Boston Area-Good things to eat under $20.00

From today’s Boston Globe:

15 treats from Boston restaurants that taste as good as they look, for $20 or less

Two foodies who chronicle their finds on Instagram and TikTok share their picks for fabulous — and affordable — food and drinks around the city.

By Rachel Eng and Maddie GattoUpdated August 25, 2022, 11:17 a.m.



Rachel Eng and Maddie Gatto share their food finds on social media as Two Taste Buddiez.KATE WEISER

For foodies, Boston is a veritable playground of adventurous, delicious, and even cutting-edge cuisine. And it’s diverse: Over the years, international influences have made their mark, from downtown to Eastie, Dorchester, and beyond.

For the past five years, we’ve scoured the area for creative and tasty menu items — documenting our explorations on TikTok and Instagram. Under the name Two Taste Buddiez, we’ve dined at hundreds of local restaurants, finding dishes that taste as good as they look.

Now, if the idea of fabulous food makes you picture posh restaurants where the bill is as eye-popping as the cuisine, think again. Being on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t find options that are daring and unique — but you have to know where to look.

When we launched our social media pages, we were college students who wanted to find the best food within our budgets, and finding these affordable eats to share with others has always been a key part of our mission. So we know that, even in a tough economy, there are plenty of foodie adventures to be had without breaking the bank.


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From ice cream to sandwiches to cocktails, we’ve compiled a list of 15 of our favorite food and drink selections, all of which cost less than $20.

A stuffed croissant from CocoricoTWO TASTE BUDDIEZ

1. Stuffed croissant at Cocorico

Price: $7

Tucked away in the Omni Boston Hotel at the Seaport, Cocorico Boulangerie is known for its breakfast sandwiches made on butter-toasted faluche, a type of French breakfast roll. But don’t sleep on their Instagram-worthy gourmet stuffed croissants, the flavors of which rotate weekly. Highlights include the peanut butter and jelly, raspberry pistachio, and blackberry cream varieties. These pastries — which typically sell out by 1 p.m. or earlier — are almost too pretty to eat, but once you take that first bite, you won’t be able to stop.

450 Summer Street, Boston, 617-476-6664,

2. Shishito peppers at ilona

Price: $13

An upscale yet cozy lounge-style bar in the South End, ilona has an atmosphere perfect for intimate groups. The menu features shareable Mediterranean plates and the shishito peppers should absolutely be part of your spread. These put all other shishito peppers to shame. Topped with jalapeños, creamy manouri cheese, sesame seeds, and a parsley vinaigrette, they are packed with flavor. A gorgeous char makes them tender and smoky, and they melt in your mouth.

783 Tremont Street, Boston, 617-207-7742,

A regular cone from Far Out Ice CreamTWO TASTE BUDDIEZ

3. Regular cone at Far Out Ice Cream

Price: $7

Walk into this New Zealand-style ice cream shop and you’ll be instantly greeted by the welcoming smell of freshly-made waffle cones. Far Out Ice Cream serves up a treat known to Kiwis as “real fruit ice cream” — soft serve made on the spot by churning ice cream with fresh fruit. It’s all customizable — you have the choice of a dairy or nondairy base as well as several fruits to blend in, including mango, blueberry, and a mix of berries they call kookaberry. The result? Perfect soft-serve swirls with a creamy yet refreshing texture.

419 Harvard Street, Brookline, 617-487-8102,

4. Birria tacos at Taqueria Jalisco

Price: $14.99

Birria tacos have taken over the taco scene in recent years, and Taqueria Jalisco is no exception. This family-owned East Boston spot serves authentic Mexican cuisine from the state of Jalisco in a fast-casual atmosphere. The beef in the birria tacos is slow-cooked with chilies and spices to create the most tender and flavorful bite. Each order comes with a side of broth for dunking, adding unrivaled flavor to each mouthful.

291 Bennington Street, East Boston, 617-567-6367

A Classic Italia Twist at Suasday Sandwich Co.TWO TASTE BUDDIEZ

5. Classic Italia Twist at Suasday Sandwich Co.

Price: $11.75

Looking for a bang for your buck in the North End? Stop by Suasday. Opened by Cambodian Americans Jessica Chiep and Menghong Hak, sandwiches here pay homage to the founders’ culinary roots — at affordable prices. Our recommendation: the Classic Italia Twist, their ode to the neighborhood. A toasted baguette is smeared with a Khmer-French-inspired pate, made from scratch, and aioli — then piled high with prosciutto, mortadella, black forest ham, and provolone. Reminiscent of a Vietnamese bánh mì, the cucumber, as well as pickled carrots, daikon, and green papaya, add freshness and crunch to every bite.

227 Hanover Street, Boston, 857-829-1299,

A Salty Pig board at The Salty PigTWO TASTE BUDDIEZ

6. Salty Pig board at The Salty Pig

Price: $17

For a great deal, try the charcuterie board off the lunch menu at the Salty Pig in the Back Bay. It comes piled with a selection of house-made meats and carefully selected cheeses. The board includes prosciutto cotto, pork rillette, manchego, a smoked shallot marmalade, and house-made pickles and mustard. Pair these with slices of their crusty bread for the perfect salty, savory, and sweet bite.

130 Dartmouth Street, Boston, 617-536-6200,

7. Buffalo chicken stuffed pretzel at Harvard Gardens

Price: $17

This Beacon Hill pub is a perfect spot to chill with friends after work. Grab a round of drinks and a Buffalo chicken stuffed pretzel to share. Served warm and golden brown, it glistens with a buttery sheen and is topped with flaky salt. Rip open the soft pretzel for an epic cheese-pull that reveals the Buffalo chicken goodness within. This appetizer, which comes with a side of blue cheese, can be shared between two to six people, but we can’t promise that you won’t want to order seconds.

316 Cambridge Street, Boston, 617-523-2727,

Duan’s Whip from Blossom BarTWO TASTE BUDDIEZ

8. Duan’s Whip at Blossom Bar

Price: $14

James Beard-nominated mixologist Ran Duan runs this creative Brookline cocktail bar that also serves up Sichuan-style food. While the drink menu is stacked, Duan’s Whip is our go-to because, as fabulous as it looks, it tastes even better. Made of rum, orange vermouth, lime, a cherry-like fruit called acerola, and Dole Whip — the soft-serve pineapple dessert — the drink is essentially a boozy frozen-fruit smoothie ideal for sipping on a hot day.

295 Washington Street, Brookline, 617-734-1870,

9. Bánh mì đặc biệt at Ba Le

Price: $6

Dorchester is the place to be for some of the most delicious Vietnamese food in the area, and Ba Le is one of the absolute can’t-miss spots in the neighborhood. Half restaurant and half market, it has, for our money, the best combination-pork bánh mì sandwich in the city. Starting with house-made bread, it comes stuffed with pickled vegetables, charred beef and pork, pate, Vietnamese ham, cilantro, and homemade mayo, which adds a sweet kick. There are 11 different variations of the bánh mì here, and you can’t go wrong with any of them.

1052 Dorchester Avenue, Boston, 617-265-7171,

10. Nutella latte at Café Sauvage

Price: $5.50

Café Sauvage’s name translates to “wild,” which is apt for this Parisian-style cafe filled with plants, green-suede booths, and leafy wallpaper. The perfect complement to any of its fresh pastries or tasty brunch dishes is the Nutella latte. Take a second to admire the artful drizzle of Nutella lining the glass before stirring to combine the hazelnut, milk, and espresso. The sweetness of the Nutella, bitterness of the freshly-pulled espresso shots, and creamy milk come together for a comforting, deeply satisfying sip. Served iced or hot, it is a go-to no matter the season.

25 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, 857-277-0075,

Spanakopita grilled cheese from CommitteeTWO TASTE BUDDIEZ

11. Spanakopita grilled cheese at Committee

Price: $16

Committee has been one of our go-to restaurants in the Seaport for years, and with creative cocktails and a stacked brunch menu, who’s to blame us for coming back time and time again? It serves up Greek-inspired small plates, and the brunch menu is one of our favorites with staples such as shakshuka, Greek yogurt pancakes, and more. The spanakopita grilled cheese is an absolute can’t-miss, with a melty feta, kasseri, and spinach filling, toasted sourdough, and a side of creamy tomato soup that’s tailor-made for dunking.

50 Northern Avenue, Boston, 617-737-5051,

Vegan shakshuka from Cafe LandwerTWO TASTE BUDDIEZ

12. Vegan shakshuka at Cafe Landwer

Price: $18

Cafe Landwer, the Israeli restaurant chain, has become a Boston staple with three locations across the city. Our favorite time to stop by is brunch, when you can try several versions of shakshuka — including a vegan one with Impossible meatballs. The ultra-flavorful meatballs are a perfect match for the spiced tomato sauce and soft pita bread. Make sure to scoop up every last drop. Cafe Landwer is friendly to those with dietary restrictions, offering vegan and vegetarian options across the menu.

Multiple locations,

13. Roast beef scallion pancake roll at Taiwan Cafe

Price: $13.95

Taiwan Cafe in Chinatown is a casual eat-in spot, serving an extensive menu of classic Taiwanese dishes and a selection of Sichuan options as well. The star of the show for us is the roast beef scallion pancake roll, which is impeccably flaky and includes roast beef rolled between the layers. Accompanied by hoisin sauce on the side, it can be shared as an appetizer with friends or eaten alone as an entrée.

34 Oxford Street, Boston, 617-426-8181,

The grilled breakfast sandwich at Mike & Patty’sTWO TASTE BUDDIEZ

14. Grilled breakfast sandwich at Mike & Patty’s

Price: $10

Mike and Patty’s has been a force on the Boston food scene since 2008, serving up our pick for the best breakfast sandwiches in the city. This particular sandwich is essentially a deluxe grilled cheese with bacon, egg, and a generous amount of melty cheddar, Swiss, and gruyere on buttered sourdough. (The menu calls it the “Grilled Crack,” but we wish they’d come up with a better name.) Their locations are no-frills spots with counter service, making it easy to stop by for a quick bite on your way to work.

Multiple locations,

Karai shoyu at Ganko Ittetsu RamenTWO TASTE BUDDIEZ

15. Karai shoyu at Ganko Ittetsu Ramen

Price: $15

Whenever we’re craving comfort food, Ganko Ittetsu is where we turn. Claiming to be the first restaurant to bring Sapporo-style ramen — which is prepared in a wok — to New England, this spot also adds its own modern spin. We always get the karai shoyu ramen, which features a masterful balance of shoyu kaeshi — a Japanese noodle sauce base — spices, and soup stock, and comes with a beautifully cooked egg on top. Delicious to the last drop, it’s a must-try.

318 Harvard Street #3, Brookline, 617-730-8100; 215 Thayer Street, Providence, 401-808-6383;


When I saw this article in the Globe, I said to myself, “finally, kids doing something productive with social media.”

I sound like such a curmudgeon. :laughing:

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Thank you for pasting the full article. My take is that it’s very heavily Brookline/Allston weighted. There must be something good for <$20 in Cambridge/Somerville. Anyone care to add?

What are your favorites in the North End?

I can’t leave Boston without a nice cannoli and pizza slice crawl. Mikes? Modern? Both ? I’m old but I still have a soft spot for Regina’s pizza too. Lots of other good stuff in that area. Suasday seems like a good tip tho!

Also need to get my chowda clams lobster roll fix what are your favorites there in this price range ? Well maybe no lobster.

Also ice cream ? The one here isn’t my style. Regular scoops preferred.

Last time I was in Fanuel Hall it seemed less appetizing. Still there’s the venerable Boston chipyard. What should we get there ?

I’m looking at this list and it doesn’t say Boston to me. Times they are a changing too. Glad to also see some different stuff represented. But it’s not what I’m eating when I visit.

I need the old stuck in the mud Boston less than 20 dollar list that captures food you can only get in Boston.

  • Any ramen from Tsurumen is far superior to Ganko Ittetsu in my opinion.
  • You an still get a lunch donburi at Cafe Sushi for under $20, although the portion and variety is not what it once was.
  • Pizza and Arancini from Galleria Umberto
  • Italian sub from Monica’s Mercato



Greek Corner Restaurant, Mass Ave in Cambridge has always been solid for less than $20.00 a plate, but it has been 2+ years since I’ve last been.
Lobster/Chowder from James Hook & Co, but I don’t think thats under $20.00 any more.

Check out some of the food halls that have opened in the last few years. Some very good choices, with many under $20.0.

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Thanks great tips! Sad about Fanuel hall. At least i got it right and ate elsewhere.

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Thanks. Nice to know about the new generation of food halls.


They are beautiful and attractive!!! Oh, the women are ok too. (Just kidding)

Fun read! I was going to say “now do one for under $10”, but in the reality of these times with inflation "$15 might be more reasonable. $20 still feels like a pretty high bar.

I’ve never even heard of some of these places so always love picking up a few new places for the list.


I haven’t been to Faneuil Hall in ages, but what was often the most intoxicating thing about the food court was the smell from the Boston Chipyard. Their soft warm cookies are overpriced for sure, but they sure smelled delicious. They’re not bad cookies but I think almost any chocolate chip cooking made warm and a bit gooey would taste good too.

If I were in Faneuil Hall I would actually walk to the Boston Public Market next door where there are probably way more interesting food browsing and tasting options. Union Sq donut may still have an outpost in the Boston Public market and they do the creative gourmet donut flavors.


good tip on the public market thank you.

that’s the good thing about chocolate chip cookies…hell, at least we didn’t walk out of fanuel hall getting nothin

That may not be a bad thing to leave that tourist trap empty handed. :stuck_out_tongue:
The historical sites themselves are a fun visit, but the restaurants and the little markets are no better than an outdoor mall, but filled with a lot more useless tchotchke vendors.

The one good thing is that area is so close to other ‘neighborhoods’ that you can easily walk a few streets and hit much better eats. It’s also close to Haymarket, where they have the outdoor vendor stands for various fruits, herbs and produce on the weekend at rock bottom prices. It’s a fun browse, but maybe not that practical for a visitor (though the fruit can be fantastic deals).


Was thinking the same. Where can I get something that will fill me like a meal or heavy snack for under $15?

I like the idea of a thread like this more than ever. However, a lot of the suggestions in the OP don’t really hit the mark for me. A cocktail doesn’t belong on such a list, and if it does I could list a lot of good drinks under $20. A plate of shishito peppers? I would hope that’s under $20 even at the most expensive places. It’s always interesting to see what others like and maybe there’ll be a gem in there though.


Esperia Grill, Brighton. Pork Gyro + Side Salad: $12.95


Agreed. Shishito peppers is an appetizer, and a $20 appetizer would be a crime unless it comes with big bowl or plate of food. I would hope almost any cocktail would be under $20 as well, but I understand they probably wanted a pretty drink (same for a dessert). Even their Cambodian sandwich, which is like a Cambodian bahn mi is $11. Ouch – most banh mi’s at the typical fast food joins run $6-7 bucks. I guess an upscale one for $11 might not be terrible, but that better be one dang good sandwich!

I think in most of your neighborhood, ethnic restaurants, you can still find entrees that are under $20, though they are starting to creep up there. Many phos and noodle soups that used to range $10-12 are now averaging closer to $15 or higher.


One of the places we have missed the most from the move to Newton Center from Brighton. Even with the annual price increase at Galleria Umberto in the North End, you can still buy one each of all 9 of their menu items for under $40. Cash only, however!

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Cambridge / Harvard Square:

Felipe’s – even on an under $10 list, tamales, quesadilla, tacos. I have had combinations of all those. (I miss The Border).

Noch’s – 1 slice is usually enough, 2 to be stuffed.

Le’s – Bun (with cha gio), Grilled pork chop over rice, Bo luc lac if feeling spendy. It’s no Pho Pasteur but it’s decent enough. (I haven’t tried Bon Me yet.)


Most of the udon offerings at Yume Ga Arukara in the Porter Exchange are $20 or less. Personally, I actually prefer the thicker, chewier udon noodles to the ramens served up at the more notorious, line-out-into-the-street Yume Wo Katare nearby (they’re sister restaurants).

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Not sister restaurants any longer. The founder sold his shares of Yume Ga Arukara in 2020. Other than the shared history there is no relationship between the two.