We’re lucky that campus is so close to so many great dining establishments, but lunch choices can become routine. It’s no easy feat to choose from such a wide range of options when you have limited time and a limited budget. In this series of blog posts, we’ll highlight lunch spots where you can get lunch for under 10 dollars in under 10 minutes(ish). Is there a place you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t had the chance to yet? Let us know and we’ll check it out for you!

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Al’s South Street Cafe

Al’s South Street Café is right around the corner from South Station and is a sure bet for a quick and delicious sub. Walking in for the first time during the lunchtime rush can be a bit daunting, as it is packed with regulars who clearly know what they want and where to stand to get it. To maximize efficiency, there are two lines–one to the right for cold subs and one to the left for hot. I’d recommend standing back to study the menu before jumping in line, as it moves fast (really fast!) and the staff, while pleasant, are committed to speed and will start making your order the moment you appear in front of them.

 I am always impressed at how quickly they assemble the cold subs. Hot subs take a bit longer, naturally, but really don’t require a much longer wait. A small sub, measuring in at 10 inches, is more than enough for lunch, and at $6.50 is a great value. For $8.00 you can get any small sub or wrap, a 20oz soda, and a bag of chips. If you’re feeling hungry (or want leftovers for later), you can pick up a large sub for $8.50.

My favorites are the Al’s Café Special (prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, plum tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar) and the chicken salad (“Best Chicken Salad in Boston” according to their menu). Being somewhat of a creature of habit, I must confess that I have yet to try any of the hot subs, but a friend and fellow Al’s-devotee recommends the Chicken Arianna (grilled chicken tenders, melted cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and buffalo blue cheese) or the Chicken Pesto (chicken tenders with—you guessed it—pesto). They also offer a selection of salads (standard sub shop varieties like Greek, Caesar, etc) and soups.

Some seating is available inside, but you ought to get away from the noise and sit outside in Dewey Square or by the Chinatown Gate if the weather’s nice. And of course you can always bring it back to the library to resume your studies and make everyone jealous of your delicious lunch.

Do you have a favorite sandwich at Al’s? Do you have a suggestion for the next place we should try? Write to us!

Al’s South Street Café. 179 Essex St. Boston, MA 02111. Mon-Fri 10:30am-3pm. They accept cash, credit cards, and LevelUp. 

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