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Things to do under $5: Cambridge and Somerville


Grab lunch from a vegan food truck
Love the convenience of food trucks but fear food poisoning? Clover Food Lab is the brainchild of an MIT grad (and mobile-eats fan) who wanted to provide Boston with a fast, affordable and healthy lunch option. Its fresh vegetarian and vegan fare can be found in Kendall and Dewey Squares, or at Clover's brick-and-mortar operation in Harvard Square. Only $5, the BBQ seitan sandwich is a robust and tangy treat. Weekdays 8am–7pm in Dewey and Kendall Squares; Everyday from 7am–10pm in Harvard Square (

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Score the lunch special at Grendel’s Den
Harvard Square’s classic cave-like watering hole has been serving great food and craft beers for decades, and its $4.95 lunch deal is one of the best in the city. From 11:30am to 3pm on weekdays, you can get a dish from their coveted lunch menu for less than a Lincoln. The French dip sandwich, garden burger or pasta with pesto are all tasty, economical options. 89 Winthrop St, Harvard Square (617-491-1160,

Have a Super Burrito at Felipe’s
This burrito bar slings high-quality creations precisely to your liking, and the prices can’t be beat. Basic chicken burritos run just shy of $4, but we recommend tossing in an extra buck for a Carnitas Super Burrito; the hefty wrap will satisfy the strongest Mexican cravings. 83 Mount Auburn St, Harvard Square (617-354-9944,

Check out Music Monday at Charlie’s Kitchen
Right off Harvard's main drag, this bustling bar and grill offers live music on Mondays for a $5 cover. Local bands sweep through every week, playing top-notch shows you might not have checked out otherwise. 10 Eliot St, Harvard Square (617-492-9646,

Have a glass of wine at Shay’s
This gem of a pub is perfect for a casual evening of conversation and a cold drink. A variety of great beers are available, but if wine’s more your style, there are $5 glasses of house red or white for your slow-sipping pleasure. 58 JFK St, Harvard Square (617-864-9161,

Snack on happy hour eats at Noir Bar
At this luxurious little oasis just inside the Charles Hotel, the words “dry martini” just might fall out of your mouth reflexively. Visit after work and pair a cocktail with the happy hour tasting special—a $5 flatbread, $4 sandwich or $3 snack. Tuesday through Thursday, the deal runs from 5pm to 8pm; Saturday through Monday, from 5pm to 11pm. 1 Bennett St, Harvard Square (617-661-8010,

Stop by a poetry slam at Cantab Lounge
Whether you’re a Beatnik who was born in the wrong generation or you're just looking for something out of the ordinary, stop by the Cantab Lounge on Wednesdays at 8pm to check out Cambridge's diverse poetry community. The Ginsberg-esque experience will cost you only $3. 738 Massachusetts Ave, Central Square (617-354-2685,

Geek out at Middlesex Lounge’s Nerdnite
Our beloved Cambridge—between Harvard and MIT, a veritable Nerdtown USA—never fails to cater to the knowledge-hungry. Once a month, Middlesex hosts Nerdnite, a $5 get-together that encourages geeks of all stripes to drink, learn things and listen to music. Previous discussion topics include “Cooking for Geeks: Science in the Kitchen” and “Joystick Soldiers: Fifty Years of Video Games and War.” 315 Massachusetts Ave, Central Square (617-868-6739,

Order pancakes or mimosas at the Friendly Toast
It's a common experience: You wake up (still in that outfit that seemed like such a good idea last night), look at your reflection in the mirror and say, “I need to get my life together. But first, I need some pancakes." When you're seeking first-rate hangover therapy, the Friendly Toast is just as cheery as it sounds, and you can get pancakes packed with M&Ms or chocolate chips for just $4.50. If hair-of-the-dog is more your speed, mimosas are the same price. 1 Kendall Sq #B3101, Kendall Square (617-621-1200,

Nosh for less than a buck at All Star Sandwich Bar
Deviled eggs, that craveworthy summertime staple, can singlehandedly make or break a picnic. But why relegate them to gingham-and-wicker season? For 99 cents, you can get three egg halves, precisely prepared with sweet relish and pinch of paprika for optimum snacking pleasure. 1245 Cambridge St, Inman Square (617-868-3065,


Sip a Sunday wine special at Foundry on Elm
Davis Square’s new go-to for "fine food and proper ale" is the product of some of Boston’s most knowledgeable restaurateurs (founders include alumni of the Independent, Temple Bar and Ashmont Grill). The 60-bottle wine list is a treat for palates weary of Cabernet Sauvignon. Glasses are only $5 each on Sundays—an ideal way to ease into the work week. 255 Elm St, Davis Square (617-628-9999,

Pick up brown rice rolls at Snappy Sushi
This isn't the only sushi spot that offers brown-rice rolls, but it's possibly the only one that does it right (just enough stick). And the price makes for totally guilt-free snacking: Sashimi runs $1-2 a pop, and 6-piece a la carte rolls cost no more than $4.95. 420 Highland Ave, Porter Square (617-625-0400,

Score the perfect scone at Petsi Pies
These treatsmiths' offerings range from sweet potato pies to coconut cupcakes, all baked close to perfection. But Petsi's greatest accomplishment may be the well-calculated crumble of their enormous and beloved scones—not too moist, not too dry. Popular flavors include blackberry ginger, key lime and lemon; since they’re only $2 each, you should probably get two, just to be safe. 285 Beacon St, Porter Square (617-661-7437,

Catch a matinee at Somerville Theatre
Remember when you could go to the movies without blowing your weekly meal budget? The Somerville Theatre is cutting moviegoers some slack with old-school matinee prices. For $5 (essentially the cost of a bottle of water at most major movie theaters), you can catch an early big-screen showing of a newly released film. You might find yourself in the middle of an AARP group outing, but it's worth it. 55 Davis Square (617-625-5700,

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