian mtv continually. Great sour lobster soup, green papaya salad, dry chicken curry (kind of like amok without the banana leaf.) No license but there's a market nearby for beer or wine.

                      I always thought the name was By The Sea, but maybe I got it wrong.

                      Also on Shirley is Floating Rock, which I'm told is just as good.

                      1. 1) The 21st Amendment, top of Beacon Hill behind the State House -- largely a lobbyist/legislator bar with your usual bar food. However, they have great curry fries and the jukebox is stuck in the 80's. Love it.

                        2) The Neighborhood Bakery, Union Square -- giant and unusual portugese brunch deals (the weirdest is Lobster and eggs, but it's best to get something with linguica). It's busy, so show up early and be prepared to wait.

                        3) Kotubukiya sushi bar, Porter Exchange building. Very cheap sushi with high turn-over.

                        4) Sun's Cafe, Mass Ave. North Cambridge -- good sushi and korean food. Very inexpensive. Seats about ten.

                        5) Wu Chon House, Union Square -- good Korean food, really great service.

                        1. "The Quiet Man" - on West Broadway in South Boston. Still the best steak tips in town. For breakfast it's "Terri's Place" on West Broadway in Southie. Eggs, bacon, homefries and toast for $1.99!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Joel

                            The Quiet Man is a great place. It is located right next to the Broadway T station. Also in Southie, the Galley Diner (P Street) is terrific for breakfast. People come from all over for the corned beef hash. You may have read about it when Joe Moakley passed away, he was a regular there.

                          2. O'Sullivan's pub on Beacon Street in Somerville (5 min walk from Porter Square) has the best burgers I've tried in the Boston area. The steak tips are also a winner.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Aaron

                              Absolutely. Burgers and beers at O'sullivans on Friday nights was one of my favorite winter rituals. Great burgers, comfortable, mixed crowd. Good spot.

                            2. Tim's Tavern, 329 columbus ave boston, great burgers cooked over flame, real hole in the wall especially since surroundings have been gentrified, the first salvo in any boston vs ny burger war

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: mark rifkin

                                A veritable hole in the wall and good chow, cheap.
                                It's cleaner now than it used to be-

                                1. re: Miiki
                                  Win (Boston)

                                  I have to disagree about "its cleaner now than it used to be". Its at least as dirty as it ever was, but the burgers ARE as great as ever.

                              2. There was a Mexican place on Mass. Ave between Harvard and Porter Square that I used to go to when I lived in Boston-I think it was called "Mexican Cuisine." It was a total hole-in-the-wall, but it was my first introduction to real Mexican food. Does it still exist? Also, I loved Green Street Grill in Central Square for great Carribean food with zero atmosphere. Sorry if this post is outdated and these places have been closed for years.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Julie H.

                                  The Mexican Joint is the Forest Cafe-
                                  I heard raves too- always- but ate there and thought it was pretty crummy. In fact BAD Mexican.
                                  [El Pelon near the Fenway rocks though.]
                                  Green Street is still around but redone and no longer a "hole in the wall."
                                  Too noisy so haven't tried the food since the renovation. Went up in a price a bit.
                                  Monday's at the Green Street are probably still a bargain-
                                  8.99 or so for a choice of three menu dinners.
                                  Good deal.

                                2. Redbones Barbecue, 55 Chester St. in Davis Square, Somerville. Yum,Yum,Yum. Great ribs, tasty pulled pork hash with potatoes, T-bones to die for...and some ice cold beers.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Judy

                                    I would like to second the suggestion of Redbones. The best barbeque i have ever eaten. The meat just falls off the bone. Go for lunch and get the combo platter. All you can eat ribs, chicken, sausuge (extra delicious), and rice and beans for $9. Also, the lemonade and sweet potato pie freakin rules. If you go for dinner sit at the counter, you get to watch the cooks working, and you get some free bbq hash and hushpuppies.enjoy

                                  2. Demaino's Italian Restaurant
                                    14 Malden Street

                                    1. Haymarket Pizza, $1.00 a slice for good, straightforward thin crust pizza and lots of people watching (not much seating though, just a few stools and planks to rest your pizza on). Haymarket T stop or walk from Government Center T. You have to wade through the Haymarket crowds on Friday and Saturday to get to the middle of the market where this is located. I think it is some of the best pizza you can find in town, and certainly the cheapest, although don't expect peacefulness or cleanliness.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Amy C.

                                        I think it used to be called something else, years ago, like Polcari's Pizza, named after a cheese place down there, not the restaurant...Pizza used to be 25 cents!!!!! When I was in college, (graduated in 1979), I wrote a creative writing piece about buying pizza there in the dead of winter, before they even had SEATS, and eating it sheltered by the hood of a car!! Omigod, I gottah go down ther and get a slice tomorrow!!!!

                                      2. Hungry Herbs on Salem Street in Medford. HUGE menu,grest service.Herb is usually at the counter to greet you. Try the Hawaian--Chicken tips grilled in a teryaki sauce with grilled Pineapple and Cherries. Also try either an order of the Brown Gravy fries(just like Montreal)or the bacon and cheese fries.I need to go to Herbs for lunch now,thanks

                                        1. I am a very big fan of sandwiches. THey are one of my favorite foods, and im always on the lookout for a good one. They need to be big, fresh and delicious. Sessa's Cold Cuts & Italian Specialties on 414 Highland Ave in Sommerville, right in the middle of Davis Square, definitely delivers the goods. The larges are actually Large, and they are great (and cheap!). My personal favorite is the classic Italian, but they have a wide variety of choices. Not only do they have great sandwiches, but Sessa's also has a wide variety of Italian goods, lots of meats and cheeses, and delicious homeade sausage. While in Davis Square check out Mikes Pizza for suprisingly good pizza, and a GIANT menu of really good and cheap italian fare. Annas Tacqueria has fast, scrumptious and cheap mexican (try the steak super burrito), not only in davis but also in Porter Square. Picante, also in Davis, is another more authentic mexican restaurant, but also really really good. Definately check out Sessas though, and try the columbian coffee soda. Also, if you have any Cambridge sandwich recomondations, write em!