HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >


Boston must try Restaurants under $20

  • 0

Okay, I've been lurking here forever (and have learned a lot)

Now I am so into trying new restaurants, I need some ideas. I'd like to have a list of restaurants with entrees under $20 I must try. I like all kind of food, really... (and I can't afford more expensive restaurants, for now, I am just broke)

I already know my way around Chinatown.

Thank you :)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. well if you've been lurking then you'll probably have heard most of it already. i'd say, trattoria toscana, angela's, most of the places in the super 88 food court, qingdao, punjabi dhaba...gee, lots of others too. i mean, what's "new" for you? and any location preference?

    2 Replies
    1. re: autopi

      I've tried Angela's, Punjabi Dhaba (and most Indian restaurant in Cambridge), Super 88 Food Court, most Chinese places in Boston.

      I am not so familiar with North End, except for Pizzeria Regina's.

      1. re: autopi

        the indian place inside 88 is really good

      2. Welcome to the board!

        A list like this will be HUGE and possibly unmanageable. Maybe it would be helpful to list the restaurant as well as the dish in particular that makes it worth chowseeking out?

        My vote for now goes to ---

        Kathmandu Spice in Arlington - try a dish called Aloo Tama. It's a ubiquitous and very traditional Nepali comfort food, and is a hearty stew of potatoes, black-eyed peas, and a type of fermented bamboo shoot that's very hard to find here. The fermented bamboo is stringy and crunchy and has a flavour that might take some getting used to. Although I've grown up eating this stuff, I could possibly describe it as a combination of sour, umami, smoky, pickle-y... hmm.. maybe. :)

        Anyway, that's my vote.

        Kathmandu Spice
        166 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

        3 Replies
        1. re: Prav

          Thanks. I'll try that. I like bamboo shoots and I cook it often (I don't think I've had the crunchy stringy fermented kind, so I'll definitely try it!)

          1. re: 02139

            Yes - it's definitely sort of a hard thing to find around the country. Boston's lucky to have 4 (FOUR!!!) Nepali restaurants to sample this.

            1. re: Prav

              Today's Calendar's Cheap Eats reviews a Tiebetan restaurant in Brookline, Tashi Delek. Sounds like it fits the OP's search.

        2. Here are a few of my favorites in that price range that are in or near Boston:

          Tacos Lupita, Somerville (Salvadoran, Mexican)
          Angela's Cafe, East Boston (Mexican)
          Pizzeria Regina, North End (pizza)
          Dok Bua, Brookline (Thai)
          Shanti, Dorchester (Indian)
          India Quality, Kenmore Square (Indian)
          Antico Forno, North End (Italian)
          Moulton's, Medford (seafood)
          Reef Cafe, Allston (Middle Eastern)
          Shanghai Gate, Allston (Chinese)

          3 Replies
          1. re: hiddenboston

            I've been to most of these. The only ones I haven't been to are Antico Forno and Moulton's. Good suggestions.

            1. re: hiddenboston

              Most of Franklin Cafe's entrees are at or under $20 I believe.

              I'll also throw in a recommendation for:
              Tu y Yo (Somerville, Mexican)
              Helmand (I think most are under $20)
              Addis Red Sea

              1. re: hiddenboston

                We tried Moulton's for the first time last week. It was great, fresh simple seafood for about the same $ as it would take for us to make it at home. The grilled salmon and swordfish was some of the freshehst I've had in awhile. There was only one other table in there, and a few people eating at the bar. The service was very friendly, and it took less than 10 min to get there from mid-Cambridge.

                I would put this place on par with Out of the Blue. The fish at Moulton's was fresher, but OOTB has better atmosphere. For the record, Dolphin Seafood less than two blocks away, but we never go there. Both OOTB (and now Moulton's put it to shame.

              2. Lots of good recs already.
                In the downtown area, more for lunch - oh and some spots really aren't "restaurants" but you can eat just as well standing up.

                Chacarero - on or near Bromfield - one large combo is a meal.
                On the redline - The Porter Exchange spots -
                I'll throw in a Con Sol recommendation - Portuguese on Broadway in Cambridge - I think entrees did not exceed $14.
                Pretty much any Viet spot in Field's Corner

                  1. re: steve999

                    As a note, Laurel seems to get a lot of mixed opinions on this board, but I think the best bet is to sit at the bar and try a reasonably priced (though not necessarily interesting) entree, and have cocktails. We would go mainly for the fantastically entertaining bar tender, Erryl.

                    1. re: Prav

                      Erryl is fantastic and highly entertaining

                      1. re: Boston Scene

                        Does Laurel still have their Thursday night at half price entrees?

                  2. Here's my list:

                    Cafe Jaffa, Back Bay (Middle Eastern)
                    Cafe Polonia, South Boston (Polish)
                    Addis Red Sea, South End (Ethiopian)
                    Brookline Family Restaurant, Brookline (Turkish)
                    Audobon Circle Pub, Boston (mixed/gastropub)
                    Harvard Gardens, Beacon Hill (gastropub)
                    Redbones, Somerville (BBQ)
                    Jose's Mexican, Cambridge
                    Brown Sugar Cafe, Boston (Thai)
                    Koreana, Cambridge (Korean)
                    Sunset Cafe or Portugalia, Cambridge (Portuguese)
                    Moqueca, Cambridge (Brazilian)
                    India Quality, Boston
                    Zaftig's, Brookline (Jewish/Deli)

                    1. Here's an off the top of my head list of general cheap eats:

                      Blue Fin, Porter Square Cambridge - sushi
                      Any of the stalls in the Porter Exchange Mall, Cambridge - various Japanese
                      Druid, Inman Square, Cambridge - Irish pub grub
                      Publik House, Washington Square, Brookline - Belgium pub grub
                      Miracle of Science, Central Square, Cambridge - burgers & skewers
                      Tacos Lupita, Wilson Square, Somerville - Salvadorean
                      Rincon Limeno, East Boston - Peruvian
                      You already know about Chinatown
                      Angela's Cafe, East Boston - Mexican
                      Taqueria El Amigo, Waltham - Mexican
                      Gitlo's, Allston - dim sum
                      Blue Ribbon BBQ, Arlington - BBQ
                      Trattoria Toscona, Fenway, Boston - Tuscan
                      Qingdoa Garden, North Cambridge - Northern Chinese
                      Wang's Fast Food, Magoon Square, Somerville - Northern Chinese
                      MuLan, Kendall Square, Cambridge - Taiwanese
                      Namaskar, Davis Square, Somerville - Indian
                      Martsa on Elm, Davis Square, Somerville - Tibet-in-exile
                      House of Tibet Kitchen, Teele Square, Somerville - Tibetan
                      Il Panino Express, North End, Boston - Italian fast food
                      Most of the places in Allston. Do a search.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: gini

                        rumor has it that Taqueria El Maxicana opened up a second location in Coolidge Corner

                        1. re: gini

                          I think you meant Taqueria El Amigo in Waltham, gini (where I went last night). But Taqueria La Mexicana in Somerville is another excellent option.

                          1. re: hiddenboston

                            You're so right, hiddenboston. I changed it in the post.

                            1. re: gini

                              Although Taqueria Mexico in Waltham is also worthy - and they are the restaurant with a branch in Coolidge Corner. Both are very good, and both are cheap.

                        2. for non-ethnic food i'll throw a shout out for Silvertones

                          1. Adding onto the growing list:

                            -Atwood's Tavern on Cambridge St - not your usual pub fare (soba noodle and seaweed side anyone?)
                            -Deep Ellum in Allston Village - Their newly revamped website is much nicer than the old one. The veggie/vegan pot pie is calling my name - has anyone tried anything from the new-to-me winter menu?
                            -Forest Cafe Mass Ave outside Harvard Sq. Not your typical Mexican. Plus, who wouldn't want to drink/eat with famous Cantabridgian drinkers who seem to constantly populate the bar?
                            -Rangzen Tibetan in Central Sq. I've never had dinner there, but the lunch buffet keeps bringing me back again and again..
                            -Hometown Korean in Union Sq. Get the jajangmyun (noodles with scary-looking, but mild black bean sauce) or jampong (spicy seafood soup with the same noodles), particularly in this cold weather.
                            -The Independent in Union Sq. Upscale pub food. I like eating at the bar on the "restaurant" side versus the pub side. You'll see what I mean if you choose to stop in. Restaurant side feels nicer.
                            -Highland Kitchen outside Davis Sq. Our new favorite. Nab a seat at the bar and James will take great care of you. Green Street-esque food (owned by Mark Romano, so no surprise there).

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: digga

                              God, the Jajangmyun @ Hometown is the stuff of my dreams. :) Those noodles are so chewy, toothsome and good.

                              1. re: digga

                                I can definitely recommend Rangzen for dinner -- I imagine the lunch buffet is quite nice as well, although unfortunately I'm never in Central Square at lunchtime.

                                One quick clarification, though: Deep Ellum is in Union Square Allston (the confluence of Brighton Ave, North Beacon, Washington and Cambridge Sts), which is not the same thing as Allston Village, which is Harvard between Comm Ave and Cambridge Street.

                                1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                  Hmmm....We stopped into Deep Ellum today and we saw an "Allston Village" sign in the vicinity of Yoma.

                                  I tried the veggie pot pie - it was comically HUGE. Order it and you will see. Appropriately mild and comforting. I could have used a bit more spice/pepper. We brought more than half of it home and it had to still be a pound or two of food (I really dislike those nasty styro take-away containers - oy). I drank the St. Bernardus (?) tripel - not as floral as I would like - and the High and Mighty Farmhouse ale. He had the vegan seitan burger which he wasn't crazy about (I have had it before and I did like it...but then again, he doesn't often go for the faux meat but wanted to give it a try...he'd also prefer a toasted/grilled bun). He also had High and Mighty ale and Dogfish Head Ale 90 min IPA. We shared the malt fries and steamed pretzel with housemade mustard.

                                  1. re: digga

                                    Can't we just call it all Allston like the old days and be safe?

                                    In Roslindale, Geoffrey's where everything is <$15.

                                    1. re: Joanie

                                      "Can't we just call it all Allston like the old days and be safe?"

                                      Works for me. This whole village thing seems pretty silly to me anyway.

                              2. Sultan's Kitchen on State Street--Turkish, lunch only. Wonderful spicy soups.
                                Greek Corner on Mass Ave, North Cambridge Moist tasty swordfish.
                                Courthouse Fish Seafood Restaurant on Cambridge St near (the Court House) Fish!
                                Basta Pasta on Western Ave in Cambridge........... and by the way, a lot of us are also broke but still like to eat well!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: cassis

                                  I actually think Sultan's may be open till 8pm, although I have never been outside of lunch. I seem to remeber seeing that posted on the door of the restaurant.

                                2. my fave cheap eats, mostly asian:
                                  *rod dee: BEST thai food, brookline
                                  *dok bua, thai, brookline
                                  *pho pasteur, viet on brighton ave
                                  *may's cafe, authentic taiwanese, brighton/allson
                                  *india quality
                                  *boston pizza express, bu area, great chicken wings
                                  *color, korean, brighton
                                  *begood, burgers, backbay
                                  *cafe mami, porter exchange, japanese - VERY good (2 most popular dishes, burger on rice and boneless fried chicken)
                                  *mulan, taiwanese, cambridge

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: kweesee

                                    Nice call on the Thai food. Adding on Ahn Hung & Pho 2000 for Vietnamese and Floating Rock for Cambodian.

                                    1. re: kweesee

                                      Stopped in to Rod Dee for the first time, with Dok Bua being my usual. Everything was good, but ordered a dish that consisted of duck, greens, rice, sauce - EXTREMELY simple and homestyle and perfectly delicious.

                                      1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                        Is that the one that comes with a hard boiled egg? I love that dish. So tasty and a nice change from their greasy noodle and fried rice dishes (which I also love).

                                    2. Aneka Rasa (malaysian)
                                      Thai Moon in arlington
                                      Fuloon (chinese)

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: nasilemak

                                        I love the Indian Mee noodles at Aneka Rasa. Perfect winter comfort food. Or summer or fall.

                                      2. I'd add Galleria Umberto in the North End
                                        -Cafe Polonia (Polish) in Southie
                                        And I might get flogged, but La Verdad for tacos/ tortas on Lansdowne

                                        1. Adding one more:

                                          Baraka Cafe, Central Square, Cambridge - Tunisian

                                          1. Not that's it's really a restaurant per se, but Villa Mexico has pretty damn good Mexican food, especially considering it's in a gas station on Beacon Hill.

                                            1. dbar in dot. nothing on the menu that exceeds $20.00


                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: eLizard

                                                Fortunately, we have tons of options, too many to list. I ate at Alia recently, in Winthrop, excellent and affordable, also Gallery Unberto a deal not one can beat then there's the New Bridge. See, this can be endless, I like that! As I chow, I'll post.

                                              2. Don't forget Michael's Deli in Coolidge Corner for the best corned beef you will ever eat. You can even get a Cel-Ray with it.

                                                1. wow-- this list has become nutty! so many places...I will pick up on the trail... as you said you've only really ventured to Pizzaria Regina in the North End-- (which is not my personal favorite, but is for many others--for pizza)-- I would strongly suggest as someone else did here, that you try Galleria Umberto. It is only open for lunch, and has some crazy 12-2 hours I believe-- but they have arincini, pizza, calzone, etc. all cheap-- ! If you haven't done it, and are looking for something new, give it a shot. Also, lower on Hanover are a few places before you get to the 7-11, on the left side of the street toward the water-- some great spots for lunch, take a walk and peruse the menu's. If you've been here that long, you've gotta check out the North End & get some favorites there!!! ; )

                                                  1. If you want cheap you shouldn't settle for less in quality, i would suggest-
                                                    *Medina market-allston-excellent pakistani food almost everything is under 10 bucks
                                                    *Sunrise-dorchester-very very good vietnamese, someone else recomended pho2000, any viet place along dot ave is a good bet!
                                                    *tamarind bay-indian-there lunch special is really cheap and good
                                                    *The restaurants in side of porter exchange mall-japenese-the sushi place has really cheap lunch deals and the fish is fresh

                                                    hope that helps!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. Some more suggestions: Casablanca, Algiers, Wagamama, Silvertone, Bukowski's, Charlie's Kitchen, Matt Murphy's Pub, Soulfire BBQ, the Burren.

                                                      1. Try Galleria Umberto, CK'S Shanghai, Zoe's, Blue Ribbon BBQ, Shangri-La, Mr. Bartley's, the bar in Casablanca, Flour, Hi-Rise, Duk Bao, and Basta Pasta.

                                                        1. Cafe Brazil in Allston, not far from Yo Ma.

                                                          Also Sol Azteca in Audubon Circle.

                                                          1. Johnny's D in soverville!
                                                            Great place!