Eat Here Now: Boston’s 10 Hottest Restaurants
Where to go (and what to eat) to discover the buzziest dining scenes in the city.
Devoted foodies and restaurant newbies love The Feed. Sign-up now for our twice weekly newsletter.
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 ranked list of the 50 best restaurants in Boston.) [Hottest list updated: June 4, 2019]
Okay, okay. This open-air courtyard, flush with storefronts, isn’t a restaurant itself. But it’s full of ’em: from the intimate, communal explorations of Filipino cuisine offered at Tanám, to the standout seafood sandwiches at Hooked Fish Shop. And thirsts are well-slaked by the craft beers at Remnant Brewing and all-natural wines poured at Rebel Rebel. Bow Market’s not new, but with warmer weather finally (!) upon us, it’s definitely the hot pick for an array of options to enjoy al fresco.
Try this: Hot Box specializes in juicy roast beef sandwiches and perfectly crisped bar pizzas (especially Dat Roni, topped with pepperoni and feta), turning the Bay State’s affectionate North Shore-South Shore rivalry into a food fight where everyone wins.
Hot tip: It’s always worth stopping by Buenas for its empanadas and other South American-oriented goodies, but make a particular point to visit on Monday evenings. That’s when the spot hosts Hot Noods, chef Rachel Miller’s current iteration of her pop-up Nightshade, until that project establishes its permanent home in Lynn later this year.
1 Bow Market Way, Somerville, bowmarketsomerville.com.
Fox & the Knife
We had been waiting with bated breath for Top Chef alum Karen Akunowicz to launch her first self-owned venture in South Boston. (To be fair, the James Beard award-winner only left her Myers+Chang post last June; we were just, like, really eager.) Her enoteca finally opened in February, and the 80-seat, aperitivo-oriented hangout is definitely proving popular with those seeking interesting wines and exciting Italian plates. It’s even gained national attention, scoring a slot on the first-ever ranked list of America’s best new restaurants from Food & Wine.
Try this: Akunowicz perfected her pasta-making skills while working in Modena, Italy, and it shows with selections like the spaghetti with clams, spiked with vibrant saffron.
Hot tip: The wine list, offering 18 options by the glass and 20 by the bottle, was designed to showcase women winemakers— so sip around and discover something new.
28 W Broadway, Boston, 617-766-8630, foxandtheknife.com.
Gustazo Cuban Restaurant & Café
A (very deservedly) popular Cuban restaurant in Waltham has spawned an even larger, two-floor sibling near Cambridge’s Porter Square. Opened in March in the space that formerly housed the Elephant Walk, Gustazo is turning out dishes new spins on menu mainstays, like tostones tacos filled with braised duck, plus a full cocktail program (unique to this location) highlighting rums and devised by lauded local bar guru Sam Treadway. We’re grateful to have Gustazo even closer to home.
Try this: Super-fresh ceviche is light, bright, and feels perfect for springtime.
Hot tip: Keep on eye on Gustazo’s social media. Its Best of Boston award-winning brunch isn’t yet available in Cambridge, but will be soon.
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-714-5267, gustazo-cubancafe.com.
Hojoko is a perennial hotspot for hanging while in the Fenway neighborhood, but if it’s been a while since you’ve slammed sake at this kicky izakaya, know there’s an exciting new reason to visit: The Groove, a new Tokyo-style record bar that just took over the restaurant’s enclosed front porch. Besides bring-your-own vinyl nights, there are guest DJs, a lineup of live music, and Groove-exclusive snacks and sips–including tuna tataki with smoked chili ponzu; “kimcheezy” shoestring fries, topped with dashi-queso sauce and kimchi; and highball cocktails.
Try this: Irreverence abounds here. Hence the caviar-topped, Hello Kitty-shaped waffles. Yes, really. They’re one of our picks for must-try new dishes around town.
Hot tip: Always wanted a 1970-style, vinyl-stocked den of your very own? The Groove is available for private rentals.
1271 Boylston St., Boston, 617-670-0507, hojokoboston.com.
Downtown has scored a sleek—and sizable—new option for Japanese cuisine. Kamakura comes from chef Youji Iwakura (previously of Basho and Uni, among others), and spreads itself over three levels: from a ground-floor kaiseki bar offering two nightly seatings (5:30 and 8 p.m.) for elaborate tasting menus, to an all-seasons rooftop lounge (named Kumo) for sipping sake while surrounded by stunning city views. We’re glad Iwakura went so big for his debut self-owned venture.
Try this: When you don’t have time for an extensive omakase experience, know that bento boxes of poke, sashimi and more are available for busy lunch crowds— and delivery service is launching soon.
Hot tip: Iwakura believes his may be the first Boston restaurant to serve Koshu wines, a delicate variety made from white grapes from the Yamanashi region of Japan.
150 State St., Boston, 617-377-4588, kamakuraboston.com.
Chef-owner Michael Scelfo completed a Harvard Square hat trick with the opening of Longfellow Bar, a two-floor hangout—with seasonal roof deck—housed above his flagship restaurant, Alden & Harlow. (Its seafood-focused sibling, Waypoint, is just a few blocks away.) Emphasizing elevated finger foods and killer cocktails, Longfellow is the perfect place to stop for sophisticated shared snacks or a date-night drink— especially in the gorgeous upstairs, with its soaring vaulted ceiling.
Try this: Scelfo has offered a burger at each of his restaurants (and in fact, you can order Alden’s Burger here, too). Longfellow’s Burger may just be his best, a super-juicy beef patty topped with fermented Nardello peppers, grilled onions, and a tangy Tillamook cheddar spread.
Hot tip: Guests can reserve the three-seat chef’s counter with an inches-away view of the small kitchen— and if they do, Scelfo may just let them choose which records to spin for the night’s soundtrack.
40 Brattle St. #3 (above Alden & Harlow), Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-864-0001, longfellowharvard.com.
Night Shift Lovejoy Wharf
Cheers to the Everett-based craft beer-maker for getting adventurous and experimental at its recently-opened brewery, taproom, and restaurant on Boston’s West End waterfront. Co-owner Michael Oxton already told us that the Lovejoy Wharf location will focus on making small-batch beers, most of which will be unavailable elsewhere; they’ve also started roasting their own coffee for an all-day café component, and unleashed a creative full-service menu that baits diners with beer-infused food (say, pulled pork with a sour ale barbecue sauce).
Try this: Every brewpub needs a burger, and Night Shift satisfies by topping its beef patty with bacon and beer cheese made with its Nite Lite lager.
Hot tip: Our handy list of must-visit outdoor beer gardens, includes Night Shift’s Charles River-side “Owl Nests,” now back and bigger than before.
1 Lovejoy Wharf, Boston, 617-456-7687, nightshiftfamily.com/brewing.
Chef Colin Lynch and beverage director Ryan Lotz have graciously given the South End some tropics-inspired territory to find Tiki cocktails and cuisine that take ideas from the Pacific Rim: Thailand to Hawaii, Vietnam to the California coast. It’s a subterranean sanctuary located across the street from sibling spot Bar Mezzana, covered in jungle-evoking wallpaper and featuring tons of bar space for sipping on communal cocktails in funky mugs and other vessels.
Try this: Tandoori fish collar, large enough to serve two, finds the splendidly spiced fish cooled with silky yogurt and balanced by the awesome acid of pickled mangos.
Hot tip: Surprise! Shore Leave is home to a “secret” sushi bar, No Relation, offering omakase at just nine ticketed seats. Check it out.
11 William E. Mullins Way at Harrison Ave., South End, 617-530-1775, shoreleaveboston.com
Tony & Elaine’s
North End restaurateur Nick Frattaroli brings fresh energy to an oft-old-fashioned neighborhood. Frattaroli’s latest, named for his parents (longtime local servers), tosses a vintage-kitsch filter over a snapshot of a traditional, red sauce-soaked Italian-American joint. The result is a fun destination for the kind of nostalgia-inducing comfort food nonna does best–but chef Eric Bunogurio delivers darn well, too.
Try this: The meatballs took top honors in their category at the North End’s last Fisherman’s Feast.
Hot tip: The reception to Tony & Elaine’s has been so positive, Frattaroli decided to use its Italian-American concept as the foundation for a more elevated idea. The result: Ciao Bella and North Square Oyster Bar, now open in the North End.
111 N Washington St., Boston, 617-580-0321, tonyandelaines.com.
This glitzy, global izakaya brand just docked its 12th location inside the Four Seasons One Dalton tower—the tallest residential building in New England—and the scene is already humming. Fashionable, well-heeled types are eagerly warming the seats at the main bar, stocked with a 70-deep selection of sake; intimate stone sushi counter; and centerpiece robata grill, where everything from skewered scallops to Wagyu beef is lightly licked by the charcoal flames. The dining room is also home to an elevated DJ booth, which offers the space a gentle, sexy thump as the night rolls on.
Try this: Grilled koji chicken with ginger soy and Japanese pickles is a tender, juicy, and heavenly introduction to the robata program.
Hot tip: Zuma has become known for its boozy, bottomless brunch in other markets, so keep an eye out for when that weekend service launches later this year–and to see how the brand adapts the lavish spread for Boston, where all-you-can-drink extravaganzas are, regrettably, not an option. (Damn the man!)