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Mar 17, 2006 09:35 AM

Advice for a slacker chowhound?

  • h

Hi! I've been lurking here since 2003, so first I should thank everybody for all the excellent tips over the years!

I've just been given two weeks notice from a job that I absolutely hated. I've decided to take the spring and summer off and enjoy life a little. But let's face it, without a little good chow now and then, enjoyment is just out of the question.

And it doesn't help that I'm fussy. But it does help that Boston has absurdly restrictive happy hour laws, a Restaurant Week, and lots of hidden gems. Can anybody point me to chowhound-worthy food in Boston that's far cheaper than it has any business being? :) Time of day and transportation are no object, as long as it's accessible by MBTA and a good brisk walk.

Thanks again!

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  1. the link below is a good start. I'd say the $1.45 empanadas (if made to order) at La Mamma are an awesome start. Allston.


    3 Replies
    1. re: Dax

      Actually, I'd recommend that you spend a lot of your time in Allston, as there are a lot of good, cheap restaurants there. Some of them include the Reef Cafe (Middle Eastern), V. Majestic (Vietnamese), and Shanghai Gate (Chinese).

      Near Porter Square, Cambridge, there are also a lot of good places that are inexpensive. Tacos Lupita (El Salvadorean), Boca Grande (Mexican), Newtowne Grille (good pizza), and the Japanese restaurants in the Porter Exchange Building.

      1. re: hiddenboston

        I just ate this past week at Sapporo in the Porter Exchange building. For under $10 you get a bowl of noodles and meat and/or veggies that is delicious and easily enough for two meals.

        I'd suggest either the miso or clear flavor unless you are a BIG fan of soy sauce (which is the third flavor option).

        1. re: hiddenboston

          Speaking of Shanghai Gate, I was walking by the other day and saw a sign up saying they now deliver. Anyone tried it and how did that work out (food quality compared to in house, time to delivery, fees, etc)

          PS I agree with the idea of doing the grand Allston tour to eat cheaply and well.

      2. I second the Boca Grande recommendation and strong recommend Second St Cafe in East Cambridge for lunch on weekdays and possibly breakfast -- great value, but REALLY limited hours -- parking possible on nearby streets or near Lechmere T stop.

        5 Replies
        1. re: rlh

          What do like at Boca Grande? I had a carnitas burrito at the new one in Brighton Center the other night. it was ok but not great, there were so many options that I wondered if maybe I ordered wrong?

          1. re: mapgirl

            My absolute favorite is the Colorado chicken -- small (which also means no cheese or rice included)size with black beans, guacamole, and hot sauce. Most tasty chicken burrito (is this an oxymoron?) I know of in the area, but most likely not the healthiest...

            Wow, this makes me realize how I miss being in Cambridge at lunch time (no such burritos or even a close rendition found in Seaport/South Boston area to date)!

            1. re: rlh

              [lack of burrito goodness in South Boston]

              Andale (125 Summer St, takeout unless you're lucky enough to get one of the few stools at the counter) is good. Well-constructed burritos that hold together while you eat them, fresh ingredients, good chicken mole. A bit of a walk from Seaport, but maybe worth it? (menu linked)


            2. re: mapgirl
              Heathen & Spells

              Here are a few of my favs at Boca Grande. Try the Chile Verde rather than the Carnitas, it is also pork, but in a tasty (but not hot) verde sauce. Also the grilled lemon chicken is good. And, last time I was there they had a new offering which I tried as a sample. It is called Birria (sp?) which they describe as beef braised with roasted vegies and spices. It was falling apart tender, I think Brisket, and very very yummy. Almost too good for a filling, I could have just eaten a bowl of it straight!!

              1. re: Heathen & Spells

                Yes yes yes! I love the Beef Birria and it is truly a tenderness masterpiece. Another great pork option there is Al Pastor. Omg it's super flavorful and a nice departure from the lemon chix, which i also enjoy.

          2. I think Galleria Umberto on Hanover Street in the North End fits the bill. Good greasy Sicilian pizza, calzones, arancine (sp?) and other items all very cheap. They are only open for lunch for as long as the food remains in stock (usually closed by 2:00).

            1. Given that the OP is noting restaurant week and "hidden gems" in addition to being cheap, I am not sure that Boca fits the bill. I can't say I've ever been a fan anyway.

              I would consider places like Atasca / O Cantinho in Cambridge, both cozy spots for Portugeuse and the prices are great. I would also put in a plug for an often-empty family-run Afghan place North of Porter Sq, formerly Buzkashi, unfortunately renamed to something like Ali Baba's Tandoor. The food is good and it's unfortunate the place doesn't get more attention. Although this isn't quite the same as a restaurant experience, on the cheap eats theme, I would add that the many Middle Eastern markets (e.g., Sevan bakery, Eastern Lamejun and others) in Watertown will sell you everything you need for a delicious meal at home -- prepared salads, dips, cheeses, olives, dolmas, lamejun (of course), ... I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!

              1. The block of Cambridge St just east of Inman offers several excellent cheap Portuguese options: O Cantinho, Muqueca (spelling?), and, for a modest splurge ($14-16 entrees), Casa Portugal.

                I also had a recent good experience at Greek Corner on Mass Ave in North Cambridge, just past (north of) Frank's Steak House. Way cheap, way good. And i'll never miss a chance to plug Taqueria la Mexicana in Union Sq.

                Enjoy your freedom!