Boston, MA: good picks under 10$ or so

given some good response to threads here lately, I think it’s time for a cheap eats thread, given that this was always one of my favorite topics at the old place. I’m thinking of a cutoff of sub-10$ or so, though I know there may be some dissension over what exactly constitutes a cheap eat. (I remember one Chowhound thread years ago getting a little hung up over whether a 7 buck hot dog was a cheap eat or not!) But let’s not get too didactic, and just get on with it. For what it’s worth, here’s a few of the things I like in this category:

Ma La vegetable or MDM noodle soup at MDM noodles in Brighton
Plain slice at Sillari’s Pizza, Malden
Claypot rice at Claypot Cafe in Chinatown, Boston
Number 4 hand pulled noodle, Gene’s Flatbread in Woburn
Italian calzone from Marco’s, Woburn
5$ loaf of bread from Dom’s, Medford (have asked twice where they get this loaf from and have gotten no answer. But it’s huge and really good and five bucks.
Cheese pupusas at Sabor Especial, Revere
French toast and rice plates at Cafe de Lulu, Malden
Potato and egg sub, Avellino’s Medford
Egg tarts at Great Taste, Chinatown
Chicken Saag, Mint Indian Eatery in Somerville

and an old favorite: banh mi from Mei Sum Bakery, Chinatown.

So, Ho’ers: what are your fave cheap meals in the area? Please let us know!


I assume a category such as this has in mind more casual places where you can simply walk in, order, and walk out with that single single-digit dish.

In that spirit, many things on Gene’s menu are in that category, not just #4. I particularly like grabbing a few skewers downtown to eat on Amtrak.

The daily pre-made sandwiches at Formaggio Kitchen are almost all in this price range, and some of the smaller ones are under $5.

If we’re talking of dishes at fancier places, some small plates at Loyal Nine are in this category. Their fried soldier beans were outstanding recently, and a steal at $5.

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this is what I generally tend to think of (and what is more what I have been eating lately, given personal circumstances–so most of the above is what I thought of from my last couple years of weekend eating in Boston) but I don’t mean at all to limit what anyone picks. I’d love to hear about cheaper items at higher end places too–your Loyal Nine rec is perfect. That sounds like a good priced item that you could get there with a nice drink.

Rincón Mexicano, East Somerville, bowl of tortilla soup and a side of black beans. $5.50. or a killer burrito, $7.99. Tacos at $2 or $3 a piece. Add a side of beans with two tacos and you still haven’t reached $10.

If we include meals for two that you can split, I have more. Mostly in East Somerville.

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Oh yes, please, tell all!

I love the Chacarero sandwich at Chacarero. Also Sofra can be pretty affordable!

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I like Rincon’s burrito fine but prefer Tapatio slightly more, probably because they throw in a couple handful of chips and salsa with your order (yes, I’m cheap like that but the chips are legit good). Tapatio also has an option for lengua (tongue) burrito; not sure if Rincon has it but hard to find it outside of East Somerville. I also like getting two pupusas ($1.99 each) with the spicy relish/slaws; makes a satisfying lunch at a bargain price.


Speaking of MDM and the recent heat wave, the cold-skin (Liang Pi) noodle is now $6.75. I personally would get a couple more lamb skewers to go with it but that’ll push it closer toward the $10 line.

$5 for 10 dumplings at Dumpling King in Chinatown (the stand next to Avana Sushi), a few filing options, steamed or pan fried. The pan fried is better than steamed albeit a bit greasy. The dumpling combo is $6.50, you get 10 dumplings, a soda, and a soup (dumpling soup or hot and sour). The dumpling soup has a lot of mini-dumplings and blanched greens in a thin chicken/meat stock…in case you haven’t had enough dumplings! I think the dumplings are factory made by the same local company that produces those frozen dumplings in Chinese grocery stores.

1 Meat/2 Meat/3 Meat combo for $6 - $9 at any of the bbq and rice places in Chinatown (I like the one next to Hei la moon but they are more or less the same). You get a Styrofoam container of rice with some blanched chinese cabbage and way too much meat of your choosing (roast duck, crispy pig, and soy chicken is my go-to). The left over meat gets thrown into my fried rice the day after.


Given the cheapness of everything at Galleria Umberto, you’d be hard pressed to spend over $10 on any 2 items. You’d have to order 2 calzones to go over. A Calzone and an arancini, would run you under $9, and if you got an arancini, panzarotti, and a slice of pizza, you’d come in at $7.50 or so.

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The Dom’s Special and the Melanzane from Domenic’s in Waltham are about $9 and really good. They make the ciabatta rolls every morning.

The pupusa plate (cheese, pork or mixed) at Mi Tierra on Moody Street in Waltham is, if the menu is still accurate, $8 and includes curtido, rice, beans and fried plantains. It’s a satisfying meal and a good deal.

The tortas at La Victoria in Arlington are quite good and a bargain at $6.50. The Dos Caidas is quite flavorful with chorizo and carnitas. The burritos are quite tasty, too, and even cheaper.


Be still my heart. And this is the place next to Hei La Moon?

Yup, although they are basically the same (the place next to Hei La Moon is just closest to my old office, and their portion is slightly larger), including but not limited to Quic Pic (next to Gourmet Dumpling House), Hong Kong Eatery, and the basement place next to BLR. Quic Pic and HK Eatery are probably easier to navigate language wise. They are all cash only. You get a dipping soy sauce on the side, but ask for the ginger-scallion sauce if they have it; pretty sure it’s just ginger/scallion/oil/MSG but SO good.

I also like getting half a duck ($11-$13 depends on the place) and a pound of char-siu or squid (~$10/pound give or take) to go, if you want to make your own rice and veg, or top off some egg noodle soup.

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I totally forgot this place. the triple combo there is still eight bucks-- three choices from the bbq/marinated section plus rice, vegetable and soup. now that’s cheap eats.

Wai Wai on Oxford is another good one of these down there. Meat plates and noodle soups in the 6-8$ range.

I used to buy those half ducks when I was in town full time. They tend to reheat really well.

A slice at Stella’s Pizza in Watertown is $2.50 and it is excellent. Good way to make sure you are not too hungry before hitting the various Armenian grocery stores.


They give us chips, salsa, and then a great salsa roja for the burrito. They also have a great salsa verde. Rincon offers a tongue taco; not sure about a burrito.

I went to get takeout last week and had to pay extra for the chips and salsa, and the time before that received a burrito with no beans without asking for it. Although admittedly the salsa was really great and tasted freshly made, the service is just weirdly confusing sometimes.

We always eat in, so it sounds as though the process, and what they offer is different depending on where you eat your meal.


OK, stop laughing. Yes, they were among the first in the Boston area to break the $10 barrier for sandwiches, but I noticed today that they offer halves on many of their offerings for $7. Their sandwiches are very substantial – we often split one between the two of us – so a half sandwich would make a decent lunch. Many of their soups, even the hearty ones, such as the lentil and sausage, come in sizes that cost under $10 (and come with a hunk of bread). If you want to keep costs even further down, a kids turkey sandwich is pretty substantial for $5 (but also pretty bland).


Himalayan Kitchen [formerly BBQ international}

Tandoori chicken wings [we like the Punjab version] and a Dal Tadka or Chana Masala for a cost of $18.00 for two people. Add a Naan bread and you break the magic $20 mark by $.50. If you eat in, you are often offered a lovely pea-mint soup as a complementary starter.


Courthouse Seafood.

Wednesday and Saturday are BIG Fish Days. The fish chips has four pieces of fish with fries. Add a side of clams, only enjoyed by Mr. SMT, and a small cole slaw and you are just over the $20/2 people mark, but really the clams are totally an extra.