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May 4, 2011 02:34 PM

Cheap eats in Boston around tourist locations (Freedom Trail,Aquarium,Science Museum,etc)

My husband and I are going to be in Boston in two weeks and since we are two poor college students we are trying to find some cheaper meals while in Boston.
Since we are mainly going to Boston for the historical aspect I was wondering if there were many cheaper places to eat around the Aquarium,Freedom Trail, Museum of Fine Arts,Harvard Museum of Natural History,etc?

By cheap I am thinking $10 or less per entree. I am interested in different ethnic foods,particularly Brazilian,European and Latino. Being from the Midwest I am eager to try all sorts of new food,not sure if the hubby will go for it unless there is a lot of meat involved.:)

I know inexpensive seafood is kind of a oxymoron but are there any reasonably priced seafood establishments in Boston that do not cost an arm and a leg? We were thinking of going to James Hook and Co. as I have heard good things about it and it is pretty inexpensive. We are willing to splurge a bit more for seafood because we do not get good seafood in the Midwest.

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  1. On the Freedom Trail, go to Galleria Umberto, on Hanover Street in the North End. It's only open from about 11 to whenever the food runs out (1:30 or so), but you will eat like kings for well under $10 apiece. The arancini (a fist-sized ball of rice holding beef, cheese and peas in a tomato ragu, rolled in bread crumbs and fried) and calzones are particularly excellent.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Jenny Ondioline

      For Galleria Umberto if the line is to the door it's at least 20-30 min wait, if you get there and the line is long and don't want to wait go to Salem street and go to Ernesto's for 1/4 pizza slices that are good Neapolitan pie, if you are in harvard square you might want to try Pinocchio's for a good sicillian slice or a burito at Anna's tacqueria. Places in Chinatown can also make your dollar go further if you get a pork bun at a bakery or banh mi sandwich or sit down at New golden gate, peach farm or new shanghai (spicy sichuan ).

      Ernesto's Pizza
      69 Salem St, Boston, MA 02129

      Umberto Galleria
      289 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113

      La Galleria 33
      125 Salem St., Boston, MA 02113

      Anna's Taqueria
      446 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

      Pinocchio's Pizza & Subs
      74 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

      1. re: lc02139

        Just to clarify, there is not an Anna's Taqueria (a local chain that has passionate critics, but I've always liked them) in Harvard Square -- lc02139 may be thinking of Felipe's Taqueria (which I also like quite a lot) in The Garage on JFK Street. The same location has a very nice Indian fast-food place called Chutney's whose sandwiches are excellent value for money.

        Felipe's Taqueria
        83 Mount Auburn St, Cambridge, MA 02138

      2. re: Jenny Ondioline

        That place sounds amazing! I would love to try the arancini as I have never had anything like that before.Will have to make an effort to go there.:)
        Thank-you so much for the recommendation!

        1. re: prima_donna87

          I can't recommend Gallaria Umberto enough. The arancini are amazing, the pizza great, everything else is also awesome. The only thing I don't recommend there is the pizzette, a roll with meat and peas and a slice of cheese over it. It would be pretty good anywhere else, but is the least good thing there. To give you an example of how cheap it is, you could get and split one arancini ($2.75), one panzarotti (potato croquette with cheese $1.35), one calzone (my favorite ham, ricotta, salami $4.00), one panini (salami, ham and cheese rolled and baked inside a roll $1.85), and a slice each ($2.70). With two drinks ($1.25 soda to $4 beer/wine), and you'll spend under $13 on a ton of food, plus drinks. No tipping since it's counter service (and they always refuse them when I've seen people try to tip anyway). That's an example, and it would be a very filling lunch for two (or three!).

          1. re: kimfair1

            Why split it's not like the meal costs more than eating at Mc'ds, and you don't want to wait inline if you really like something.
            Yes the people( Ralph, Paul) that run Galleria Umberto are some of the nicest people and a great meal deal.
            I order an arancini and 2 slices and can't seem to get to the other things on the menu.

            1. re: lc02139

              If you were only going to eat there once, then splitting items means you get to try more of the menu on your only visit (or in my case allows me to eat all the things I love on the menu each visit). My wife and I order a huge amount of food, and then have a very light dinner later that night (no breakfast). we get:

              2 arancini (can't split them, we both love them too much)
              1 ham,ricotta,salami calzone split
              1 panini split
              1 panzarotti split
              1 slice of pizza (for me)
              2 mineral water.
              $18 and change, best deal in town.

              1. re: kimfair1

                I guess you are right that sounds good, I would substitute the spinach calzone. I agree on not splitting the arancini.

                1. re: lc02139

                  While I like the spinach, spinach and cheese, and spinach sausage and cheese calzones, I love the ham ricotta salami. As I said before the only item that I don't think is worth the miniscule amount of money they charge for it, is the pizzette.

          2. re: prima_donna87

            Galleria Umberto is great. Good to get there about 10:45 to avoid any lines out the door - have a back-up place in case you *do* end up in line & don't want to wait (my experience is, it's worth it). Some of the restaurants in the North End today are just plain awful (and beyond).

            1. re: threedogs

              The line is always worth it, and has been for the 30 years I've been going there. The only time I hated every minute was once when there was an afternoon Bruins/Rangers game at the Garden, and the place was packed with a line out the door by 11. It was the only time I ever experienced people cutting in line as well. I gave them a very hard time about it, but they were 4 huge hockey fans with their girlfriends, and I didn't want to end up in an emergency room for arancini!

              1. re: kimfair1

                It sounds worth it to stand in line and we can indeed eat like kings for VERY cheap. We are going to have to check this place out for sure.

        2. North End: Pizzeria Regina. The few alternatives in the $10/entree range will be disappointed IMO.

          Fish: Courthouse Seafood restaurant has some of the lowest prices around while still putting out a good product. I believe they let you pick out fish in the adjacent fish market and they'll cook it for you if you're looking for something other that cod/haddock/clams/scallops. Limited hours (they close between 6-8 depending on the day of the week). Also, if you're looking for oysters, there are plenty of $1 oyster deals around the city, so if you're on a budget, there's no need to pay more than that.

          Near Harvard, you might consider walking 10-15min to Porter Square, where you can get very good Thai at Rod Dee. You could also take the bus down Mass Ave to get Sichuan Chinese at Thailand Cafe.

          Try The Snack Bar on Cambridge St for inexpensive Portuguese/Azorean. You can get here by bus from Harvard easily as well.

          Near the Aquarium, I'd hop on the Blue line over to East Boston and Revere and go to Santarpio's (pizza), Thmor Da (Cambodian), or Mexican at a place like Taqueria Jalisco. A walk into Chinatown will get you good Vietnamese at Xinh Xinh and good Sichuan at New Shanghai. You can usually have a feast of dim sum at Hei La Moon for no more than $12pp, though with only two people you won't be able to order everything that passes by your table.

          If "European" include French bistro, the entrees at Jackie's Table are all in the $10-15.

          Just to calibrate your expectations, it's rare (ha!) to find a burger in the Boston area that's less than about $9, so finding meals with <$10 entrees is challenging without resorting to bar food and sandwiches. You'll find your options increase greatly if you can expand your budget to ~$15/entree, at least in the ethnic food realm. I think most of the places above are going to be about $10/entree, but in some cases this could be $10-13 instead of $9-11.

          Hei La Moon
          88 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111

          Santarpio's Pizza
          111 Chelsea St, Boston, MA 02128

          New Shanghai Restaurant
          21 Hudson St, Boston, MA 02111

          Courthouse Fish Market
          484 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02141

          Xinh Xinh
          7 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111

          Thailand Cafe
          302 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

          Rosticeria Jalisco
          293 Bennington St, Boston, MA 02128

          Regina Pizzeria
          Thatcher St, Boston, MA 02113

          Snack Bar
          691 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02141

          6 Replies
          1. re: emannths

            It's easy to get a great burger for under $10 at Mr Bartleys in Harvard Square.

            1. re: emannths

              I just want to second Courthouse Seafood if you go to the Science Museum on a nice day. It is a 15 minute walk into East Cambridge from the Science Museum. Low on ambience, but the people are nice, the fish is fresh and I always leave happy.

              (PS If you are real walkers, you can walk off the Courthouse Seafood by either walking further into Cambridge toward Harvard Square/Harvard Art Museums, or back in and toward the North End/Park Street area for freedom trail, OR you can do your sightseeing from a kayak on the Charles, boat launch near the Science Museum!)

              1. re: melon

                would agree that the restaurant side of courthouse is a great idea. if you are walkers, from science museum to courthouse is completely do-able.

              2. re: emannths

                I think Courthouse Seafood looks really good.We will have to makes sure to go there.
                We are not sticklers about it being under $10 but do want all of our meals to be really expensive,we want to splurge but have cheaper meals as well.

                Where is a good place to get a $1 oyster? My husband has never had oysters before so I want him to try them and would like to find a good place that has them.

                1. re: prima_donna87

                  The are several $1 oyster deals around. One good one is $1 oysters before 6 pm at the Legal Seafood in Harvard Square (by the Charles Hotel) - although I think only Mon - Thurs. They have a nice outdoor patio.

                  1. re: greenzebra

                    I'll second Legal's $1 oysters. Dependable quality, and usually some variety in origin is available. They're available at all their locations, I think. The one by the aquarium also has some outdoor seating, if that appeals to you.

                    There's probably a thread on this board that talks about all the $1 oyster specials.

              3. Harvard Square:, Charlie's Kitchen. these are both local student and grad student hangouts and while there is not much in terms of authentic ethnic choices, these places will give you atmosphere and filling food and save you money for more inspiring choices elsewhere. Grendel's in general serves high quality salads and ask the server for recs.

                Grendels: great lunch specials and half price food at certain times with $3 purchase of drink (does not have to be alcoholic). Fish available, don't know quality.

                Charlie's Kitchen
                10 Eliot St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                1. Here are some longer info threads for you.The first, which is a guide to boston by area and restaurants, will mention dinner places generally above your budget, but check out the lunch and snack places mentioned as well.

                  ONE CHOWHOUND’S GUIDE to Boston areas and restnts:

                  Boston Food Profile:

                  Ideas for Food Souvenirs;

                  May is a particularly beautiful month here; welcome in advance!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    Nice work on consolidating all this info. I like this neat and tidy list!

                  2. A few blocks northwest of Harvard Museum of Natural History is Beacon Street, which has 3 interesting places. Zoe's for Northern Chinese, Petsi's Pies for (duh) pies and Sullivan's that has a burger that some love (me included). Off the beaten path but much better IMO than the Harvard Square scene.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: gourmaniac

                      I agree about RF O'Sullivans their burgers are huge, cooked to order and right under your $10 limit. They come with fries that are really about an 1/8th of a potato each fry, so good, it does take a little time though.