This month’s Boston Magazine features a great array of cheap eats in the Boston area. So great, I was inspired to create my own list of wallet-friendly gems. Besides all the obvious cons of Boston being a college town, one of the pros is a competitive restaurant market targeted to half-broke undergrads. Amidst all the cheap, indigestion-inducing pizza and burger joints are some quality money-conscious finds. Below, four of my picks for the breakfast and lunch crowd who are looking to save.
1. Italian Cafe:
Where: Financial District, 65 Broad St, Boston
What to Eat: The Italian Cafe English muffin breakfast sandwiches are the bargain to end all bargains. One dollar between 7 and 10 AM. And where else in the city can you add sausage or bacon for a mere 75 cents? I recommend the egg, cheese, sausage, tomato combo since the juicy tomato complements the heaviness of the sausage. These sandwiches are made by the dozen during the busiest hour between 9 and 10 in the morning. Your egg white edges may be a little burnt and the English muffin may have some char-grill marks, but for one dollar?! Also, chances are you’re hungover and this sandwich is about to save your workday.
Where: Union Square, 25 Bow St, Somerville
What to Eat: All of the reasonably priced breakfast specials at this Portuguese, family-owned restaurant and bakery come with juice, coffee, and the choice of cream of wheat or fruit as an appetizer. The answer to the appetizer question is always cream of wheat. It seems counter-intuitive but this stuff is remarkable. After many, many taste-testings, I’ve been able to identify some of the key ingredients as cinnamon, lemon peel, and magic. Word on the street is this is an old recipe handed down within the Borges family and that the cream of wheat has no butter in it; further solidifying my theory that it is, in fact, made with magic. In the summer, you can enjoy outdoor seating under grapevine trellises and you’ll most likely get some fresh grape jelly to go with your homemade toast and select bakery treat. Cash-only but there is an ATM inside.
Where: Government Ctr, 3 Center Plaza, Boston
Fanueil Hall, 92 State St, Boston
What to Eat: I used to think that I had had a gyro. Then I went to Zo. These gyros are the perfect lunch: savory, slightly spicy, totally satisfying. The pita is melt-in-your-mouth good. The tzatziki is sweet without being heavy. The rotisserie chicken is succulent. If you’re not feeling the messy, handheld lunch option, opt for a Greek salad with chicken or one of their daily soups. I personally love the avgolemono, a lemon chicken rice soup. (As far as I can tell, the “g” is silent.) Zo gets busy around lunchtime but if the line is out the door, don’t despair. It moves quickly and is definitely worth it, for you and your wallet.
4. Anna’s Taqueria
Where: Coolidge Corner, 1412 Beacon St, Brookline
JFK Corner, 446 Harvard St, Brookline
Porter Square, 822 Somerville Ave, Cambridge
MIT, 84 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge
Davis Square, 236 Elm St, Somerville
What to Eat: Boston has become somewhat of a burrito-city. I’ve tasted around the Boloco’s, Chipotle’s, and Boca Grande’s of this town, but the Anna’s empire speaks for itself. There is just something about the melted cheese with the savory carnitas. Or the grilled veggies with the fresh salsa. Or the smoky chicken chunks wrapped in mushy, marvelous guacamole. I could go on. The possibilities at Anna’s are practically endless and you can custom-fit your burrito fillings for your mood. Super or regular, it will still come in under ten dollars, so splurge away, fellow penny-savers.