For a city that’s home to plenty of fine dining, there are also a surprising number of cheap restaurants in Boston. If you know where to look, you’ll find plenty of affordable options across a wide spectrum of cultural cuisines, including Mexican, Chilean, Japanese, and Syrian. Of course, a classic burger is easy to find, too.
The Best Cheap Eats in Boston
Here’s a guide to 10 of the best cheap eats in Boston.
There are many cheap places to get a solid hamburger in Boston, but the best is Tasty Burger. Opening its first location right by Fenway Park in 2010, Tasty Burger has since become the “official” burger of the Boston Red Sox. Grab one during a game or head to any of its five Boston locations.
Go for the Big Tasty. At under $6, this beef pattie topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, and sauce is a deal. Nothing washes it down better than the made-for-the-restaurant Sam Adams Tasty Ale (though the milkshakes are a close second).
Some of the best cheap eats in Boston come from this casual street-food influenced restaurant. What started as fries and waffles with all the sauces you could ever want now has a range of sandwiches and salads. What hasn’t changed is its made-from-scratch commitment. Fries begin as humble potatoes in the morning and are hand-fried to order.
You can’t go wrong with the loaded “beast mode” poutine, but if you’re not sold on the idea of gravy on fries, consider dipping your potato sticks in roasted garlic or truffle ketchup.
With eight locations throughout the city, Ana’s Taqueria is one of the go-to cheap restaurants in Boston. The eatery first started in 1995 and has since become a city staple. Burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and salad bowls—you can’t go wrong. The hard part is choosing your filling.
Vegetarians will appreciate the grilled veggie and rice and beans options, while meat lovers gravitate toward the lengua and al pastor.
Kelly’s Roast Beef
Cheap eats in Boston may well have started with Kelly’s Roast Beef. The restaurant began in 1951 in Revere Beach and you can still eat there today (you may recognize it from the movie Good Will Hunting). Though the restaurant sits outside of Boston proper, you can easily get there via the T, Boston’s subway system.
Go for the renowned roast beef sandwich and New England-style clam chowder, or splurge on the award-winning lobster roll. The restaurant even offers gluten-free bread.
Union Square Donuts
Cheap eats in Boston don’t get any cheaper than doughnuts. And while Dunkin Donuts has its origins just a few miles away in Quincy, Union Square Donuts has the fresh, homemade, funky-flavor doughnut market cornered. Here, the humble cake with a hole in the center is a work of art.
Doughnuts start with a brioche dough; the glazes, jams, and creams are all made in-house. Maple bacon, old fashioned, Boston cream, and sea salted bourbon caramel are just some of the favorites. Grab a doughnut hole if you just want a bite-size taste.
Moody’s Falafel Palace
Khaled Seffo, born in Syria and a U.S. resident since 1992, took over for Moody when he retired in 2003. But his commitment to serving some of the healthiest cheap eats in Boston hasn’t changed.
Ingredients are prepped fresh every morning. You can’t go wrong with baba ghanouj, shawarma, bakalawa, and, of course, falafel. Vegetarians will find plenty to love here, too.
Off the T’s green line in Coolidge Corner is Boston’s favorite Jewish delicatessen since 1997. Get there early on weekends if you’re hoping to score breakfast at a typical breakfast hour. But don’t worry: cornbeef hash and eggs, challah French toast, pastrami scramble, and other early-morning favorites are served all day.
Loaded latkes come highly recommended, as do specialty sandwiches like the Reuben. And you can order a Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner year-round.
A chacarero is a type of Chilean sandwich. Here, it’s made with homemade bread, cheese, tomatoes, green beans, and some closely kept secrets. Steak or chicken (or both) provide the meat component, though a vegetarian option is available.
The restaurant, which started as a push-cart, now has a permanent location, but the menu is still simple. A side of empanadas and rice pudding for dessert round out your Chacerero experience.
Flour Bakery and Cafe
Joanne Chang’s Flour Bakery empire has extended to seven locations across Boston. Chang’s famous sticky buns are a must-have and are the perfect way to live the bakery’s motto: “Make life sweeter … eat dessert first.”
Savory options include a range of sandwiches and rotating daily specials. The roasted chicken with mashed avocado and jicama is particularly delicious. Most can be made with gluten-free bread or as a salad or grain bowl.
Located in Cambridge inside the Porter Exchange mall, Sapporo Ramen is surrounded by several other affordable Asian restaurants. While it may be hard to snag a seat, once you do, tuck in for a giant bowl of ramen for $10.50. A few side and rice dishes round out the menu, but you can’t go wrong with the spicy miso ramen.
– Original reporting by Kate Sitarz