Beyond the Top 50: Boston’s Best Casual Restaurants

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Beyond the Top 50: Boston’s Best Casual Restaurants

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When we’re not treating ourselves to a big night out, we order simple meals from these classics.

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

While researching our annual list of Boston’s 50 Best Restaurants, out now, we enjoyed a lot of good food—but when we’re in between white-tablecloth meals, these are some of the more casual spots we can’t get enough of can.

Yume Ga Arukara

The chewy, elastic noodles; the touch of chili oil; the crunch of the tempura batter topping – this Cambridge hotspot’s menu (hot or cold udon, spicy or not, with the occasional specialty) is short, sweet and, frankly, perfect. Still, we’re looking forward to the Seaport expansion with beer, wine and more food, slated to open later this month.

Cambridge, yumegaarukara.com.

The Coastal Cafe

This small takeout-only spot may be best known for its ultra-crispy fried chicken, but don’t miss the rest of its soul food, from smoked pork ribs to fried catfish. Matching sides include a gooey five-cheese mac ‘n’ cheese or sweet candied yams.

Cambridge, Coastsoulcafe.com.

Boonnoon Market

While you’re stocking up on Thai specialties at this Arlington gem, you can also grab a bite to eat: We especially love the Khao Soi, a warming northern Thai curry, and the Ua Lao, a spicy dill andouille sausage. Rinse everything down with the “ORT” orange rosemary Thai tea.

Arlington, boonnoonmarket.com.

Jamaica Wed Hungry

When we’re craving something Caribbean—savory oxtail platters, 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 the taste of his native Jamaica.

Jamaica Plain, jamaicamihungry.com.

Stolen

It’s a bit of a hike to Quincy, but the modern Hong Kong-style Café Rubato is a worthwhile destination. Since opening in 2022, we’ve been obsessed with its flavorful cuisine, from congee (savory congee with toppings like pork and century egg) to buttery bolo baos stuffed with fried chicken, grilled pork, or spam.

Quincy, rubato-food.com.

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