Affordable Restaurants in Boston

Where to go when you don't want to break the bank
June 16, 2015
·
by Zagat Staff

Zagat's top rated restaurants under $25. 

Za
Pizza · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.4

The “ranks of seasoned regulars” find it “tough to complain” about the “simple yet elegant” concept at these pizzerias where “fresh-as-can-be” ingredients define “artful salads” and “distinctive” , “highbrow” pies prepared with “creative flair” and “unique” toppings; the “relaxed vibe” and thoughtful touches like crayons for the table make them “family-friendly” , while “skillfully curated wines” and (at Kendall Square) “sexy cocktails” and a patio ensure adults will have a “nice night out” too.
Za
Pizza · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.4

The “ranks of seasoned regulars” find it “tough to complain” about the “simple yet elegant” concept at these pizzerias where “fresh-as-can-be” ingredients define “artful salads” and “distinctive” , “highbrow” pies prepared with “creative flair” and “unique” toppings; the “relaxed vibe” and thoughtful touches like crayons for the table make them “family-friendly” , while “skillfully curated wines” and (at Kendall Square) “sexy cocktails” and a patio ensure adults will have a “nice night out” too.
Flatbread Company
Pizza · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.2

“Fantastic wood-fired pizzas” , some with “high-quality” , “classic” toppings and some that “experiment” with “new” , “unique” ingredient combos (including gluten-free and vegan varieties), are served up “quick” alongside pitchers of “delicious and challenging” craft beers at this “family-oriented” regional chain; the Somerville location sports a “comfy” , “cool” setting with candlepin bowling lanes, while the Bedford branch has an industrial “rough-around-the-edges (on purpose)” vibe.
Flatbread Company
Pizza · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.2

“Fantastic wood-fired pizzas” , some with “high-quality” , “classic” toppings and some that “experiment” with “new” , “unique” ingredient combos (including gluten-free and vegan varieties), are served up “quick” alongside pitchers of “delicious and challenging” craft beers at this “family-oriented” regional chain; the Somerville location sports a “comfy” , “cool” setting with candlepin bowling lanes, while the Bedford branch has an industrial “rough-around-the-edges (on purpose)” vibe.
Flour Bakery & Cafe
Bakery · South End · $

Chef/ ”idol” Joanne Chang’s “upscale” breakfast-and-lunch bakery chain earns a “cult following” for her “thoughtfully prepared” sandwiches on “wonderful” fresh bread and “tasty pastries” , including the “infamous” “rave” -worthy sticky buns ( “every dieter’s worst nightmare” ); most locations are typically “bustling with hip young families” and urbanites “planning their next startup” , so they’re “chaotic” and “usually swamped” , but “very solicitous service” keeps things moving.
Petsi Pies
Bakery · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.3 · Service 4.2

“It’s all about” the “incredible” sweet and savory “artisanal” pies at this trio of bakery “musts” , though the “off-the-beaten-path” menu also lists “exceptional” baked “treats” and, at the Cambridge locations, “extra-large” , “enjoyable” breakfast and lunch sandwiches; all branches feature counter service, with “a couple of tables” and a “laid-back” vibe for hungry laptop warriors.
Petsi Pies
Cafe · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.3 · Service 4.2

“It’s all about” the “incredible” sweet and savory “artisanal” pies at this trio of bakery “musts” , though the “off-the-beaten-path” menu also lists “exceptional” baked “treats” and, at the Cambridge locations, “extra-large” , “enjoyable” breakfast and lunch sandwiches; all branches feature counter service, with “a couple of tables” and a “laid-back” vibe for hungry laptop warriors.
Regina Pizzeria
Pizza · North End · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.6 · Service 4.0

It’s “hard to beat” this “old-fashioned” North End “icon” , where a “gruff” , “entertaining” staff slings “fire-grilled” “thin-crust” pizzas with “fresh and interesting” toppings from a “flour-dusted” space that “hasn’t changed” since 1926; most agree that the counter-serve satellites it’s subsequently spawned “don’t come close” to the original, though they’re still “decent” for a “quick” , cheap slice.
Basta Pasta
Italian · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.6 · Service 4.1

Those seeking “large” plates of “to-die-for” “homemade” pastas, pizzas and other “very good” Italian standards at “reasonable” prices “recommend” this Cambridge “staple” ; granted, there’s not much atmosphere, but at least the staffers are “friendly.”
Taqueria Mexico
Mexican · $
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.5 · Service 4.2

These cantinas are “always good” for “cheap, dependable” and, most importantly, “tasty” Mexican grub; the “humble” “hole-in-the-wall” digs feature live music like mariachi bands, which adds to the “friendly atmosphere” (big with college students on weekends).
Life Alive Urban Oasis and Organic Cafe
Organic · $
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.0 · Service 3.7

Vegans and vegetarians “cleanse away all their sins” at these cheap, “green” outlets specializing in “giving your digestive system a spa day” via “light and healthy” yet “delish” organic eats; sure, you may have to wait “in line forever” since the “intimate” surrounds are “constantly packed” and “crazy busy” , but the “hipster staff” remains “cool as a cucumber” throughout it all.
Life Alive Urban Oasis & Organic Cafe
Organic · $
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.0 · Service 3.7

Vegans and vegetarians “cleanse away all their sins” at these cheap, “green” outlets specializing in “giving your digestive system a spa day” via “light and healthy” yet “delish” organic eats; sure, you may have to wait “in line forever” since the “intimate” surrounds are “constantly packed” and “crazy busy” , but the “hipster staff” remains “cool as a cucumber” throughout it all.
Rod Dee Thai Cuisine
Thai · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.0 · Service 3.7

“There are so many” “scrumptious” Thai options at this cash-only “go-to” mini-chain – each “flavorful” , “complemented by spice” and “beyond cheap” – that “sometimes it takes awhile to decide” (thankfully, the staff is “patient” ); decorwise, there’s “not much character” , so business is “mostly takeout.”
Rod Dee Thai Cuisine
Thai · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.0 · Service 3.7

“There are so many” “scrumptious” Thai options at this cash-only “go-to” mini-chain – each “flavorful” , “complemented by spice” and “beyond cheap” – that “sometimes it takes awhile to decide” (thankfully, the staff is “patient” ); decorwise, there’s “not much character” , so business is “mostly takeout.”
Brown Sugar Cafe
Thai · Allston · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.8 · Service 4.0

This BU-side eatery “manages to make everyone happy” , delivering “flavorful” , “healthful” and “well-presented” Thai plates at “reasonable” prices to a “diverse crowd of students, locals” and “professionals” ; while the digs are “crowded” and “cramped” due to the “popularity” , the service remains “friendly” , even going so far as to deliver “a big surprise” for birthday guests (hint: it involves “techno lights” and music).
Santarpio's Pizza
Pizza · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.3 · Service 3.9

“Addictive” “classic” pies, meat skewers that “can’t be beat” and “cheap” pitchers of beer are served at these pizza parlors, but “plan to wait” in perpetually “busy” , “no-frills” and “dive” -like digs, full of “local color” and “crusty old-timers” including “dry, to-the-point” staffers who can be “funny” if you appreciate the “shtick” ; a “legendary” East Boston original that “hasn't much changed” since it opened in 1903 is joined by a Peabody spin-off.
Santarpio's Pizza
Pizza · East Boston · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.3 · Service 3.9

“Addictive” “classic” pies, meat skewers that “can’t be beat” and “cheap” pitchers of beer are served at these pizza parlors, but “plan to wait” in perpetually “busy” , “no-frills” and “dive” -like digs, full of “local color” and “crusty old-timers” including “dry, to-the-point” staffers who can be “funny” if you appreciate the “shtick” ; a “legendary” East Boston original that “hasn't much changed” since it opened in 1903 is joined by a Peabody spin-off.
Area Four
Pizza · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.2

These “upbeat” siblings “will make any solid American hipster content” with their “delicious” , “inventive” pizzas featuring “scrumptious” dough and toppings that bespeak a “farmer’s pedigree” , all served with “rarefied” craft beers by “enthusiastic” staffers; the Kendall Square original, which opens earlier, is also a “go-to” for morning coffee, while the artsy Ink Block sidekick emphasizes open-flame New American cookery alongside the pies.
Mu Lan Taiwanese Resturant (Waltham)
Chinese · $
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.5 · Service 3.8

This “go-to” Taiwanese offers “huge servings” of “fresh, tasty and delicious” plates, including “hard-to-find” dishes like smoked pork with leek (a house specialty); the “promptly served” “family-style” portions are “the real deal” , so “yummy” they might make expats “homesick.”
Tatte
Bakery · $
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.9 · Service 3.6

Fans feel like they’ve stepped into a “Parisian cafe” at these “fabulous” purveyors of “awe-inspiring tarts” and other “delicious, flaky pastries” , which also offer “amazing” coffee plus a smattering of gourmet sandwiches and salads; the “homey” digs are “small” and can get “crazy busy” , but servers are generally “friendly.