HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >


Good, inexpensive food in JP/Roxbury/Roslindale?

My husband and I just moved to the Forrest Hills area of JP (from Cambridge where there were tons of great cheap eats). Does anyone have places they like for a casual dinner or takeout in the Roslindale, West Roxbury, Dorchester area? We love cheap but authentic (nothing fancy) Mexican, ALL Asian (I'm craving Vietnamese, thai), Indian, almost any ethnic food. Or are we relegated to delivery?? Help!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. You've got to do some research on this board: there are tons of good recs for all those neighborhooods, especially JP. A few that come quickly to mind:

    Dorchester: King Do Baguette, Tavolo, Ashmont Grill, Poppa B's, Blarney Stone, Pha Le Bakery, Pho So #1, Restaurant Laura, Donovan’s, Merengue, Mrs. Jones, Singh’s Roti, Ali's Roti, Shanti, Caeseria.

    Roxbury: Pepper Pot, El Mondonguito, Haley House, Packy Connor's, M+M Ribs.


    1. In JP I can't think of any decent Vietnamese, Thai, Mexican or Chinese. As for Indian, there's the new(ish) place, Ghazal on Centre St in JP, which I haven't been to but have heard is decent. The other place, whose name escapes me, I quite detest.

      There is a Mexican place up by Jackson Square, on the north side of the street, that is ok. I like Food Wall in Hyde Square for Americanized Chinese take out--but don't expect it to be like Qingdao, Zoes, Wangs or Mulan, b/c it's not in that genre at all.

      Pupusa Guanaca, also up by Hyde Square, is good Salvadoran food, and has a nice feel to it.

      Some people like El Oriental de Cuba a lot, but I find it pretty middle-of-the-road, though they do nice shakes and strong espressos for $1.

      Closer to Forest Hills itself, I like Dogwood Cafe for their pizza. Some people like to get the pizza "well done," but I strongly prefer it the regular way.

      The nearest respectable Chinese I can think of is Sichuan Gourmet (Garden?) in Brookline Village, from which I have occasionally had pretty good meals and occasionally pretty bad meals.

      For Thai, I'd just head up to Allston to S&I or Dok Bua. There is Wonder Spice in JP center for Americanized Thai; I am partial to their crispy ginger fish, but that's about it. Tons of Vietnamese in Dorchester, but others can fill you in on that.

      Not really dinner, but if you don't already know about it, Canto 6 is a fantastic bakery: their pastries and tarts and whatnot are reliably great; and if you're missing Hi-Rise breads, they sell those at Ula Cafe, so you don't have to cross the river to get them. (Both Canto 6 and Ula do sandwiches as well, so I suppose kind of takeout.)

      There's a pizzeria in Roslindale that's also part taqueria. It's decent, though not something to go far out of your way for.

      1. I'd suggest trying Yucatan Tacos on Centre St in Roslindale - it's not super-authentic but more authentic than other burrito places, and definitely quick & cheap.

        1 Reply
        1. re: beefsteww

          Second Yucatan plus the breakfast place across the street (Harry's).

          1. Lots and lots of good options in Roslindale & West Roxbury. Here are my favorites:

            Romano's Pizza in Roslindale Village is the one that serves Mexican food - and I actually think the tacos are among the best (and probably most "authentic" - whatever that means) in the area. If you're into the straight-up meat-on-tortilla taco experience, potentially even a destination. I can't vouch for anything else they serve on the Mexican menu- in fact, I consider the mediocrity of the burritos a sign of seriousness. Sicilian pizza also good.

            Himalayan Bistro in West Roxbury is excellent for Indian & Nepali - eat in or takeout. They deliver.

            The King in West Roxbury for top-notch Lebanese.

            Tons more too...

            1. I live in your neck of the woods. The benefit of where we live is that it's pretty easy to get to both Roslindale and JP Center. I'll leave that to the respective boosters.

              Slim pickings, though, between the two. It's hard to find restaurants that I'm enthusiastic about. I second (third?) Yucatan Tacos on Centre, though. I was sad when the Washington Street location closed, but it never appeared to get off the ground. By the way, has anyone been to the place that replaced it?

              Joy Rice is also good for American takeout chinese. Nice folk, good prices.

              There are lots of other quick eats (Blowfish, Tostado's, BBQ town) on Washington that are also good.

              The dogwood is fine. I've never been blown away by the pizza, but its a great place for a burger and a beer. For pizza, I prefer delivery from The Real Deal or A&N.

              Go to Doyles for the beer and atmosphere. Eat somewhere else. James Gate is also fun, and the food is pretty good.

              I wholeheartedly support Dorchester for Vietnamese (I like Pho Hoa, but I might be in the minority). Asian options outside of Indian are generally weak -- I don't understand the hullabaloo over Wonder Spice, and I wish Ban Chiang would get a better chef.

              I'm wandering, so I'll stop.


              1. For pizza and casual Italian, I recommend Dogwood Cafe (across from Forest Hills T station). Also Pleasant Cafe in Roslindale on Washington St. A real blast from the past kinda place, with excellent pizza. Their fried seafood is also superb and reasonably priced


                1. Welcome to the neighborhood. A favorite topic. In JP, I would recommend Yely's coffee shop, Alex's chimis and pupusa guanaca for dominican/salvadorean food. Mattapan Ali's Roti, Flames and Lenny's Bakery for Jamaican. M&M ribs, Poppa B's for ribs/southern in Roxbury. Agree with other suggestions.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: gourmaniac

                    thought i read on these boards that poppa b's was closed. no?

                    1. re: hyde

                      Poppa B's is moving and changing: to Codman Square and a takeout-only format.


                  2. For a nearby Thai fix, Thai Spice in West Rox is ok, although order in advance - can be slooow.

                    1. In West Roxbury you'll find Sugar, a really good bakery with all things frosted as well as cookies, danish, etc. It's with the original New Deal which I also like for pizza and sandwiches. The New Deal in JP has a few baked goods from the West Rox bakery. Theres also Roche Bros. in West Roxbury which is my favorite supermarket in the area. There lots of casual restaurant/take out places on Centre St in West Rox as well. One is Comellas which has a branch there. It's Italian...primarily take out but several tables to eat in. There's a donut place, breakfast place, a new Greek place and lots of other options. Take a walk down Centre St on a nice day.

                      1. Hi, I live in West Roxbury and I would recommend the Real Deal for cheap, good American/pizza take-out (as well as Sugar for dessert) and Phuket for decent, local Thai.

                        For something a little more pricey - but not outrageously so - you should check out the Masona Grill on Corey Street. Good wine list, interesting, creative food that is not uber expensive.

                        1. Another West Roxburian weighing in.
                          Have lived here for 15 years, after five years of Cambridge dining. 'twas an adjustment.
                          Suggest the new-ish Upper Crust (order pizza well-done) off the police station rotary, burgers and fries and sandwiches from Real Deal, humus, baba ganoujh and pita from Bay Sweets, all on Center/Spring St in West Roxbury, and decent and fresh take out Americanized Chinese from Number 7 Chinese on Grove St (just off Washington St).

                          For breakfast or weekend brunch, wait in line for the Fifties Diner off RT 1 and order the 50's Platter.

                          1. These aren't ethnic picks but our favorite places in JP and Roslindale are The Alchemist and Geoffrey's respectively. Both good service, excellent prices and very good food.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: drboom

                              really I've found Geoffrey's to be terrible. I once had Tony's sausage there that was so overcooked it was virtually inedible. How exactly can you overcook sausage? The only good there is the outdoor seating that you can bring your dog to and the drinks.

                            2. If you ever crave old fashioned American bar food try the Galway House on Centre Street - huge portions, cheap prices. And it's like stepping back into 1985. Also - the bar side of James' Gate for Irish bar food, complete with a roaring fireplace in the Winter.

                              Bars: http://www.publicanpost.blogspot.com/

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: BoDubya

                                I've tried Galway House a couple of times recently and really like it. It is very good value and well prepared. I've had the prime rib and honey fried chicken and while neither will change your world, both were tasty and homey. I prefer it to James' Gate, which just changed chefs by the way. In Roslindale, Sophia's Grotto is quite good for mid priced Italian.

                                1. re: gourmaniac

                                  Do you have any thing to report back about the new James' Gate chef? Since they changed ownership a couple years ago, I've found the burger unedible. Like, they're using low quality meat with a high funk factor. I love the spot, but really, I can't eat that burger again.

                                  1. re: bikey

                                    not really . He had just started and was introducing a couple of new entrees (sirloin steak with a demi-glace wine reduction instead of their coffee coated steak). I had baby back ribs which were OK bar food.

                                2. re: BoDubya

                                  Take away the Cajun chicken, and that Galway House menu wouldn't puzzle anyone in 1975, either. Also take away the teriyaki chicken and the pasta with broccoli, and you could take it back to 1965, no problem.


                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                    yeah, i think that's what i like about it. The aforementioned Pleasant Cafe has that same sense though in 1965 their delicious pizza would have still been a novelty. not sure if I would try the new fangled things like Cajun chicken but I had a side of roasted vegetables that we're pretty good.

                                3. for inexpensive and tasty Thai food, try Bangkok Cafe, right in Roslindale Village. Lots of yummy appetizers (my favorite is the golden cups), and even some nice non-Thai dishes like the Singapore or Penang noodles.

                                  1. Just did essentially the same move.

                                    Echoing everyone who said Dorchester for Vietnamese (Pho So #1).

                                    In JP, I love Pupusa Guanaca for Salvadoran food.

                                    Haven't been, but Turkish Family Restaurant in Brookline Village is close and supposed to be really good.

                                    As for non-ethnic: Ashmont Grill in Dorchester has great atmosphere and super fun bartenders, James' Gate for pub food and that amazing fireplace in the winter, and not super cheap, but I really dig the sandwiches at City Feed on Centre St, JP. Ula and Canto 6 are also really, really good.

                                    Oh and I've had Thai at Phuket in West Roxbury delivered a few times and it was pretty good.

                                    1. Alchemist, James Gate and Galway House are all good, and even Costello's, though a little gamier.

                                      1. I second the Himalyan Bistro. Their lamb momos are KILLER.

                                        Best sandwiches in JP are at City Feed, hands down.

                                        The sushi in Rosi Village is really good. Same folks own the sushi place in JP.

                                        then I'm curious about the new chinese place that just opened on belgrade where the old chinese place used to be. I'm checking it out tomorrow night.

                                        Other than that I've found pretty slim pickings. Good luck!

                                        1. I know Hyde Park wasn't on your list but Townsends is very good and it's less than 5 minutes from Roslindale.

                                          1. Whatever you do, DON'T go to Phuket Thai on Centre St. in W.Roxbury. We just ordered from there tonight and the food was so bad we wound up throwing out most of it. A layer of oil sat on top of the curry and the stir fry, the vegetables were mushy from overcooking and the chicken took 10 min. to chew it was so tough. It tasted like it had been cooked several days ago. It looks so pretty, I had high hopes, but we will never waste our money there again.

                                            Phuket Thai Restaurant
                                            1856 Centre St, West Roxbury, MA 02132

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: rfreedman

                                              Do give Bangkok Cafe in Roslindale Sq a try. It is superior to Phuket Thai. We have had two excellent meals the past few weeks. Jimmy, the cook, is Thai, and is very service oriented. I have been to Thailand several times and when he knows you want 'real' Thai, he cooks it for you and not an Americanized version.

                                            2. I live in JP, and there are some really tasty options here. For a date night, I'd suggest Vee Vee (fresh, quasi-American); For a burger and beer, the burger at The Haven (Hyde Square) is fantastic (although the ambiance is a little odd); Alex's Chimis has a Kick-A rotisserie chicken for cheeep (cash only!); the Purple Cactus is good Americanized burrito quick-fix; Cafe Ula has great baked goods and an unbelievable roasted sweet potato sandwich (but not open at night). We also end up spending a bunch of time in Brookline, and the Village Smokehouse has great ribs. Also, Pho Lemongrass is passable in a pinch, but stay away from the stirfrys and noodle dishes - not wild about them.

                                              For Mexican, we too are at a loss - we always end up either hitting Olecito (yes, there's one in Brookline on Cypress) for tacos or trekking up to Boca Grande off of Beacon (try the Ginormous tamales). Like others have said, Dok Bua is good, and so is New Rod Dee on Beacon street. Also on Beacon is Shawarma King, which is really really great (as good as the shawarma I used to get back home in Detroit), plus it has these amazing slow-cooked lamb dishes. If you like relatively inexpensive Italian, check out Delfino in Roslindale - really pretty impressive food for the cost.

                                              Alex's Chimis
                                              358 Centre St, Boston, MA 02130

                                              Shawarma King
                                              Brookline, MA, Brookline, MA

                                              Vee Vee
                                              763 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

                                              Village Smokehouse
                                              69 Harvard Sq, Brookline, MA 02445

                                              Delfino Restaurant
                                              754 South St, Roslindale, MA 02131

                                              1. The Rox Diner in West Roxbury is really good for breakfast - delicious French toast. They have dinner -burgers and shakes, not sure what else, a couple of nights a week that I'm dying to try. They seem like they're really trying, so if you live in the area, give them a shot.