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Mar 29, 2010 11:34 AM

Chacho's, Mission Hill: thoughts?

Having just reviewed WAN Convenience (a Jamaican-owned sub shop/deli, pretty good) in the Boston Phoenix, one of my Twitter followers pinged me and said, "You should check out the nearby Chaco's Pizza". She doesn't mention the usual pizza-pad fare, but praises dishes there like empanadas and papas rellenas, which makes me think it might have Puerto Rican, Cuban, or possibly Peruvian owners.

It sounds like the kind of hybrid joint that Chowhound itaunas mentioned when I expressed surprise at The Snack Bar in East Cambridge doing both sub-shop fare and Azorean specialties. As far as I can see, it has never been mentioned here, much less reviewed. Any thoughts?

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  1. I think I went there once. I heard kids on the bus raving about the steak & cheese at a Mission Hill place and tried it. If it's the little joint on the corner I'm thinking of. I see on yelp someone mentioned the steak subs. Will have to check it out again.

    1. Wow - flashback! I lived in the neighborhood during college and ate there many times, but I have no memory of how it was.... Pizza was fine, what you want for breakfast when you're regretting all those beers the night before. I remember the Puerto Rican (?) specialties - there was something that was like a giant arancini, stuffed with ground beef, fried but not deep-fried like an empanada. I remember it being really good - but who knows if it really was?

      1. Hmm. I think Chacho's is more in the middle of the block.

        WAN occupies a corner, is mostly about subs, and does a steak and cheese (which I passed over in favor of the prime rib one). It looks like a big, half-empty convenience store in the back, self-serve beverage coolers on every wall, the grocery shelves barely stocked, the groceries themselves dusty, in all kind of seedy. The prep area and tiny counter are up front.

        13 Replies
        1. re: MC Slim JB

          Just read your review of WAN on the blog, good find.

          Did you have a chance to try the Jamaican Patties? Assuming he doesn't bake them himself, do you know if its a local source or out of state that he orders from?

          Also are there any Jamaican "cooked food" items on the menu? or is this strictly a deli?

          1. re: Matt H

            The patties are adequate, typical mass-market ones, hard to kick about for $1.50. I believe a lot of Caribbean-owned restaurants hereabouts get them from manufacturers in Hartford, CT and Brooklyn (a Chowhound factoid whose validity I am taking on faith.)

            If Mr. WAN ever does Jamaican dishes, I did not see them in my brief multi-week research period: it's a sub shop / deli, from what I can see.


            1. re: MC Slim JB

              Your review specified subs pretty strongly, but the Phoenix photo showed what looked like a club-sandwich version of a reuben on marble rye. How are the sandwiches, or is it better to stick with the subs?

              1. re: Allstonian

                The Phoenix photogs don't always take my suggestions on photo candidates, but images aren't really my thing anyway: I'm more a slabs o' gray text sort. My advice to them was and to you is: subs.


                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  Thanks - I thought that was probably the case, but was curious.

                  Thanks for the review - since I generally stay away from Yelp I wasn't aware of WAN, and it's a short walk from work! Now that it's stopped raining I'll have to get over there for lunch soon.

                  1. re: Allstonian

                    As I suggest in the review, it is not always a place for a "quick-service" meal: it can take a while, especially if there's a crowd. Also, if one of Al's lieutenants is working (a young lady filled in for him on one of my visits), I would choose another place for lunch that day: their work is a step down from the owner's.


            2. re: Matt H

              Kudos to Slim for the review (and all his great work), but the number one Boston restaurant on Yelp (and longtime top 5) is not exactly a "find".

              1. re: deglazer

                I don't think I've ever been the first to discover any restaurant, anywhere, at least not in terms of reviewing it first. I do have one or two FTRs on Yelp, I think, probably something in Dudley (El Mondonguito, maybe?), and Chuck and Ann's, the ancient Southie sub shop.

                Yelp is indeed where I found WAN (though I'd driven past it about 100,000 times without ever noticing it). But I don't think I noticed it in the Yelp "top" lists; all I remember from those is Mike & Patty's and Hungry Mother at #1 and #2 forever.


                Hungry Mother
                Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

                1. re: deglazer

                  Well considering I don't really go on Yelp and work down the road and have never stopped off, it was a "find" to me : )

                  1. re: Matt H

                    And the important thing is not who found it first, but that worthy, overlooked places get some business.


                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      And no one represents these values more than you do. Apologies if it seemed like I was calling you out. I wasn't. Just bringing up, crudely, the subject of a restaurant's relative popularity on different media, a subject you've explored yourself (eg. S&I Thai being popular on yelp at the time of your column, yet undiscussed on chowhound.) You, of course, give shout outs to yelp and chowhound all the time in your columns and postings so that's a non-issue.

                      Matt H: my bad

                      S&I To Go
                      168A Brighton Ave, Allston, MA 02134

                      1. re: deglazer

                        No offense taken: I was just saying it's increasingly difficult to be first to uncover and review just about any place anymore, and I'm okay with that. There's still a lopsided ratio of places that are well-hyped and not that interesting to good and unfairly ignored. If I can help push that down a tiny bit, I'm satisfied.


                        1. re: deglazer

                          Aint no thang Deglazer! No Offense taken.

              2. To get back to the original topic, I've spent a lot of time in Mission Hill, and Chacho's ultimately isn't anything special. The empanadas are very well constructed, but the fillings tend to call to mind the cheapest sorts of meat you can find: hard, gummy bits of god-knows-what are not an uncommon find. It's a very cheap spot, though, and popular with the locals and college kids alike.

                What they do best, I've vexingly found, is a barbeque chicken sub. Long after having partaken in my last visit here (and sworn off meat of unknown origin), I still dream about this thing. The rolls they use are rich and hold up very well to the sauce, which is a) abundant b) very sweet c) EXCELLENT. The chicken pieces they've got for those things are unfailingly white and juicy.

                (And the pizza sucks. But you're not going for that.)