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Something new for LUNCH this weekend?

Every weekend we find ourselves doing the usual burrito or sandwich for lunch. Or, we had to the Super 88 food court and take our pick from there. I'm looking for suggestions for good (casual and inexpensive!) lunch spots with something a little different or special making it worth the trip.

For example, Ortanique does great Jamaican food and is a perfect lunch for Saturday afternoons, and is interesting in that there are not that many Jamaican spots around.

Could be a new place that opened recently... or an old standby that we tend to look over.
Could be anywhere in the Boston metro area - we don't mind driving a bit to try something new!


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  1. Have you tried Piattini on Newbury? I tend to shy away from Newbury restaurants just because they are all so generic and are mostly tourist traps. HOWEVER, Piattini is really really good! They have great panini's and salads!

    1. Maybe Schwarma King on Beacon St (just past Coolidge Corner)? No atmosphere, but good shwarma. Or if you go Sunday, you could go to Rami's (they are closed on Saturdays).

      5 Replies
      1. re: cmd

        We LOVE Shwarma King - been going for 10 years. It has not changed a bit. What's Rami's?

        1. re: Sgt Snackers

          Rami's is an Israeli place on Harvard (maybe 2 blocks off Beacon, toward Allston). I love their falafel (and like the schwarma, but I like Schwarma King a bit better for that). They close early on Fridays (2 or 3?) and remain closed until Sunday a.m. Prices and atmosphere are similar to SK.

          1. re: cmd

            along similar lines, i love the chicken shwarama at reef cafe in allston, largely because of the to-die-for garlic sauce. for falafel i like rami's and boston shwarama near northeastern.

            1. re: fenian

              Is that like the delicious garlic sauce from now-defunct Ararat (Armenian in Watertown)? I loved that place...

      2. A few ideas around Cambridge and Somerville, in no particular order:

        Porter Exchange Mall - take your pick of interesting, inexpensive Asian restaurant stalls, from Japanese to Korean to ramen noodles. Blue Fin, the full-sized Japanese restaurant around the corner, has terrific food and a nice variety of reasonably priced lunch sets.

        Baraka Cafe - excellent Algerian and Tunisian, open for lunch on Saturday, but dinner-only on Sunday

        Sessa's/Vinny's/Bob's - old school Italian subs in Somerville. There was a recent thread with a litany of more great Somerville choices along these same lines. NB I believe Vinny's is closed on Sundays.

        Tacos Lupita - their burritos are adequate, but I feel like they're only on the menu as a concession to the faint-of-heart who are looking for something familiar. Their tamales, mulitas, papusas, and plain old tacos are where Lupita really shines.

        Punjabi Dhaba - this place gets plenty of attention here, but their egg dishes, only available during daytime hours, are often overlooked. The anda burji, for example, is "beaten eggs cooked with onion, ginger, green chilli, tomatoes, coriander leaves, green peas and spices". Absolutely the stuff that cravings are made of.

        4 Replies
        1. re: finlero

          These are great suggestions - Porter Exchange is fun, although it's often a bit crowded. What's the best food there? I like Sapporo Ramen and (occasionally) ChoCho's.

          Lupita is another weekend favorite, esp. the pupusas.

          My belly hurts just thinking about Punjabi Dhaba. I've spent a fair amount of time in India and that place is incredibly authentic - maybe a bit too much so :-)

          1. re: Sgt Snackers

            I have nothing against any of the Porter Exchange places, but I'm a huge fan of Cafe Mami. Even their simple chicken teriyaki donburi bowl is sublime. As odd as it may sound, a number of my Asian friends will make pilgrimages from all over the metro area just for their stir-fried hamburger. I also think their oyako bowl is great.

            1. re: Sgt Snackers

              my favorite is ittyo, but that might be because i prefer fish, like the eel donburi. chocho's is ok too. kotobukiya has minimum-acceptability sushi but you can gorge on it for under $20. i'm not a fan of bluefin, which i consider kotobukiya quality at higher prices, or mami, and have never been to sapporo ramen. all in all i think the whole porter exchange is disappointing.

            2. re: finlero

              I was picking up take-out from Vinny's at Night the other night and saw a sign that the restaurant is now open for lunch. I can't remember exactly which days of the week, but Saturday might be one of them.

            3. For basic sandwich/simiple meal type fare, there's Victor's and Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown. Cha Fahn in JP serves lunch but I have yet to go. Bon Savor on Centre St. has a nice brunch with some lunch items.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Joanie

                We love Deluxe Town Diner! What's Cha Fahn like? From the website it's "Asian fusion" which I am generally suspicious of ... although sometimes it can be awesome.

                1. re: Sgt Snackers

                  Don't know if ou saw the lunch menu here:


                  Little sandwiches that could be interesting. And some noodle dishes. definitely a different experience that I can't vouch for.

              2. If you feel like heading over to Eastie, Rincon Limeno, has some tasty items: http://www.rinconlimeno.com/index.htm

                3 Replies
                1. re: Taralli

                  I am LOVING the Rincon Limeno idea. The website has blinking text and it's all in Spanish. What could be better??

                  Other East Boston places we should check out? I've been to a couple of the pupuserias out there and they are incredible (don't remember the names though...)

                  1. re: Sgt Snackers

                    Cafe Italia pulls a great espresso and has some good desserts (some are outsourced though - try to avoid the peacan pie).

                    1. re: Sgt Snackers

                      Cinco de Mayo in Chelsea is worth a visit.

                  2. Both in Arlington:

                    Something Savory - Arlington Heights. Caribbean fare. If you like spice, ask for the chef's extra hot sacue. It's complex and amazing. I've been there for lunch on a weekday. I presume they are also open on the weekends for lunch.

                    Punjab - Arlington Center. Indian food. But, there lunch menu has naanwiches. Again, I've only had these on a weekday and am unsure whether they serve these on a weekend.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: beetlebug

                      Something Savory is closed Sundays, open for lunch other days. The new Nepali place in Arlington, Katmandu Spice, has a Nepali weekend lunch buffet. When I went I wasn't blown away but it was pretty good. http://www.kathmanduspice.com/

                      Get over to Waltham? How about heading out to Chennai Woodlands in Ashland, Masalaa in Billerica, or Udipi whatsit in Lowell or Dakshin in Framingham (both on my list) for Indian vegetarian? Actually lots of stuff in Lowell is on the list, but it's a schlep.

                      I take myself to J&J sometimes for an indulgent, casual and not too $$ weekend late lunch.

                      Been to Floating Rock lately? So many places, so little time...

                    2. I believe a couple of board members have taken my suggestion to try Petisco's in Somerville for Brazilian salgadinhos, but I don't think anybody has gone ahead and tried their "caldos" (soups) yet. Some of the ones they might have are Caldo de Mocoto (a garlicky broth made with cow hooves), caldo de pinto (chicken thickened with yucca or potato), caldo verde (spiced slightly differently than the portuguese), caldo de feijao (bean, usually with bacon and sausage. They will fry "pastel" to order. Communication can be a bit rough... Its in Magoon Sq on Medford St in Somerville. Also right near wangs, so you can get dumplings to take home or just keep chowing your way through somerville.

                      Another more unusual option for later in the day, would be Samba Bar on Somerville ave (the old Lilli's). I am not certain if they open at noon, but I believe they are open by 3pm. This is mostly a bar and can get rowdy at night, but they have good "porcoes" (portions). You could get frango a passarinho, torresmo (fresh fried pork skins), fried linguica and mandioca (sausage, not all that exciting). They used to offer caldos too and full plates, but not certain what their current menu is.

                      Midwest Grill also has portions in their bar -- you can choose either beef or chicken hearts with mandioca (make sure you eat the latter while they are still hot, though). Not my favorite, but its pretty inexpensive and convenient. Usually better done than Cafe Belo which also has portions in the Sugar Bar.

                      Or you could go for feijoada at just about any Brazilian restaurant in town.

                      1. I've been looking for a good Brazilian bar around here - is Samba the place to check out?
                        I need to buy a bigger pair of pants before going back to Midwest Grill ...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Sgt Snackers

                          Samba bar is a fairly workingmans place, but they have suprisingly decent food and reportedly a pretty good caipirinha (they usually do stock velho barreiro which is a decent cachaca). Its hard to recommend it as an evening destination -- the best night for music is Sunday and that is far too crowded/rowdy (it can be a rough crowd), the drinks are expensive, there is a $10 fee most nights from about 9pm (even if its 2 people with a midi keyboard singing and 1 person in the whole place). So its a chow destination, but not for everyone after 9pm.

                          The Sugar Bar at Cafe Belo on Washington St has less-worthy food, but a nice lounge atmosphere and is worth a trip. They tend to have music in the bar and karaoke in the restaurant on weekend nights, but just try to be early enough to get a spot at the bar. Cafe Brazil in Allston has music in the bar Saturday nights (they have MPB in the restaurant side and friday nights is karaoke in the bar) with hit or miss bar plates... excellent when they are good and very_very_cold beer.

                          Sal e Brasa in Everett I would tend to recommend more if you are with a group as the room is sort of loud and a bit cavernous. Although they have a $18.95 rodezio, there are certain hours you can just order bar food and check out music. Picanha's around the corner has a bit better beer selection and is a slightly nicer room, but I do not know what they are currently doing for music (it was 7 days a week).

                          To actually catch "samba" (which some folks assume any brazilian night will be), Sunday afternoons sometimes has a session which is currently at Club Choices near Market Basket in Somerville starting around 2pm. This changes venue pretty frequently and sometimes has chow, but its not guaranteed. If you get to a know a few musicians in the summer they will often play for your bbq if they get free food and drink, plus you let them pass the hat.

                        2. Do your weekend shopping at Russo's and get the sandwich of the week, a bottle of water, drive over to the Charles and eat at a picnic table. (Some weeks are better than others but you can't beat the prices and they make them to order at the cheese counter)

                          1. If we're going out for lunch on the weekend, we usually end up at Wang's. I'm really fond of their steamed meat buns, which are only served on weekends. (These are really buns, not dumplings.) And it's definitely casual and inexpensive.

                            1. Hey folks! Thanks for all the great suggestions - our list of restaurants to try out is growing. We ended up heading over to East Boston and intended to drop by Rincon Limeno, but got a little lost and found ourselves in front of a tiny little place called Rosteria Jalisco. It was PERFECT for what we were looking for. The highlight is the rotisserie chickens served with rice, beans, guacamole, tortillas, and 3 kinds of super yummy salsas -- which was a very nice touch. We also tried the red (pork) and green (chicken) tamales. The horchata was nice, not too thick - the tamarindo a bit on the sweet side though. The place only has about 4 tables and the others had a bunch of mexicans tucking into big bowls of menudo, and giant plates of tacos. Pretty good though we clearly need to get back to Eastie to check out some of the other suggestions there.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Sgt Snackers

                                Hey did you have chance to try their birria at Jalisco? I think it's only offered on weekends. Looked great, didn't have chance to try, would love to hear about it.

                                1. re: limster

                                  No, but someone else there was having it and it looked WONDERFUL. Next time we go we're doing caldos :-)