Lindsay crudele is a boston-based writer and communication strategist. Her writing explores our culture through food. 

On the Cheap: Maximo's Takeout (Boston Phoenix)

On the Cheap: Maximo's Takeout (Boston Phoenix)

Somewhere between the sub and the home-cooked supper, Maximo's Takeout offers salvation for the overbooked. These budget-priced fresh meals supply yet another entry into Watertown's growing culinary arsenal, and I don't mean the eponymous mall.

The menu is unfussy American with a mostly Mediterranean flair: think straightforward, nutritious fare perfect for a weeknight. Appetizers include roasted tomato bruschetta ($4.99), topping toast rounds with bright, concentrated tomatoes. Dumplings with ginger sauce ($4.99) offered delicate steamed wrappers around a simple filling of juicy, aromatic ground pork. Turkey burgers ($7.99) tend to set the bar low, serving more often as a substitute for those avoiding red meat, but Maximo's does them right, mixing tabouleh with the meat, adding earthy goat cheese and what they brand their "special spice blend." The cumin-laced burger, spread with djajiki (yogurt and cucumber sauce), marries well with the accelerated acidity of grilled tomato. Instead of French fries, Maximo's adds rough-diced paprika-rubbed potato home fries.

Maximo's is often one protein shake away from a bodybuilder's paradise, its menu a parade of steaks. Cilantro lime grilled tuna ($10.99) turned up a hearty cut of juicy, char-grilled fish with a blushing pink center. Fresh sides (all $2.49) — like diced and sautéed kale, redolent of cumin, and a cold quinoa salad spangled with black beans, tomato, and onion— tasted homemade. Sandwiches include Maximo's version of a BLT ($6.49), a somewhat schizophrenic cross between a breakfast sandwich and a BLT, including both a fried egg and lettuce. The heat wilts the greens, but the egg was an explosive delight, layered with mild, melted cheddar, thick slices of bacon, and sliced "country white" bread grilled to a right and proper crisp. While nothing stops you from making like the name suggests and taking dinner to go, Maximo's Takeout is also perfectly pleasant for eating in. The staff is earnest and accommodating; we even received table service. Both vegetarian and gluten-free eaters may request modifications.

How high do we aspire to dine on a busy weeknight? The flavors aren't new, but the variety injects some life into the price point. With a menu of lean proteins, whole grains, and fresh vegetables, Maximo's Takeout offers a high-quality alternative to the substandard sub roll.

This review originally appeared in the Boston Phoenix, April 11, 2013..

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