Five Boston Restaurant Trends of 2016

2016: the year of the modified noun?

As part of our 2016 Top New Restaurants feature, we looked at a few of the year’s most popular trends. Have you seen any of these recurring motifs around town?

copper pineapple cocktail service

2016: The Year of the
Copper-Pineapple Cocktail Service

Fruited-cocktail mavens once endured blasé drinking vessels, from gourds to plastic cups to fine-quality glassware that failed to accentuate the libation’s specialness. Happily, 2016 saw restaurants going legit on the pineapple-mixology front, making copper goblets in the shape of tropical fruit de rigueur. The conductive metal keeps drinks colder, and the eye-popping exterior assures the world you’re piña-proud.

modified noun hosted restaurant name

2016: The Year of the
Modified Noun and/or Hosted Restaurant Name

Law-firm-style ampersanding (i.e., Alden & Harlow) has nearly run its course. This year, we’ve been flocking to places with simple-noun monikers, preceded by a straightforward adjectival descriptor. We want our donkeys little, our hens fat, our girls saltie, and our diners little-big. Even better: a restaurant within a restaurant—or a hotel, or a pool hall—using an @ sign for subtweet-y cred. Bonus for a host whose name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue when affixed to yours. That’s right. Welcome to Chubbie Rat @ Chez Other Venue. Your crudo steward will seat you now.

standalone menus

2016: The Year of the
Standalone Menus

Restaurants once signaled strength in a category by dedicating a prominent section of the menu to it. Nowadays, anything less than a discrete physical document screams rank amateur. The year’s standout standalone? A tie between tinned fish and crudo. But we distinctly recall juggling separate rosters for Venetian tapas, raw bar, and deep-tracks absinthe—some of them more distinctly than others.

well-lit dining rooms

2016: The Year of the
Well-Lit Dining Room

The dramatic, nightclubby darkness that ruled the ’90s (then lingered mightily) is on its way out, eclipsed by a decidedly brighter ambiance more conducive to Instagram photography—and parsing multiple standalone menus with aplomb. Besides, now that everything under the sun defaults to a shareable small plate, we could all use a clearer look under the hood.

homey cupboard scapes

2016: The Year of the…
Homey Cupboard-Scape

Nothing conveys homespun authenticity quite like a meticulously staged wall of backlit shelves showcasing a panic room’s worth of provisions. Mismatched Mason jars brimming with dried beans, pickled vegetables, and DIY cred. Tins of luxe seafood, stackable and newly trendy. Aesthetics aside, there’s wisdom to keeping key ingredients at arm’s length—provided the “décor” ever gets worked into the menu.

Illustrations by the Ellaphant in the Room


See more from our 2016 Top New Restaurants feature.