Food & dining

Cheap Eats

Top 12 delectable cheap dishes of the year

Cambridge, MA., 09/05/14, The miso ramen. For the Cheap Eats feature, we feature Shabu & Mein. Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff (The Boston Globe.
Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff
Miso ramen at Shabu & Mein.

ELLEN BHANG’S FAVORITES

Long-simmered broth enriched with soybean paste is the secret to a flavorful miso ramen at Shabu & Mein in East Cambridge. Delicate noodles arrive in the soup with slices of fatty pork, minced scallions, and egg with a golden yolk. 148 1st St., East Cambridge, 617-577-7888

At Tenoch Mexican in the North End, don’t miss the garnachas, chubby corn tortillas layered with black beans, potatoes, and shreds of grilled marinated pork, sauced with zippy tomatillo salsa. 3 Lewis St., North End, Boston, 617-248-9537

Azorean fish stew, a specialty of Old School House Pub & Restaurant in Hudson, arrives at the table as a steaming vessel of bone-in pieces of fish, shrimp, and clams in a garlicky tomato stock. A single order feeds two. 17 School St., Hudson, 978-568-1300

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At Pintxo Pincho Tapas Bar in Woburn, octopus fished off the coast of northwest Spain is dipped several times in hot water, simmered, then served as pulpo a la Gallega, tender morsels dusted with paprika and crunchy sea salt flakes. 385 Main St., Woburn, 781-932-1379

SHERYL JULIAN’S FAVORITES

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The long-risen dough at Scissors & Pie in Back Bay is covered with many tempting toppings, but the potato pizza with imported prosciutto is pretty terrific and double the carbs. 225 Newbury St., Back Bay, Boston, 857-350-4088

There is falafel and then there’s falafel. At Noor Mediterranean Grill in Somerville, when you order a falafel wrap, each little chickpea ball is made by hand, deep fried while you wait, then wrapped in flatbread with tahini sauce and pickles. All the wraps are outstanding here, this one is unbelievably good (order it in tissue-thin saj bread). 136 College Ave., Powder House Square, Somerville, 617-625-6667

The Medford spot Snappy Pattys serves patties, of course, called Patty Melt Sliders, which are made with mini olive-oil brioche loaves and come with toppings including American cheese, pico de gallo, or avocado mayo. Later, you’ll dream about them. 454 High St., West Medford, 781-214-4440

All that crunch in one bowl, served by earnest counter people, with enough greens to tide you over for the day, Sweetgreens delivers beautiful salads. At the counter, workers assemble your ingredients, chop the smithereens out of it, and present it to you tossed with dressing. Even with its endless inspirational messages, Sweetgreen is hard not to love. 659 Boylston St.. Back Bay, Boston, 617-936-3464; 372 Congress St., Fort Point, Boston, 857-263-7916; 210 Boylston St., Chestnut Hill, 617-916-0788

Medford, MA., 08/27/14, The mixed patty melt sliders: Original, Jalapena, Texan. The Snappy Pattys is profiled for Cheap Eats. Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff (The Boston Globe.
The Boston Globe
Sliders at Snappy Pattys.

CATHERINE SMART’S FAVORITES

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As the name suggests, Taco Loco Mexican Grill’s tacos — whether filled with super-savory beef tongue, or moist, flavorful chicken — are crazy good at the Somerville spot. They are the perfect self-indulgent holiday gift, topped with festive pico de gallo, sour cream, and guacamole, all wrapped up in soft corn tortillas. 44 Broadway, Somerville, 617-625-3830

The most satisfying of sandwiches, the porchetta at Pennypacker’s in Somerville is deserving of its permanent place on an ever-changing menu. Rich pork belly is wrapped around rosemary and spice-slathered pork shoulder, and roasted until fragrant and tender. Accompaniments (cranberry chutney or pickled fennel) may change, but the porcine goodness between two slices of chewy ciabatta remains the same. 514C Medford St., Magoun Square, Somerville, 857-523-8053

The soup dumplings at Dumpling House in Cambridge are slouchy little packages of porky, brothy goodness, and worth risking life and scalded lip for. Dip in vinegar sauce, nibble off a corner to cool (and release the steam-facial effect), and carefully slurp down the savory, soul-warming goodness of authentically handmade xiao long bao. 950 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-661-8066

’Tis the season for . . . football. Which calls for seriously delicious drinking food. Traditionalists require meat, cheese, and chips. Lulu’s Allston has taken this to a whole other level with their phenomenally comforting Frito chili pie. Filled with wild game, and topped with local cheddar, it’s a meal worthy of (AFC East) champions. Go Pats! 421 Cambridge St., Allston, 617-787-1117

Somerville, MA. 09/12/14, The Tongue Taco. Taco Loco is profiled for Cheap Eats. Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff (The Boston Globe.
The Boston Globe
Beef tongue tacos at Taco Loco Mexican Grill.

Past coverage:

- A hot pot delight at Shabu & Mein

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- Tenoch Mexican wins over naysayers in the North End

- Portuguese, Azorean fare at Old School House

- Pintxo Pincho Tapas Bar’s recipes are made with care

- Scissors & Pie: Thick-crust pizza you’ll fall in love with

- Noor’s Armenian specialties are made with care

- At Snappy Pattys in Medford, everything is appealing

- Salad restaurant Sweetgreen draws the crowds

- Pennypacker’s is a hip addition to Magoun Square

- Dumpling House comes to Cambridge

- Grown-up bar food at Lulu’s

Ellen Bhang can be reached at bytheglass@globe.com. Sheryl Julian can be reached at sheryl.julian@globe.com. Catherine Smart can be reached at cathjsmart@gmail.com