Weekly Digest: A Korean Kiosk Brings Bibimbap to Kendall Square, and More Must-Know Food News

Plus, discover the local hard seltzers that scored international best-of awards, and other newsworthy leads on what to eat and drink right now.

It’s a busy time to be a food lover in Boston. Here, an easily digestible roundup of the restaurant news stories you need to know to have a delicious week. (And if you missed last week’s Digest, check it out here.)

Photo courtesy of Blue Bottle Coffee

Blue Bottle Coffee Opens on Newbury Street

A big name in artisan coffee has debuted a cafe on Boston’s storied shopping street. California-born Blue Bottle Coffee has debuted its fifth local location on Newbury Street, set on the main level of a historic brick townhouse that was once owned by Civil War lieutenant colonel Augustus Pope. The Blue Bottle crew preserved details like large arched windows, exposed brick, and French oak flooring, and embraced the unique space with banquette seating and a standing coffee bar, along with a large communal table. Like Blue Bottle’s other local coffee shops in Harvard Square, the Financial District, inside the Prudential Center, and in Kendall Square, the Newbury location will serve up seasonally changing single-origin coffees and blends, alongside a menu of toasts and breakfast sandwiches. On December 21, Blue Bottle Newbury will host a “community day,” when all proceeds from the day’s sales support Conservation International, a leading American environmental nonprofit. It’s now open every day from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. In other Back Bay fast casual news, Clover Food Lab is now open in Copley Square.

163 Newbury St., Boston, bluebottlecoffee.com.

Bibim Box’s spicy chicken bibimbap. / Photo by Bonnie Rosenbaum

Bibim Box Begins a Long-Term Lunchtime Residency in Cambridge

The Commonwealth Kitchen kiosk in Kendall Square has welcomed its third long-term tenant: Bibim Box began a six-month residency on Monday, Dec. 9. The lunchtime-only walkup window is the first brick-and-mortar endeavor for Bibim Box owners Justin and Grace Won, who launched as a food truck in 2017 and are regulars on the Greenway and in Harvard Square. In Kendall Square, find Bibim Box’s full menu of Korean bibimbap bowls, noodle salads, and sandwiches, all with mix-and-match toppings like spicy chicken bulgogi pork, plus house-made kimchi and dressings. There are also seasonal specials, like udon noodle soup; and soft drinks including peach lemonade, Korean iced coffee, and unsweetened mint iced tea. The Commonwealth Kitchen kiosk (no relation to the nearby Commonwealth restaurant on Broad Canal Way) is a retail effort by Dorchester commissary kitchen and food business incubator, Commonwealth Kitchen. Home to many local food trucks, farmers’ market vendors, and other culinary operations without permanent homes, Commonwealth Kitchen launched the walkup window to give its established caterers a place to test out a scaled-up concept and build up their customer base, according to CWK executive director Jen Faigel. The most recent tenant was Jamaica Mi Hungry, which recently opened its own place in Jamaica Plain. Bibim Box is open daily from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. until June.

300B Athenaeum St. (across from 360 E. Kendall St.), Kendall Square, Cambridge, Facebook, commonwealthkitchen.org.

hard seltzer arctic summer cans

Photo by Jacqueline Cain

Boston Hard Seltzer Companies Clean Up at a National Tasting Competition

Home to hard several hard seltzer companies (including Truly, by Boston Beer Co.), the city of Boston helped fuel this year’s boozy bubbles craze—and now some of our local companies can claim the best cans in the business. Arctic Summer—a collaboration between the legends Polar Seltzer and Harpoon Brewery—and Willie’s Superbrew both recently scored medals at the 23rd annual Great International Beer, Cider, Mead & Sake Competition in Bridgeport, Conn., which added three hard seltzer flavor categories to its competition for the first time this year. Arctic Summer placed in all three categories: First place in “Berry” for its Spiked Black Cherry flavor, second in “Other” for its Pineapple Pomelo, and third in “Citrus” for Ruby Red Grapefruit. Willie’s—which is also celebrating a recent Forbes 30 Under 30 honor for cofounder Nico Enriquez—earned the gold for both its original sparkling ginger lemon and lime flavor (Citrus), and sparkling mango and passionfruit (Other). Many New England beer brands also placed at this year’s GIBCC, including first-place wins for Harpoon American IPA, Bad Martha’s Vineyard Ale, and Von Trapp Pilsner. Check out all the winners here, and pop open a refreshing hard seltzer tonight to celebrate our local libations.

JuanMa Calderon and Maria Rondeau of Celeste. / Photo provided

The Owners of Celeste Will Open Esmeralda in Vermont

On the dining scene these days, the only constant is change. Consider Celeste, one of our top 50 restaurants in Boston: owners Maria Rondeau and JuanMa Calderón told Eater Boston that within a few years, they plan to move on from the standout Peruvian party they created in Somerville (though they hope it will live on under the care of their staff). The couple has already started working on two new projects in Vermont: They purchased a 1940s diner in Bellows Falls, and a farmhouse in Andover, Vt., where they plan to open an inn and kitchen “lab.” At the diner, they will “put little touches of Peruvian things” on the breakfast and lunch menus, Calderón said, and launch a totally new dinner service. The inn and kitchen will be called Esmeralda, and host visiting chefs and monthly dinner parties. In the meantime, the fun continues at Celeste.

The dining room at Simjang

The dining room at Simjang. / Photos by Stephen Phillips / Photos by Stephen Phillips

Luci’s Taco Shop and Margarita Bar Will Take Over the Simjang Space in Worcester

Meanwhile, over in Worcester, there are changes afoot at Simjangthe Korean concept from the former Boston-area pros who left to open Central Mass. gem, Deadhorse Hill, in 2016. Simjang will move to an undisclosed, new location next year, and its bright and colorful Shrewsbury Street restaurant will transform into Luci’s Taco Shop and Margarita Bar. The taqueria will have more of a bar and late-night scene than Simjang, co-owner and chef Jared Forman told the Worcester Telegram. Luci’s will also have a wood-burning grill and make its own tortillas in-house. Simjang will remain open through December and Luci’s will debut in January; the team is keeping the colorful decor, and plans to update Simjang’s look for its new TBA location.