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2008 definitive Financial District lunch thread

It's been a while since we've had a good discussion of downtown lunch options, and it would be nice if we compiled our notes into a single thread. So I'll start with some of my favorites (none of which will be a surprise to anyone):

Chacarero (Arch St./Province St.) -- Nuff said. My favorite downtown lunch.

Al's (State St.) -- It's kinda just a sub shop, but their homemade sub rolls make all the difference in the world.

Sultan's Kitchen (State St.) -- Great Turkish food.

Good Life (Kingston St.) -- For a casual sit-down lunch.

Sel de la Terre (State St., on the Aquarium side of Surface Rd.) -- When you need a place to bring a client.

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  1. J.A. Stats (Broad St. - Old Tiernan's location) - just opened last week - big portions, good basic chow. Paninis look awesome. Full service bar and dinner too.

    Boston Kebob House (Liberty Square) - Mideastern alternative to Sultan's - Meze bar is excellent vegetarian option.

    1. Here's a fairly complete list of my current rotation, divided into categories, listing each in descending order of preference. For the "lower air-play spots", I've included a short blurb:


      * Italian Cafe
      * Al's


      * Sakurabana
      * Samurai - also a good spot for shabu shabu if you don't have the time to get all the way to Chinatown.
      * The place in the Corner Mall

      --Plain Old Sandwiches--

      * Sam LaGrassa's
      * Rudy's - surprisingly great sandwiches on good, crusty French bread in this counter service place in the Boston Harbor Hotel. I really like the roast beef with horseradish sauce.
      * Bakey's - a Financial District institution, this place has Sam's-style sandwiches, served in a table-service environment.

      --Upscale Casual--

      * Kingston Station
      * Good Life
      * Silvertone

      --Other Ethnic/Semi-ethnic--

      * Chacarero
      * Sultan's Kitchen
      * Boston Kebab House - quality on par with Sultan's, but the downstairs seating area is a nice added bonus.
      * Rock Sugar
      * (haven't been to Pita Kabob yet, but it's on my list)


      * Houston's
      * The Vault - over 10 respectable entree salads available here.
      * Sebastian's
      * Cosi
      * Pressed Sandwiches

      --Splurge/Client Lunches--

      * No. 9 Park
      * Sel de la Terre

      --Nice little schlep for take-out when time and weather permit--

      * Mei Sum Bakery
      * Flour
      * Haymarket pizza

      1 Reply
      1. re: finlero

        One correction and one update:

        The sandwich place in the Boston Harbor Hotel is Rudi's, not Rudy's.

        Sushi Time (can't...bear...horrible...name!) is the sushi place in the Corner Mall.

      2. I'm keen on all of Blumie's recs, esp. The Chac and Sultan's. I'll add:

        Pita Kabob (Chauncy St side of Hyatt Regency) for Persian kebabs. Skip the American stuff.

        Silvertone (Bromfield St), comfort-food plates of high quality and value, reasonably quick if you sit at the bar. Great grilled fish, steak tips, sandwiches with very good fries.

        Falafel King (Winter St Arcade near Tremont). Some of the best falafel in town.

        Sam LaGrassa's (Province St). Good overstuffed deli sandwiches, fine corned beef and pastrami.

        Burrito Express (Bedford St). I haven't revisited this lately, but I was rather impressed with the Mex/border food here, which I thought was pretty fresh tasting, especially the corn-tortilla tacos. (I generally don't order burritos, so can't speak to theirs.)

        Locke-Ober (alley off Temple Place). A better deal at lunch, though still pricey and not a quick meal. Superb roast beef hash with poached eggs. Great soups/stews, calf's liver, Wiener schnitzel with a fried egg and anchovies on top.

        Mantra (Temple Place). Another place I haven't been back to in some time, but I recall the buffet of upscale Indian (they avoid the fusion-y thing at lunch) to be rather good for $12.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MC Slim JB

          Hit the Mantra buffet lunch today; still very well prepared and high quality and a good option if you have a craving for Indian food and work downtown.

        2. Has anyone been to Lobby on Broad Street across from The Times.? It is in the old Pizza Oggi space and owned by the guys running the Rock Revolution Bar around the corner?

          1. another splurge place would be Radius. They also have a 3 course lunch for ~$24

            1. Some additions:

              Andale Mexical Grill (Surface Rd. & Summer St.) - pretty good taqueria fare, and very quick
              Pressed Sandwiches (multiple locations) - for... pressed sandwiches (although a little pricey)
              Felafel King (Winter St.) - great felafel
              Viga (High St.) - try their hot sandwiches, although pizza isn't that good

              Leather District, but close:
              Hei La Moon (Beach St.) - Dim Sum daily
              Sorriso (South St.) - sit-down Italian good for business lunches

              Fort Point Area, but close - just don't walk over the bridge in Winter:
              Channel Cafe (Summer St.) - eclectic, but good
              Lucky's (Congress St. & A St. - but no sign) - big gobs of happy comfort food

              I'd second many of the other ones mentioned.

              1 Reply
              1. re: patiofixture

                Second Channel Cafe (and the bridge in winter comment, though only on windy/snowy days). They make an excellent "veggie burger", but all the food is really good.

                Your Lucky's description is dead-on. Nothing special or great, but for cheap'n'quick comfort food with a fun ambiance it's impossible to beat.

              2. I love the Times too for a quick lunch, and if I'm not heading back to work, a pint there isn't to shabby!

                I'm also a fan of Pressed - they have a few locations, but the one on Oliver St makes an awesome Chicken Cuban and a Portabello/Ricotta sandwich.

                1. Much of the same for me too: Sultans, Chacerrero, Sebstians, Silvertone are in steady rotation.

                  Think someone else mentioned this, but I also like Viga for a quick and cheap sandwich. I have also been know to hit up the Hungry Traveler in Court Sq. for quick, convenient, and cheap (sandwiches and a decent greek salad w/ chicken kabob for around $6).

                  I thought someone said that Boston Kebab House as an alternative to Sultan's, but I have tried it a couple times and just don't think it matches up in quality and freshness, but maybe I didn't get the right things.

                  This is a great thread, because I am always looking for new-different places to mix up my rotation.

                  1. Hi,

                    Here are my favorites:

                    Sebastians - (Summer St. and Devonshire St.) THE best salads, and excellent hot foods/sandwiches. But, the salad bar here rocks.

                    Milk St. Cafe (Milk St.) - Excellent deli sandwiches, salad plates and homemade soups. And it happens to be kosher, too.

                    At the Corner Mall food court - Vouros Greek, and the Thai place (can't remember the name).

                    Deli - The Hungry Traveller on Court Sq (behind the Boston School HQ). Excellent basic daily specials such as pot roast, baked schrod, mac and cheese. Good comfort food place.

                    Tequila's Mexican Grill (Bromfield St.) - A really good Salvadoran/Mexican place with delicious homemade salsa and excellent empanadas.

                    A second vote for Sultan's Kitchen and Falafel King, both favorites of mine.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: mwk

                      Any specific sandwich recs at Milk Street? I've been a tad underwhelmed with the handful of lunches I've had there over the years, although their cakes are pretty consistently tasty for office birthday parties.

                      The Corner Mall Thai place is called Thai Accent. I'm nominally partial to Rock Sugar, but not 100% smitten by either.

                      1. re: finlero


                        I like their salads, like the tuna or egg salad plates, or the middle eastern style with hoummus/tabbouleh. I also really like their soups. They make an excellent split pea, and a very tasty tomato feta soup.

                    2. I'm so psyched about this post---I've been working downtown for over two years and have yet to try many of these places.

                      I'll second Channel Cafe and Flour (love the latter's lamb sandwich) and (of course) Chacarero.

                      I'll add a dark-horse:
                      the cafeteria in One Financial Center (Atlantic Ave. & Summer St., across from South Station and kitty corner from the Federal Reserve). Take the elevator up one level from the lobby, walk straight and follow the crowd off to the left after a few paces. There is a multitude of choices, mostly very high quality and relatively reasonably priced, and it's all ready to go. The hot entrees tend to be a really good deal; items like roast turkey, flank steak, sides like roasted root vegetables, etc. Salad bar is great, soups are v. good, etc.

                      The atmosphere is bland/corporate, but the food makes up for it...

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: bella_sarda

                        Hi, is this a Sodexho run cafeteria? If so, stay away!

                        1. re: Guinness02122

                          No, it's not Sodexho. I can't remember the name of the company that is running it, but some of my co-workers and I started going here on occasion because the cafeteria in our own building is run by Sodexho and is god-awful. We checked, and the One Financial cafeteria is *not* Sodexho.

                        2. re: bella_sarda

                          I've only One Financial Center one try, but I won't go back. It seemed like a Sodexho cafeteria - food that looks good but doesn't go any farther. I know it's not fair to judge a place on one try, but...

                          What I found was what looked like good felafel. I should have heeded the warning sign that the person serving the felafel, when asked if they had tahini to go with it, had to converse with the other servers for about 10 minutes before admitting that no one knew what it was. Getting to my table, I found that it was refrigerator cold and hard as a rock.

                        3. Techincally it is the Leather District but I really like the food at Figaro's on Beach Street.

                          1. People have already hit most of my usual rotation..Chacarero, LaGrassa's, Sakura Bana, Sultans, Burrito Express, Viga for hot Italian sandwiches, Paces for cold (prosciutto), Al's for steak and cheese, Rock Sugar is ok for a Thai craving.Pizzeria Rico on Bromfield makes a Thxgiving on a roll on Thurs only..fresh roasted turkey, stuffing, cranberry..never tried their pizza but they do sell dough..which is nice.

                            Sit down..Silvertones, Good Life, Les Zyg..splurge or biz lunch..Locke Ober

                            Chinatown and the NE are short walks..if I want to take a little more time.

                            1. Certainly, Chacarero, Milk St. Cafe (this place has wonderful lunches) , Sultan's K, got to throw in Raddius if it's overrated and on the other end Hay Market Pizza.

                              1. Depending on what side of the Financial District you work on this could be a trek but Jacob Wirth's on Stuart Street. The fries are amazing and you can get a brat and beer(Harpoon IPA) for $5 during lunch. It doesn't get much better than than unless you can handle two!

                                1. If you are at the Government Center end of the Financial District, Grotto is nearby and does a very good lunch.

                                  37 Bowdoin Street, Boston, MA 02114

                                  1. One that never gets mentioned: Grass Roots Deli on Devonshire (across from 1 Federal Street). Try a Cape Cod: chicken salad, avocado, and cranberry on white toast.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: coookie

                                      I was a big fan of Grass Roots for years. John, the sandwich maker has had a following in the financial district for years. Many people followed him from deli to deli..1 of the first real roasted turkey sandwiches instead of pressed roll.

                                      Unfortunately, the change in ownership a few years ago brought the quality down...and a general skimpiness on sandwiches.

                                      By coincidence, we had a catered lunch today from Grass Roots...not my choice...weak. Mac and cheese still good.

                                      A few years ago, a winner..Now, many better options in the area.

                                      1. re: 9lives

                                        Is Deli 1 the same as Deli Of Course (or was it Deli Of Choice)?

                                        1. re: Guinness02122

                                          Sorry, not familiar with either.

                                          My financial district deli routine is pretty set...CB/pastrami..LaGrassa's, cold Italian..Pace, hot Italian..Viga, steak +cheese and more..Al's on State, thxgiving on a roll..Pizzeria Rico..Thurs only

                                          Our office sometimes gets from Max's....poor and I'd never go in on my own.