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Inexpensive catering in Cambridge (on a student budget)

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2impetuousbird Apr 2, 2012 02:45 PM

I'm planning a student organization's final banquet dinner and I'd like to shake things up a little with the catering. Usually we get Basta Pasta or similar - lasagna, caesar salad, etc. - and our budget is really tiny (preferably $10 or less per person, for ~50-60 people). Predictably, the food is never that good - boring, and usually not even tasty.

Can anyone recommend some more delicious, interesting alternatives? Indian/Thai/Vietnamese/Middle Eastern suggestions welcome, as is anything else (BBQ?). I have access to minimal kitchen facilities, if there are options that involve some preparation and cooking. Any help is much appreciated!

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    dulce de leche RE: 2impetuousbird Apr 2, 2012 02:55 PM

    Sabra Grill or Guru the Caterer.

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      ebaba RE: 2impetuousbird Apr 2, 2012 05:15 PM

      I've done it twice but years ago: East Coast Grill. I remember brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken, cornbread and probably something else and it was incredibly reasonable, delicious, crowd-pleasing. The first time Chris himself helped us load it into the car.

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        Bluebell RE: 2impetuousbird Apr 2, 2012 06:40 PM

        I'd consider Indian food. It's out of your official boundaries, but a few years ago I ordered from Bollywood Cafe in Lexington and they were great and pretty inexpensive! So I think Guru would be a good bet. Also, maybe you can call Greek Corner in N Cambridge?

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          emannths RE: 2impetuousbird Apr 2, 2012 06:58 PM

          For Thai, I'd consider Rod Dee in Porter or Pad Thai Cafe just across the river. I know the latter caters and delivers, but I'm not sure about the former.

          I doubt you could do BBQ for $10pp, but I can't say I've tried.

          We did catering from Picante in Central Sq for a while (DIY taco bar with rice, beans, and meat). I think it was more than $10/pp, but I can't be sure.

          1. itaunas RE: 2impetuousbird Apr 2, 2012 08:01 PM

            I assume at that price point its buffet?

            Several Brazilian restaurants in Somerville have a $10 or less fixed-price takeout offering and could probably do something on that budget for you. I'd suggest Gauchao which I can vouch for, but another to try is Valentim (they have "pamonha" which is like the Brazilian version of tamales, but using). Look into things like a roast meat (pernil, chicken?), vaca atolada (beef ribs and yuca) frango com quiabo (chicken with okra), costelinha de porco com canjiquinha (pork ribs with grits), feijao tropeiro (beans with sausage, collards, pork rinds, manioc meal) all filling and relatively inexpensive dishes. Rabada (oxtail) might be a bit more expensive, but one interesting preparation is "rabada com agriao" which is watercress. There are some vegetarian offerings --- collard greens (couve), hearts of palm salad, rice, beans. Cafe Brazil is generally a bit more expensive, but has offered simpler dishes as fixed takeout.

            I have done Christmas from Oasis in Medford with a full meal for $15pp (or possibly less -- I didn't set the budget), but wasn't happy with their catering because a lot of the protein was overcooked but it was ridiculously too much food. That included Chicken, Pork Loin "recheado," "Pernil" (really pork shoulder), feijao tropeiro. A better option that I have also used is Cake and CIA in Everett which had been my suggestion for that event, but they don't speak much English.

            I have also been to an event catered by J+J Restaurant (Portuguese) and their servings were ample, plus looking at their online catering menu you might be able to work something in your budget. Again, would need to think a bit about any vegetarian offerings.

            http://jandjrestaurant.com/catering.htm

            Taqueria La Mexicana is an option for tamales, enchiladas, and rice. From what I recall they are more economical if you have less options and the tamales are a lot more consistent than some of their other dishes.

            And on the Salvadoran end of things, Tapatio in Somerville or maybe Amigo's market (they sell a lot of prepared foods) could possibly set you up with Salvadoran tamales, pupusas, salvadoran fried chicken, rice, beans.

            Lastly not certain about catering prices, but Izzy's "pernil" is different and goes over well, good yellow rice with gandules, decent stewed goat... just about everything you could want Puerto Rican, but no mofongo.

            2 Replies
            1. re: itaunas
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              teezeetoo RE: itaunas Apr 3, 2012 12:30 AM

              I would try Garlic 'n Lemons or Family Restaurant for a middle eastern banquet. I think they might come in close to your price point and the food would be interesting. Check them on line.

              1. re: itaunas
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                lizzy5627 RE: itaunas May 26, 2014 09:53 AM

                Hi--I noticed in your post that you have a lot of familiarity with Brazilian restaurants. Given that this post is now 2 years old, I would love to know your recommendations for a Brazilian caterer. I am hosting a last minute party for 15 or so people and want to get a local restaurant (I am in Cambridge) to provide buffet-style food. I believe this post will go on this blog. You can also email me directly at lizzy5627@yahoo.com. Thanks!

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                Madrid RE: 2impetuousbird Apr 3, 2012 06:36 AM

                Kueh is a couple that sells Singaporean and Malaysia food at farmers markets and I read on Yelp that they also have catered lots at MIT student functions. Their food is delicious

                kueh2go@gmail.com.....

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                  AaronInBoston RE: 2impetuousbird Apr 3, 2012 07:08 AM

                  I would give Blue Ribbon BBQ some consideration. They have pricing on their website. Very good bbq and I've heard their catering is good as well. 8.99$ p/p will get you sandwiches with three meats, choice of three sides, homemade pickles and bbq sauce, and some cornbread. You can't beat that.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: AaronInBoston
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                    CookieLee RE: AaronInBoston Apr 4, 2012 11:18 AM

                    We went to a student party @ MIT a few yrs ago, catered by the Blue Ribbon. It was very good.

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                    weg RE: 2impetuousbird Apr 3, 2012 08:31 AM

                    For Indian, I think that Guru or Namaskar would work. For Middle Eastern, recently used Fordee's on Mt. Auburn St. in Watertown, and it was terrific.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: weg
                      Bob Dobalina RE: weg Apr 3, 2012 10:00 AM

                      Namaskar is no more.

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                      Moopheus RE: 2impetuousbird Apr 4, 2012 08:10 AM

                      Might be worth a call to Basil Tree. They might be able to do something buffet-style that wouldn't bust your budget.

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