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Soju-filled watermelon at Myung Dong 1st Ave
Soju-filled watermelon at Myung Dong 1st Ave
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8 Allston-Brighton Hidden Gems to Discover

Explore two of Boston’s best neighborhoods for cheap eats and surprise treats

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Soju-filled watermelon at Myung Dong 1st Ave
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Sibling neighborhoods Allston and Brighton are among the city’s best spots for a diverse selection of tasty treats — including plenty that don’t break the bank. It’s possible to slurp on $7 ramen while sipping from a hollowed-out watermelon filled with soju. There’s a pizza shop that is actually good and actually slings slices, and there’s an embarrassment of riches of restaurants making good to very good burritos. In Allston-Brighton, shawarma is a possibility, as are pão de queijo, Korean barbecue, and mini juicy buns with pork.

Here are eight essential hidden gems from Allston-Brighton’s diverse dining scene; comment below to share your own favorites.

Note: Map points are ordered geographically from north to south, not ranked.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. The Stockyard

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135 Market St
Brighton, MA 02135
(617) 782-4700
Visit Website

It may seem like a stretch to include a restaurant that’s been around for 40 years on a list dedicated to hidden gems, but when’s the last time anyone thought about the Stockyard? Let’s face it: The city’s hip food enthusiasts aren’t clamoring to get into a steakhouse that (mercifully!) hasn’t been redecorated since the 1980s and that overlooks I-90. It’s time to reconsider the Stockyard, though. The beers are cheap and massive, and the burger is among the finest in the city. And the New Balance outlet is right down the street, which is lucky —because after gorging at the Stockyard, an eater might be in need of a new pair of running shoes.

A hand pours jus on a large hunk of meat at the Stockyard
Steak at the Stockyard
Official Site

2. La Befana Pizzeria

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15 N Beacon St
Allston, MA 02134
(617) 987-0086
Visit Website

La Befana isn’t exactly hidden, but it’s still not exactly well-known to anyone outside of Allston. Most people would name Santarpio’s and Regina as the two best pizzerias in the city, but not Allstonians. One reason La Befana might enjoy cult status is because it’s one of a small number of classic Boston pizzerias that actually offer pizza by the slice (note: at La Befana, one slice is actually two slices.) The other reason? The garlic knots. Definitely try the garlic knots.

La Befana Pizzeria
Pizza at La Befana Pizzeria
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3. Alfredo's

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229 Brighton Ave
Allston, MA 02134
(617) 562-8222
Visit Website

Situated at the corner of Brighton Avenue and Craftsman Street, Alfredo’s is unassuming and easy to miss. This hole-in-the-wall, counter-service joint makes unpretentious Italian food that’s as good as it is affordable. One can eat at Alfredo’s, but there are only four seats, so it’s best to just order takeout. Try the spaghetti bolognese or the pasta puttanesca.

Linguine amatriciana at Alfredo’s
Linguine amatriciana at Alfredo’s
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4. Common Ground

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85 Harvard Ave
Boston, MA 02134
(617) 783-2071
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Everyone knows to go to Common Ground on Monday nights for Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll Trivia; fewer people know how good the corned beef hash is. Allston is lousy with great brunch spots, but Common Ground may be the sneaky best. Its spacious interior ensures there’s never a line (the same can’t be said for the Allston Diner or Deep Ellum), and its Saturday breakfast plate special, which includes “unlimited scrambled eggs,” ensures that you never have to leave. At least not until the eggs run out.

A dish at Common Ground
“The Boss” at Common Ground (burger patty, fried egg, and bacon between chocolate peanut butter porter pancakes)
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5. Myung Dong 1st Ave

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90 Harvard Ave
Allston, MA 02134
(617) 206-3229
Visit Website

Home of the infamous soju-filled watermelon. Myung Dong 1st Ave offers above-average Korean food at below-average prices, and it’s maybe too easy to get tipsy when drinking that watermelon of soju. The walls are lined with flatscreen televisions, and those televisions are constantly showing K-Pop music videos. Go for the $7 ramen, and stay for the kimchi pancakes.

Soju-filled watermelon at Myung Dong 1st Ave
Soju-filled watermelon at Myung Dong 1st Ave
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6. Habanero Mexican Grill

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166 Brighton Ave
Allston, MA 02134
(617) 254-0299
Visit Website

Habanero Mexican Grill is the ultimate in high-quality cheap eats. Tacos and pupusas cost just $1.75 each, and nothing — not even the signature plate, which comes with steak, pork, chicken, rice and beans, yucca, and fried plantains — costs more than $11. Everything on the menu is worth sampling, but nothing beats the humble burrito. Instead of steaming the flour tortillas, cooks at Habanero grill them on the flat top until they’ve browned slightly. The result: the best burrito in the city.

Beef tongue enchiladas at Habanero Mexican Grill
Beef tongue enchiladas at Habanero Mexican Grill
Yelp/Mika S.

7. Padaria Brasil Bakery

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125 Harvard Ave
Boston, MA 02134
(617) 202-6783
Visit Website

Padaria Brasil Bakery first opened in Framingham in 1997 when siblings Elias and Tania Fernandes decided to open a bakery selling their mother’s versions of traditional Brazilian breads and pastries. Today, they have four locations, including one on Harvard Avenue in Allston. Padaria's menu is a monument to Brazilian baked goods, offering items like risole (croquettes filled with either corn and cheese, ground beef, or chicken), pãozinho de canela (mini cinnamon rolls), and rosca de coco (coconut loaves). They even make custom cakes.

Pão de queijo at Padaria Brasil Bakery
Pão de queijo at Padaria Brasil Bakery
Yelp/Rob Y.

8. Ittoku

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1414 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02134
(617) 608-3630
Visit Website

Located on Commonwealth Avenue, half a mile or so beyond hectic Harvard Avenue, Ittoku is a Japanese izakaya that’s true to form. Casual and welcoming and with a vast sake list, it’s a place to grab some drinks with the crew while snacking on some astoundingly good small bites. It’s also a restaurant that demands its patrons go out on a limb and order something challenging — the sunagimo (chicken gizzard) and gyutan (beef tongue) stew, for example, are both exceptional.

Fried iidako (octopus) at Ittoku
Fried iidako (octopus) at Ittoku
Facebook

1. The Stockyard

135 Market St, Brighton, MA 02135
A hand pours jus on a large hunk of meat at the Stockyard
Steak at the Stockyard
Official Site

It may seem like a stretch to include a restaurant that’s been around for 40 years on a list dedicated to hidden gems, but when’s the last time anyone thought about the Stockyard? Let’s face it: The city’s hip food enthusiasts aren’t clamoring to get into a steakhouse that (mercifully!) hasn’t been redecorated since the 1980s and that overlooks I-90. It’s time to reconsider the Stockyard, though. The beers are cheap and massive, and the burger is among the finest in the city. And the New Balance outlet is right down the street, which is lucky —because after gorging at the Stockyard, an eater might be in need of a new pair of running shoes.

135 Market St
Brighton, MA 02135

2. La Befana Pizzeria

15 N Beacon St, Allston, MA 02134
La Befana Pizzeria
Pizza at La Befana Pizzeria
Facebook

La Befana isn’t exactly hidden, but it’s still not exactly well-known to anyone outside of Allston. Most people would name Santarpio’s and Regina as the two best pizzerias in the city, but not Allstonians. One reason La Befana might enjoy cult status is because it’s one of a small number of classic Boston pizzerias that actually offer pizza by the slice (note: at La Befana, one slice is actually two slices.) The other reason? The garlic knots. Definitely try the garlic knots.

15 N Beacon St
Allston, MA 02134

3. Alfredo's

229 Brighton Ave, Allston, MA 02134
Linguine amatriciana at Alfredo’s
Linguine amatriciana at Alfredo’s
Facebook

Situated at the corner of Brighton Avenue and Craftsman Street, Alfredo’s is unassuming and easy to miss. This hole-in-the-wall, counter-service joint makes unpretentious Italian food that’s as good as it is affordable. One can eat at Alfredo’s, but there are only four seats, so it’s best to just order takeout. Try the spaghetti bolognese or the pasta puttanesca.

229 Brighton Ave
Allston, MA 02134

4. Common Ground

85 Harvard Ave, Boston, MA 02134
A dish at Common Ground
“The Boss” at Common Ground (burger patty, fried egg, and bacon between chocolate peanut butter porter pancakes)
Facebook

Everyone knows to go to Common Ground on Monday nights for Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll Trivia; fewer people know how good the corned beef hash is. Allston is lousy with great brunch spots, but Common Ground may be the sneaky best. Its spacious interior ensures there’s never a line (the same can’t be said for the Allston Diner or Deep Ellum), and its Saturday breakfast plate special, which includes “unlimited scrambled eggs,” ensures that you never have to leave. At least not until the eggs run out.

85 Harvard Ave
Boston, MA 02134

5. Myung Dong 1st Ave

90 Harvard Ave, Allston, MA 02134
Soju-filled watermelon at Myung Dong 1st Ave
Soju-filled watermelon at Myung Dong 1st Ave
Facebook

Home of the infamous soju-filled watermelon. Myung Dong 1st Ave offers above-average Korean food at below-average prices, and it’s maybe too easy to get tipsy when drinking that watermelon of soju. The walls are lined with flatscreen televisions, and those televisions are constantly showing K-Pop music videos. Go for the $7 ramen, and stay for the kimchi pancakes.

90 Harvard Ave
Allston, MA 02134

6. Habanero Mexican Grill

166 Brighton Ave, Allston, MA 02134
Beef tongue enchiladas at Habanero Mexican Grill
Beef tongue enchiladas at Habanero Mexican Grill
Yelp/Mika S.

Habanero Mexican Grill is the ultimate in high-quality cheap eats. Tacos and pupusas cost just $1.75 each, and nothing — not even the signature plate, which comes with steak, pork, chicken, rice and beans, yucca, and fried plantains — costs more than $11. Everything on the menu is worth sampling, but nothing beats the humble burrito. Instead of steaming the flour tortillas, cooks at Habanero grill them on the flat top until they’ve browned slightly. The result: the best burrito in the city.

166 Brighton Ave
Allston, MA 02134

7. Padaria Brasil Bakery

125 Harvard Ave, Boston, MA 02134
Pão de queijo at Padaria Brasil Bakery
Pão de queijo at Padaria Brasil Bakery
Yelp/Rob Y.

Padaria Brasil Bakery first opened in Framingham in 1997 when siblings Elias and Tania Fernandes decided to open a bakery selling their mother’s versions of traditional Brazilian breads and pastries. Today, they have four locations, including one on Harvard Avenue in Allston. Padaria's menu is a monument to Brazilian baked goods, offering items like risole (croquettes filled with either corn and cheese, ground beef, or chicken), pãozinho de canela (mini cinnamon rolls), and rosca de coco (coconut loaves). They even make custom cakes.

125 Harvard Ave
Boston, MA 02134

8. Ittoku

1414 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02134
Fried iidako (octopus) at Ittoku
Fried iidako (octopus) at Ittoku
Facebook

Located on Commonwealth Avenue, half a mile or so beyond hectic Harvard Avenue, Ittoku is a Japanese izakaya that’s true to form. Casual and welcoming and with a vast sake list, it’s a place to grab some drinks with the crew while snacking on some astoundingly good small bites. It’s also a restaurant that demands its patrons go out on a limb and order something challenging — the sunagimo (chicken gizzard) and gyutan (beef tongue) stew, for example, are both exceptional.

1414 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02134

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