Six Boston Restaurants We’d Love to See Turn into Chains
They haven't blown up (yet), but we're hoping these spots serving Brazilian hot dogs, Indian dosa, and more really explode.
To a lot of foodies, “chain” is a dirty word synonymous with “quantity over quality.” Poppycock. Plenty of fast-casual restaurants, in particular, have proven they can replicate at volume the same excellent eats they served when they were single-location outfits. With that in mind, here are some small businesses we’d love to see go big across the city or beyond—they’d rep (and feed) us well.
What the world needs now is love, sweet love. In the absence of that, though, we will also gratefully accept more outlets for obtaining Brazilian-style hot dogs, which come loaded with mashed potatoes, peas, corn, potato sticks, and (nearly) anything else you can imagine. Obviously, we have great affection for Love Dog Hot Dog, a food truck that just earned Best of Boston kudos for purveying such franks—that said, new Natick restaurant Hot Doogy already has down pat the kind of fast-casual format that could lead a whole pack of spiffy storefronts.
1300 Worcester St., Natick, 774-231-4177, hotdoogy.com.
Considering how hard it is to find fast-casual outfits that are gluten-free across the board, we’re surprised that some rainmaker hasn’t yet grown Grainmaker larger than its two existing locations. (And no, two does not a chain make. The Boston Hospitality Review agrees.) There’s no wheat or dairy in sight when the place loads its Celiac-friendly bowls with rice, noodles, or greens, plus vibrantly flavored, Southeast Asian-inspired fixings like sweet-chili shrimp, lemongrass steak, pickled veggies, and zippy sauces such as spicy hoisin. It takes cross-contamination, meanwhile, entirely off the menu.
91 Summer St., Boston, 617-482-0131; 248 Elm St., Somerville, eatgrainmaker.com.
Charcuterie bored, amirite? (Groan.) Sure, you could keep spreading cured meats and artisan cheese across decorative wooden planks (zzz), but those at-home boards have nothing on the build-your-own takeout boxes that this operation lets you fill with sweet basil chicken sausage, truffle salami, goat cheese, olives, jams, and more. Even better? Roll on over for charcuterie cones, totable bouquets of deliciousness that are particularly handy for bringing, say, on a picnic. It’s a smart concept off to a strong start: The original Beacon Hill location only opened in June, and already spawned an outpost at Time Out Market in the Fenway.
83 Charles St., Boston, 617-870-4151, kured.co.
Not since the early days of Clover have we been so excited by a fast-casual vegan—sorry, plant-based—concept as this. Southie’s Lulu Green has everything it takes to flourish outside of the neighborhood: bright, cheery environs, friendly service, and a lovely cafe menu that covers good ground without getting unfocused. Keep an eye out for the seitan tacos with pickled veggies and harissa mayo, the BBQ cauliflower sandwich with muhammara and more in saj bread, seasonal soups, and more. There are morning pastries, grab-and-go foods, and juices too, from tangerine tea punch to an iced spiced sesame latte.
246 W Broadway, South Boston, 617-420-4070, lulugreen.com.
The latest fast-casual joint to join the many in the Seaport is Madras Dosa, and the Indian restaurant is making no bones about wanting to go big: It’s promoting franchise opportunities on its website. Here’s hoping somebody bites soon, because the more locations, the faster we’ll be able to nosh our way through the 30-plus varieties of dosa. These thin crepes of fermented rice and lentil batter are dipped in chutneys and curries, or stuffed with selections both savory (upma, a polenta-like porridge) and sweet: think Nutella in a dosa. Need we say more?
55 Boston Wharf Rd., Boston, 857-233-5188, madrasdosaco.com.
Tahaza Hummus Kitchen
Make-your-own Mediterranean bowls have been pretty popular in these parts in recent years. Somehow, though, Tahaza Hummus Kitchen seems to have flown under the radar—at least, more than most. That’s probably because it’s secreted away in a East Cambridge, surrounded mainly by innovation-industry offices. Because anywhere else, its exceptional house made hummus alone—served in seasonal varieties like spicy harissa and cilantro jalapeño—would merit more attention, never mind after it’s been amped up with add-ins like Moroccan spiced beef, lemon za’atar chicken, cumin pickled carrots, Sriracha tahini sauce, and more.
1 Canal Park, Cambridge, 857-259-6960, tahaza.com.