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Mar 7, 2002 09:26 AM

Best Downtown Lunch Spots

  • c

At lunchtime, I often walk from my dowtown office to Chinatown or the North end for culinary delights. When I am less ambitious, I am restricted to the downtown area itself. It's a little bleak. Some of my favorites spots are:

1. Sultan's Kitchen -- reliably delicious pita sandwiches of grilled kebabs of lamb or chicken. Also, lots of interesting Turkish vegetarian salads/enrees.

2. Sam LaGrassa's -- great pastrami on rye.

3. Cosi -- despite the "pre-made" taste of some of the ingredients, solid sandwiches on great freshly made flat bread.

4. NY Soup Exchange -- decent soup.

5. Sushi time - reliable, if not inventive, sushi.

6. Margo Bistro -- sit-down bistro that can be hit-or-miss but more often hits than misses.

I have tried, but am not thrilled by:

1. Vici -- mediocre chicken parm

2. Real Taco -- good effort, but lacking the flavor of some of the Somverville faves (Lupita, etc.)

3. Chacaracero -- Chilean sandwiches. Chicken or beef. I had the chicken (VERY bland) but I am told I should have had the beef.

4. That deli on Devonshire with the roast turkey. So-so.

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  1. Have you tried Jubilee Cafe on Oliver Street? Roast turkey, roast beef, mashed potatoes, good ribs, salads, sandwiches. Homemade food for a reasonable price. Some tables to sit and eat there. The building is the location of an old bank, and some of the tables are located in the vault.

    Also J. Pace & Sons, one at Devonshire and one at Federal St. I've only been to the one at Devonshire.
    Great subs and italian hot food. The hot food changes every day. In the morning they have great coffee and decent muffins.

    1. c

      I'm totally with you on Sultan's Kitchen and Cosi. You also offer a few restaurant suggestions worth trying. However, I do love the chacareros. (Did you get it with everything on it?) For those of you who aren't familiar with 'em, the Chilean sandwiches come with green beans, muenster cheese, avacado, tomatoes, and chilies and your choice of meat (or not). The combo sounds kind of odd but (I think) it works. I almost always go with the veggie.

      4 Replies
      1. re: ChesterPrynne

        Yeah. I got it with everything on it.

        I love the idea of the place. It is right up my alley. Hard-working immigrants focusing on cheap, and unique culinary treasures. I really wanted to like it there. HOWEVER, during my experience there, it was very disappointing. Extremely heavy-handed -- and some ingredients were just plain tasteless.

        Of course, I screwed up and didn't get the beef . . .

        1. re: C. Simon

          If you were disappointed with the chicken, I wouldn't necessarily run out and get the beef -- I found it *very* chewy, and not hugely flavorful, when I tried it. But I love the chicken version.
          It seems to me that the delight associated with a chacarero is based on 1) the tasty bread; 2) the abundant avocados; 3) the surprise of the green beans; and 4) the way the hot sauce brings it all together. If those don't do it for you, it may be that you just don't like 'em.

          btw, thanks for all the other downtown lunch suggestions.

          1. re: MichaelB
            Hannah Kincaid

            Did you guys get the BBQ or plain grilled? I didn't care for Chacarero when I first went there, either, and that was my mistake. I found the BBQ anything but bland, and now I'm hooked -- YMMV, of course. I'm half-tempted to just buy a sack of their rolls sometime and try recreating the sandwich at home, perhaps with a bit more of a kick...

        2. re: ChesterPrynne
          Robert Morris

          Those chacharros are incredible! I moved out of Boston a few years ago and I still talk about them. The Shanghai is a good place to go in Chinatown. The 5 seasons is good for sit-down cafeteria style veggie food.

        3. Across the street from Sam La Grassa's is a tiny little kebab place (it has a red awning over it) -- I'm not sure what the formal name is but you can't miss it. There is room for about 2 people to stand and it has wonderful kebabs. The owner marinates cubes of chicken, beef and fish (generally swordfish, but sometimes varies) and slow cooks them over burning coals (anticipate that your sandwich may take 10 minutes to be ready). Sandwiches are wrapped in a pita with lettuce, tomato, onion, and a yogurt and spicy sauce. Platters are served over rice (including a touch of saffron rice) with grilled veggies and pita. When I used to work downtown, I absolutely loved this place.

          1. b

            For Mexican downtown:

            Try the Herrerra's on West Street (between Washington and Tremont). It evolved from the Boston's Best Burrito pushcarts (which are probably still out there) into a surprisingly good little place. Nice specials and the meat (I've had the chicken, beef and pork)is nicely flavored.

            I would put it a few notches over Tequila Grill, which is on Bromfield (between Washington and Tremont). The food there is not as polished, and on their specials, the meat seems a bit fatty. They do have a decent salsa bar, however.

            Thanks for the other suggestions!