Visiting Boston; looking for recs on cheap eats, bakeries, and markets
I used to live in Boston back in the late 90s and I'm coming back to visit an old friend. It's been so long since I've been there and I've become much more interested in food since. My days are free to explore Boston (my nights are pretty much booked), so I'm looking for recommendations on cheap eats around town--I'm thinking I'd like to check out Coolidge Corner, South End, and Cambridge (central and harvard sq), but I'm open to anything, anywhere. I'm planning on visiting the Neptune Oyster Bar in the North End which I hear has a great lobster roll. Also, if anyone has any recommedations on good bakeries or markets, I'd love to hear about them. Is there anything that I shouldn't miss? Thanks!
Inman Square in Cambridge is about a 7-10 min. walk from Central and one of my favorite neighborhoods for exploring. You can eat WELL and on short money.
Cappuccino from Casal Bakery with a pasteis de nata (I know others prefer the ones from O Cantinho). Speaking of which, you just can't beat lunch at O Cantinho. A kale soup is giant and comes with big soft portuguese bread and butter. I love the pork loin served over salad. Moqueca is really inexpensive and filling, I like the mixed seafood version. Feeling super adventurous? Go into Fernandes Fish Market and buy some fried sardines to munch on. Don't forget an ice cream from Christina's. I love the malted vanilla, or carrot cake for something really sweet.
Near Central Square I'd recommend Izzy's (Puerto Rican) on Windsor and Washington - about a 5 min. walk from the square. Also Miracle of Science - great salads and skewers, or Middlesex - nice salad and pressed sandwiches. Both are great for cheap, quality and tasty lunches (midweek only for Middlesex I think). And Miracle does a great, cheap breakfast. You'll be full on $5-7 including coffee (and refills). There's also the felafel place right in the square that people rave about. I don't loooove it, but it's solid and inexpensive.
In Harvard Square I like Charlie's for cheap eats. Nothing out of the ordinary, really, but a decent burger and fries. The Forest Cafe which is between Harvard and Porter used to have $5 (-ish) lunch deals, but it's been a while since I've been there for lunch. Could have been weekend only? The Pho Pasteur, now Pho Le (I think?) in the Garage in Harvard Sq. is just okay, but it is cheap. There's a pressed sandwich place in there - Flat Patties? - that some folks recommend, but I've not been.
Great rec's above for the North End. I really enjoy that neighborhood for strolling and snacking and you can definitely do that on a budget.
Downtown I really really LOVE the bbq beef bahn mi from Mei Sum fka Mix Bakery on Beech Street. I mean, c'mon, it's $2.25 or $2.50!? So good. Silvertone downtown is upscale comfort food for short money, too. Lunch only during the work week. And Chacarero as already mentioned. I like the beef best. Near the waterfront is the boulangerie at Sel de la Terre. A ham and cheese croissant will get you through the whole morning for only $2.50 - and they're big.
Some notes on a few of the places mentioned above:
Korea House in Central Square – the last I remember it was barely passable, and that was at least 4 years ago.
Parish Cafe (Boylston St.): people love this place and I keep trying to go back once every couple of years to try to see what they see. IMHO it’s pretty poor and therefore extremely overrated.
Joe's Bar & Grill – I think it had it’s day and that day is long gone.
If you want a casual lunch in the North End on the "cheap" you should go to Artu @ 6 Prince STreet for great sandwhiches (my favorite being the roast porchetta w/ marinated eggplant), great pastas (the fusilli w/ rabe) and great salads (caprese, and rustico)
You should also try Umberto's on Hanover Street - Bakery style sicilian pizza, delicous arancini (huge rice balls filled with hamburg, tomato, peas and cheese), great calzones (ricotta & coldcut and spinach & cheese) the panani is my favorite salami, ham & cheese wrapped in dough and baked) and also panzarotti (potato & Mozz croquettes)
If you like Tripe fo to Pagliuca's on Parmenter STreet!!!
Definately go to Modern for pastry but have a espresso at the Caffe Graffitti.
Have a good time..........
Steve's on the corner of Hereford & Newbury is good. Right next door is Men Tei Noodles which is great as well. For some good down home Southern food, hit the Coast Cafe in Cambridgeport. RF O'Sullivan's is great for burgers. Rod Dee in Coolidge Corner is excellent. Franklin Cafe in the S. End is delicious and reasonably priced. I'd love to hear where you go and what you thought.
I lived in Boston for 8 years (now in SF for 3 yrs)...these were my favorites...excerpted from a recommendation email to some friends now attending grad school in Boston...
Flour Bakery (South End): Amazing bakery. I love, love, love their roast chicken/jicama/avocado sandwiches. Also try their vanilla bean teacakes. The sandwiches here are so good.
Chacarero (Downtown Crossing): Visit http://www.chacarero.com/ for more info. This Chilean sandwich shop has a long line every day. It's located next to Filene's in Downtown Crossing...only open weekdays until 7 pm.
Wisteria (Newbury St.): Homestyle Taiwanese food. Great lunch place because their lunch combo specials are cheap and yummy. Try the curry chicken as well as the pork with bamboo shoots. Both dishes taste so homemade and unique. Also, they have the best fortune cookies in Boston.
La Famiglia (Newbury St.): Homestyle Italian food. I like the one on Newbury St. They have these cheap mix-and-match lunch specials during the week. You pay $5 and can mix and match up to 5 daily dishes. Great meat sauce. Reasonable prices.
Modern Pastry (North End): Down the street from Mike's Pastry - the lightest, most heavenly cannoli I've ever had. I love the yellow cream with powdered sugar.
Bombay Cafe (North End): My favorite Indian in Boston (and there are some good ones, including Cafe of India also in Harvard Sq). Their chicken korma is the best I've ever had.
Korea House I think it's called (Central Sq): Can't remember the name exactly, but this is in Central Square right off a sidestreet of Mass Ave. Small homestyle Korean. Their Bulgogi is really tasty. And I love their sesame marinated bean sprouts. Also try Koreana for more "fine dining" formal Korean with the full BBQ experience.
Bartleys (Harvard Sq): Burger joint in Harvard Sq. can't be missed. Great limeades.
Parish Cafe (Boylston St.): On Boylston near the park. They have good sandwiches based on famous chef recipes. I always craved their proscuitto, basil grilled sandwich.
Tia's on the Waterfront (Harbour Waterfront)/Whiskey's (Boylston near Prudential): Both places used to have cheap lobster dinners. During the season, I'd eat a lobster almost once a week. Dip the fries in the clarified butter - heavenly.
Rod Dee (Fenway/Beacon St.): Best Thai in the city for the money. Duck curry is awesome. There are 2 locations: one on Beacon all the way down, and one near Fenway area (there's a hidden restaurant row a few blocks from the Fenway Theater with a decent taqueria as well). Cheap and tasty Thai. Also in the Fenway is Brown Sugar Cafe - another great Thai sit-down place.
Marche (Prudential): Not the best food, but a cool experience. Great for late-night crepe cravings.
T's Pizzeria (Comm. Ave near BU West Campus): On Comm. Ave, where all the BU kids hang out. This place makes great Sicilian pizza and steak tips.
Victoria Chinese Restaurant (Comm. Ave.): It's also on Comm. Ave. near West Campus of BU (near Star Mkt). It's not amazing, but most Chinese students at BU considered this place to be the most authentic Cantonese restaurant in the city. Good salt/pepper pork and shrimp.
Super 88 (Comm Ave): Big Asian grocery on the corner where Comm Ave turns. This place has a big, clean Asian food court with cheap but yummy Asian food of all origins.
East Ocean City (Chinatown): Chinatown seafood restaurant that always serves consistently good Chinese food. Not outstanding, but does everything well.
Japanese noodle shop off of Newbury (near Hynes CC area): Not sure what this is called, but this place serves up decent Japanese noodle soups. Cash only.
Ginza (Beacon St.): My favorite sushi in Boston. Located on Beacon St. I think behind BU's South Campus. Pricy but worth it.
Elephant Walk (Beacon St.): French-Cambodian place is a bit expensive, but the French menu is elegant. Great desserts.
Finale (Theatre District): Not so great desserts, but I do love their molten chocolate cake. And it's fun to just come to a dessert-only restaurant.
Chau Chau City (Chinatown): Big dim sum house. It's not the best dim sum house out there, but it does everything decently and gives you the full-scale dim sum experience.
Jaffa House (off Newbury): Little middle eastern shop off of Newbury St. that has pretty good kabob sandwiches.
Pho Pasteur (all over city): Still my fave Vietnamese restaurant (chain located everywhere in Boston) because it's clean and cheap. The meat in the pho is never gristly or questionable.
Emma's: Located near Kendall Square and Garment District. Thin crust, artisanal pizza that I crave. Always need to make a stop here when I'm in Boston.
Joe's Bar & Grill: If you want to take your parents to a nicer restaurant without breaking the bank, this is a good place to do so on Newbury or on the waterfront. What I really like here though is their prime rib, which is really tasty.
Kelly's Roast Beef (Saugus/Revere): There's one on Rte. 1 (I think) and also near Revere Beach. Awesome roast beef sandwiches.
Purple Shamrock (Fanueil Hall): This Irish pub in Faneuil Hall is not so special, except for the really thick, authentic NE Clam Chowder. The best chowder I can remember.
Addis Red Sea (South End): My favorite Ethiopian food in the South End.
Coolidge Corner: Clear flour bakery for wonderful baked goods, Rami's for falafel, Anna's Taqueria for burritos
South End: Flour bakery for cookies, quiche, sandwiches and raspberry seltzer, Charlie's Sandwich Shop for cheap breakfast (get the turkey hash!)
Central Square: Carberry's for Icelandic baked goods, Toscannini's for ice cream
Harvard Square: Darwin's for a sandwich, L.A. Burdick's for iced chocolate
My favourite nabe for the cheap eats you're looking for is Allston. Take the green line (B train) get off at the Harvard Ave stop. walk around, feast. some places to look out for: Shanghai Gate, Aneka Rasa, Buk Kyung II, Reef Cafe, Infusions Tea Spa, Madina Market, Cafe Brazil, La Mamma's, India Dhaba, Herrell's Ice Cream.