Boston North End Cheap Eats

This post was written by contributor writer Matt who is a Boston-based writer, researcher, and tour guide. He has been regaling people with stories of Boston for over a decade. You can follow him on twitter @MatthewWilding.

While the budget visitor might feel the need to starve their way through the Freedom Trail’s most delicious mile, there are plenty of Italian tasties to get your paws on at a reasonable price–from pizza to pastry–if you know where to look.

Haymarket Pizza, 106 Blackstone St.

Sitting on the edge of the North End, facing out at the Rose Kennedy Greenway and the Haymarket, lives an unassuming, zero-frills pizza joint. A slice will run you $2.00 or more, depending on the number of toppings.

Ernesto’s, 69 Salem St.

Ernesto’s has the best pizza in town and these titan-sized slices are guaranteed to make even the most discerning New Yorker reconsider their cheese-and-sauce allegiances. A “slice” runs you about $5, which may sound steep, but when they give it to you, you’ll quickly realize that the single slice could feed two people, and is cut to accommodate just that. You might want to budget extra though, as they also serve beer (rare in a Boston pizza place) and some excellent, huge arancini for just a few extra bucks.

Maria’s Pastry Shop, 46 Cross St.

Somehow though Maria’s, with its cheap sign, no-frills appearance, and family-and-friends staff, has remained a virtual secret. $3 will get you the best cannoli of your life. I’ve brought visitor after visitor to this place, and every single one has liked Maria’s cannoli better than the more expensive ones around the corner. Every one. All. No exceptions. And if cannoli isn’t your bag, they’ve got sfogliatelle that will blow your mind without breaking the bank.

Theo’s Cozy Corner, 162 Salem St.

For the early risers among us, this is the spot. Theo’s opens at six in the morning, and is jammed with tourists and locals alike. Everyone likes a joint where you can get breakfast for less than five bucks, and while Theo’s is not destined to be Zagat-rated, it will fill-a-buster on a budget. Stick with the staples here: eggs and toast, pasta marinara, and simple sandwiches.

Galleria Umberto, 289 Hanover St. 

Sicilian-style pizza for $1.70 a slice. Arancini for $3 each. Umberto sells other things, but people are not waiting in a line out the door for their salami. They open at 11am, and they close when they run out of pizza. They often run out of pizza. This is a hard one to recommend, but a cheap-eats rundown wouldn’t be complete without them. The price is right, but the time spent waiting might deter the thrifty visitor on a time crunch.

Where are your favorite cheap eats in the North End?