Cheap Eats: Neighborhood Gems

Top ethnic picks in even more neighborhoods, including Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, Beacon Hill, and Back Bay.

| Boston Magazine |

NEIGHBORHOOD GEMS: BACK BAY
Café Jaffa serves Middle Eastern fare in a casual sit-down setting. ORDER THIS: Lamb-and-beef schawarma salad ($9.75); falafel sandwich ($6.50). 48 Gloucester St., Boston, 617-536-0230, cafejaffa.net.

Hellenic specialties are on hand at Steve’s Greek, a diner-y Newbury Street eatery. ORDER THIS: Chicken kebab wrap ($9); spinach and feta cheese pie ($5). 316 Newbury St., Boston, 617-267-1817, stevesgreek.com.

India Samraat does some of the area’s best Indian takeout. ORDER THIS: Chicken Dhansak, $13; keema naan (lamb-stuffed tandoori bread, $4.25). 51A Massachusetts Ave., Boston, 617-247-0718, indiasamraat.com.

NEIGHBORHOOD GEMS: BEACON HILL
Villa Mexico
’s odd location — inside a gas station — doesn’t keep patrons from lining up for the amazing taqueria fare. ORDER THIS: Marinated chicken burrito ($6.75); tamales ($7.75). 296 Cambridge St., Boston, 617-957-0725, villamexicocafe.com.

It’s not the spiciest or most authentic Thai in town, but King & I does a good job with crowd-pleasing dishes like pad thai. ORDER THIS: Pad see you ($10); mango curry ($12). 145 Charles St., Boston, 617-227-3320, kingandi-boston.com.

Don’t expect street-food prices at Persian restaurant Lala Rokh; entrees run $19 to $23. But they’re good value, and if you can snag a seat the tiny bar, it’s a good place to sample the exotic appetizers. ORDER THIS: dolmeh kado, a stuffed zucchini dish ($9); mirza ghasemi, a blend of grilled eggplant, roasted garlic and tomato. 97 Mount Vernon St., Boston, 617-720-5511, lalarokh.com.

NEIGHBORHOOD GEMS: JAMAICA PLAIN
El Oriental de Cuba
is a lively neighborhood staple serving traditional Cuban cooking. ORDER THIS: Ropa Vieja ($12), a shredded beef dish. 416 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617-524-6464, elorientaldecuba.com.

Salvadorian pupusas (stuffed corn tortillas) are the specialty at the tiny (12-seat) La Pupusa Guanaca. ORDER THIS: Pork-stuffed pupusas revueltas ($1.75 each). 378 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617-524-4900.

Ghazal is a relative newcomer to JP’s dining scene, and dishes out better-than-average Indian cuisine. The vegetarian food is superb. ORDER THIS: Navratan korma (vegetables in a creamy sauce with nuts and raisins, $13), shahi bindi (okra with onions, ginger, tomato, and spices, $11.50). 711 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617-522-9500, ghazalboston.com.

NEIGHBORHOOD GEMS: ROSLINDALE
Bangkok Café
isn’t stingy with traditional Thai spice, but there are gentler options on hand, too. ORDER THIS: Wild boar basil ($13); panang curry ($14-15). 25 Poplar St., Roslindale, 617-327-8810, bangkok-cafe.com.

Village Sushi focuses on Japanese cooking, with a few Korean dishes thrown in. ORDER THIS: Shocking maki ($5.50); seafood jun-gul (a seafood stew, $14). 14 Corinth St., Roslindale, 617-363-7874, villagesushiandgrill.com.

The recently opened Arbri Café serves authentic Albanian cuisine. ORDER THIS: Flatbread with feta and olives ($6); the tomato spread called fergese elbasani ($7); eggplant trio appetizer ($7). 146 Belgrade Ave., Roslindale, 617-323-0276, arbricafe.com.