Swanky to Snacky: Cheap Eats in Boston

Whether you're a flush gazillionaire or a starving artist--emphasis on the starving--there's universal joy in finding a scrumptious meal on the cheap. With recession-chic deals and the trendy resurgence of street food, Boston is teeming with wallet-friendly eats. Prepare to feast on the hifalutin and the no-frills alike--all of them frugal.

(Photo: Olecito by Christine Liu)

Updated: August 12, 2011

Swanky Cheap Eats

Sel de la Terre

774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

If the thought of bottomless terrines, pates and salumi makes you shiver with joy, hasten thee to the $10 all-you-can-eat charcuterie bar at Sel de la Terre's Back Bay location. A glistening montage of housemade meat-and-offal treasures sets up shop in the downstairs lounge every Tuesday and Wednesday from 9pm to midnight.


1 Bennett St (Charles Hotel), Cambridge, MA 02138

Monday nights are when the in-the-know crowd comes to slurp freshly shucked Island Creek Oysters in the lounge for $1 a pop. Your bivalves arrive with no less than four accompaniments, from classic Champagne mignonette to a fiery chorizo oil-laced sauce; proceed to act like a regular and throw your shells into the immense glass bowls strewn about the bar.


439 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116

As if $1 bite-sized Southwestern tapas weren't enough of a steal, Masa ups the ante with 50-cent (fiddy!) tapas every day at the bar between 5pm and 7pm, and all night on Thursdays. Sup like royalty--ahi tuna tartare, beer-battered achiote shrimp, sweet corn tacos--for a pittance.

Snacky Cheap Eats

Lower Depths

476 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02115

One dollar scores the signature special, a basic all-beef hot dog (always available) on a buttered toasted bun, replete with standard condiments. And if you're feeling extra flush, toppings (including, bacon, cheese, chili or jalepeno) are only $1. But why mess with ascetic perfection?


12 Springfield St, Cambridge, MA 02139

Taco-flavored kisses, my dear? Inman Square's cash-only, neon-lucha libre emblazoned take-out counter doles hearty tacos, from slaw-slathered battered shrimp to citrus-brightened al pastor. Open each aluminum foil-wrapped beauty for bites of steamy, double tortilla-wrapped wonderment.

Mei Sum Inc

40 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111

Consider the banh mi, a most perfect creature of the sandwiched variety. Dare you find a more wholesome, filling, and downright addictive meal for less than $4, with its crispy baguette piled with pickled and pork-studded products. Don't be shy to ask for it spicy, with tiny Thai bird chilies keeping you on your toes.