708 Commonwealth Ave. Boston; (617)536-8676 Mai’s is a longtime fixture on the Boston University campus, a place where both students and professionals are lunchtime regulars. It’s a bustling little place packed with tables (there are a couple just outside the door, if the weather is nice); call your order out at the counter, find a table if you can, and pick up the food.
Mai himself is usually cranking the orders out, a model of efficiency after all these years who still manages a smile amidst the din. He also makes a lot of the food himself. I got chicken soup today, he answers a patron. I got com chowder, I got beef barley, I got They’re all scrumptious.
Burgers are a big deal here, with several different varieties starting at $2.35 for a plain quarter pounder. For $3.60 there are six-ounce salsa and teriyaki burgers, and the half-pound Jughead tops the list at $3.95. All are made with fresh meat and come on an onion roll with lettuce, tomato, and a pickle. They’re drippy, messy, and wonderful. There are no French fries here (!); go for the homemade potato salad instead.
Mai’s opens up early for breakfast, and you can really stuff yourself with the Country Breakfast ($3.75) two eggs, pancakes, bacon, ham or sausage, toast, home fries and coffee. Hours are 6 a.m. to 6 pm. daily.