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Sesame fried chicken at Sarma
Sesame fried chicken at Sarma
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

How to Dine Affordably at Fancy Boston Restaurants

These high-end restaurants have some options that are a bit easier on the wallet

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Sesame fried chicken at Sarma
| Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Boston has a wide range of restaurants fit for special occasions, but not every occasion can be special, and not every restaurant feels like the right fit for an average Tuesday night — but maybe it could. It’s possible to get a taste of some of Boston’s fanciest restaurants without entirely breaking the bank.

From special bar menus to brunch, from late-night snacks to a la carte options at otherwise tasting-menu-only venues, here are less expensive ways to experience some of Boston’s finest dining.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. The Table at Season to Taste

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2447 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140
(617) 871-9468
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Top Chef alum Carl Dooley (Eater Boston’s 2016 Chef of the Year) opened the Table at Season to Taste in January 2016, filling the storefront of catering business Season to Taste with an intimate destination for fine dining in the form of a four-course prix fixe that currently goes for $99 per person. The ever-changing menu features classic techniques and seasonal ingredients.

Those looking to get a taste of the Table without going all in for the prix fixe can order from a small a la carte menu at the restaurant’s wine bar. Current dishes include goat cheese agnolotti ($19), yellowfin tuna sashimi ($19), and duck leg a l’orange ($31), with the prices inclusive of tax and tip.

Lamb bisteeya at the Table at Season to Taste
Lamb bisteeya at the Table at Season to Taste
Stephanie Cornell

2. Sarma

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249 Pearl St
Somerville, MA 02145
(617) 764-4464
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An award-winning dinner destination in Somerville (not to mention one of the toughest last-minute reservations to snag), Sarma also offers a late-night menu, giving those who are hungry outside of peak hours a chance to sample some snacks.

Available Sunday through Thursday until 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday until 12 a.m., Sarma’s late-night selection varies, but it regularly features the restaurant’s popular sesame fried chicken. Diners might also find dishes like squash fritters, lamb kofte sliders, and brisket shawarma, with prices ranging from about $5 to $14.

Lamb kofte sliders from Sarma’s late-night menu
Lamb kofte sliders from Sarma’s late-night menu
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

3. Talulla

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377 Walden St
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 714-5584
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Wife-and-husband team Danielle Ayer and Conor Dennehy named this sweet Cambridge spot for their daughter, Talulla. At dinner, there are a la carte, prix fixe, and tasting menus, all of which rotate with the seasons; the food is lovely, and the bill can escalate quickly, especially with the full tasting menu ($95 per person).

The most budget-friendly way to visit Talulla is to try Sunday brunch, where the starters typically range in price from $7 to $12, and the entrees are $15 to $19. Diners will still get a feel for Dennehy’s exemplary cooking — and there’s a big sticky bun.

4. Tasting Counter

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14 Tyler St
Somerville, MA 02143
(617) 299-6362
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While coveted for its elaborate multi-course tasting menus, which can exceed $200 per person, Tasting Counter also operates as a more casual, no-reservations wine bar Wednesday through Saturday from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Tuesday beginning at 5 p.m.

During wine bar hours, diners can order a la carte or try a three-course meal for $35. The a la carte dishes — a selection of snacks, full entrees, and desserts — tend to cost between $5 and $20 each. Tasting Counter’s prices include tax and tip.

Black lime puff dessert at Tasting Counter’s wine bar
Black lime puff dessert at Tasting Counter’s wine bar
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

5. Tanám

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1 Bow Market Way Suite 17
Somerville, MA 02143
(617) 669-2144
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Located at Somerville’s Bow Market, Tanám is a Filipino-American restaurant that offers a number of ways to dine, including kamayan (no-utensil feasts that include 19 different components served on a banana leaf) one night a week ($70 per person) and prix fixe menus three nights a week ($90 per person).

To enjoy Tanám at a lower price, swing by between 10 p.m. and midnight Wednesday through Sunday (between 4 p.m. and midnight Thursday), no reservations required, for cocktails and bar snacks, such as pork belly buns, noodle dishes, and more.

Pork belly buns from Tanám
Pork belly buns from Tanám
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

6. Juliet

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21 Union Square
Somerville, MA 02143
(617) 718-0958
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Juliet, Eater Boston’s 2016 Restaurant of the Year, is perhaps best known for its prix fixe “productions,” themed multi-course feasts that change several times throughout the year. (For example, from April 2019 into mid-May, the theme is “Xenia, Feast of the Gods,” featuring dishes such as roast lamb and olive oil cake.)

That’s not all that happens at the restaurant, though, and there are plenty of options that cost a bit less than the prix fixe meals — weekday breakfast, weekend brunch, an a la carte dinner menu, and more. Plus, Juliet offers some reservations for a “pay what you can” three-course version of the current production, aimed at helping students, neighbors, and others who can’t afford the cost of the full prix fixe.

French onion soup at Juliet
French onion soup at Juliet
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

7. Moona

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243 Hampshire St
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 945-7448
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It’s not the priciest restaurant on this map, but Moona has an ambiance inviting enough for a nice night out, and the bill can certainly add up depending on how many meze diners want to try.

That’s where Moona’s new “industry Mondays” come into play: Stop by the bar from 5 p.m. to close on Monday and choose from a special menu that features a burger for $10, chicken shawarma nachos for $8, and more. (Wash it down with a $4 Narragansett or High Life or a $10 cocktail.)

Moona
Moona
Brian Samuels/Moona

8. Momi Nonmi

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1128 Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 945-7328
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Momi Nonmi is a gem of an izakaya in Inman Square, well worth visiting for a full dinner of gorgeous sashimi, wagyu beef dumplings, grilled skewers, and more.

But for night owls who want to save a bit of money, Momi Nonmi’s late-night menu — available from 10 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights — is key. It has a handful of snacks available, ranging in price from $3 for a jumbo drumstick to $12 for spicy tuna. Other options include portobello frites, Spam musubi, and market price rice bowls. Keep an eye out for dumpling specials and other treats, too.

A couple of plump dumplings and a soy dipping sauce sit on a black plate at Momi Nonmi
Late-night snacks at Momi Nonmi
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

9. Craigie on Main

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853 Main St
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 497-5511
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This decade-old Cambridge classic has been known for its high-end tasting menus as much as its hugely popular burger, which is served at the bar in limited quantities. Craigie on Main recently did a bit of reorganizing, rebranding the bar side of the restaurant as COMB (Craigie on Main Bar), serving an a la carte menu, while the dining room now exclusively serves a four-course tasting menu for $85.

At COMB, open Tuesday through Sunday from 5:30 until midnight, diners can make a reservation or just walk in to find rotating burger specials, Buffalo sauce-themed specials on Sundays, and dishes such as crispy pork ribs, farro conchiglie pasta, and, of course, the famous Craigie burger (18 available nightly). The Craigie team will also soon open a burger-themed stall at the forthcoming Time Out Market in Fenway.

Closeup on a burger featuring a thick patty, bacon, lettuce, and cheese, with thick fries on the edge of the frame
The Craigie burger
Bill Addison/Eater

10. Pagu

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310 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 945-9290
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Pagu, which draws influence from the cuisines of Japan and Spain, features a la carte options as well as tasting menus at dinner.

Those looking to save a few dollars might try lunch or brunch, but the best way to try out Pagu without spending too much is the daily happy hour between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., with simple snacks like chicken “nugz” ($5), a wafflato ($1), and patatas bravas ($3).

Chicken “nugz” at Pagu
Chicken “nugz” at Pagu
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

11. Menton

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354 Congress St
Boston, MA 02210
(617) 737-0099
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Early on, Menton served only tasting menus — among the priciest in town — but now there are a la carte dinner options alongside the $165 “Chef’s Whim” tasting menu that may prove a little less wallet-busting.

It’s still a pricey endeavor, to be sure, but those ordering a la carte will find a few dishes in the $20 range, such as burrata with asparagus, parmigiano reggiano, and mangalica ham, as well as quite a few desserts around $14. For a slightly more casual experience than the dining room, opt for the six-seat bar or 10-seat lounge area, which accommodate walk-ins.

Menton
Menton
Bill Addison/Eater

12. Mooncusser Fish House

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304 Stuart St
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 917-5193
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Mooncusser Fish House, an upscale seafood restaurant from the team behind 80 Thoreau in Concord, has a couple spinoffs in the same building that provide a more casual taste of the restaurant.

Mooncusser is located upstairs in a uniquely shaped Back Bay building, while Moon Bar downstairs complements it with items like chowder, seared scallops, and fish tacos. Also downstairs, the seasonal Cusser’s Roast Beef & Seafood window offers lunchtime options like hot dogs for $7, roast beef sandwiches for $10, and swordfish souvlaki for $15.

The hot dog at Cusser’s
The hot dog at Cusser’s
Brian Samuels

13. Asta

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47 Massachusetts Ave
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 585-9575
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Though Asta’s regular service features tasting menus only ($80 for five courses; $110 for eight courses), the restaurant occasionally partakes in what it calls “distractions,” recurring daytime pop-ups.

The best-known is Asta’s fried chicken and biscuits pop-up, which appears a few times throughout the year, usually for a few weekends in a row. The best way to stay in the loop is by keeping an eye on Instagram. Savage Matcha is also making a return later this year, and there have been a few Dutch baby events recently as well.

A restaurant facade with large, reflective windows and a black sign outlined in red
Asta
Bill Addison/Eater

14. Uni

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370A Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
(617) 536-7200
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Uni, one of Boston’s best-loved high-end sushi destinations, offers pricey omakase and a la carte options loaded with luxurious ingredients, including caviar, wagyu, truffles, and the like.

The late-night menu is a good opportunity to save a few bucks while enjoying the restaurant’s popular ramen ($16) and smaller plates like shishito peppers ($8) and pork buns ($6) — not to mention Sapporo slushies. It’s available on Friday and Saturday from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Uni
Uni
Uni [Official Photo]

15. SRV

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569 Columbus Ave
Boston, MA 02118
(617) 536-9500
Visit Website

At $45, the tasting menu at this Venetian standout in the South End is already one of the better deals in town, but dinner at SRV can still add up, especially after all the wine you’re going to want to drink.

For something significantly cheaper, keep an eye out for SRV’s monthly “cicchetti takeover” series, where guest chefs from around town cook up free bar snacks for a couple of hours. A good time to spend a little extra money on SRV’s aperitivi, perhaps?

A sleek restaurant interior features a brick wall lined with wooden pegs for wine storage.
SRV
Katie Chudy/Eater

16. Mida

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782 Tremont St
Boston, MA 02118
(617) 936-3490
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Mida is another excellent Italian option in the South End, and like SRV, it already offers quite a good deal on a tasting menu — $40 per person.

But Mida’s even more affordable deal channels Olive Garden in the best way possible: all-you-can-eat pasta, salad, and bread on Mondays for $35 per person.

A della casa tasting at Mida
The “della casa” tasting menu at Mida
Emily Kan

17. Ten Tables

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597 Centre St
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
(617) 524-8810
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This longstanding Jamaica Plain restaurant isn’t the most expensive in town but makes for a cozy special occasion spot, features a $49 four-course tasting menu. (A la carte entrees typically fall in the high $20s and low $30s here.)

For those who want a tasting menu for a little less, it drops to three courses and $39 on Sundays. Another solid deal: pasta Thursdays, where customers seated at the bar can get the pasta of the day and a glass of house wine for $15.

Pasta at Ten Tables
Pasta at Ten Tables
Ten Tables/Official Site

1. The Table at Season to Taste

2447 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140
Lamb bisteeya at the Table at Season to Taste
Lamb bisteeya at the Table at Season to Taste
Stephanie Cornell

Top Chef alum Carl Dooley (Eater Boston’s 2016 Chef of the Year) opened the Table at Season to Taste in January 2016, filling the storefront of catering business Season to Taste with an intimate destination for fine dining in the form of a four-course prix fixe that currently goes for $99 per person. The ever-changing menu features classic techniques and seasonal ingredients.

Those looking to get a taste of the Table without going all in for the prix fixe can order from a small a la carte menu at the restaurant’s wine bar. Current dishes include goat cheese agnolotti ($19), yellowfin tuna sashimi ($19), and duck leg a l’orange ($31), with the prices inclusive of tax and tip.

2447 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140

2. Sarma

249 Pearl St, Somerville, MA 02145
Lamb kofte sliders from Sarma’s late-night menu
Lamb kofte sliders from Sarma’s late-night menu
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

An award-winning dinner destination in Somerville (not to mention one of the toughest last-minute reservations to snag), Sarma also offers a late-night menu, giving those who are hungry outside of peak hours a chance to sample some snacks.

Available Sunday through Thursday until 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday until 12 a.m., Sarma’s late-night selection varies, but it regularly features the restaurant’s popular sesame fried chicken. Diners might also find dishes like squash fritters, lamb kofte sliders, and brisket shawarma, with prices ranging from about $5 to $14.

249 Pearl St
Somerville, MA 02145

3. Talulla

377 Walden St, Cambridge, MA 02138

Wife-and-husband team Danielle Ayer and Conor Dennehy named this sweet Cambridge spot for their daughter, Talulla. At dinner, there are a la carte, prix fixe, and tasting menus, all of which rotate with the seasons; the food is lovely, and the bill can escalate quickly, especially with the full tasting menu ($95 per person).

The most budget-friendly way to visit Talulla is to try Sunday brunch, where the starters typically range in price from $7 to $12, and the entrees are $15 to $19. Diners will still get a feel for Dennehy’s exemplary cooking — and there’s a big sticky bun.

377 Walden St
Cambridge, MA 02138

4. Tasting Counter

14 Tyler St, Somerville, MA 02143
Black lime puff dessert at Tasting Counter’s wine bar
Black lime puff dessert at Tasting Counter’s wine bar
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

While coveted for its elaborate multi-course tasting menus, which can exceed $200 per person, Tasting Counter also operates as a more casual, no-reservations wine bar Wednesday through Saturday from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Tuesday beginning at 5 p.m.

During wine bar hours, diners can order a la carte or try a three-course meal for $35. The a la carte dishes — a selection of snacks, full entrees, and desserts — tend to cost between $5 and $20 each. Tasting Counter’s prices include tax and tip.

14 Tyler St
Somerville, MA 02143

5. Tanám

1 Bow Market Way Suite 17, Somerville, MA 02143
Pork belly buns from Tanám
Pork belly buns from Tanám
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Located at Somerville’s Bow Market, Tanám is a Filipino-American restaurant that offers a number of ways to dine, including kamayan (no-utensil feasts that include 19 different components served on a banana leaf) one night a week ($70 per person) and prix fixe menus three nights a week ($90 per person).

To enjoy Tanám at a lower price, swing by between 10 p.m. and midnight Wednesday through Sunday (between 4 p.m. and midnight Thursday), no reservations required, for cocktails and bar snacks, such as pork belly buns, noodle dishes, and more.

1 Bow Market Way Suite 17
Somerville, MA 02143

6. Juliet

21 Union Square, Somerville, MA 02143
French onion soup at Juliet
French onion soup at Juliet
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Juliet, Eater Boston’s 2016 Restaurant of the Year, is perhaps best known for its prix fixe “productions,” themed multi-course feasts that change several times throughout the year. (For example, from April 2019 into mid-May, the theme is “Xenia, Feast of the Gods,” featuring dishes such as roast lamb and olive oil cake.)

That’s not all that happens at the restaurant, though, and there are plenty of options that cost a bit less than the prix fixe meals — weekday breakfast, weekend brunch, an a la carte dinner menu, and more. Plus, Juliet offers some reservations for a “pay what you can” three-course version of the current production, aimed at helping students, neighbors, and others who can’t afford the cost of the full prix fixe.

21 Union Square
Somerville, MA 02143

7. Moona

243 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02139
Moona
Moona
Brian Samuels/Moona

It’s not the priciest restaurant on this map, but Moona has an ambiance inviting enough for a nice night out, and the bill can certainly add up depending on how many meze diners want to try.

That’s where Moona’s new “industry Mondays” come into play: Stop by the bar from 5 p.m. to close on Monday and choose from a special menu that features a burger for $10, chicken shawarma nachos for $8, and more. (Wash it down with a $4 Narragansett or High Life or a $10 cocktail.)

243 Hampshire St
Cambridge, MA 02139

8. Momi Nonmi

1128 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139
A couple of plump dumplings and a soy dipping sauce sit on a black plate at Momi Nonmi
Late-night snacks at Momi Nonmi
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Momi Nonmi is a gem of an izakaya in Inman Square, well worth visiting for a full dinner of gorgeous sashimi, wagyu beef dumplings, grilled skewers, and more.

But for night owls who want to save a bit of money, Momi Nonmi’s late-night menu — available from 10 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights — is key. It has a handful of snacks available, ranging in price from $3 for a jumbo drumstick to $12 for spicy tuna. Other options include portobello frites, Spam musubi, and market price rice bowls. Keep an eye out for dumpling specials and other treats, too.

1128 Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA 02139

9. Craigie on Main

853 Main St, Cambridge, MA 02139
Closeup on a burger featuring a thick patty, bacon, lettuce, and cheese, with thick fries on the edge of the frame
The Craigie burger
Bill Addison/Eater

This decade-old Cambridge classic has been known for its high-end tasting menus as much as its hugely popular burger, which is served at the bar in limited quantities. Craigie on Main recently did a bit of reorganizing, rebranding the bar side of the restaurant as COMB (Craigie on Main Bar), serving an a la carte menu, while the dining room now exclusively serves a four-course tasting menu for $85.

At COMB, open Tuesday through Sunday from 5:30 until midnight, diners can make a reservation or just walk in to find rotating burger specials, Buffalo sauce-themed specials on Sundays, and dishes such as crispy pork ribs, farro conchiglie pasta, and, of course, the famous Craigie burger (18 available nightly). The Craigie team will also soon open a burger-themed stall at the forthcoming Time Out Market in Fenway.

853 Main St
Cambridge, MA 02139

10. Pagu

310 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139
Chicken “nugz” at Pagu
Chicken “nugz” at Pagu
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Pagu, which draws influence from the cuisines of Japan and Spain, features a la carte options as well as tasting menus at dinner.

Those looking to save a few dollars might try lunch or brunch, but the best way to try out Pagu without spending too much is the daily happy hour between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., with simple snacks like chicken “nugz” ($5), a wafflato ($1), and patatas bravas ($3).

310 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02139

11. Menton

354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210
Menton
Menton
Bill Addison/Eater

Early on, Menton served only tasting menus — among the priciest in town — but now there are a la carte dinner options alongside the $165 “Chef’s Whim” tasting menu that may prove a little less wallet-busting.

It’s still a pricey endeavor, to be sure, but those ordering a la carte will find a few dishes in the $20 range, such as burrata with asparagus, parmigiano reggiano, and mangalica ham, as well as quite a few desserts around $14. For a slightly more casual experience than the dining room, opt for the six-seat bar or 10-seat lounge area, which accommodate walk-ins.

354 Congress St
Boston, MA 02210

12. Mooncusser Fish House

304 Stuart St, Boston, MA 02116
The hot dog at Cusser’s
The hot dog at Cusser’s
Brian Samuels

Mooncusser Fish House, an upscale seafood restaurant from the team behind 80 Thoreau in Concord, has a couple spinoffs in the same building that provide a more casual taste of the restaurant.

Mooncusser is located upstairs in a uniquely shaped Back Bay building, while Moon Bar downstairs complements it with items like chowder, seared scallops, and fish tacos. Also downstairs, the seasonal Cusser’s Roast Beef & Seafood window offers lunchtime options like hot dogs for $7, roast beef sandwiches for $10, and swordfish souvlaki for $15.

304 Stuart St
Boston, MA 02116

13. Asta

47 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02115
A restaurant facade with large, reflective windows and a black sign outlined in red
Asta
Bill Addison/Eater

Though Asta’s regular service features tasting menus only ($80 for five courses; $110 for eight courses), the restaurant occasionally partakes in what it calls “distractions,” recurring daytime pop-ups.

The best-known is Asta’s fried chicken and biscuits pop-up, which appears a few times throughout the year, usually for a few weekends in a row. The best way to stay in the loop is by keeping an eye on Instagram. Savage Matcha is also making a return later this year, and there have been a few Dutch baby events recently as well.

47 Massachusetts Ave
Boston, MA 02115

14. Uni

370A Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215
Uni
Uni
Uni [Official Photo]

Uni, one of Boston’s best-loved high-end sushi destinations, offers pricey omakase and a la carte options loaded with luxurious ingredients, including caviar, wagyu, truffles, and the like.

The late-night menu is a good opportunity to save a few bucks while enjoying the restaurant’s popular ramen ($16) and smaller plates like shishito peppers ($8) and pork buns ($6) — not to mention Sapporo slushies. It’s available on Friday and Saturday from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.

370A Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215

15. SRV

569 Columbus Ave, Boston, MA 02118
A sleek restaurant interior features a brick wall lined with wooden pegs for wine storage.
SRV
Katie Chudy/Eater

At $45, the tasting menu at this Venetian standout in the South End is already one of the better deals in town, but dinner at SRV can still add up, especially after all the wine you’re going to want to drink.

For something significantly cheaper, keep an eye out for SRV’s monthly “cicchetti takeover” series, where guest chefs from around town cook up free bar snacks for a couple of hours. A good time to spend a little extra money on SRV’s aperitivi, perhaps?

569 Columbus Ave
Boston, MA 02118

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16. Mida

782 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02118
A della casa tasting at Mida
The “della casa” tasting menu at Mida
Emily Kan

Mida is another excellent Italian option in the South End, and like SRV, it already offers quite a good deal on a tasting menu — $40 per person.

But Mida’s even more affordable deal channels Olive Garden in the best way possible: all-you-can-eat pasta, salad, and bread on Mondays for $35 per person.

782 Tremont St
Boston, MA 02118

17. Ten Tables

597 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
Pasta at Ten Tables
Pasta at Ten Tables
Ten Tables/Official Site

This longstanding Jamaica Plain restaurant isn’t the most expensive in town but makes for a cozy special occasion spot, features a $49 four-course tasting menu. (A la carte entrees typically fall in the high $20s and low $30s here.)

For those who want a tasting menu for a little less, it drops to three courses and $39 on Sundays. Another solid deal: pasta Thursdays, where customers seated at the bar can get the pasta of the day and a glass of house wine for $15.

597 Centre St
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Related Maps