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Having lunched quite happily on the $3 grilled cheese from Formaggio for the first time today, I was thinking what a bargain that crispy, cheesy sandwich was. I guess I expected it to be a mini at that price.

Got me thinking about other steals out there. Okay, hounds, what is your favorite bargain treat?

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  1. $2.50 banh mi from any of the small cadre of purveyors in Chinatown. My favorite is the spicy beef from Mei Sum.

    10 Replies
    1. re: finlero

      You beat me to it. The Vietnamese sandwich place. Cheap!!!!

      1. re: finlero

        Well, I guess I understand why people love banh mi. I had my first today for lunch, a grilled chicken, on a rare mid-week day off. I was in Allston and went to Pho Viet. Yum. It was a whopping $3, but delicious. I expected a small sandwich, not a sub roll. What a deal.

        The mayo gets all melty, the veggies add freshness and crunch, the meat adds substance, and the cilantro the perfect layer of flavor. Crunchy, warm rolls put it over the top. The only down-side was that I didn't realize you had to ask for sriracha. Next time I'll make sure I do. A great deal for $3, and I'm amazed you can get them in Chinatown for even less! Some of the overpriced places around could learn alot from the banh mi.

        1. re: bear

          You can usually order them "hot" with diced chilies, Thai bird or jalapeno at some places. Another fresh veggie as opposed to the sauce. I love sriracha but prefer the chilies on the banh mi's.

          Another great bargain is the $5 brat and beer deal at Jacob Wirth's. Bottle of Harpoon IPA and a nice grilled brat.

          1. re: joestrummer

            Mmmm., the fresh chile sounds great.

            Brat's and beer for $5, that sounds pretty good right now, too, especially since grilling season for us charwood lovers is coming to an end.

            1. re: bear

              Yeah, the chilies are the way to go.
              The brat deal is really a perfect combo for a quick bite and brew.

              Great thread, BTW.

        2. re: finlero

          Can you recommend one or two places (w/ address?) I've been working right near Chinatown for several weeks now and have not yet ventured in. I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit that I have only ever eaten there a few times, so I don't know my way around at all...

          1. re: davis_sq_pro

            Mei Sum is at the corner of Beach and Harrison. A board favorite
            I usually go to Saigon Sandwich, as it's more convenient for me. It's on Washington almost at Kneeland.

            1. re: joestrummer

              I agree, Mei Sum would be a good place to start. The women who run the place are pretty friendly, and the sandwiches are great. I like the beef and the tofu a lot; I'm less crazy about the pork.

              1. re: finlero

                Another MeiSum bargain are the shrimp or beef rolls, if they have them.&2.50 for a styrofoam clam-shell full..Much more flavorful than other chei fun(?) I've had...

          2. A couple weeks ago Alcachofa posted looking for a meatball sub. Based on this board, I went to Al's State Street for the $4 (I think) small sub (which is very, very large). For $5.25 or so you can have that with a soda and chips!

            1 Reply
            1. re: lissy

              I believe it's now $4.50 and $5.75, respectively. Still a steal.

              Tacos Lupita does it for me - Taco combo nets three soft tacos and a huge pile of rice and refried beans for ... $7 I think? Maybe $8?

            2. Carolina pulled pork sandwich at Soul Fire on Harvard in Alston (around$5, w/beer $10), hot dog at Bukowski's or Lower Depths ($1 at Lower Depths, that's a grilled dog with a toasted roll), $1 sushi at Shino Express on Newbury.

              I tried the new "Sushi" place by Harvard and Comm Ave in Alston, it also has $1 sushi -- sized like Shino, which I like, but not as good quality I'd say (funny colored uni, though it tasted good, thick-feeling nori on the gunkans, hot pink gari, funky glassware -- though they do have a beer licence and that's a plus).

              1. I would have to say Beef Patties at Pepperpot for $1.50. Empenadas ($1.25) & Papusas ($1.50) at La Papusa Guanaca. Two of my favorites.

                1. Anything at Zalek's in Wakefield. I love the Caprese sandwich for 4.95. (5.95? Nah, 4.95, I think.) Gorgeous, ripe tomatoes, mozzarella, and big, fresh basil leaves with pesto on a huge, soft, braided oblong roll.

                  1. The tacos especiales at Taqueria El Amigo in Waltham. I think it's $4.75 or so for 4 tacos topped with avocado, lime and red onions and your choice of filling - I really like the carnitas.

                    1. At $3 the Pork sandwich from Flat Patties is hard to beat.

                      3 Replies
                        1. re: bear

                          The last one I had was served on a toasted hamburger bun and contained a good amount of pulled pork with a nice tangy sauce and cole slaw. It is full of flavor. The bun could have been a bit better, but at $3, you won't hear a complaint out of me. It isn’t the easiest neighborhood to find a decent snack in.

                          1. re: bear

                            I second this pork sandwich - it's heaven.

                        2. Great topic! Here are a few of my favorite cheap eats:

                          -- Sicilian slices at Galleria Umberto, North End ($1.00 or so--might be $1.25 now)
                          -- Mulitas at Tacos Lupita (about $3.50 or so)
                          -- Hot dogs at George's Coney Island Hot Dogs, Worcester ($1.00 to $2.00 each)
                          -- Four-cheese tortellini with pesto at Blackjack Pasta Bar, Boston ($8.00)
                          -- Grilled steak and cheese enchilada from Boca Grande, Cambridge ($4.00)

                          1. Wonton noodle soup at Hong Kong Eatery on Harrison Ave. Chinatown.
                            Only five bucks for a generous amount of shrimp in the wontons!

                            Also the lovely array of Carribean items for you to choose in the take out counter at Flames II in Brigham Circle for around 7 or 8 bucks.

                            1. My favorite Chinatown dive - Wai Wai. A big plate of rice with chicken and a side of soup and veggies is 4.50 (maybe 4.75). With roast duck rather than chicken is normally about $5.

                              I've mentioned the buns before, but 2-3 buns at a bakery will typically run under $3, and often under $2. Depends on what you like, and it's more than enough for a lunch.

                              1. The $1-2-3-4-5 happy hour at Noir. $.75 shortbread cookies at Canto 6. I got $.69 cookies at the Whole Foods by Govt. Center a couple months ago, and only there, maybe it was a mistake.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Joanie

                                  I think one of best deals i have had comes from the polish markets on boston street small roast beef on nice roll swiss and horseradish 3.75. small rolls are better than the large.

                                  1. re: OLDCHEF

                                    Any of the pasta specials at J.pace in the North End 5.75.

                                2. Bukowski's in Inman Square in Camb. has hamburgers for - get this - $1.69 during certain hours. Also, Daisy Buchanan's on Newbury Street has $2 apps from 3:30 to 6 Sun. to Thurs. Just saw that on Chronicle or Phantom the other night.

                                  1. A question rather than a rec-

                                    Has anyone eaten at the Irish Pub on Billings Road in north quincy.
                                    I had a beer in there the other day and the menu is very cheaply priced.

                                    Sandwiches for 3 or 4 bucks. Dinners for 6 or 7.


                                    1. Masa's tapas at the bar. $5 for a plate of 10 tapas some nights (can't remember which). Either way, they're never more than $10 for the plate of 10.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: heWho

                                        Bob's in Medford, S of the river. 6.75-7.50 for a Jumbo (impossible to finish) sub of good quality.
                                        Also, Punjabi Dhaba at Inman, the Chatt and Dosas in particular. Light meal for <5, 3.50 or so for the Chatt.
                                        Taqueria la Mexicana at Union: Tamales for $1.25

                                        1. re: heWho

                                          I'll throw another Masa bargain in there. On Saturdays all morning and Sundays before 11:30 they have a Prix Fixe brunch for $7.95. I got a great bowl of homemade granola with fresh fruit and yogurt, then their version of eggs bene, and was pleased with both. Even better where my DC's Plantain Empanada and Huevos Rancheros.

                                          Good stuff!

                                          1. re: heWho

                                            We did that last week. It was very good, and definitely a bargain. I got the empanada and southwestern benedict. My husband got the chocolate chip pancakes, which he really enjoyed. Around $20 total.

                                        2. If you can get to Little Q on Hancock Street in Quincy on a week day and ask for the $7.50 lunch special you will be amply rewarded.

                                          1. 75 cent hotdogs at sullivans on castle island for the month of November

                                            1. Are there falafel sandwiches to be had anywhere in Beantown or around? Falafel is always a great deal . . .

                                              9 Replies
                                              1. re: margareteats

                                                I think it's called Sami's in West Roxbury on Center St., right by the Roche Bros. Market, they make a falafal sandwich for like $5 that's as long as your forearm. It's fracking delicous, and almost impossible to eat in one sitting. I am by no means a vegetarian, but would choose this sandwich over a steak and chease any day, it's that good.

                                                1. re: margareteats

                                                  $3.25 falafel wraps from the truck at MIT - parked at 77 Mass Ave, right near the Mass Ave bridge. There is one in Kendall, too, but it's not that good.

                                                  1. re: margareteats

                                                    Falafel King on Winter Street is my falafel of choice -

                                                    BTW, I was speaking with the king the other day and apparently he is getting a new grill and will be expanding the menu to include other meats, kebobs, etc. (I think).

                                                    1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                      Another vote for Falafel King. Its take-out, but its hard to take it very far without eating it.

                                                      1. re: chowfamily

                                                        Ah--if you like Felafel King, his brother is making terrific felafel at the "Middle Eastern Grocery and Halal Meat" store on Hancock street in Quincy. Tasty fresh felafel with great ingredients, it's huge--two could split one and be happy--and a bargain at I think under $5. He wants to expand intot the next door shop to increase the space from a shop with a small kitchen to a sit down spot. Very tasty. Hmm...It's lunch time, I may need to go get one now!!

                                                        1. re: SeaSide Tomato

                                                          That is great news!!! Thanks so much for the tip!

                                                          1. re: chowfamily

                                                            So welcome-I hope you get to try it soon--it's wonderful--and the owner seems really, really nice!

                                                            1. re: SeaSide Tomato

                                                              I tried it last Saturday and it was outstanding. The felafel was deliciously crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. I had it with hummus, delicious tahini, lettuce and tomato. The price was just under $5.00.

                                                              I agree, the owner is very nice. Thanks again for the recommendation.

                                                          2. re: SeaSide Tomato

                                                            Yes, good to know. I've driven by and been curious but assumed it was merely a grocery store.

                                                    2. Not very "gourmet", but I'm blissfully happy ordering the large Hebrew National hot dog with sauerkraut, onions, mustard and a refillable soda for $1.50 at COSTCO.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: EllenMM

                                                        Ate last night at Red Rock Bistro, Monday night is dollar night.

                                                        1$ oysters- super fresh seven varieties last night, I had the blue points.
                                                        1$ grilled shrimp- two grilled shrimp on a skewer, simple grilled shrimp
                                                        1$ sliders, mini burgers topped with carmelized onions.
                                                        1$ corn dogs, served with spicy mustard

                                                        Great deal, I also had the fried clam app, which were some of the best I've had in a while though not a bargain at 11.50 for a small brown bag.

                                                      2. Tanjore in Harvard Square is my starving-student standby. $8 gets you access to an all-you-can eat buffet (normally not my thing, but this place makes some great Indian food) that you can also dispatch with in a good-sized takeout container. If you have a small appetite, like I do, this can easily get you through 3 meals.

                                                        Also, Rendang, the Malaysian place nearby, offers a $6.25 lunch special. The food isn't super, but there's a ton of it and the atmosphere is nice. I'd recommend the beef Rendang.

                                                        It's less of a bargain, but the $10 Saturday brunch at Aquitaine has always seemed like a steal for such a nice place. A homemade cinnamon roll, eggs, coffee, juice.

                                                        Brunch at the Neighborhood in Somerville is also a steal, in my opinion.

                                                        And of course, there's Grendel's Den, patron organization of starving Harvard students. The $5 lunch specials, the $1 "Sunday Seven" entrees, the half-price eats during happy hour...it's hard to find a time when the food here isn't on sale. Nothing to write home about, but a meal and a draft for under $10 is always pleasurable.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: savedlatin

                                                          How is the brunch at the Neighborhood a steal - most people go for that page of specials and isn't it running about 13 bucks these days? a lot of food yes, worth the calories, no.

                                                          1. re: MB fka MB

                                                            How about the bar menu at Flemmings from 3-6pm. $1.95 burgers with all the sides. They always have about 6 selections for $1.95.