Eat Here Now: Boston’s 10 Hottest Restaurants
Where to go (and what to eat) to discover the buzziest dining scenes in the city.
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Feeling torn about where to eat tonight? Allow us to focus your reservation-clicking finger on a curated list of the buzziest bars and restaurants in Boston right now— both brand-new joints and established favorites giving us new reasons for return visits. (For more established favorites, you can also check out our brand-new, ranked list of the 50 best restaurants in Boston.) [Hottest list updated: November 8, 2019]
Banners Kitchen & Tap
Boston is not short on sports bars. But Banners’ opening was still big news—literally. The TD Garden-side behemoth seats about 600, is now home to New England’s largest LED television (in case you want to watch the Bruins on a 39.5-foot screen), and even tapped Jackson Cannon, one of Boston’s biggest bar legends, to design a cocktail menu with classed-up offerings for a high-volume sports bar. (See: the Legends Way, a served-on-draft dose of Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Cinzano Vermouth, Cynar, and Campari.) The food is lightly polished pub-grub, from beer can chicken to oyster platters to peppery, maple-glazed pork belly bacon that arrives hanging on a miniature clothesline. Bonus: Banners is one of the few spots in Massachusetts to find Topgolf Swing Suites, reservable rooms where guests play through immersive simulations of golf, hockey, zombie dodgeball, and other games.
At the Hub on Causeway, 82 Causeway St., Boston, 617-263-8200, bannerskitchenandtap.com.
Colin Lynch, our most recent Best of Boston honoree in the General Excellence chef category, has added another buzzy branch to his network of South End restaurants. Black Lamb is an American brasserie that joins Lynch’s coastal Italian outfit, Bar Mezzana; Shore Leave, which specializes in Pacific Rim-inspired eats and tiki cocktails; and No Relation, a pint-size omakase operation inside Shore Leave. At Black Lamb, a modern American brasserie, you’ll find elevated comfort food with Continental undertones (we love the duck breast frites with orange béarnaise), nifty cocktails, and raw bar bites.
571 Tremont St., Boston, 617-982-6330, blacklambsouthend.com.
Guy Fieri’s Tequila Cocina
Boston has its first Guy Fieri restaurant, and it’s impossible to deny that the king of “trashcan nachos” has arrived with a splash. His Latin street food-inspired hangout is a partnership with Big Night Entertainment, the team behind a portfolio of high-energy Boston restaurants and Connecticut-casino nightspots. And Fieri’s Tequila Cocina is co-located with Big Night Live, a bumping new concert hall at the Hub on Causeway complex that is attention-grabbing in its own right. But more than anything, Fieri’s (often, oddly polarizing) personality is the thing that’ll bring all sorts through the doors of this just-opened joint: earnest fans of the Food Network star, good-humored hipsters having an ironic night out, and those genuinely curious to decide for themselves whether Fieri’s signature “Donkey Sauce” is justifiably famous (or actually tastes like ass). It’s got celebrity, shtick—and over 100 tequilas.
110 Causeway St., Boston, 617-896-5222, guyscocina.com.
Boston does not exactly abound with options for Georgian cuisine. Enter Ilona, which covers underrepresented territory via mezze-style plates, boldly spiced and bearing influences from other Eastern European and Middle Eastern traditions. (Make friends with the shish barak, a big purse of phyllo dough stuffed with lamb and onions, drizzled with yogurt sauce and studded with pine nuts.) The lovely room lures similarly pretty people, who contribute to an energetic din of glass-clinking and South End-gossip swapping. Georgian wines, currently enjoying a stateside moment but still relatively rare to find highlighted in Boston, are celebrated here. So check out the selection and sip something new.
783 Tremont St., Boston, 617-207-7742, ilonasouthend.com.
Meet Mariel, your new destination for contemporary Cuban-inspired cuisine. She’s arrived inside a former Financial District bank—looking sultry and swanky, in her distressed Caribbean-rococo way. She’s cut from the same cloth as a few other hotspot-restaurants: Yvonne’s, Ruka, and Lolita. This time, COJE Management Group’s culinary director Tom Berry has come up with sharp-looking, shareable plates like five-spice lamb belly with hoisin BBQ and hot sesame broccoli; plantain dumplings with garlic-brown butter and aji picante sauce; and Cuban-style street pizzas topped with crumbled chorizo and grilled chicken adobo. Gorgeous cocktails, many rum-based, flow. Already, there’s a DJ booth in the sofa-speckled lounge; soon, a lower-level nightclub will open too.
10 Post Office Square, Boston, 617-333-8776, marielofficial.com.
We’re not bashful about our excitement over Shy Bird, where Branch Line cofounder Andrew Holden expands on the kind of rotisserie cooking that turns out the signature chickens at his latter restaurant in Watertown. Shy Bird, meanwhile, brings tender and juicy birds to Kendall Square—alongside lovingly burnished rotisserie lamb, pork, beef, and cauliflower. It’s an all-day restaurant, kicking things off with breakfast bowls, egg sandwiches, and pastries; moving on to a lunch menu that fills sandwiches with those deftly spit-roasted meats; and augmenting its dinner menu with other tasty morsels from chef Matt Garland, including clam toast, honey lemon-pepper wings, and a sugar snap pea salad that is also a Branch Line hit. At Shy Bird, guests order at the counter—then servers fly by tables delivering the goods, including cocktails like the Shy Lady, a hibiscus-scented gin and tonic.
1 Broadway, Cambridge, 617-714-4200, shybird.com.
We fell in love with Sarah Wade’s crafty takes on comfort food at Lulu’s in Allston. Now the winner of the Food Network’s Chopped Gold Medal Games has moved into the space that formerly housed Townsman—and she’s filling her first venture as a chef-owner with blue cheese-thyme biscuits accompanied by chicken drippings butter, jelly doughnut-inspired creme brûlée, and an outrageously delicious chicken fried ribeye with peppered cream gravy and cherry pepper relish. (Don’t miss weekly-changing “brown bag” lunches, which are great for grab-and-go.) Though it’s on the ground-floor of the Radian luxury apartment building, Stillwater offers people-pleasing, finessed fun with moderate price points—just the kind of thing its nook of downtown needs.
120 Kingston St., Boston, 617-936-3079, stillwaterboston.com.
Nightshade Noodle Bar
Fans of chef Rachel Miller’s Best of Boston-winning pop-up, rejoice! She now has a permanent home for her Vietnamese-American project, and it’s just a skip away in Lynn. The intimate, 30-seat space, adorned with a lovely tropical-flora mural, is where to find Nightshade’s signature noodles—say, a bowl of bun chay, a vermicelli noodle salad with roasted squash, pea tendrils, smoked raisins, and cumin-coconut nuoc cham. But there’s also a handful of other offerings, including banh mi; brunch plates, such as sticky rice Benedict with curry hollandaise; and cocktails like the Indochine Queen, a tincture of rum, curry-apricot, lime, and elderflower. We bow, your highness.
73 Exchange St., Lynn, 781-780-9470, nightshadenoodlebar.com.
“It’s kind of reversing the trope—if the women were gangsters, not just the nonnas all the time.” That’s how star chef Tiffani Faison described Orfano to Boston back in August—and now that it’s open, she’s making good on the promise. The sleek yet slightly cheeky Italian-American restaurant, her fourth in the Fenway neighborhood, adorns its walls with photos of kickass women (look, it’s Lady Gaga!) and stresses female leadership in creative culinary director Michele Carter (previously of Barbara Lynch’s empire), Dee Steffen Chinn, our just-anointed Best Pastry Chef in Boston, and general manager Nicole Valva. The result: rat pack-pleasing plates like luscious lobster bucatini in a brown butter-lobster sauce, dry-aged steaks, and tuna “martini”—carpaccio spruced with Gordal olives and Vermouth-enhanced lemon puree. The martini cart, meanwhile, pours perfect renditions of the drink table-side.
1391 Boylston St., Boston, 617-916-9600, orfanoboston.com.
The latest project from the Lyons Group, one of Boston’s most established hospitality teams, is a total retooling of the two-floor space that formerly housed Towne Stove & Spirits—and it’s a super-buzzy addition to Back Bay. The all-day restaurant has a 60-seat cafe component, a tin-ceilinged, terrazzo-tiled option for light breakfast and lunch fare, plus La Colombe coffee drinks; a sexy, copper-fronted ground-floor bar for preening over cocktails and smaller bites; and a frisky-feeling upstairs dining room, where Lyons culinary director Nick Calias and executive chef Matt Gaudet are responsible for contemporary riffs on French cuisine. We’re talking wood-grilled lobster frites, oysters à la Bourguignonne with garlic butter, and a massive seafood bouillabaisse that is sized for table-sharing.
900 Boylston St., Boston, 617-247-0400, rochambeauboston.com.