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A burrito, split in half and wrapped in foil, sits on a wooden table with a side of salsa and tortilla chips nearby. An orange Jarritos soda bottle is visible in the background.
Burrito at Anna’s Taqueria
Brian Samuels

18 of Greater Boston’s Best Affordable Meals

Save money while eating well

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Burrito at Anna’s Taqueria
| Brian Samuels

From tacos to dumplings to noodles, here are 18 of the best inexpensive dining destinations in the Boston area — filling, delicious meals that won’t put too much of a dent into one’s wallet.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

This map was originally published on July 17, 2017; it is updated periodically, and the date of the most recent update appears above.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Kelly's Roast Beef

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Like lobster rolls, pizza, and more, roast beef sandwiches can be the root of intense debate in the Boston area — who makes the best? But Kelly’s Roast Beef, which dates back to 1951, has staying power and name recognition throughout the state (with locations in Revere, Saugus, Medford, and Danvers, as well as at Logan Airport) thanks to its piled-high, thinly sliced roast beef sandwiches served on buttered and griddled sesame buns. Try it as a three-way, topped with barbecue sauce (James River), mayo, and cheese (basic Land O’Lakes white American).

A roast beef sandwich with cheese, mayo, and barbecue sauce sits on a paper plate, accompanied by thick onion rings.
Roast beef sandwich at Kelly’s Roast Beef.
Katie Chudy/Eater

Tasty Momo

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This Magoun Square shop features momo (a type of dumpling popular in Tibet and Nepal) and a few other items, such as chow mein and aloo dum. Try the chile momo (chicken, pork, beef, or vegan filling), which are tossed in a sweet and extremely spicy sauce, suitable for a light meal on their own.

Momo in a thick and fiery-looking red sauce, served on aluminum foil.
Chile momo at Tasty Momo.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Porter Exchange

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A fantastic mostly Japanese food hall (there’s a bit of Korean food, too) is hiding inside of a Lesley University building right in the heart of Porter Square, and it’s full of inexpensive dining options, from ramen to sushi to udon. The restaurants are small, but most offer full-service dining. Some only accept cash; there’s an ATM onsite. Top picks include the spicy miso ramen at Sapporo Ramen, the Tokyo hamburg set at Cafe Mami, and the niku udon at Yume Ga Arukara.

A brown bowl filled with miso ramen, springled with red spice, corn, and a soft egg, with a white spoon resting in the bowl
Spicy miso ramen at Sapporo
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

P & K Delicatessen

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Sub shops are a reliably affordable option; each neighborhood tends to have its own favorites. If you find yourself in Somerville, check out one of the best around, P & K Delicatessen. Venture into this old convenience store on Beacon Street and head right to the back for large, wonderful subs, full of sliced-to-order deli meats and more. (Don’t miss the meatball sub.)

A meatball sub and an Italian sub on white deli paper
Meatball sub and Italian sub at P & K Deli in Somerville.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Neighborhood Restaurant

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Somerville’s longtime important brunch destination is the place to go to fill up on pounds and pounds of pancakes, linguica, and more for very little money. The breakfast combos come with a terrifying amount of food, including the legendary Cream of Wheat (or fruit, but get the Cream of Wheat); unlimited tea, coffee, or hot chocolate; a small orange juice; and a pastry basket for the table to share. That’s on top of whatever the actual combo includes, such as pancakes with three eggs and homefries; three eggs with linguica, fried banana, homefries, and toast; French toast with homefries and three eggs; and numerous other options. Arrive at Neighborhood hungry, and plan to nap for the rest of the day. Bonus: The seasonal patio is lovely.

A white bowl of Cream of Wheat sits on a dark background, topped with a generous sprinkling of cinnamon
Cream of Wheat at Neighborhood.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Machu Chicken

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While Somerville’s Machu Picchu is a great choice for a large Peruvian meal, the restaurant’s more casual sibling around the corner, Machu Chicken, is a perfect option for a quick, affordable, filling meal that centers around charcoal-roasted chicken. Wash it down with chicha morada, purple corn juice.

Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken on a white plate with fries. A plate with a simple salad is visible in the background.
Chicken at Machu Chicken.
Machu Chicken

Charlie's Kitchen

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Home of the double cheeseburger, this Harvard Square staple is the place for late-night pub grub, plus karaoke, trivia, and other events. There’s also a beer garden.

Double cheeseburger with waffle fries on a white plate on the edge of a red table. A red tiled floor is visible underneath.
Double cheeseburger at Charlie’s Kitchen.
Katie Chudy/Eater

Cactus Grill

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Located in East Boston’s Maverick Square, this popular Mexican and Salvadoran restaurant serves gigantic burritos stuffed with a choice of steak, chicken, beef tongue, and more. Also on the menu: chimichangas, flautas, tacos, and plenty of other options.

A large burrito and tortilla chips are served on a white plate on a wooden surface
A Cactus Grill burrito and chips.
Cactus Grill

Twin Donuts

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You’ve seen the retro signage at this classic Allston spot; now eat the doughnuts. Flavors include chocolate butternut, powdered, honey dip, Boston cream, and lots more. There’s also a full breakfast menu of omelets, pancakes, and such.

Overhead view of a simple doughnut on a white paper plate on a black-speckled white table
A doughnut from Twin Donuts.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe

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Gene’s gained a cult following out at its original location in Chelmsford (now closed) before expanding here to Boston proper, becoming a downtown mainstay. It has since expanded to Woburn and Westford as well. It’s one of a fairly small number of places that serve Xi’an-style Chinese cuisine in the Boston area, highlighting hand-pulled noodles that are garlicky, chewy, and so filling. Add a lamb skewer and/or tea egg to boost the (already ample) portion.

A black plastic bowl of thick hand-pulled noodles, heavily dusted with chile powder and topped with greens and a generous dollop of garlic. A wooden skewer of lamb pieces sits across the rim of the bowl, which is on a Chinese Zodiac placemat on a red tray
Hand-pulled noodles with a lamb skewer at Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Cafe.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Super 88 (aka Hong Kong Supermarket)

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This longtime Allston market is a treasure trove of counter-service, inexpensive meals spanning several Asian cuisines. Roam from stall to stall and fill up on dry-fried noodles, bubble tea, mochi doughnuts, ramen, and lots more.

A takeout container of dry-fried noodles with beef at Silk Road Express in Allston, served on a striped wooden table with a pair of chopsticks
Dry-fried noodles with beef from Silk Road Express in the Super 88 food hall in Allston.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Lofts Avana Building Food Court

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Just to the left of the Lofts Avana door on Beach Street, there’s signage for Friendship BBQ: Go in there to find not only Friendship BBQ (Chinese barbecue skewers) but a whole magical food court, albeit it a tiny one, that also serves inexpensive sushi (Avana Sushi, which also has a larger location at 58 Franklin St.), dumplings and buns (Dumpling King), and simple egg puffs (a cart called Egg Puffs). Plus, there’s a kiosk that sells cell phones, so this little food court covers all the bases. (Note that Friendship BBQ is on the basement level.)

A pink cart that serves egg puffs inside of a small food court. It’s decorated with a large photo of egg puffs.
The Egg Puff cart inside the Lofts Avana food court.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Anna's Taqueria

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Now over 25 years old, beloved local burrito chain Anna’s Taqueria has six locations in and around Boston. It’s still one of the best places in town for a fast, inexpensive meal. And these days, it’s no longer cash only. Best bet: a super burrito with choice of filling.

A burrito, split in half and wrapped in foil, sits on a wooden table with a side of salsa and tortilla chips nearby. An orange Jarritos soda bottle is visible in the background.
Burrito at Anna’s Taqueria.
Brian Samuels

Tasty Burger

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Local chain Tasty Burger is always a reliable pick for a not-too-expensive hamburger that is, well, tasty. The “starvin’ student” is a useful deal: hamburger or cheeseburger, fries, and a beer for $10. There are locations in Fenway, Back Bay, Harvard Square, North Station, and Downtown Crossing.

Hands hold onto a cheeseburger from Tasty Burger, held aloft above more burgers and onion rings
Tasty Burger.
Tasty Burger

Sullivan's

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Open since 1951, Sullivan’s is the classic South Boston spot for burgers, hot dogs, and fried seafood, eaten alfresco at picnic tables among Castle Island’s seagulls. Don’t fear: The line gets long but moves quickly. The seasonal spot operates from the last weekend of February through the last weekend of November.

A double cheeseburger, hot dog topped with relish, container of fries, and cup of soda sit outside in the sun
A burger, dog, and fries at Sullivan’s.
Sullivan’s

Giant empanadas. There are pizza, Buffalo chicken, eggplant parm, and lots of other empanadas available. The JP shop — which also has locations in East Boston and Lawrence — also serves sandwiches, smoothies, and more.

Singh's Roti Shop

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Get a hearty taste of Trinidad with roti stuffed full of meats and sides, and don’t miss the hot sauce. Also a must: the doubles, pictured here. Singh’s — which recently moved to this larger location down the street from its original space — also carries a variety of Caribbean soft drinks and juices, from soursop to sea moss to peanut punch, as well as desserts, such as tamarind balls and coconut rolls.

A serving of doubles — spicy and sweet chickpeas sandwiched between two pieces of fried dough — sits on white paper on a counter, illuminated by a glowing blue light
Doubles at Singh’s Roti Shop.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Bánh Mì Ba Le

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One of Boston’s most iconic dishes can be found at Bánh Mì Ba Le, one of Dorchester’s excellent options for Vietnamese food. Ba Le’s banh mi includes a baguette stuffed with spiced pork and shredded pork skin, pickled carrots, daikon, cucumber, cilantro, a choice of hot peppers, and special sauce.

Hands hold two banh mi over pavement Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Kelly's Roast Beef

A roast beef sandwich with cheese, mayo, and barbecue sauce sits on a paper plate, accompanied by thick onion rings.
Roast beef sandwich at Kelly’s Roast Beef.
Katie Chudy/Eater

Like lobster rolls, pizza, and more, roast beef sandwiches can be the root of intense debate in the Boston area — who makes the best? But Kelly’s Roast Beef, which dates back to 1951, has staying power and name recognition throughout the state (with locations in Revere, Saugus, Medford, and Danvers, as well as at Logan Airport) thanks to its piled-high, thinly sliced roast beef sandwiches served on buttered and griddled sesame buns. Try it as a three-way, topped with barbecue sauce (James River), mayo, and cheese (basic Land O’Lakes white American).

A roast beef sandwich with cheese, mayo, and barbecue sauce sits on a paper plate, accompanied by thick onion rings.
Roast beef sandwich at Kelly’s Roast Beef.
Katie Chudy/Eater

Tasty Momo

Momo in a thick and fiery-looking red sauce, served on aluminum foil.
Chile momo at Tasty Momo.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

This Magoun Square shop features momo (a type of dumpling popular in Tibet and Nepal) and a few other items, such as chow mein and aloo dum. Try the chile momo (chicken, pork, beef, or vegan filling), which are tossed in a sweet and extremely spicy sauce, suitable for a light meal on their own.

Momo in a thick and fiery-looking red sauce, served on aluminum foil.
Chile momo at Tasty Momo.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Porter Exchange

A brown bowl filled with miso ramen, springled with red spice, corn, and a soft egg, with a white spoon resting in the bowl
Spicy miso ramen at Sapporo
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

A fantastic mostly Japanese food hall (there’s a bit of Korean food, too) is hiding inside of a Lesley University building right in the heart of Porter Square, and it’s full of inexpensive dining options, from ramen to sushi to udon. The restaurants are small, but most offer full-service dining. Some only accept cash; there’s an ATM onsite. Top picks include the spicy miso ramen at Sapporo Ramen, the Tokyo hamburg set at Cafe Mami, and the niku udon at Yume Ga Arukara.

A brown bowl filled with miso ramen, springled with red spice, corn, and a soft egg, with a white spoon resting in the bowl
Spicy miso ramen at Sapporo
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

P & K Delicatessen

A meatball sub and an Italian sub on white deli paper
Meatball sub and Italian sub at P & K Deli in Somerville.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Sub shops are a reliably affordable option; each neighborhood tends to have its own favorites. If you find yourself in Somerville, check out one of the best around, P & K Delicatessen. Venture into this old convenience store on Beacon Street and head right to the back for large, wonderful subs, full of sliced-to-order deli meats and more. (Don’t miss the meatball sub.)

A meatball sub and an Italian sub on white deli paper
Meatball sub and Italian sub at P & K Deli in Somerville.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Neighborhood Restaurant

A white bowl of Cream of Wheat sits on a dark background, topped with a generous sprinkling of cinnamon
Cream of Wheat at Neighborhood.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Somerville’s longtime important brunch destination is the place to go to fill up on pounds and pounds of pancakes, linguica, and more for very little money. The breakfast combos come with a terrifying amount of food, including the legendary Cream of Wheat (or fruit, but get the Cream of Wheat); unlimited tea, coffee, or hot chocolate; a small orange juice; and a pastry basket for the table to share. That’s on top of whatever the actual combo includes, such as pancakes with three eggs and homefries; three eggs with linguica, fried banana, homefries, and toast; French toast with homefries and three eggs; and numerous other options. Arrive at Neighborhood hungry, and plan to nap for the rest of the day. Bonus: The seasonal patio is lovely.

A white bowl of Cream of Wheat sits on a dark background, topped with a generous sprinkling of cinnamon
Cream of Wheat at Neighborhood.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Machu Chicken

Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken on a white plate with fries. A plate with a simple salad is visible in the background.
Chicken at Machu Chicken.
Machu Chicken

While Somerville’s Machu Picchu is a great choice for a large Peruvian meal, the restaurant’s more casual sibling around the corner, Machu Chicken, is a perfect option for a quick, affordable, filling meal that centers around charcoal-roasted chicken. Wash it down with chicha morada, purple corn juice.

Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken on a white plate with fries. A plate with a simple salad is visible in the background.
Chicken at Machu Chicken.
Machu Chicken

Charlie's Kitchen

Double cheeseburger with waffle fries on a white plate on the edge of a red table. A red tiled floor is visible underneath.
Double cheeseburger at Charlie’s Kitchen.
Katie Chudy/Eater

Home of the double cheeseburger, this Harvard Square staple is the place for late-night pub grub, plus karaoke, trivia, and other events. There’s also a beer garden.

Double cheeseburger with waffle fries on a white plate on the edge of a red table. A red tiled floor is visible underneath.
Double cheeseburger at Charlie’s Kitchen.
Katie Chudy/Eater

Cactus Grill

A large burrito and tortilla chips are served on a white plate on a wooden surface
A Cactus Grill burrito and chips.
Cactus Grill

Located in East Boston’s Maverick Square, this popular Mexican and Salvadoran restaurant serves gigantic burritos stuffed with a choice of steak, chicken, beef tongue, and more. Also on the menu: chimichangas, flautas, tacos, and plenty of other options.

A large burrito and tortilla chips are served on a white plate on a wooden surface
A Cactus Grill burrito and chips.
Cactus Grill

Twin Donuts

Overhead view of a simple doughnut on a white paper plate on a black-speckled white table
A doughnut from Twin Donuts.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

You’ve seen the retro signage at this classic Allston spot; now eat the doughnuts. Flavors include chocolate butternut, powdered, honey dip, Boston cream, and lots more. There’s also a full breakfast menu of omelets, pancakes, and such.

Overhead view of a simple doughnut on a white paper plate on a black-speckled white table
A doughnut from Twin Donuts.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe

A black plastic bowl of thick hand-pulled noodles, heavily dusted with chile powder and topped with greens and a generous dollop of garlic. A wooden skewer of lamb pieces sits across the rim of the bowl, which is on a Chinese Zodiac placemat on a red tray
Hand-pulled noodles with a lamb skewer at Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Cafe.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Gene’s gained a cult following out at its original location in Chelmsford (now closed) before expanding here to Boston proper, becoming a downtown mainstay. It has since expanded to Woburn and Westford as well. It’s one of a fairly small number of places that serve Xi’an-style Chinese cuisine in the Boston area, highlighting hand-pulled noodles that are garlicky, chewy, and so filling. Add a lamb skewer and/or tea egg to boost the (already ample) portion.

A black plastic bowl of thick hand-pulled noodles, heavily dusted with chile powder and topped with greens and a generous dollop of garlic. A wooden skewer of lamb pieces sits across the rim of the bowl, which is on a Chinese Zodiac placemat on a red tray
Hand-pulled noodles with a lamb skewer at Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Cafe.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Super 88 (aka Hong Kong Supermarket)