Best cheap eats in Boston
Gene’s is cash-only, but you won’t need much for a good meal. Join students and nearby office workers for hand-pulled noodles, spicy soups, and the namesake beef flatbread sandwiches. The choices of regional Xi’an noodle dishes will leave you fully satisfied for not much more than a tenner. Be prepared to wait for a table, or just go for takeout.
This Fenway mainstay gets packed before Red Sox games with fans craving a quick, cheap, pre-game bite (or getting a giant burrito to take into Fenway Park). The interior is small and cheerful, and the food is filling and flavorful. Tacos, burritos, and fried plantains are favorites.
Regulars line up at this old-school North End takeout joint as early as 10:30am. They know not to risk missing out on delectable, super-cheap Sicilian slices and arancini. Even diners waiting for a table at nearby restaurants have been known to grab a slice while they wait, so Galleria Umberto usually sells out. It’s cash only, but at these prices it’s not a problem.
Anna’s has been a go-to for those seeking home-style Mexican and a cheap meal since 1995. For a filling meal on a budget, nothing beats a giant burrito filled with beans, rice, and deliciously-flavored meats. Top it off with sour cream and guac and you’ll be set for the day. Breakfast is available too, so you can grab a quick, cheap breakfast taco to start your day too.
For more than 60 years, Sullivan’s has been dishing out cheap weiners in Southie to loyal hot dog (and cheap eats) fanatics. It’s a simple, steamed dog served in a toasted bun for just over $2. Order it “all around” (with mustard, relish, and onion) or splurge on the cheese and chili.
Time Out Market Boston’s anoush’ella (an Armenian expression of love, meaning “may it be sweet”) churns out the same colorful Eastern Mediterranean dishes that made the original location a South End favorite. The use of fresh, authentic ingredients can be detected in every bite of crave-worthy mezze such as walnut harissa, labne, grilled halloumi and baked chickpea fritters. Salads and grain bowls make for a nutritious meal that’s easily portable, healthy, and affordable.
Banh Mi Ba Le serves up authentic and fresh Vietnamese classics daily, starting bright and early at 5am. Their daily specials vary depending on the freshest produce and meats available.The result is delicious banh mi sandwiches at a great price. The place gets pretty crowded, but it's definitely a solid choice for inexpensive eats.
You’ll probably find a line at this small Porter Square ramen shop, too. Bowls are big, flavorful, and inexpensive. The short menu features a surprising number of options—a variety of ramen bases, several toppings, and a selection of appetizers—and given the prices, it’s worth trying a few different items.
This small Inman Square spot specializes in heaping portions of fast, flavorful Punjabi dishes. Fill your tray with chatt (crunchy snack mixes), pakoras, tandoori items, curries, paratha, and more. Whatever you choose, you’ll enjoy spiced delights for a reasonable price. In keeping with its no-frills approach, Punjabi Dhaba is cash only.
Machu Picchu's casual sibling specializes in the same juicy, mouth-watering Peruvian roast chicken. For a quick, cheap, and filling meal, you can't beat a quarter chicken with salad and fries or rice for under $10. You can even splurge on a chicha morada (purple corn juice) for a complete meal.
Saloniki offers fresh, farm-to-table Greek fare for a very reasonable price. Souvlaki sandwiches feature tender grilled meats and local produce. Rice plates and pitas—identified by classic Greek names like Yianni, Nico, and Herc—include stars like lemon-oregano grilled chicken, roasted pomegranate-glazed eggplant, and spicy lamb kefte. Soups, salads, and phyllo pies round out the menu, and most items are under $10.
Effie’s, a family-run favorite in Roslindale, serves up exceptional Greek takeout at affordable prices. Flavorful meats are cradled in thick, warm pita, salads are overflowing with feta and chicken, tzatziki is prepared fresh in-house, and spinach pies are flaky and fresh. At these prices, you’ll have enough left over to treat yourself to a baklava.
The ubiquitous Chicken and Rice Guys dot the landscape with trucks, pop-ups, and brick-and-mortar spots. Inexpensive, filling, and flavorful, their fresh, fast halal street fare is great for a quick lunch. Choose a rice plate or salad plate and customize with your choice of protein (including tofu) and sauce, and you have a satisfying meal.
You’ll probably have to wait in a line, but that’s part of the experience at this Somerville gem. Once inside, you’ll get huge portions of breakfast favorites for cheap. Each entree comes with a choice of fruit or cream of wheat, and regulars know to go with the latter. If you get a seat on the patio in nice weather, all the better.
Vegetarians can rejoice because Whole Heart provides a fast, build-your-own concept featuring healthy, meat-free ingredients. It’s affordable too. Starting with a base of grains or greens, pick your toppings from a range of healthy veggies, flavorfully-prepared tofus, sauces, and nuts. For a low price, these bowls are healthy fast food for when you just don’t feel like cooking.