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A plate of oblong Taiwan-style pan-fried dumplings on a dark wooden table.
Taiwan-style pan-fried dumplings at Dumpling Kingdom
Terrence B. Doyle for Eater

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Allston Food Crawl: Savory Meat Wrapped in Dough Blankets

The neighborhood is awash in tacos, burritos, shawarma, dumplings, and buns. Why settle for one or the other?

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Food Crawls, which will become a regularly occurring series in which Eater Boston staffers guide you (virtually) on various food crawls in the Boston area.

When we go out, we often find ourselves wanting to try more than one restaurant at a time — a drink and a snack here, another drink and perhaps a dessert there — and want to share our favorite multi-stop combinations with you. These crawls are meant to be relatively walkable, and the amount of food and drink is meant to correspond roughly to a couple of average appetites (so bring a friend), although your mileage may vary. Email us if there’s a particular theme, specific dish or drink, or neighborhood you’d like to see covered in a future installment.

It’s a not-so-well-kept secret: For the city’s most diverse assortment of restaurants, head to Allston. The neighborhood offers almost anything an eater would want to snack on, from Korean barbecue to Brazilian baked goods to hipster brunch menus to very decent pizza by the slice (and everything in between). Pound for pound, Allston might be Boston’s best neighborhood for eating.

Its resume is deep, but Allston’s best attribute might be its preponderance of kitchens serving savory meats wrapped in blankets of dough. Tacos and burritos and shawarma and dumplings and buns, oh my! And while eating any one of those things is always a good idea, eating one of each of those things in the same day is an even better idea. Here’s a step-by-step guide for doing exactly that in Allston.

Stats for this food crawl:

  • Total stops: 5
  • Total mileage: 0.3 miles on foot, or about six minutes of walking
  • Total streets: 2
  • Days and times when all of these restaurants are simultaneously open: Sunday through Wednesday, noon to 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9:45; Thursday through Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Note: Totto Ramen is the only one closed between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.)
  • Total carbohydrates: So many
  • Total Eater Boston editors raising their eyebrows at this Eater Boston writer’s assertion that all of this food can be eaten in one crawl: 1

Pollo Burrito at Habanero Mexican Grill

166 Brighton Ave., Allston, MA 02134

Habanero Mexican Grill
Habanero Mexican Grill on Brighton Avenue grills its burritos on the flat top
Terrence B. Doyle for Eater

There are many good-to-very-good burritos to be eaten in Allston — Amelia’s Taqueria and Taqueria El Carrizal spring immediately to mind — but the pollo burrito at Habanero Mexican Grill is peerless. It’s loaded with juicy dark meat, toothsome rice, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, and beans that are almost certainly cooked with lard. To finish, Habanero’s cooks place the burrito on the flat top for a couple minutes until the exterior of the flour tortilla has browned, a process that adds an unexpected depth to an otherwise humble dish. The burritos at Habanero are massive, so this should be any eater’s first stop on the “Allston Meat Wrapped in Dough Blanket Tour.” Get it out of the way, and determine how much room is left in the old stomach once it’s finished.

Kalbi Short Rib Taco at Coreanos

172 Brighton Ave., Allston, MA 02134

Coreanos is a feast of modern Korean and Korean-Mexican fusion
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Under normal circumstances, a visit to Coreanos wouldn’t be complete without snacking on an order of kimchi rice. But these aren’t normal circumstances, and there’s no room for excess. Order the Kalbi short rib taco, and order only one. There is much eating left on this crawl.

Char Siu Pork Bun at Totto Ramen

169 Brighton Ave., Allston, MA 02134

Totto Ramen
Totto Ramen specializes in, well, ramen — but don’t sleep on the pork bun
Terrence B. Doyle for Eater

Why did the eater cross Brighton Avenue? To get to Totto Ramen. This minimalist restaurant is known for its ramen (duh!), but its char siu pork buns aren’t to be ignored, either. Fork-tender pork belly (charred to order with a blow torch) sits inside a pillowy hirata bun dressed with mayonnaise. Simple, and also cheap — they go for just $3.25 each. Ramen is out of the question for the purposes of this crawl, but be sure to head back to Totto at some later date for a bowl of miso paitan.

Beef Shawarma Roll-Up at Garlic ‘n Lemons

133 Harvard Ave., Allston, MA 02134

Garlic ‘n Lemons
The first of two Harvard Avenue stops on the Allston crawl
Terrence B. Doyle for Eater

Garlic ‘n Lemons offers Middle Eastern-inspired fare like tabouleh, couscous, hummus, and baba ganoush; ignore it all and go straight for the beef shawarma roll-up. It’s almost as big as the burrito at Habanero, and so now seems like a good time for this warning: We don’t recommend anyone complete this crawl without the help of a friend or two (or three).

Taiwan-Style Pan-Fried Dumplings at Dumpling Kingdom

137 Harvard Ave., Allston, MA 02134

Dumpling Kingdom
Dumpling Kingdom is as good as it gets
Terrence B. Doyle for Eater

Exit Garlic ‘n Lemons, take a right, and then immediately enter Dumpling Kingdom. This dumpling destination is open until 2 a.m. every day — no late-night craving can resist the siren call of post-midnight dumplings. It’s worth a return trip to try every dumpling on Dumpling Kingdom’s menu, but the crawl ends with one dumpling and one dumpling only: Taiwan-style pan-fried dumplings.

Good luck on the crawl — and good luck crawling home. And stay tuned for more posts like this about other neighborhoods in and around Boston.

Garlic 'n Lemons

133 Harvard Avenue, , MA 02134 (617) 783-8100 Visit Website


7500 Almeda Road, , TX 77054 (281) 728-3751 Visit Website

Totto Ramen

169 Brighton Ave, Allston, MA 02134 (617) 202-5075 Visit Website

Dumpling Kingdom

137 Harvard Avenue, Allston, MA 02134 (617) 562-8888 Visit Website

Habanero Mexican Grill

9003 East Fairview Avenue, , CA 91775 (626) 286-1914 Visit Website