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Where to eat lunch in downtown Boston?

hoagbix Mar 7, 2012 09:51 AM

Hey everyone,

I've just started a job in Downtown Boston and, after a few weeks of trying out various places with mixed success, I'm wondering: what's the best place for lunch in downtown Boston?

There are some previous threads that address this question, but they are out of date. For instance:
The last comment here is 2007: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/457785
Last comment here is 2011: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/506024

So where would you recommend? Specifically, I work on Summer St between Downtown Crossing and South Station.

So far, my favorites are:
Red Tomato for sandwiches
Kingston Station
Sebastian's (good salad bar
)Viga (mixed bag)

Where else, what am I missing?

Thanks for the guidance.

Kingston Station
25 Kingston Street, Boston, MA 02111

Kingston Station
25 Kingston St, Boston, MA 02111

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  1. m
    mkfisher RE: hoagbix Mar 7, 2012 10:02 AM

    Here are a bunch of quick take-out options.

    Chacarero on Arch St.
    Foumami on High St.
    Bon Me and Momogoose trucks in same spot as Clover
    Figaro's on Beach St.
    Andiamo on South St.
    Sandwich Express on Kingston St.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mkfisher
      tammyh RE: mkfisher Mar 8, 2012 10:20 AM

      Back when I used to use Yelp, I was the Duchess of Chacarero ... IMO, the best time to go is not for lunch, but rather for an early dinner before they close (because they'll grill the meat to order!).

      So sad I don't work down the street anymore.

    2. barleywino RE: hoagbix Mar 7, 2012 10:04 AM

      Sam LaGrassa's (pastrami etc)

      Zo (gyros etc)

      Panera (a chain, I know)

      Irashai (Japanese)
      Regina's (by the slice) in South Station

      5 Replies
      1. re: barleywino
        mhead RE: barleywino Mar 7, 2012 10:50 AM

        Pita Kabob on Avenue de Lafayette (it's easy to miss but worth finding).

        1. re: barleywino
          davis_sq_pro RE: barleywino May 24, 2012 10:51 AM

          Just wanted to give a +1 on Zo. I tried it for the second time today (first was two weeks ago -- why did I never go earlier?!?), and both times had what were quite possibly the best sandwiches I've ever eaten in Boston. I had the "original gyro" (pork) both times, and given how good it is I don't think I'll ever try the chicken variety. Highly, highly recommended.

          1. re: davis_sq_pro
            nsenada RE: davis_sq_pro May 24, 2012 11:05 AM

            Quite good stuff - I am usually more of a pork person, but I do think the chicken is even better.

            1. re: nsenada
              davis_sq_pro RE: nsenada May 24, 2012 11:06 AM

              Okay, I guess now I'm forced to try the other one. Life is tough!

            2. re: davis_sq_pro
              9lives RE: davis_sq_pro May 24, 2012 11:07 AM

              I really enjoyed the "original gyro" I had last week.

          2. k
            kt8301 RE: hoagbix Mar 7, 2012 11:11 AM

            Trade on Atlantic Ave has some delish flatbreads if you have time for a longer lunch.

            1. BostonZest RE: hoagbix Mar 7, 2012 11:33 AM

              Falafel King in that little food court on Winter near the Park street station. I love the combo plate and they always give you a nice fresh falafel in line to sooth your hunger.


              King Falafel Restaurant
              48 Winter St, Boston, MA 02108

              1 Reply
              1. re: BostonZest
                CportJ RE: BostonZest Mar 12, 2013 07:02 AM

                There's a new Falafel King on Washington, across from b.good and the new Qdoba and Potbelly's.

              2. Beachowolfe RE: hoagbix Mar 7, 2012 06:38 PM

                Cafe Latino
                Pizzeria Rico

                3 Replies
                1. re: Beachowolfe
                  CportJ RE: Beachowolfe Mar 12, 2013 07:13 AM

                  Cafe Latino is now closed.

                  1. re: CportJ
                    davis_sq_pro RE: CportJ Mar 12, 2013 09:42 AM

                    Huge loss to the area. Especially closing in the middle of winter. Perfect crispy pork weather. *sigh*

                    I wonder why they closed? Always had long lines whenever I was there, so it certainly wasn't due to lack of business.

                    1. re: davis_sq_pro
                      mkfisher RE: davis_sq_pro Mar 12, 2013 09:47 AM

                      They've been closed for months at this point. Staff moved over to Binney St. in Cambridge at the new Discovery Cafe (which will eventually be right in the middle of the Alexandria Center). The menu is all generic soups, salads and sandwiches and they no longer serve any of the wonderful Puerto Rican food from Cafe Latino.

                2. Bob Dobalina RE: hoagbix Mar 8, 2012 05:07 AM

                  In the immediate area, it is a little sparse.

                  I have not been to the Uno Due Go for lunch, but their breakfast offerings are decent. Looks similar to Sebastian's but somehow yummier.

                  In that same area, inside 100 Arch is a little cafe - they cook their own turkey breast, etc. and make a nice breakfast and lunch - I think it's called Grassroots Cafe. Nice folks too.

                  But you are really close to Chinatown - check the banh mi threads and Chinatown lunch threads - that's going to have a huge number of options.

                  1. BostonZest RE: hoagbix Mar 8, 2012 05:45 AM

                    How about the food trucks in Dewey Square across from South Station?
                    Clover, Momogoose and Bon Me cycle through there.

                    Clover Food Truck
                    Dewey Square (at the South Station T-stop exit), Boston, MA

                    Bon Me
                    Mobile truck; no formal address, Boston, MA

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: BostonZest
                      nsenada RE: BostonZest Mar 8, 2012 10:23 AM

                      Roxy's Food Truck was a little further down the green way toward the North End a few days ago (and saw it parked by the Chinatown Arch. Their Mighty Rib sandwich was quite excellent, with short rib, fontina and caramelized onions. I liked the fact that it was nicely saturated with butter, crispy on the outside, but not too greasy.

                      Karo's Chicken kabobs are amazing, in a cart on Summer by Macy's. I thought I saw that they had sub rolls on the cart - is this something new? Maybe I hallucinated it.

                      Sportello is great for lunch or takeout, on Congress Street over the bridge.

                      The Staff food truck makes an appearance occasionally, and I really have to try it - I've heard great things about it.

                      Cafe De Boston and Boston Kebab House have some great mezze offerings, including artichoke and spinach fritters, baba gannouj, etc.

                      1. re: nsenada
                        Gordough RE: nsenada Mar 8, 2012 11:59 AM

                        Karo's has always done sandwiches on sub rolls as one of their limited options.

                        1. re: Gordough
                          nsenada RE: Gordough Mar 8, 2012 12:09 PM

                          Jinkies - I can't believe I never noticed that before. Anyone ever try one?

                        2. re: nsenada
                          Beachowolfe RE: nsenada Mar 8, 2012 08:15 PM

                          The mixed grill plate at Cafe de Boston is awesome. It's tough to get through the whole thing in one sitting though.

                          Also - D'guru next to BWX on Devonshire is (I believe) the only Indian around.

                          1. re: Beachowolfe
                            barleywino RE: Beachowolfe Mar 8, 2012 10:12 PM

                            Other indian places in the vicinity are Mantra and Tantric.

                            1. re: barleywino
                              MC Slim JB RE: barleywino May 24, 2012 05:39 AM

                              FYI, Mantra is no more.


                              1. re: MC Slim JB
                                barleywino RE: MC Slim JB May 24, 2012 05:52 AM

                                a pity, i liked their biryani...maybe Cafe Mami / Sapporo ramen can open up a spot there

                                1. re: barleywino
                                  Alcachofa RE: barleywino May 25, 2012 07:38 AM

                                  That would be awesome.

                                  'wino, did you ever do the lunch buffet at Mantra? When I went there was a guy at one end of the buffet that would put together this bowl of ... stuff. Grains, nuts, stuff like that, I think. Not hot, room temp, iirc. Memory fails me now. But it was as spicy as you wanted it, and super good. I'm no expert on Indian food, so have no idea what to call it. I want some.

                                  1. re: Alcachofa
                                    barleywino RE: Alcachofa May 25, 2012 07:43 AM

                                    Al, i remember seeing that but didn't try it and don't know what it's called... maybe somebody can chime in

                            2. re: Beachowolfe
                              Bob Dobalina RE: Beachowolfe Mar 9, 2012 07:42 AM

                              D'Guru has a pretty spicy vegetable biryani.

                            3. re: nsenada
                              BostonZest RE: nsenada Mar 9, 2012 06:53 AM

                              Thanks, nsenada, Karo's kabobs had slipped out of my mental list when I'm looking to grab something good and have a bench picnic on a day like yesterday.

                          2. g
                            Guinness02122 RE: hoagbix Mar 8, 2012 06:14 AM

                            Boston Kabob House at Liberty Square
                            Al's State Street Subs on State Street
                            UBurger on Tremont Street
                            Blue, Inc on Broad Street

                            Also, do you mean Hot Tomatoes?

                            Burrito place next to Hot Tomatoes is good

                            1. tammyh RE: hoagbix Mar 8, 2012 10:25 AM

                              Wai Wai on Oxford St does a sizable meat and rice take-out order with scallion+ginger sauce ... not the best meat (a bit dry), but the portions are great. Sauce is oily, too, but that hits the spot for me so I ask for extra.

                              1. MC Slim JB RE: hoagbix Mar 9, 2012 08:03 AM

                                Lots of good suggestions here already. Chinatown deserves more love:

                                Mei Sum and 163 for banh mi.
                                Xinh Xinh and Pho Pasteur for sit-down Vietnamese.
                                Dumpling Cafe and Taiwan Cafe (when it re-opens) for Taiwanese.
                                Peach Farm and GaGa Seafood for Hong Kong style live-tank seafood.
                                QuicPic and Vinh-Sun for Cantonese "BBQ" roast meats.
                                Kaze and Q for hotpot.
                                Best Little and Hong Kong Eatery for Cantonese.
                                New Shanghai for Sichuan and Beijing cuisine.


                                4 Replies
                                1. re: MC Slim JB
                                  davis_sq_pro RE: MC Slim JB May 24, 2012 10:45 AM

                                  Hong Kong Eatery also does excellent "BBQ," in my opinion. Super-crispy pork and properly rendered (i.e. not very fatty) duck.

                                  1. re: davis_sq_pro
                                    MC Slim JB RE: davis_sq_pro May 24, 2012 11:37 AM

                                    Agreed: I just had the BBQ 3-way combo at HKE a couple of weeks ago. Also, extraordinary wonton soup, which is what I usually go for.


                                  2. re: MC Slim JB
                                    femmevox RE: MC Slim JB May 26, 2012 09:29 PM

                                    Don't forget Winsor for dim sum--usually packed at lunch, however.

                                    1. re: MC Slim JB
                                      nasilemak RE: MC Slim JB Aug 6, 2012 04:17 AM

                                      Penang for Malaysian staples like stir fried noodles (char kuey teaw, mee goreng and mee siam), nasi lemak, dry curry chicken with rice and claypot noodles.

                                    2. j
                                      jlittlew RE: hoagbix May 23, 2012 11:05 AM

                                      Is it just me or are the burritos at the Herra's stand outside Macey's somehow way better than the ones in the store on Temple Place? In my highly unscientific test, users (read: me) have felt extra deliciousness from cart burritos, but only normal deliciousness from store burritos.

                                      And +1 for the Chinatown shoutouts, MC Slim JB has got you covered, but I'd also nominate Pho Pasteur -- fast, and good enough.

                                      I saw that BiNA serves sandwiches as well but I've never ponied up the $10 to get one.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: jlittlew
                                        Bob Dobalina RE: jlittlew May 23, 2012 11:09 AM

                                        I think Bina just closed.

                                        1. re: Bob Dobalina
                                          MC Slim JB RE: Bob Dobalina May 24, 2012 05:43 AM

                                          Yep, the folks behind Max & Dylan's et. al. are doing a wine bar and retail food/takeout spot in the former Bina locations.


                                        2. re: jlittlew
                                          mkfisher RE: jlittlew May 24, 2012 07:40 AM

                                          It's not just you. I love those burritos as well.

                                          1. re: jlittlew
                                            devilham RE: jlittlew May 24, 2012 12:05 PM

                                            I agree, I wonder if the freshness of the meat has something to do with it? At the cart, the meat I assume stews all day in the steam table, gathering flavor, while the store they can just whip up fresh batches (one of the rare times where fresher does not always equal better)?

                                          2. nsenada RE: hoagbix May 24, 2012 03:33 PM

                                            The crispy pork talk got me thinking about Cafe Latino in Center Plaza. Mammoth portions of pork (ask for extra crispy skin) with awesome rice and beans and sweet plantains. Also great: empanadas, fried chicken wings, and on Wednesdays, pastelon.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: nsenada
                                              devilham RE: nsenada May 25, 2012 12:35 PM

                                              had the parniel yesterday....the regular size could feed 3 people no joke, I go for the smaller size these days, but yes...skin!!!!!! I saw one lady just order the skin once, I haven't gone there yet, but somedays I am tempted

                                              1. re: nsenada
                                                nightsky RE: nsenada Jun 4, 2012 08:02 AM

                                                I love this place. Stopped by one Saturday, really famished. They looked busy, but no customers, just lots of activity. I tried to order but the owner said he was sorry, but they couldn't sell me anything, as the store was technically closed. They were in there working on a big catering job. I told him how disappointed I was. He said they made too much food for the catering job so he gave me a huge container filled with all kinds of tasty, meaty morsels (and a bunch of the sides). Refused to take any money and said he hoped I enjoyed it. I sure did.

                                                1. re: nightsky
                                                  nsenada RE: nightsky Jun 4, 2012 10:17 AM


                                              2. m
                                                MXG RE: hoagbix Aug 5, 2012 09:19 PM

                                                - Al's State Street (subs)
                                                - Chacarero on Arch Street
                                                - Boston Kebab (meze)
                                                - Sebastian's (BLT)
                                                - d'Guru

                                                1. lala010addict RE: hoagbix Aug 6, 2012 06:25 AM

                                                  and lunch deals at Q and shabu zen are totally awesome if you are into hot pot!!!

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