In the wake of the Bush Recession, it's been gratifying to spend 2009 noting how many good budget-priced restaurants Boston has. From my past 50 weekly columns, here are a few standouts:
BEST BREAKFAST Steak & eggs at Auntie B's, in West Roxbury. The half-pound sirloin is a king among diner steaks.
OUTSTANDING DUMPLINGS Taiwanese-style pan-fried dumplings at Gourmet Dumpling House, in Chinatown. (Its other dumplings are merely good.)
BEST SANDWICH (CENTRAL AMERICAN) Pork-shoulder chimi at Alex's Chimis, a Dominican joint with great rotisserie chicken in Jamaica Plain.
BEST SANDWICH (NORTH AMERICAN) Chicken cemita at Dorado Tacos & Cemitas, a fresh Baja California breeze in Brookline.
BEST SANDWICH (ASIAN) BBQ beef bánh mì at Mike's Bánh Mì, in Chinatown. There's no better lunch for under $3.
CAL RIPKEN AWARD Chuck & Ann's, a sub shop run by the same couple for 47 years, in Southie. Love that sardine sandwich!
BEST CHEAP BURGER Flat Patties, in Harvard Square. Approaches the In-N-Out, West Coast–style, griddled-burger ideal.
BEST MALL FOOD Trini's Mexican Grille, in Watertown. An improbably good reincarnation of a real Mexico City taqueria.
SWISS ARMY KNIFE AWARD El Mondonguito, in a Dudley Square juke joint with Latin dancing, convenience-store sundries, cheap beer, and Puerto Rican snacks.
BEST REASON TO FORSAKE FAST FOOD Goat curry roti at Ali's Roti, in the South End. Delivers love in the cooking that chain outlets can't.
BEST STATESIDE RARITY Amazing pork gyros at Zo, in Government Center. Ubiquitous in Greece, rarely seen here.
NICEST SURPRISE Impeccably authentic osso bucco Milanese at Rino's Place, a venerable red-sauce palace in Eastie.
BEST REINVENTION South American accents and French refinement under new chef Marco Suarez at Bon Savor, in Jamaica Plain.
MOST COMFORTING DISH Rabbit stew at O Senhor Ramos, an Azorean restaurant/sub shop in East Cambridge.
CARNIVORE'S BARGAIN (TIE) Brazilian churrasco buffet at Bom de Boca Grille, in East Somerville; roast duck/chicken/pork rice plate at Chinatown's Vinh-Sun BBQ. Mmm, protein-y!
BEST PIZZA Fiorella's, serving dynamite wood-oven pies in an obscure corner of Newtonville.
Here's wishing you more delectable, frugal dining in 2010!