Eat Here: Allston
Sometimes, I feel as though Allston gets a bad rep. It's directly between Boston College and Boston University, off the dreaded green line B train and 57 bus. Besides the commuter woes and crowds of college students, Allston isn't all so bad, and it definitely has some fabulous (and cheap) eats to prove it. If you find yourself in the neighborhood, here is where I would recommend checking out.
FISH MARKET & SUSHI BAR
One of my favorite places for sushi in the Boston area. There is a lot of good sushi in Boston, but Fish Market & Sushi Bar stands out in my opinion. It is a small restaurant, consisting of only a few tables and about an 8 seat bar. Walking down Brighton Ave., you may even walk right past it, due to its minimalistic design and small storefront. The chefs are behind the bar creating an open concept to watch as they prepare everything to order. They have many unique options, such as the 'Avocado Ball' which won Boston Globe's most memorable dish in 2010. Their prices are extremely reasonable for the portion size and quality - although it is easy to rack up a bill with some of their specialty dishes. Some of my favorites include the Takoyaki ("octopus balls"), Avocado Ball, Route 66, Toro, Alligator Maki, Salmon Tempura... I could go on. Their rotating specials are worth checking out too, always something unique to try. Something to consider if you are on a tight budget is their lunch menu, all items are under $12 and most are served with miso soup and a house salad to start. The house salad is extremely simple, but their in-house ginger dressing is killer.
170 Brighton Ave., Allston, MA 02134. fishmarketsushibar.com.
CARLO'S CUCINA ITALIANA
Down the street from Fish Market, you'll find some of the best, if not better, italian outside of the North End. The staff is always friendly and welcoming inside the small, extremely cozy space. Enter through the velvet curtain to see the tables almost touching each other, making for an incredibly intimate, occasionally noisy atmosphere. To begin the meal, they start out with some bread and unbelievable olive oil for dipping. For mains, some of my favorite dishes include the Involtini, Saltinbocca and pesto. If you can't decide (everything is good), ask the knowledgable staff for recs or wait a few minutes - you'll get to see all of the amazing dishes running by you for other tables. The special Veal Chop and Frutti Di Mare make their way through the tiny restaurant frequently, a good sign, and always look drool-worthy. The portions are large and well priced, nothing clocking in at more than $25. (Tip: their lunch menu is a bit cheaper, but the same portion size (see photo!!) If you can squeeze your way in here, I highly recommend it.
131 Brighton Ave., Allston, MA 02134. carloscucinaitaliana.com.
Inside this cool looking place with neon sign is a small restaurant that churns out some cheap, delicious breakfast sandwiches and simple flavored doughnuts. Their breakfast is good, but basic. Nothing too special - the real winner here is their coffee and cheap breakfast sandwiches. My recommendation is the standard egg and cheese, with your choice of ham, bacon or sausage on an asiago bagel or one of their buttery, flaky croissants. Typically I'll grab an iced coffee and a doughnut on the side too. Their honey dip doughnuts are pretty darn good and only ring up at .85 cents. They are open early at 4am, so if you're looking for some inexpensive, quick breakfast eats in Allston, this is your place.
$ (under 10)
501 Cambridge St,. Allston, MA 02134.
Super 88 MARKET: Pikiachi + Pho Viet's
Here you'll find a supermarket & food court that has so many options, you may find it overwhelming to narrow down. Don't be fooled by its looks, this place has some majorly delicious eats. Two of my favorite places in the market are Pho Viet's, a vietnamese place serving up some of the best and cheapest banh mi sandwiches around, and Pikiachi, a fabulous tiny ramen joint.
First up, Pho Viet's. If you want to grab one of their $4 banh mi sandwiches, be sure to arrive as early as possible - they tend to sell out quickly. You can get a bahn mi at other places in the food court - but this one is the best. BBQ pork (they have options for other meat) + cucumber, carrots, pickled daikon, cilantro and a spicy mayo piled on the perfect roll - crusty yet soft to hold all of the ingredients together. Trust me on this one, you'll be full and happy for $4 flat. Unless, of course, you only have a card: there is a $5 minimum. So $5 flat, with a drink or iced tea. Not too shabby.
On to Pikiachi, a small ramen restaurant located outside of the food court, but still inside the building near the supermarket entrance. With about 6 tables total, this place cranks out quick, delicious ramen that satisfies every time. While my favorite here is definitely ramen, I have also tried other items which were great, such as the Takoyaki and Curry Rice. (If ordering ramen, you can add a small side of Curry Rice for about $2, a solid deal.) As for the ramen, I typically stick to the Hokkai Shio, which is a pork and salt based broth. For $7.95, the Hokkai Shio comes with corn, scallion, sliced pork, noodles & nori which is super tasty as is. The pork is tender and flavorful and the corn adds a nice sweetness to the perfectly salty broth. They have a decent list of add-ons for the ramen however, so I typically go for the whole egg and extra pork, even though it comes with a good amount already. The portion sizes are fantastic. If you're looking for some good ramen in the Allston area, this is definitely the tastiest bet.
$ (under 10)
1095 Commonwealth Ave., Allston, MA 02134.
Peep the slideshow to the left... brunchin' at Deep Ellum is one of my favorite things to get the weekend started in Allston. They have a great back deck in the spring/summer that transports you to another place - it almost feels as though you're not in the city anymore. The best part about their brunch, besides the amazing food, is that they serve it everyday of the week. As for my favorite eats... I'll start with the Duck Gravy Poutine. Crispy fries topped with rosemary, cheese curds and duck gravy, I'm not sure I have to go into too much detail with this if you scroll through the photos above. It is the cheeeeesiest and most delicious thing ever. Albeit a bit heavy, it is totally worth every single calorie. Another favorite, the BBQ Breakfast: pulled pork shoulder, fried egg and mustard aioli on top of a piece of perfectly done cornbread. Other great options: house cured salmon sandwich, charcuterie plate, moules frites and any of the handcrafted cocktails. Deep Ellum is not going to totally break the bank and you'll definitely leave a happy camper. It's worth the mention to check out their sister restaurant directly next door too, Lonestar Taco Bar, for some tasty tacos and a solid margarita.
477 Cambridge St., Allston, MA 02134. deepellum-boston.com.
421 Cambridge St., Allston, MA 02134.
Try: bbq or buffalo smoked wings, tots, chefs doughnut holes, cocktails
$-$$ (under 10, 10-25)
Roxy's Grilled Cheese
485 Cambridge St., Allston, MA 02134.
Try: rosemary truffle fries, mighty rib grilled cheese, 'justins burger'
$ (under 10)
80 Brighton Ave., Allston, MA 02134.
What are some of your favorite eats in the Allston area? Let me know in the comments below!