There are plenty of restaurants that are affordable, even cheap. The challenge is finding restaurants that offer really good food at a really good price. When it comes to stretching your dining dollar, these are The Phantom Gourmet's Great 8.
Kicking off the Great 8 is The Vintage Grille in Worcester. This converted garage has motor head memorabilia all around and a menu filled with big plates that you'll definitely want to test drive. There is plate-tipping meatloaf; a fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich; and the eye popping, jaw dropping Bumper to Bumper Burger, stacked with American cheese, pickle chips and Thousand Island dressing, on thick cut Texas Toast.
"Literally when people get it, they have to push it down and cut it. But the funny thing is you never take anything back on the plate. They always finish it."
Cape Cod Café
The Cape Cod Cafe in Brockton is famous for its low prices and crispy, buttery, cheese-smothered bar pizza. Since 1939, the Jamoulis family has been serving these addictive, slightly-larger than personal sized pies to the masses. Through all those years, not much has changed. The atmosphere is old school, the prices are ultra-affordable, and the pizza is as good as it's always been, especially when it's smothered in pepperoni.
"We cut our pepperoni ourselves and you're getting big disks of pepperoni and we just cover the pizza. You can't even see the cheese."
Kristin's in Braintree is a no frills breakfast and lunch spot serving mouthwatering plates from the morning to the mid-afternoon. The housemade Corned Beef Hash is some of the best Phantom has sampled. But their claim to fame is their 25 varieties of pancakes. There's everything from Blueberry to German Chocolate to the 'Birthday Cake' topped with frosting, sprinkles and a candle. You can always mix and match your favorite flavors of flapjacks.
"You don't have to get just one. You can get an Oreo. You can get a peanut butter cup. You can get a Boston cream. You can get a jelly donut. Stack them up all on one plate."
Tango in Arlington is an Argentinean steakhouse, serving steaks that are bigger and better than a lot of the city steakhouses, for a fraction of the price. Here, Phantom recommends the sampler platter for two. It's a virtual buffet of beef, with layer upon layer of tender meats. There's tender flank steak, flavorful sausage and juicy chicken. It's even better when you top it with some housemade, garlicky Chimichurri sauce.
Watch: Great 8 Meal Deals, Part 2
Bella's in Rockland is a massive, three hundred seat, no-frills Italian-American restaurant where $50 could feed your whole family for days. From pork chops to grilled pizza, portions aren't just ample here, they're abbondanza.
"A lot of it is real traditional: lasagna, eggplant, chicken parm. The consistency and the portion size and the value is tough to match!"
Emma's Pub & Pizza
Another Great 8 winner is Emma's Pub & Pizza in Bridgewater and Norton, whether the portions are so big and the prices are so small, everybody assumes owner Ron Emma is crazy - and they're probably right. Whether he's certifiably insane, or just insanely generous, Ron knows what Phantom Phans want: steak tips, buffalo wings, potato skins, cheeseburgers, titanic lobster rolls, huge draft beers and larger than life pizzas.
With six locations throughout Greater Boston, Anna's Taqueria is fast, affordable, filling, and fresh. The Mexican fare is simple, but tasty and served up quick by some of the best burrito rollers in the business. Customers line up to customize their order, choosing from fire-grilled chicken, steak, pork, or vegetables along with rice and beans. The Super-burrito is a beast worthy of two meals, but only costs a little more than six bucks.
Galleria Umberto in the North End is a cafeteria-style eatery where the lunch-only grub is served in an old school atmosphere. The menu is small, yet satisfying with fist-sized Arrancini stuffed with beef, peas, gravy, and cheese, and Panzarotti piped with gooey mozzarella. A slice of the Sicilian pizza is a must order, decked out with tangy tomato sauce and beautifully browned cheese. And with everything coming in under five bucks, this may be one of the biggest meal deals in all of Boston.
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