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Best Boston Cheap Eats?

I have joined the ranks of the unemployed, so my family is looking to scale way back on our restaurant eating. This also being the New Year, I thought this would be a great time to start my dream of finding the good hole-in-the-walls on this side of the river. We'll go to any Boston neighborhood and eat any type of cuisine, plus Brookline, but I'd prefer to skip downtown, unless there's something amazing there. What are your favorites?

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  1. There are good cheap spots downtown. Clover Food Lab, Boston Kebab House, Chacarero, Silvertone, Haymarket Pizza, Falafel King, D-Guru, Zo, $1.50 pints of PBR at Biddy Early's(haven't tried the food, which is very cheap). Some may not be open on weekends, however.

    Two great neighborhoods for cheap eats are Chinatown and Allston. Plenty of threads here on both of them. I'll mention Dumpling Cafe as a new spot thats worth a visit.

    69 Bromfield St, Boston, MA 02108

    Boston Kebab House
    7 Liberty Sq, Boston, MA 02109

    Haymarket Pizza
    106 Blackstone St, Boston, MA 02109

    101 Arch St, Boston, MA 02110

    1. Shanghai Gate on Harvard is my favorite cheap eats and simply one of my favorites regardless of price. Check Striper Guy's great ethnic listing post for dozens more great choices.

      Shanghai Gate
      204 Harvard Ave, Allston, MA 02134

      1. Some of my favorites that are very reasonably priced include Family Restaurant in Brookline Village, Dok Bua between Coolidge Corner and Allston, Victoria's Diner in Roxbury, Cafe Jaffa in the Back Bay, and India Quality in Kenmore Square.

        Victoria's Diner
        Boston, MA, Boston, MA

        Cafe Jaffa
        48 Gloucester St, Boston, MA 02115

        India Quality Restaurant
        484 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

        1 Reply
        1. re: hiddenboston

          I'll add Chili Duck across from the Pru, Pho Basil on Massachusetts Avenue and Pad Thai Cafe on Boyslton and india Samraat to Hidden Boston's list.


          Pad Thai Cafe
          1116 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02215

          Pho Basil Restaurant
          177A Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02115

        2. Pho Viet in Allston is one of the best deals in town, and the food is fantastic regardless of the price.

          Pho Viet
          1095 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

          1. Can't talk cheap without Gallaria Umberto. It's only for lunch, but you can stuff yourself and not need dinner! Or you could take some pizza to go. Also, Bahn Mi at Pho Viet at the Super 88 food court. Brookline Family Restaurant, Garlic 'N Lemons in Allston.

            Brookline Family Restaurant
            305 Washington St, Brookline, MA 02445

            Pho Viet
            1095 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

            12 Replies
            1. re: kimfair1

              Pho Viet and Brookline Family Restaurant were the first two to pop into my mind as well. Still need to get to Garlic 'N Lemons.

              Brookline Family Restaurant
              305 Washington St, Brookline, MA 02445

              Pho Viet
              1095 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

              1. re: Cachetes

                Buffet lunch at the kebab factory would be on my list.

                1. re: teezeetoo

                  Great Taste in /n C-town has lunch-sized steamed buns for $1.50, and huge delicious plates of stir-fried noodles and/or rice plates for under $7 (some under $6)--all the time.

                  And Taco Loco has great cheap tacos and tamales (even if no place to really sit down.)

                  Taco Loco
                  301 Lancaster St, Leominster, MA 01453

                  Great Taste
                  201 Main St, Milford, MA 01757

                  1. re: femmevox

                    Oh, and the lunch buffet at Viet Thai in Lowell. Delicious barbecued heads on shrimp (all you can eat)--those are the best. But also fresh rolls, spring rolls, a couple of choices of soups and curries and stir fries, fresh fruit for desert. $7

                    1. re: femmevox

                      I think the gas prices to get to Lowell (from Boston/Brookline) are going to more than make up for the cheap food at Viet Thai

              2. re: kimfair1

                Have to second the Umberto suggestion, I had 2 slices and an Arancini for lunch the other day, came to $5 and change.....and felt like I was on Man vs. Food towards the last few bites. What a great deal, and it's all so delicous

                1. re: devilham

                  My Italian wife call's the Umberto item an aranchone.

                  Aranchini means little orange (name thusly cause they look like the citrus fruit).

                  She calls them aranchone cause the Umberto ones are well, big.

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    That's great, very funny. In Sicily many are also baseball-size and also called Arancini. My favorite Neapolitan place in DC serves golfball-sized Arancino and calls them Suppli al Telefono, which Google tells me is a Roman name.

                    1. re: StriperGuy

                      "My Italian wife call's the Umberto item an aranchone."

                      It goes without saying that you're a great, great, great chow hound. Not only do I worship the grapes you tread on, I'm also not worthy. But you mu'st get an editor that doe'sn't put apo'strophe's every time it 'see's 's's.

                    2. re: devilham

                      It is such a great place. Run four miles and then go there. It's a lot of fun. Where, by the way, is Ralph these days???


                      1. re: scotty27

                        I asked the last time where Ralph was, and Paul said that he's taking a break from working the counter as he has a bad knee, and all the running back and forth was killing him. No news on when he may return.

                  2. The Pour House opposite the Prudential Center is amazing. How they can serve decent food at ridiculous prices in this neighborhood is beyond me. Not for foodies, but I brought my 2 teenage sons and three of their friends here for lunch, and was an absloute hero.....for $70. Give it a try.

                    Pour House
                    907 Boylston St Ste 21, Boston, MA 02115

                    1. Here is a good, relevant thread:


                      Also, if you family likes Mexican, I would definitely check out Eastie for really tasty Mexican/Salvadoran. Sooooo much better than Border Cafe (and cheaper!) and most places have parking close by. Here is a thread on Eastie:


                      1. I'd also suggest any of the local taquerias. Anna's (many locations), Boca Grande, and Tacos Lupita are all good spots for cheap, tasty eats.

                        1. Costco is the best by far. On Fri/Sat/Sun, there are many free sampling stations with fruit smoothies, cheesecakes, chicken eggrolls, hot wings, blue crab dips, coconut pies, shrimp wonton soup, mango juice, chocolate-covered cherries, beef tacos, pork loins, Izzy sodas, italian sausages, etc. My kid and I have happily eaten there numerous time for brunch.

                          1. If you're willing to cross the river into Cambridge, I'll put in a plug for Basta Pasta. My partner and I got takeout there a couple of nights ago, and are still working on the leftovers! You can't beat getting a great entree that includes homemade pasta (be sure to order the fusili--it's the only homemade option) for around $10-12, and having it suffice for 2 dinners and a lunch (for one person, eating responsibly, but still...).

                            Basta Pasta
                            319 Western Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ziggles

                              What we do is order one pasta dish (puttanesca is my favorite) and a salad (which comes with bread), and the two of us eat there. Usually there is enough pasta left over for one lunch the following day. It's a nice, cheap dinner out.

                              Also check out groupon, opentable, livingsocial, and restaurant.com for discounts/coupons for local restaurants.

                            2. Check out YoMa in Union Square, Allston (Brighton?) for fabulous Burmese dishes. It's inexpensive and run by really nice people. Really delicious!

                                1. Cafe latino in Government Center. Huge plates for only $8 Also Anchovies, on Columbus

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Wannabfoode

                                    Second Cafe Latino! Go for the roast pork (w/ crispy skin), rice and beans, and tostones on the side w/ the spicy sauce. That is 2, maybe 3 meals easy for under $8!

                                    Cafe Latino
                                    2 Center Plz, Boston, MA 02108

                                    1. re: ebone

                                      And the "lasagna" made with plantains. Truly a gorge-fest, and an amazing deal.

                                      1. re: nsenada

                                        Otherwise known as pastelon. God I love that stuff.

                                  2. The Bahn Mi at 163 Harrison. The best $3 I've ever eaten. Delicious!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: somerville01

                                      Second 163 Harrison! Especially the BBQ beef!

                                    2. How about the Asian food court at Super 88 in Allston? It's pretty wonderful. Same for the Japanese noodle shops inside the Porter Square Exchange. Then there's also Galleria Umberto in the North End for pizza, Zoe's Chinese in Somerville, and many little joints in Chinatown. But of course the best way to scale back when the checks aren't coming in is to learn to cook at home by buying the amazing ingredients to be found at places like Tropical Foods in Roxbury, Super 88 in Allston, and Russo's in Watertown!