#TrendingNews Blog Business Entertainment Environment Health Lifestyle News Analysis Opinion Science Sports Technology World News
Top 5 Budget-Friendly Restaurants for Any Occasion in Boston

The Covid-19 pandemic changed many of the daily practices of American people in ways that still persist today, nearly two years after the peak of the virus. Despite mask mandates being lifted in most states, many still choose to protect themselves in shared public spaces, organizations have adopted hybrid working environments, and much of what people do for entertainment is inside.

In particular, the restaurant industry is feeling the squeeze from the reluctance of the American public to return to pre-covid socialization. However, Boston, Massachusetts, known widely for its rich nightlife and restaurant culture, is finally bouncing back. As a student living on a budget, this piece will outline some of the places I recommend from the area for any and every occasion. 

1. Charley’s Cheesesteaks: Hearty Sandwich Staples

First up is Charley’s Cheesesteaks. Located just a short walk from the Longwood station of the T, the public transportation system in Boston, this place is an excellent option for anyone looking for something cheap, fresh, and fast. Founded in 1986 by CEO Charley Shin, the business serves classic cheesesteaks and other sandwiches, loaded fries, wings, fresh fruit lemonades, and even milkshakes; the perfect spot to go to satisfy those cravings for fast food with fresher ingredients. Their house-made strawberry lemonade is a mouthwatering balance of tart and sweet, and their classic cheesesteak comes loaded with juicy shaved steak, piles of peppers and onions, a gooey, thick layer of cheese, and on a bun perfectly toasted to prevent sogginess every time.

Originally, Shin opened his first location for the business near Ohio State University, where it was immediately so well received by the community of college students that he expanded his business into a worldwide chain with over 700 locations across 17 countries. Today, it is beloved by students and medical professionals alike, with its Boston location centrally between the Longwood medical district and Northeastern University, as well as Boston University.

2. Lee’s Burger: Classic American Favorites

Another American classic I love in the area is Lee’s Burgers, a small place tucked right into Coolidge Corner, a famous shopping center in Brookline, a suburb of Boston. This is the place to go for something quick and easy; their menu covers American fast-food favorites like customizable and specialty burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, submarine sandwiches, fries, and of course, milkshakes in an elevated way. Spice lovers like myself should look no further than the Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich at Lee’s, which comes bathed in tangy Siracha ranch and is served perfectly crunchy with lettuce, tomato, and jalapeno peppers.

Moreover, the menu is affordable for individuals on a budget, with most items costing under $15; the sandwich I just described is even under $10. The restaurant has limited seating and therefore lends itself to being a takeout or lunch spot, but cafeteria-style tables and a high-top counter with bright red barstools look out onto Beacon Street where customers who want can sit and people-watch the busy city while they eat. It was a favorite of mine when I first began exploring the area because of its juicy delicious burgers, hot and crispy fries, and central location within a larger shopping center.

3. Brother’s and Sister’s Co: Coffee, Pastries, and Ambiance

While Lee's Burgers offers classic American fare, those seeking a caffeine fix and a quiet study spot will appreciate Brother and Sisters Co, a cozy, independently-owned café in the area. In Boston, there’s a Dunkin Donuts nearly once a mile in any direction, but there are also dozens of cafés that aren’t owned by chains that can always use support from local patrons. Moreover, this café boasts an extensive list of coffee and tea options ranging from drip coffee to cold brew to espresso to herbal tea, a wide range of flavors and syrups, and a delicious brunch menu with improved classics like the red pepper grilled cheese, an unbelievably crisp sourdough sandwich oozing fatty sharp white cheddar and acidic red pepper paste; a delightful combination of flavors and colors for the senses to feast on

Additionally, they have a freezer to sell ice cream from another local small business, Jamie’s Ice Cream Co. This makes it a great place to go to get your morning coffee and a quick breakfast item if you like to know that you are supporting your local community of business owners; you can keep two different organizations from the same store before you even get to work! I have spent many afternoons working on projects from inside the rustic white brick building while sipping an immaculate, rich, dark roast.  With a small number of tables for people to sit and study and its proximity to the Brookline Village T station, this homey and inviting café is an excellent choice for students and professionals alike.

4. Boca Grande Taqueria: A Taste of Mexico in the Heart of Brookline

Equally important is Boca Grande Taqueria, a college student favorite due to its Tex-Mex-inspired cuisine and Cambridge and Brookline locations. I decided to try out this restaurant one day after reading about the harm brought to small Mexican-American businesses by the popularization of bigger chains. When you patronize those places instead of locally owned ones, you are taking money away from people who work hard to create a more authentic product.

To elaborate, Boca Grande is the perfect replacement for anyone looking to support more small businesses but loves the simplicity and efficiency of restaurants like Qdoba or Chipotle. Just like these businesses, they sell burrito bowls as well as regular burritos, tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, tamales, and even nachos, with the option to customize nearly all of the ingredients you have in each item.

My personal favorite is the Burrito Grande, a huge, zesty burrito filled with cheese, beans, rice, your choice of meat, hot sauce, and salsa. I always add guacamole for an extra creamy and savory filling; this burrito comes with enough food and flavor for two meals! The restaurant offers more choices of fillings and menu items, more vibrant and spicy flavors, and an equally inexpensive menu than its chain restaurant counterparts, with all items costing under $11. This makes it an excellent choice of restaurant for any students or young adults looking to be more ethical in their business practices while still sticking to a budget.

5. Grainne O’Malley’s: Traditional Pub Atmosphere

Lastly, we have Graine O’Malley’s Tavern, a classic Boston-Irish pub that is the perfect nighttime going-out place for students looking for an alternative to crowded student bars. The atmosphere is cozy, with high-top tables and dark leather booths arranged to the side of a full bar at the restaurant's entrance. Big glass windows look out onto Harvard Street, so you can come alone to grab a quick drink and a meal and watch people go by, or bring a friend and join in on the community atmosphere that the place cultivates.

Furthermore, they host a trivia night every Wednesday, have televisions inside for any avid Boston sports fans to enjoy the game from, and a changing list of seasonal specialty cocktails, making it the kind of place that you’ll almost certainly keep coming back to. With specialty draft beers like Fiddlehead and Harpoon IPA, fragrant cocktails like the French 75 and Hibiscus Margarita, and a classic Irish whiskey selection, there is something on the menu for almost everyone. And, if you don’t drink, the tavern still has a delicious menu of classic bar food; buffalo wings, waffle fries, and fried pickles that are perfectly crisped to retain their signature vinegar snap. If you’re a student looking for an excellent place to introduce two different groups of friends, the diverse choices at Grainne O’Malley’s will surely make everyone happy!


In conclusion, if you’re a student on a budget living in Boston, these places are great options for you to go and patronize; the best way to discover restaurants in Boston is to get out there and try them yourself! If any of the places in this list have piqued your interest, I urge you to go there the next time you have trouble deciding where to eat. You can never go wrong with supporting the businesses in your local community; it benefits so many people along the way, including yourself, when you expand your mind to try new things. As the weather gets warmer, I hope to see many new faces as I go to these restaurants myself!

Edited by Whitney Edna Ibe

Share This Post On


Leave a comment

You need to login to leave a comment. Log-in