Restaurants

What You Need to Know About Boston Dining in 2018

In a fast-moving food scene, here are the people, pop-ups, and trends you should be following.


Boston’s dining scene is changing rapidly. From the rise of quality (key word) fast-casual restaurants to the proliferation of pop-ups and dining room-roving food carts, we offer a few nods to favorite operations contributing to the kinetic energy of a city in motion.

troquet on south cart

Photo by PJ Couture

Wheel Delicious

Not just for dim sum anymore, roving pushcarts make it easy to say, “I’ll have one of everything.”

Oysters, king crab legs, and wild prawns on ice (pictured) are wheeled around the dining room of Troquet on South, which also offers champagne and cheese carts.

Damian de Magistris delivers tastes and flights of grappa from a vintage cart at Il Casale Belmont, his family’s charmer inside a converted brick firehouse.

Retro-Americana newcomer Backyard Betty’s, in Southie, tosses chicken wings in an array of sauces at your seat for all-you-can-eat specials during Sunday games.

Tender, juicy prime rib from Somerville restaurant La Brasa’s signature wood-fired grill gets rolled out to your table and carved up right before your eyes.

stoked truck

Photo by Toan Trinh

Keep on Trucking

It takes a lot of work to keep our favorite curbside eateries running. Let’s speed through some eye-popping stats.

4,400: Pounds of juicy lobster sold by the seafood-focused Shuck Food Truck since 2016

1966: Model year of the original Tapped Beer Truck, a baby-blue Chevy step van repurposed to pour suds on the go

1,500: Pounds of garlic used in a year by the Chubby Chickpea, a food truck serving pita pockets and other Middle Eastern comfort foods

25,000: Number of dumplings hand-folded by Moyzilla, an Asian street-food truck, in a standard month

24: Cords of wood used annually to crisp crusts in the mobile oven of the Stoked Wood Fired Pizza Co. food truck

1,000: Pounds of kosher salt poured out last year by Pennypacker’s, purveyor of legendary porchetta sandwiches

3,000:
Number of scoops doled out each week by Frozen Hoagies, a food truck that treats customers to ice cream sandwiches featuring house-made cookies

Spyce

Photos by PJ Couture

The Fast-Casual Revolution

Low-fuss, high-quality: Here’s to the local mavericks changing the game for gourmet on-the-go grub.

Spyce. More evidence that our AI overlords may soon take over the world: This robot-run kitchen serving grain and veggie bowls downtown (pictured), which just closed $21 million in funding for a massive East Coast expansion plan.

Mei Mei. This siblings-founded Chinese-American joint serves exceptional scallion-pancake sandwiches with a side of social justice thanks to youngest sister Irene Li, a leader in hospitality-world issues such as equitable employment practices.

Saloniki Greek. Chef Jody Adams brought James Beard stature to the counter-service format with her growing pita project, whose just-opened Harvard Square location added a full bar and tablet-toting staffers to punch in additional orders.

Eventide Fenway. When Portland, Maine’s buzziest seafood spot brought its brown-butter lobster rolls to Boston, it affirmed that even top-tier full-service restaurants are embracing the fast-casual trend.

Left: Paddle Inn. Right: Oak + Rowan / Photos by PJ Couture

Outbound & Inbound

The Hub’s chefs are on the move, bringing sizzling citified concepts to the ’burbs—and vice versa.

OUTBOUND

The Paddle Inn. The team behind Trina’s Starlite Lounge in Somerville sailed to Newburyport with globe-trotting coastal cuisine.

Tonno. Chef Anthony Caturano, the big fish behind the North End’s Prezza, made a splash with Italian seafood in Gloucester and Wakefield.

Superfine Food. Chef Matt Gaudet, of Cambridge’s Freepoint Kitchen & Cocktails, focuses on stellar pizzas and comfort grub at three North Shore Superfine locations.

Inbound

Oak + Rowan. Restaurateur Nancy Batista-Caswell followed up Newburyport’s Ceia and Brine with this New American spot in Fort Point.

New City Microcreamery. Cambridge’s Central Square just scored the second location of a Hudson-founded scoop shop featuring quirky liquid-nitrogen-frozen flavors.

Woods Hill @ Pier 4. In 2019, the new Seaport tower gets a spinoff of local-foods advocate Kristin Canty’s Woods Hill Table in Concord.

Eat Sacrilicious is pioneering creative cannabis cuisine in Boston. / Photo by PJ Couture

Where It’s @

Follow our favorite pop-up restaurants of the moment to their next (temporary) home.

Eat Sacrilicious
@eatsacrilicious

What you won’t find: pot brownies. What you will find: cannabidiol-infused cocktails and more-distinguished dishes, like fluke crudo with pomegranate, at fashionable, stoner-stereotype-shattering dinner parties.

East Boston Oysters
@eastbostonoysters

Caviar-topped hot dogs wouldn’t be out of place at this outfit’s spirited, sporadic collaborations with guest chefs, brewers, and artists at Eastie locales announced 24 hours in advance.

Nightshade
@nightshadepopup

Chef Rachel Miller’s monthly dinners feature Vietnamese-American cuisine (think: clay-pot-cooked mackerel paired with biodynamic wines) in and around Lynn, plus a crawfish-focused Viet-Cajun side project.

Spoko
@spokofood

What could be a better pairing with breweries and farmers’ markets than funky Polish (emphasis on ish) street food—particularly house-made, marjoram-spiced pork shoulder kielbasa and pierogi stuffed with beer cheese?

Read more from our 2018 Top 50 Restaurants guide!