Beyond the Top 50: Casual Faves

When we’re not splurging on a big night out, you’ll find us ordering up low-key meals at these classics.

Two white bowls sit on a pale green tray, one featuring thick noodle rolls with fish balls and a swoosh of sriracha, the other with chopped cucumbers.

Rubato’s ji cheung fun (steamed rice rolls) with curry fish balls and a spicy cucumber salad. / Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

We enjoyed quite a lot of fine-dining while researching our annual list of Boston’s Top 50 Restaurants, out now—but when we’re between white-tablecloth meals, these are some of the more casual spots we can’t get enough of.

Yume Ga Arukara

The chewy, springy noodles; the slick of chili oil; the crunch of tempura-batter topping—the menu at this Cambridge hot spot (hot or cold udon, spicy or not, with the occasional special) is short, sweet, and, frankly, perfect. That said, we’re excited for the Seaport expansion with beer, wine, and more food, slated to open this month.


The Coast Café

This tiny, mostly takeout-focused spot is perhaps best known for its ultra-crispy fried chicken, but don’t miss the rest of the soul food, from smoked pork ribs to fried catfish. A gooey five-cheese mac ’n’ cheese or sweet candied yams are fitting sides.


Boonnoon Market

While you’re stocking up on specialty Thai groceries at this Arlington gem, go ahead and grab a meal, too: We particularly love the khao soi, a warming northern Thai curry, and the ua lao, a spicy dill-andouille sausage. Wash it all down with the “ORT,” orange-rosemary Thai tea.


Jamaica Mi Hungry

When we’re in the mood for Caribbean—hearty oxtail plates, crispy coconut shrimp, fiery jerk chicken—we head to Jackson Square. There, chef Ernie Campbell, whose business also includes catering and a food truck, is an expert at serving up a taste of his native Jamaica.

Jamaica Plain,


It’s a bit of a hike to Quincy, but modern Hong Kong–style café Rubato is a worthy destination. We’ve been obsessing over its flavorful fare since its 2022 opening, from congee (savory rice porridge with toppings such as pork and century egg) to buttery bolo baos stuffed with fried chicken, barbecue pork, or spam.


A version of this piece was first published in the print edition of the November 2023 issue as an addendum to the Top 50 Restaurants list.