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Can you eat well for under $10?

I'm looking for good lunch/dinner deals in the Back Bay, South End, and Beacon Hill. Allston and Cambridge have a wealth of them, but in the yuppie havens they're harder to find. Any suggestions?

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  1. Sandwich night at Pops is a great deal. Monday nights only, and not under $10, but very close. Delicious sandwiches too.

    1. What do you mean by well? Big quantities or high quality food?

      big quantities sure, but high quality for $10 is not an option in this state.

      1. chinatown is a close enough walk and plenty of eats for under $10.

        1. In the South End and cheap (though you'll have stretch $10 at some of these):

          Mike's City Diner on Washington. Excellent diner fare, big portions, breakfast/lunch only. Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe on Columbus, with better atmosphere, smaller portions, and higher prices (closed Sunday)

          Columbus Cafe and the Delux Cafe for modestly-priced (by neighborhood standards) American food.

          House of Siam or Thai Village for decent Thai.

          Don Ricardo's for Peruvian, Brazilian, and Mexican food at nice prices (free parking out back -- get the notice from the restaurant to put in your windshield).

          Miami Cafe for good Dominican sandwiches and entrees (counter service).

          Morse Fish for excellent fried and broiled seafood.

          J.J. Foley's Cafe for very good, reasonably priced pub and Irish food.

          Pizza options, in my order of preference: Picco, The Dish, Mangia Pizza, South End Pizza. Good sandwich and salad options at Picco, too.

          Anchovies for basic but good Italian-American in a dive bar setting.

          Flour, South End Buttery, and Green Light for pastries, sandwiches and salads.

          Billy's Sub Shop for Greek-American diner breakfasts and lunches (decent gyro in pita).

          Giorgiana's for Greek, Italian, and American deli specialties (hot and cold). It has three little tables if you want to eat in.

          Pops and Coda will stretch your budget a bit but are good values.

          You could get a small plate or two for $10 at Toro, Sage, Union, Gaslight, The Butcher Shop, and Rocca. Ask for the bar/caffe menu, if they have one.

          $10 will get you lunch at Myers+Chang, but not dinner.

          El Triunfo for Salvadoran burritos and tacos (mainly takeout).

          1. I think they still do this...Masa was doing some sort of deal where tapas were $1.00 a piece. Between my friend and I, I think we did maybe 5 tapas total and drinks and it was super cheap. I know it's not exactly what you might wish to do for a dinner, but it's nice after work for a quick bite or to go w/ friends and catch up.

            I know it gets panned a lot, but Viga is a cheap lunch spot. They have good pizza, some pasta dishes are good, and sandwiches are good. It's by no means fancy or gourmet, but if you want to pay $5 for a tasty lunch, Viga is it.

            I think someone brought it up on the board before...you can do well price-wise at many places by going off the appetizer menu. If you get a couple of apps, you usually spend less than an entree and can come away feeling satisfied. I know that it depends on which places you go, but a lot of places do have good app menus that you don't need to spend a fortune on.

            1. For Beacon Hill:
              The Upper Crust on Charles Street has decent pizza.
              Burgers at the Red Hat on Bowdoin Street are very good.
              The King and I on Charles Street has some good Thai entrees for around $10.
              The Paramount on Charles Street has an excellent weekend brunch, with most meals around $10.

              For the South End, I can't really add much to MC's list, though I might add Addis Red Sea on Tremont Street. They have excellent Ethiopian cuisine, and while prices may be a bit above $10, you can definitely eat there for under $20.

              For the Back Bay, well, I never seem to have much luck in that area. Steve's on Newbury has average to good Greek food, Cafe Jaffa has excellent Middle Eastern cuisine, though prices may be a bit out of the $10 range, and Bostone Pizza on Newbury has some of the best pizza I've had in the Boston area, but it has little atmosphere (better for takeout).

              1. Definitely for lunch, you can get good food for under $10 at Phoenicia, Antonios, Harvard Gardens and Ma Soba which are all on Cambridge St. near Beacon Hill. Also, around the corner on Charles St. is The King and I, which is good Thai food and has many lunch specials in that price range.

                For dinner, I believe Harvard Gardens and The King and I at least have some items under or around the $10 range as well.

                It's not quite Back Bay or Beacon Hill, but Sultan's Kitchen on State St. would have many items around $10 or under, and the food is excellent as well.

                1. I'll add my favorites: Shino Express Sushi by Copley Square ($1 per piece) and Bukowski's burgers and dogs by Hynes Convention Center.

                  1. For a Beacon Hill lunch, try Villa Mexico in the gas station on Cambridge Street. It's quite good. And the woman's mole is great. Not Angela's great, but great.

                    1. Beacon Hill: On Charles Street, Artu makes my favorite sandwich in Boston: roast lamb with marinated eggplant and peppers Used to be $6.40 but might be higher now. Panifico has a decent array of soups salads and pizza slices that should be under $10. Grampy's Gulf Station has good Mexican in your price range.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: gourmaniac

                        Second Artu rec. One of the best sandwiches in town. The porchetta is good too, but the lamb is simply divine.

                        1. re: yumyum

                          Yes, that Artu lamb sandwich is great! My mouth is watering just at the thought of it!!

                      2. Al Capone's on Broad St., a killer sub for about $7., almost any place in Chinatown, Milk St Cafe for a vegie lunch, Flemmings for a $1.95 hamburger or other tid bits between 4-6pm. If you wander over to the North End for lunch, you can 'stuff' yourself at Galleria Umberto and have change left over

                        13 Replies
                        1. re: treb

                          Al Capone's does give you a huge sub for like $7 but I will say it is definitely quantity over quality.

                          1. re: TomH

                            That depends on the sub, the chicken parm is a good value and good tasting, you can't screw up chicken too much. Besides what do you expect for a sawbuck, 5 Stars?

                            1. re: treb

                              It was a chicken parm and it was far from good tasting. I threw the other half out. I can get a chicken parm at Victor's in Somerville or Bob's in Medford for $6 that may be smaller but at least I will enjoy it. So, no, I didn't expect "5 Stars" but 3 may have been nice.

                              And you are right that it is tough to screw up chicken parm but they seem to have pulled it off. This is to say nothing of the dry steak and cheese I got there on another occasion and I am far from a "food snob".

                              1. re: treb

                                Well, yes I do. This is Chowhound, which I thought was not about just suggesting the merely edible because it is within a specified budget. I shudder at the fact Red Hat was mentioned as well, but to be fair, I've never had the burger there--I'm frightened at the thought. BTW, Capone's is not on Broad Street anymore.

                                Beacon Hill addition: The Hill Tavern has an excellent Chicken Sandwich for like $7. Comes with a nice green salad or fries.

                                1. re: Alcachofa

                                  Concerning my Red Hat comment, I lived off those burgers for several years in college, and still get them every now and then when I go back there. I personally wouldn't get anything else at the Red Hat (other than beer), but the burgers really aren't that bad.

                                  1. re: hiddenboston

                                    I also think Red Hat burgers are pretty good (at least when Gerard owned the place). They also used to have (and maybe still do) a relatively decent pizza, believe it or not. Kind of a "inside grilled" version.

                                    1. re: Bostonbob3

                                      The burger at Grotto is only 10 bucks, lunch only.

                                      1. re: Bostonbob3

                                        If you guys are buying, I'll be happy to check out the pizza and burgers there with you. :o)

                                          1. re: Alcachofa

                                            Oof, I don't know...I've done enough buying at that place....

                                            (Flashback to 1990s:)
                                            BANK MANAGER: Mr. Hiddenboston, would you state the reason for requesting a loan from our bank?
                                            HB: To be able to buy more rounds of drinks, including pitchers of Long Island Iced Teas, at The Red Hat, sir.
                                            BANK MANAGER: Please sign here...

                                            1. re: hiddenboston

                                              I probably saw you many, many times at the Red Hat during my days on Beacon Hill.

                                              Did you know Gerry?

                                              1. re: Bostonbob3

                                                Was that Mr. Hat? The big guy with the cigar who always sat in the back? If so, yes--well, I only knew him by sight.

                                                1. re: hiddenboston

                                                  No, Gerard (Gerry) was the owner. Mostly baldish, but with a long grey ponytail. Really nice guy. Used to cook him and his woman Thanksgiving dinner on their boat-house in Charlestown.

                                1. re: FoolForFood

                                  I also wanted to mention Villa Mexicana, which is part of Grampy's gas station in Beacon Hill. the burritos are a highlight, but all of the Mexican food there is really quite good. The salsa is smoky and just spicy enough... my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

                                  1. re: Vdawg

                                    Viva Burrito for steak tacos and burritos. The King and I at lunch for thai. Chacarero for yummy sandwiches. Chinatown is a wealth of options - pho, banh mi, pork buns, custard tarts.

                                    I am dying to try Villa Mexicana and will probably try to do so this weekend since it gets such good reviews.

                                2. Not lunch or dinner, but Union and Masa in South End have Brunch deals on Saturday. $10 including drink (coffee/juice).

                                    1. Jacob Wirth's on Stuart street. $5 beer and brat. You can add a side of fries and be a cheap tipper and leave for $10 even. The beer is Harpoon IPA which is one of my favorite.

                                      1. Good lunch deal at Bukowski's in Back Bay - $2 burger...or maybe it's a $1.69 - extra dollar for a veg burger instead. I like the atmosphere, although occasionally the music is too loud.

                                        The Bostonian just opened on Harrison Ave - I love them - great, creative sandwiches, samosas, good soups - and very friendly service - easily get a meal for under $8.

                                        Haley House is a ways down Washington into Dudley Square, but definitely worth a couple of tries. They have different special menus each day of the week - on Wednesdays there are usually a couple of great Puerto Rican entrees

                                        As for El Triunfo on E. Berkley St - I'd stay away from them. I used to go there regularly, even though the food is barely medicore at best, because it is one of the closest places to where I work. I swore them off entirely this past fall - the food got worse when the Salvadoran family that owned it sold to a Ukrainian businessman and his son...and the son is incredibly rude.

                                        I put up with that, thinking he was just young and trying to be hip but once, when I mentioned that I volunteered at the homeless shelter across the street and he said Why!? They're ruining the neighborhood! Ok. I could live with that too - but he just kept grilling me about it - not something I want to spend my money to be subjected to.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: lunchout

                                          I've never heard of The Bostonian. Where on Harrison Avenue is it? Do they have much seating?

                                          1. re: hiddenboston

                                            It is relatively new - I'll check and see if I've got the name exactly right the next time I go by there - It is near the intersection of E. Berkeley and Harrison...just across from Pine Street Inn.

                                            The things I like best about the place:

                                            The people behind the counter are friendly to me, and to all of the various sorts of folks likely to walk into an eating place that serves food for under 10 dollars in the SE section of Roxbury.

                                            Most times of day, you can sit at a table with a coffee or with your lunch and visit with whoever happens to be there, as well as the staff, and never feel a push to move along. I had a great time watching bits of the Women's World Cup on their TV, listening to real soccer fans bicker about
                                            the games. I enjoy commiserating about the news as it comes on - or having little arguments of my own, as I am generally to the left of workers and customers alike. It's just nice.

                                            Workers are glad to try to make your food the way you want it, no matter what is on the menu...for example...I like to get eggs and tomatoes w/ hot sauce and avocado - they have those ingredients, so they make it for me, and figure out the price.

                                            I can't say the food is special - all of the sandwich ingredients I've had are good, not excellent - lots of interesting condiments...but the bread is not so good, which is a massive problem for a place that sells mostly sandwiches. I tend to go for the tortilla instead of rolls or bread when it comes to sandwiches.

                                            The samosas and soups are pretty good - I had a lentil soup there once that was excellent, good simple broth with flavors of garlic, mustard seed clove...

                                            I've never gotten any of their other hot meals. I've never gotten one of their salads. I think if I really wanted to see what they were capable of cooking - I'd ask if the chef in the back would make for me what he makes for himself for a good lunch.

                                            The workers here are mostly South Asian...I suspect that they are currently trying to serve too many items to please too many low-budget palates - it'll be interesting to see what they'll come up with if they decide to focus on making fewer items of higher quality.

                                            I would not say this is any kind of a "hidden gem" - just a really nice little business, trying to make good for an under-served market in an expensive neighborhood that is also full of work-a-day people who would appreciate a decent place for a quick lunch.

                                            1. re: lunchout

                                              Thanks for the information, lunchout. When I return from Manhattan I'll try to get over there.

                                        2. Galleria Umberto for lunch (under $5.), Rami's in Coolidge Corner, lunch at Gari Japanese Fusion (2 rolls for $8.).

                                          1. We just ate for the first time at Picco, in the South End (next to Sibling Rivalry). We had an excellent meal, and the prices were very reasonable.

                                            I had a delicious cubano panini for $8.00. It certainly was big enough for a meal without anything else, although we did end up trying an order of the homemade gingerbread with a scoop of Winter Fruit ice cream. That was also lip-smacking good. Definitely a nice place to go for an inexpensive and tasty meal.