Made famous by Revolutionary events, infamous by cold winters, & both by the World-Series winning Red Sox, Boston has its fair share of reasons to visit. With such a reputation, however, comes high prices, & it’s become increasingly difficult to find bargain deals in the city.
That is why we created a list of budget restaurants, bars & activities that both locals & tourists can use when going out in Boston. Spanning the unique Boston neighborhoods, we have suggestions on whether you are with family, friends or single. We also provide ideas for dates that won’t break the bank – great especially for a first outing, yet perfect also for a change of pace in the old routine.
sister Jimmy’s BBQ (96 Winthrop St., Cambridge) – Enjoy a number of the best BBQ you can find north of Memphis & east of St. Louis. While the entrees can get pricey, you can enjoy a great BBQ sandwich & a side for under $10. Try the pulled Chicken with the Eastern Carolina sauce & the mashed potatoes with gravy. If you are looking to splurge, try a Swamp-water; this fishbowl of liquor is $15 but does come with its own alligator. On Wednesdays, be sure to check out the Ladies Night specials & receive $1 domestic beers & $1 margaritas. Also on Wednesdays, receive a 25% discount on your food purchases with a valid Southern ID (States south of the Mason-Dixon Line & east of the Mississippi). On Saturdays, there are $0.35 wings & $8 pitchers from 12-4 pm. For those looking to eat, stop by on Sundays for all-you-can-eat ribs & all-you-can-drink drafts for $22.95 (two-hour max) or on Mondays for all-you-can-eat wings & rib tips & all-you-can-drink drafts for $14.95.
Grendel’s Den (89 Winthrop Street, Harvard Square) – Stop by for the happy hour food specials from 5-7:30 pm & after 9:30 pm at this popular Harvard Square bar. The entire menu (normally reasonable) is half-priced, giving the diner on a budget some great options. Try the Mediterranean platter for steak tips & hummus for only $5 during happy hour. Also, stop by on Sunday evenings for the special dollar menu, featuring items such as burgers & pasta. there is a minimum drink purchase of $3 required for the discount prices.
Fajitas & Ritas (25 West St., Downtown or 1237 Hancock St., Quincy) – it is easy to stuff yourself with fresh Tex-Mex food here without spending much cash because Fajitas & Ritas is one of the few places around that serves dinner-sized fajitas for less than $10. For those who prefer Tex instead of the Mex, you can get a BBQ pulled pork sandwich accompanied by slaw, beans & cornbread, also for under $10. & even though you might be trying to save cash, it is hard not to splurge on a Raspberry Margarita for a bit over $4. No matter your budget, you won’t be hungry when you leave!
McCormick & Schmick’s (North Market Building, Faneuil Hall) – This upscale seafood restaurant can normally cost a penny but at happy hour someone can afford to enjoy a number of McCormick & Schmick’s great food. From 3:30 to 6:30 pm Monday through Friday & 10 pm-12 am on Saturday & Sunday, the bar features a $1.95 menu featuring standby favorites such as burgers, chicken wings, & cheese quesadillas, as well as seafood choices such as oysters & clams. The menu changes daily & there is a minimum drink purchase required. Reservations are suggested. For more info, take a look at their website here.
Sunset Grill & Tap (130 Brighton Ave., Allston) – While this bar doesn’t have any drink specials, the sheer vastness of its beer selection makes it worth checking out. Offering 112 beers on tap & 380 types of bottled beer, Sunset is truly a beer drinker’s heaven. The prices range based on the brand but try the Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. This one is 9% alcohol so at about $4 per pint, it can be a cool deal. For the drinker living on the edge, there is the 120 Minute IPA, which is 21% alcohol by volume. The Sunset also offers a menu of tasty, relatively cheap food to accompany your beer selections. You might need to get here early; the lines & wait can get long. For more information take a look here.
Drink Specials in Boston
Roggie’s Brew & Grille (356 Chestnut Hill Ave., Brighton) – While this is definitely a Boston College bar, any one looking for a fun scene & a young crowd can enjoy this Brighton hotspot. Roggie’s offers 52 beers on tap & martinis for only $5. Also, stop by between 4-7 pm for $0.15 wings. For those with a larger crowd, or perhaps looking to not remember their night, try the 64 once bowls of mixed drinks for around 17 dollars. As an added bonus, Roggie’s also has a pizza shop right next door for someone looking for some great cheap eats after a night of heavy drinking.
Pour House Bar & Grill (909 Boylston Street, Fenway Kenmore) – widely known as a college student’s dream bar, this place offers a fun crowd & cheap prices. The deals on food can be exceptional. On Wednesdays after 6 pm, try the $2.50 chicken sandwich & Saturdays after 6 pm all burgers are half-priced. This bar offers a standard selection of drinks, which are also reasonably priced. The service is seat-yourself, but this bar can fill up quickly.
Activities in Boston
Beacon Hill Pub (149 Charles Street, Beacon Hill) – If you are looking to relive your college years, then Beacon Hill Pub is the place to go. Start with the $1.55 Bud draft pints in plastic cups. Then challenge your buddies to a game of foosball or pinball. Within minutes you’ll feel as if you are 21 again (or even 18?). Wednesday nights are best if you are looking for a fun but chill scene – make sure to introduce yourself to Garrett the bartender (and, of work, tip him), & he’ll be sure to remember your poison & prepare it for you as soon as you approach the bar. Thursdays through Saturdays tend to be more crowded, but fun all the same, especially if that is more your scene. Don’t worry about driving & trying to find a parking spot in the impossible Beacon Hill neighborhood – a T stop & a cabstand are only a few steps from the door.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace (Downtown) – More commonly referred to as Quincy Market, this marketplace offers all kinds of food, shopping & live entertainment. Hungry? Try one of the 17 restaurants or 40 eateries serving up everything from famous old England clam chowder to ethnic Indian &, of work, delectable deserts. Looking for something old? there are multiple retailers, from recognized apparel stores to local gift shops, for you to browse. Just need to be entertained? The musical & variety acts put on by the street performers provide free amusement for passerbys of all ages. Or check out The Comedy Connection (see write-up below) for a more organized comedic routine. Located on the waterfront & easily identified by the cobblestone walkways & 19th-century buildings, Quincy Market cannot be missed.
Kayak the Charles (Charles River Canoe & Kayak, in Artesani Park in Allston/Brighton) – you are sure to cross the Charles River at some point during your stay in Boston – but have you ever considered paddling through it? Stroll with a friend to the Charles River Canoe & Kayak kiosk & rent a two-person canoe or kayak for around $15 per hour. Whether you are looking for a strenuous workout or a leisurely paddle (the waters are typically calm), kayaking the Charles River can provide either two, or anything in-between. Just make sure the skies are sunny because rentals are not available on rainy days. Easily spotted in Artesani Park by the green-roof, this rental site is open on fair days from May through early October. Check out other options at their website here.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (280 The Fenway, Fenway Kenmore) – If the long Bostonian winter gets you & your significant other down, & you both need to see something blooming (but know that won’t happen outside in winter), you can visit the atrium in the center of the Gardner Museum, where the garden courtyard is flowering in every season. there are also two floors of art that, upon Ms. Gardner’s direction, have not been modified since their placement during the 19th century. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 am to 5 pm. If you can convince them your name is Isabella, you can get in for free. Otherwise, show a student ID for a $5 admission fee. You can get to the museum by taking the Huntington Avenue No. 39 bus or the Green Line train to the Museum stop.
The Comedy Connection (Faneuil Hall Marketplace) Relax for a night & let the upcoming professionals work to make your date laugh! Comedians perform live every day of the week, but you will need to call (617.248.9700) for reservations if you plan to attend a show between Thursday & Saturday. Ticket prices usually range between $12 & $25, depending on who’s on stage, but cheaper doesn’t mean less funny – just less widely known acts, which often leads to more original comedy. To see who will be performing next, check here.
Cheap Dates in Boston
South Street Diner (corner of Kneeland & South Sts, Beacon Hill) – Nothing beats sharing a booth & a milkshake at a diner with your date. Open 24 hours a day, there is no bad time to take your significant other out for a bite – be it breakfast, dinner or dessert. Actually, no matter when you go, you should still order a slice of their famous chocolate mousse cake! From the jukebox playing the hits of the decade to the life-sized James Dean near the bathroom, South Street provides that happy, romantic feel we all associate with a typical 1950s diner.
Mike’s Pastry (300 Hanover St., in the North End) – need to show your date how sweet you can be? Then take him or her to Mike’s Pastry & choose from a selection of cannoli, biscotti, cheesecake & every other Italian dessert you could imagine. You can order tasty treats to satisfy yourself & your date without being alarmed by. in Boston.