South End: Orinoco | 477 Shawmut Avenue | 617.369.7075 | This tiny, modestly priced charmer serves elegant versions of Venezuelan food on a corner rarely visited by non-locals.
Kenmore/Fenway: Audubon Circle | 838 Beacon Street | 617.421.1910 | A casual but sleek bar with extraordinary burgers (beef and veggie), salads, pressed sandwiches, and grilled meats and seafood, all bolstered by strong bartending.
Allston: Carlo’s Cucina Italiana | 131 Brighton Avenue | 617.254.9759 | The constant line of customers is easy to understand once you’ve sampled the bargain-priced, excellent Italian fare.
Brookline: Brookline Family Restaurant | 305 Washington Street | 617.277.4466 | Big, delicious portions for short money make this very casual spot a great place to explore Turkish food, one of the world’s greatest — and, in Boston at least, most criminally overlooked — cuisines.
Jamaica Plain: Zon’s | 2 Perkins Street | 617.524.9667 | A funky little bar/restaurant serving slightly creative takes on heaping platefuls of comfort-food classics for under $22.
Dorchester: Avenue Grill | 856 Dorchester Avenue | 617.288.8000 | What the French would call a bistro, it’s inexpensive, unpretentious, and offers big portions of everyday American and Italian-leaning fare to an overwhelmingly local crowd.
Central Square: River Gods | 125 River Street | 617.576.1881 | A small, very cool bar that serves a globetrotting menu at nice prices to a mix of locals and DJ-loving hipsters.
South Boston: Potbellies Kitchen | 87 A Street | 617.269.2233 | This no-frills storefront cooks up the kind of hearty American comfort food you might make at home, if you had better kitchen skills.
Downtown Crossing: Silvertone Bar & Grill | 69 Bromfield Street | 617.338.7887 | A bustling basement bar that not only serves great cocktails and comfort food at weeknight-friendly prices but also boasts a surprisingly interesting and affordable wine list.
Roslindale: Birch Street Bistro | 14 Birch Street | 617.323.2184 | Handsome and airy, this bar/restaurant looks upscale but delivers modestly creative New American food at true-bistro prices.