A JP comfort-food spot that's been around the block
Fill Belly's was a food-truck front-runner. The soul/comfort truck has been around the block — at sites around Boston University, Fenway, the Parkway area, and beyond over the past year — and has been feeding Bostonians since long before Ming Tsai and Todd English took their shows on the road. So as the wheels of the food truck turn, so does the cyclical nature of trends. Fill Belly's latest spin is a retro one: a brick-and-mortar storefront.
But the food truck can also be a test kitchen, and the new Jamaica Plain location is off to a strong start. When we visit, we ask what the sampler ($8) includes. It takes us twice as long as it should to order because we think we have misheard when told, "Everything" — every empanada, the chicken and waffles, the macaroni and cheese. There is no air conditioning; it is hot, and so is the food. We stare straight into the sun and tear apart the blistering batter of the fried chicken. Chef Boswell Scott — "Chef Bos" — serves an eponymous empanada called the Bosilito ($3). Flaky pastry surrounds several savory fillings. Tangy shredded salmon emits the heat of stray pepper seeds. Shredded curry chicken is salty and saffron-sunny. Ground beef is sweet and juicy. A spicy bean-and-pea empanada dotted with corn kernels omits meat. Waffles are delicious, fried very dark and scented with cinnamon spice, topped with a pair of batter-crusted drumsticks ($5). Macaroni and cheese ($4) is variously shaped pasta in curls of orange cheese, speckled with herb flecks and baked casserole-style, sliced into a brick. If this sounds arterially challenging, the "Mac 'N Soul Casserole" adds sweet potato and collards ($6).
Some edges are rough. The atmosphere — but for a mural, some paintings, and crisp new tulip tables — is spare; syrup comes in a single-serve disposable cup. Plates arrive just far enough apart that we notice the wait as we peer at each others' hot food. But the chef and his staff are warm and engaging. A companion remarks that he'd pay more for a vegetable option, but it's difficult to complain about an ample $6 meal. Check Twitter for specials, like a Bosilito with macaroni and cheese for $3. The prices are so low, I note that's what dinner would cost in the '90s. Maybe Chef Bos's next restaurant will come out on cassette.
Fill Belly's, located at 3381 Washington Street in Jamaica Plain, is open Tuesday–Saturday, 11 am–11 pm. Call 347.204.8466; follow on Twitter @fillbellysjp.
: On The Cheap
, Jamaica Plain, waffles, new, More