I need help making a list of the absolute best relatively inexpensive restaurants in the area. I have a friend visiting from Idaho in March and he doesn't understand what there is to get excited about when it comes to food. He has never eaten at a non-chain restaurant (generally due to lack of availability) and his favorite place to eat is Taco Bell. While he is here I want to show him that paying even a little bit more than you would at places like Applebee's can yield exponentially better results if you are eating real food. I am also trying to demonstrate Boston's diversity relative to Idaho (although this obviously won't be difficult) so I am trying to generate a list with a wide variety of types of food.
The only major requirements are that we will pay less than $30 per person (total) and it has a menu that will push his boundaries without being inaccessible while at the same time keeping me and our friend from Portland, Oregon happy. Restaurant Week is off the table though. I live on the Somerville/Cambridge line but I am looking at places in Boston too.
I have some ideas but input would be helpful-
--Roxy's Grilled Cheese (he thinks food from a truck is automatically scuzzy)
--Toscaninis for something sweet (Burnt Caramel ftw)
--Bartley's Burger Cottage (Distinctly American food without being limited to bacon and cheddar)
--Friendly Toast (mostly I just love how much avocado they put on their huevos racheros)
--Clover (because vegetarian does not equal hippie)
--Somewhere in Chinatown for dim sum
--Something Italian (although the North End can be such a tourist trap I am thinking of just going to Capone's and cooking at home)
--Seafood (I don't eat fish so I am at a loss on this one)
--Something Middle Eastern (because everybody can get excited about meat on a stick)
Bonus points for high quality holes in the wall.
Thanks in advance!