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Cheap Lunch in Cambridge near Kendall Square?

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Andrassebestyen89 Jan 5, 2012 07:06 AM

Hey Everyone!

New employee working in the Kendall Square area by Cambridge Center. I've read a few threads on this, but I was wondering if anyone had new insight, new opinions, new recommendations etc.

I'm looking for 2 categories.

Under 8 dollar lunch AND under 16 dollar lunch (when I'm splurging)... yeah I'm an intern!

Please no Chinese food, but all other cuisines are good to go! No salads or small sandwich rip-offs, I eat A LOT.

Thanks!

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  1. MC Slim JB RE: Andrassebestyen89 Jan 5, 2012 07:22 AM

    When you say you eat a lot, do you mean you eat frequently, or you prefer giant portions? Would a small sandwich made with high-quality ingredients still qualify as a rip-off?

    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

    1. jgg13 RE: Andrassebestyen89 Jan 5, 2012 07:31 AM

      If you exclude salads & small sandwich ripoffs and want to keep things within about a 10 min walking range, it's slim pickings. Most of the places I view as being both not sucky & not a ripoff are a bit of a walk for me and I'm closer to most of them than you are. Things that I view as fitting that bill:

      - Boca Grande
      - The Snack Bar (only for the man o' war sub)
      - Skampa (for the roast beef, three-way)
      - Izzys (particularly on friday for the pernil sub)
      - Emmas
      - Maybe Camies. I say maybe because the one time I went for lunch it *was* a ripoff, but I also wasn't aware of their fried pork sub. MCSlim has a review in the phoenix of the place but note that prices have gone up and portions have gone down
      - If food trucks are your thing, there's the Clover truck
      - Beantown Cafe in 1 Kendall isn't that bad of a deal but not my favorite (as opposed to Sebastians & Zigo which are massive rip offs).

      Most of these are going to push your $8 boundary by a bit, particularly if you get a drink. That's just how it is around here. I typically end up paying 8-10$ regardless of if I'm going to a ripoff/sucky place or not - even the fast food spots in the coop tend to be ~$8 if I get a drink.

      2 Replies
      1. re: jgg13
        jgg13 RE: jgg13 Jan 6, 2012 01:03 PM

        Another place that just came to mind is Beautys which has pizza & subs. I think the subs are about $6.50.

        Again, with the "drink" caveat I gave above, if you get something to drink you're back to pushing 8-9$ again.

        1. re: jgg13
          viperlush RE: jgg13 Jan 7, 2012 09:30 AM

          That is where we order delivery pizza from. And the good thing about Beautys is the ordering online and the loyalty discount (yeah, not much but every little helps).

      2. m
        mkfisher RE: Andrassebestyen89 Jan 5, 2012 07:37 AM

        Sandwiches from Area Four are $6, and they're a decent size.

        2 Replies
        1. re: mkfisher
          jgg13 RE: mkfisher Jan 5, 2012 07:40 AM

          Speaking of A4, their breakfast sandwich is pretty good as well. IIRC it's also $6.

          1. re: mkfisher
            jgg13 RE: mkfisher Jan 9, 2012 11:19 AM

            BTW the sandwiches are no longer served at the coffee shop, they only have pizzas and salads now.

          2. e
            emannths RE: Andrassebestyen89 Jan 5, 2012 07:55 AM

            [Bun] Ga nuong from the Vietnamese/Gooseberry's food truck is pretty good. I don't think I'd deem anything else I've eaten from them good, or even passable, but that particular dish is tasty.

            1. a
              Andrassebestyen89 RE: Andrassebestyen89 Jan 6, 2012 09:08 AM

              Thanks for the answers so far. Yeah, I specifically meant a large lunch, otherwise I'm hungry all day. I moved from NYC in southern midtown, and everything there was incredible value not only in terms of portion, but also in terms of quality. It is very sad to see that Boston and this area of Cambridge is so expensive for overall incredibly subpar lunch.

              21 Replies
              1. re: Andrassebestyen89
                viperlush RE: Andrassebestyen89 Jan 6, 2012 09:37 AM

                If you have access to a bike or are willing to walk further out you can expand your options to Inman, Central, and East Cambridge (or even across the River).

                All Star Sandwich in Inman had large sandwiches in the 7.95 to 8.95 range

                http://www.allstarsandwichbar.com/pdf...

                In Kendall:

                There are the food trunk by the Kendall T Stop and the Redbones hut (or is that seasonal?

                )

                In the $10-16 range w/large portions there is the Friendly Toast @ Kendall 1.

                In the $10-16 range w/smaller portions there is CBC also @ Kendall 1.

                I'll frequently see Groupons for Tommy Doyles

                And when the weather is nice don't forget to check out the rooftop garden and the benches by the Charles as nice places to eat your take out.

                Over towards in East Cambridge there are

                Desfina for Greek. Sandwiches around $7 and combo plates around $10

                http://www.desfina.com/Menu01/lunchme...

                2nd Street Cafe for Sandwiches and Salads around $8

                http://www.2ndstcafe.com/fullmenu/

                And on First Street there is the Similans for Thai and a burrito place. I haven't been to either, but I will assume that they fall in either of your price ranges

                Towards Central:
                Flour Bakery for $8 sandwiches. Smaller than the other two suggestions, but better tasting. But only works in your budget if you are willing to pass up the baked goodies.

                I don't know the prices for Floating Rocks lunch, but it might fall w/in your $16 limit.

                Same thing for Thelonious Monkfish.

                And you might want to take a look @ the Groupon Now! Deals. I' ve seen a couple of the Indian Restaurants in Central pop up w/lunch time discounts. Indian Pavillion, Dosa Factory.

                1. re: viperlush
                  m
                  mkfisher RE: viperlush Jan 6, 2012 09:53 AM

                  The Redbones in Kendall is going to be open all winter. The skating rink is right there, so they've been getting a good bit of business from that.

                  1. re: viperlush
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                    femmevox RE: viperlush Jan 6, 2012 01:15 PM

                    Floating Rock doesn't do lunch anymore. They tried it briefly, then dropped it.
                    In and around Central Square, five different all-you-can-eat Indian buffets in the 8-10 range.
                    Best if you get to them early, right after the food's been put out--around 11:30.

                    Royal East (which gets no love on this board) on Main Street has pretty copious Chinese lunch specials between 6-8. Pupu HotPot (corner of Main Street at Sidney) has lunch specials including soup and some kind of stirfry with rice for $5-6.

                    1. re: femmevox
                      jgg13 RE: femmevox Jan 6, 2012 01:39 PM

                      Pu Pu Hot Pot's lunch specials are probably the best lunch deal in a large radius. Of course now you're not even in the fuzzy area between Kendall & Central anymore but fully in the Central area. Depends on how far the OP is willing to travel, depending on exactly where they are it'd probably be a 10-12 min walk.

                      1. re: femmevox
                        viperlush RE: femmevox Jan 6, 2012 06:31 PM

                        Wow that didn't last long. I wonder how Floating Rock is doing.

                        1. re: viperlush
                          jgg13 RE: viperlush Jan 7, 2012 05:17 AM

                          Hopefully poorly. They lost me when they pretty much turned it into a nightclub for college students and DBs.

                          1. re: jgg13
                            viperlush RE: jgg13 Jan 7, 2012 09:29 AM

                            Well if they did stop serving lunch they do need to take the large banner down that says "Now Serving Lunch"

                        2. re: femmevox
                          galangatron RE: femmevox Jan 8, 2012 12:49 PM

                          floating rock is open for lunch weekdays 11:30am-2pm

                        3. re: viperlush
                          s
                          Stride RE: viperlush Jan 11, 2012 10:17 AM

                          Nice recs, except I wouldn't recommend Tommy Doyle's for any meal. The food I've had at the one in Newton the couple of times I've been dragged with colleagues has been horrid. Maybe I needed to drink more beer first.

                          1. re: Stride
                            viperlush RE: Stride Jan 11, 2012 11:16 AM

                            Yeah the food is adequate and the service can be horrendous, but w/a groupon they fall in the OPs price range and serve a large quantity of food. And without knowing if quality or quantity is more important to the the OP it's worth mentioning. And when the weather is nice they do have the outside seating,

                        4. re: Andrassebestyen89
                          v
                          VintageMolly RE: Andrassebestyen89 Jan 6, 2012 01:38 PM

                          I do think some of the problem is that you said no chinese. A lot of the good, cheap lunch options in the neighborhood are chinese.

                          1. re: VintageMolly
                            kobuta RE: VintageMolly Jan 7, 2012 12:04 PM

                            A lot? I think there are two reasonably good lunch options in the neighborhood - Mary Chungs and Thailand Cafe (Sichuan menu only) with both technically in Central. Any other 'Chinese' in the area is gross and not worth a penny IMO.

                            1. re: kobuta
                              yumyum RE: kobuta Jan 7, 2012 08:30 PM

                              MuLan is in the OPs area. I think they do cheap lunch specials and its not gross at all. Sadly they aren't looking for Chinese. Its one of my favorite places in that hood.

                              1. re: yumyum
                                kobuta RE: yumyum Jan 8, 2012 08:59 AM

                                True - I did forget about Mulan, which is a nearby favorite of mine. I tend to associate Mulan as Taiwanese, which is a bit different from the foods I think of for traditional Chinese places but Mulan is a good one, for sure.

                                1. re: kobuta
                                  s
                                  smtucker RE: kobuta Jan 26, 2012 07:30 AM

                                  The Mulan lunch specials seem to be mostly "American-friendly" foods. But when eating alone, getting an entree seems like a lot of one food. But recently, I have been working my way through the noodle soups, and these are bot h delicious and a reasonable lunch. For example, the Pork Noodle Soup is served in a huge bowl with broth, noodles, greens, hard-boiled egg and lots of bits, plus four thin-sliced pork chops on the side. For $8.00, this is two meals for me.

                                  Emma's sandwiches run from $6-9 and are HUGE. They are surprisingly well-balanced, and in fact, delicious. The chicken sandwich and BLT are particularly tasty. I only order these when I have someone to split the sandwich with since they don't reheat well.

                                2. re: yumyum
                                  jgg13 RE: yumyum Jan 8, 2012 10:41 AM

                                  Does anyone know what time their lunch prices are in effect for? I often find myself eating lunch later than typical which would be ideal as they'd be a lot less crowded at that time.

                                  1. re: jgg13
                                    galangatron RE: jgg13 Jan 8, 2012 12:50 PM

                                    weekdays 11am-3pm

                                    1. re: galangatron
                                      jgg13 RE: galangatron Jan 8, 2012 12:55 PM

                                      oh good to know. i walked by there the other day around 2:30 and figured it'd be too late

                                      1. re: jgg13
                                        jgg13 RE: jgg13 Jan 25, 2012 01:45 PM

                                        This was a pretty good deal compared to other stuff in the area. For $7-8 (plus T/T) I got tea, soup, a bowl of pickles, a bowl of peanuts, a bolw of rice and a hefty plate of food. And it was a hell of a lot better than similar options in the area.

                                3. re: kobuta
                                  e
                                  emannths RE: kobuta Jan 8, 2012 03:00 PM

                                  The Chinese food truck in front of 500 Technology Square has some worthwhile offerings. The Chongqing dry hot chicken and other items off of the authentic Chinese side of the menu are pretty good for the $5 price. Their American-Chinese stuff, however, has always tasted like slightly sweetened water thickened with cornstarch. If you want to get sesame chicken, go to the Kendall food court instead.

                              2. re: Andrassebestyen89
                                n
                                nickls RE: Andrassebestyen89 Jan 9, 2012 12:25 PM

                                It is unfortunate that $6-$8 for mostly boring sandwiches has become the norm in Kendall. Cosi and the Clover truck are the ones I tend to hit, but I bring my lunch to work most of the time.

                                Your statement that everything in midtown Manhattan is great and a good deal had me laughing. Typical NYer nostalgia.

                              3. digga RE: Andrassebestyen89 Jan 7, 2012 11:15 AM

                                I'm a fan of Bytes at University Park. Haven't been in some time since I changed companies a little further from Sidney Street, but I used to go at least 3 times a week. The owners are Senegalese and they offer up falafel wraps (get it spicy), shwarma, and curries.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: digga
                                  digga RE: digga Jan 8, 2012 08:18 PM

                                  I also like Veggie Galaxy right on Mass Central, smack dab in the middle of Central Sq. Those sandwiches/burgers will keep you stuffed until far after dinnertime. Unless you get a beer, you should be able to get outta there under $10. On-their-game sweet staff.

                                2. p
                                  pollystyrene RE: Andrassebestyen89 Jan 7, 2012 02:14 PM

                                  For between 10 and 13 bucks, you can get a variety of sandwiches (pulled pork, herbed chicken, lamb, salmon, burger, etc.) with fries at Abigail's.

                                  1. m
                                    momoftwo RE: Andrassebestyen89 Jan 10, 2012 05:57 AM

                                    two possiblities: one is the new all you can eat buffet at MIT's Maseeh Hall, its at the corner of Mem Drive and Mass Ave, recently renovated, gorgeous building, on the river. It is food court style but you pay once as you enter and linger and eat all you care. (not sure of the prices somewhere between 10 and 12 maybe for non students.)
                                    2nd is the Restaurant at Le Cordon Bleu, its over by 3rd street, I think, might be better saved for warmer weather since its a walk.

                                    1. a
                                      Aphex RE: Andrassebestyen89 Jan 26, 2012 08:32 AM

                                      You can easily go over $8 but I think Aceituna is a good value for the amount of food you get. I usually get their vegetarian plate. The salads are generally tasty, hearty and good quality(though some can be a bit oily). I think the 3 choice plate is around $9.

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