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Cafe con leche and cheap vacation eats

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Hi. First up, I'm looking for superb cafe con leche spots. I've spent a lot of time in Tampa, FL, and know my cafe con leche. I've really been craving it for some reason. Any suggestions?

Also, I have next week off from work and am making a list of foodie spots that I've wanted to check out or favorites that I'll be revisiting. The new vegan ice cream place in the South End, choco choco house (or the new incarnation -- I forget which name is correct), Sevan's Bakery, and Kupel's for a bagel are all top of the list right now. You may have noticed a cheap trend. :] It's just me — hub will be at work next week — so no fancy meals out or big sit-down dinners.

Thank you!

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  1. Ahh, cheap eats are my weakness as well.

    For cafe con leche, I suggest El Oriental de Cuba, in Jamaica Plain. And accompany that with a guava and cheese empanada. Mmmm.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Prav

      Oooh...I forgot about El Oriental. Thanks for the rec. Are they in the spot they were in pre-fire? How long ago was that? (I'll look it up....) It seems like it was just a few months ago.

      1. re: chucktownlady

        El Oriental is indeed in the same spot, and is (imho) better looking and tasting than before the fire.

    2. I really liked the cafe con leche that I had an Angela's cafe in East Boston last week (also...the mole sauce was also awesome - although my piece of chicken was a little dry, the roja sauce with nopales was good - the sauce was not quite as good in my opinion, but the chicken breast was better and the guacamole was excellent).

      1. Also Miami Cafe and a number of other Dominican places... BTW, does anyone know of something called like Freddy's Pastelito in JP (the first name is probably incorrect, but I heard the ad pass only once during the sox spanish language broadcast)?

        5 Replies
        1. re: itaunas

          Freddy's Pastelito is across from Canto 6 on Washington St. I tried a few empanadas from there, and they were easily the worst empanadas I ever had. Also the first empanadas I've thrown away after a few bites. And they were cold. :(

          1. re: Prav

            That explains why they need to advertise and Madego's not.

            1. re: itaunas

              The place sort of gave me the creeps, as well. Absolutely no-one there, and it was dark and dingy. Just two people sitting at a cash register, and weirdest of all, there was NO display case of any kind. So I had no idea what (if even anything) was available.

              1. re: Prav

                I'll throw it out here since I still haven't made it out that direction, but has anybody tried Tostado a dominican juice bar and sandwich place in Roslindale. I know Joanie poked her head in.... http://www.elmundoboston.com/index.ph...

                Seems like a possible alternative for cafe con leche.

            2. re: Prav

              I have not had the empanadas at Fredy's, but I do like their stewed beef.

          2. I am just finishing up a vacation week's worth of cheap eats lunches, mostly board favorites. After a hectic period, I decided to indulge myself and either revisit old favorites, or check out places that come up here time and again. Here's a sampling of where I went:

            I started last weekend with fried clams at Dairy Joy in Weston, which were just as posted. Great fry job, $15 a small box without fries. Clams were tender and fresh, not amazingly flavorful. Definitely worth eating, but at that price not a great value. I'll probably be back since the location is convenient for me, although I also need to check out the clams at Celebrity Pizza first.

            Next, Speed dogs on Wednesday. No problem finding the truck in New Market...right near New England Coffee Cake Factory. No lines about 11:50. Two with everything and mine without relish or barbecue sauce (I'm not much of a sweet/savory fan, and a previous post mentioned that the sweetness factor was high). I'd definitely ask them to char them a bit next time. Dogs held up well for the 20 minute or so ride to eagerly awaiting lunch companions, even if the rolls steamed and got rubbery. Dogs were great and everyone was very happy.

            Thursday, headed to Super 88 in Allston to satisfy my grilled chicken banh mi craving at Pho Viet. Just as good as I remembered, and at $3 a steal. Fresh, tasty roll, crunchy veggies, garlickly and slightly sweet, fresh burst of cilantro. Yum. Also had tasty pork dumplings at Wisteria House, and the vegetarians with me got jap chae and stone pot bibimbap at the Korean place.

            Friday, it was off to El Pelon in Kenmore for fish tacos. The fish was well-fried and the tacos were very good. I can't say I thought they were amazing, but they did satisfy the craving that the recent postings had started, and it was a beautiful day to walk around the city. We ended up at Flour for double-chocolate cookies for dessert, and the cookies were fabulous.

            Have a great week, and don't forget to post and let us know where you end up. Happy cheap eats.

            1. Please report back -- I'm new to Boston and also know my café con leche...and pastelitos. Let me know if El Oriental measures up!

              1 Reply
              1. re: High Heels and Frijoles

                Hi all. Thanks for the great suggestions! Before my week even began (I'm counting Monday as the official start), I had already enjoyed a Petsi pie and Iggy's prosciutto pizza and bagels. Hub and I found ourselves near Iggy's over the weekend when we decided to visit the parking-lot-of-death Whole Foods by Alewife. I was shocked that Iggy's was in an industrial park! So funny. It's a cute little place, but has no seats, so we ate the pizza in the car. I was overwhelmed at the counter (what to eat first?), so I kept my ordering to a minimum. A friend recommended Iggy's bagels — with store-bought smoked salmon and cream cheese — as way better than Kupel's. I'd have to do a side-by-side test, but I didn't think Iggy's bagel was that good.

                I had friends over for dinner on Sunday and they showed up with — a Petsi pie! The mixed berry pie. And it was amazing. Perfect crust and the berries were so good. Think they use frozen berries or are they fresh? I'd still like to pick up a chicken pot pie sometime. And someone recommended the cupcakes too. Hmm...there's always tomorrow...

                Monday was crappy weather. I ate leftovers from dinner and finished the berry pie.

                Tuesday, I had a whoopie pie from Lyndell's. Yummy. Not cream cheese filling (which I would have preferred) but still damn good and only $1!! Definitely the bargain of the week. Frosting did have a confection-y flavor to it, maybe a little shortening, but it was still a nice treat. The only whoopie pie flavor was chocolate with white (vanilla??) filling.
                Later on, I stopped at Sevan's and Arax in Watertown. I agree with other CH comments -- the folks at Sevan's are wonderful and friendly. So so nice. I got mixed olives and spanakopita at Arax. Top-notch olives. The spinach pie was just ok. At Sevan's, I picked up a few delicious round focaccia-like breads w/ topping -- are these the lemejune? One had pomegranate seeds, roasted pepper oil, sumac and other spices, another had marinated mushrooms and artichokes. Also got baklava. They make several varieties, mixing it up with flavors like fig and pistachio, orange and walnut, etc etc. Very good. They seemed to have a great selection of spices, while Arax had a lot more in the way of produce, meats, a deli counter, etc.

                Yesterday I went to Market Basket for groceries. That place is crazy busy even at noon on a weekday. Crazy. Got a beautiful wild-caught US tuna steak (.75 lb) for $7.39. And a bunch of other stuff. I love that they have an aisle labeled "Goya".

                Had lunch today at Olecito. I got a baja shrimp taco and shared the braised pork and three cheese tortas with a friend. The shrimp taco was unreal -- battered shrimp with chipotle mayo wrapped by two thin tortillas. Yum. Tortas were very good too. 3 cheese torta has chihuahua, oaxaca, and panela cheeses. Tried my friend's pork pozole -- lovely broth, but I wasn't into the hominy. Good pieces of chicken in it. For dessert, I *tried* to get Wheeler's vegan ice cream. They aren't open yet! Location is Mass Ave. around Symphony. I swear I've seen reviews of that place, but maybe they're just reviews of the brand. Anyway, very disappointed. I headed to Aroa in the South End. Alex himself waited on me and recommended the tart I ordered -- amazing amazing milk chocolate tart with passionfruit cream and some kind of meringue-y floof on top that made me think of the marshmallow in a s'more. So good. Then I got two chocolates for the road (they lasted about 2 minutes), but the chocolates are $1.59 (or thereabouts) each. And the chocolates are teeny! So for about 4 seconds of pleasure, it was over $3. That's too much. And the tart was small. $3-something IIRC. I don't see how this place can make it, given that they are on the fringe of yuppie-ville and with the economy tanking.

                So, it's been a great week! I've blown a lot of my budget already and might not make too many more stops, but I'll post if I do.

                Oh -- cafe con leche people -- I think there's a Brazilian market in Union Square on the corner of Stone Ave. that might make it. It's crazy -- I live in East Somerville, there are taquerias and churrascurias on every corner, but I don't know if any of them serve cafe con leche. Will do research. I'm still craving it.