Eat Here Now: Boston’s 10 Hottest Restaurants
A global star chef's famous pita pockets, an eye-popping temple of American Chinese cuisine, and a homey hotspot serving fab Peruvian cuisine.
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Where to eat tonight? It can be hard to keep up with knowing where the buzz is, so we’ve gathered a few of the most notable additions to the dining scene here, as well as established spots that are giving us exciting reasons to return right now. Keep coming back here for regular updates, and new inspiration on where to get dinner tonight. [Updated April 29, 2022]
Top Chef All Star Karen Akunowicz continues to raise the bar on Italian in Boston: Bar Volpe opened in Southie during the tail-end of last year, and it has managed to sustain its buzzy into spring. Set just steps from the James Beard Award winner’s first hit spot, Fox & the Knife, Volpe (“fox” in Italian) looks to the southern part of the Boot; there’s an emphasis on wood-fired fare—such as grilled fish for Sardinian paella—and pasta, of course. In fact, Akunowicz’s bagged brand of Fox Pasta even has its own small market space here. Meanwhile, the 25-seat Art Deco bar, a marble-topped former Airstream, is a fine place to tuck away for a Negroni and a snack.
170 W Broadway, South Boston, 617-865-7100, barvolpe.com.
Speaking of sustained energy: We’ll soon retire Contessa from this list, just to make way for more newcomers. But the truth is, a solid 10 months since opening, it is still the place where everyone wants to geotag themselves on Instagram. (If you’re wondering, the Clarendon filter does wonders for sumptuous pastas, fancified pizzas, and signature Florentine-style steak for two.) It certainly helps that this glitzy, Old Europe-inspired rooftop restaurant at the Newbury Hotel is outfitted with a glass roof and retractable walls of windows overlooking the Public Garden. Plus, it’s the debut Boston restaurant from the aptly named Major Food Group, whose portfolio includes Michelin-starred restaurants all over the map. They’ve now stuck a pin in Burlington, Mass., too—that’s where Major just opened the first of two Boston-area locations of Parm, its more casual Italian-American concept. The second Parm will open at Copley Place in June.
3 Newbury St., Boston, 617-536-5700, thenewburyboston.com/dine/contessa.
Coquette is a flirty hotspot inside the Seaport’s new Omni hotel, and it comes via the hit-making COJE group, the hospitality team behind similarly stunning, electric-feeling operations like Yvonne’s and Mariel. This entry sees culinary director Tom Berry turn his attention to various interpretations of “coastal French”-oriented recipes. That means a baked stuffed lobster with creamy camembert sauce, sure, but it also means supple lamb meatballs with orange-date glaze and harissa chili oil, among the nods to France’s relationship with North Africa, as well as a coconut-lime tuna crudo inspired by French Polynesia. The interior pops with pretty pastels, and its big, beautiful bar pours excellent cocktails like the Life in Pink: London dry gin with raspberry syrup and a bit of Brut Rosé.
450 Summer St., Boston, 617-419-8140, frenchcoquette.com.
This stylish, just-opened addition to Newbury Street comes from owner George Aboujaoude, the same name behind downtown’s Bijou nightclub and the Seaport’s always-bumping and boisterous Greek restaurant, Committee. Eva, meanwhile, inhabits the former address of Aboujaoude’s Cafeteria, which kept its spacious patio—one of the best in the Back Bay—filled with pretty people for years. Now Eva’s similarly outdoorsy interior, outfitted with hand-woven raffia chandeliers and leafy wall coverings, brings buzzy crowds into the dining room; the menu of Mediterranean-leaning plates (lamb chops over garlic labneh with mint chimichurri) and cocktails (sangria, please!) will keep them coming back.
279a Newbury St., Boston, 617-546-5155
Co-owners (and couple) Maria Rondeau and chef JuanMa Calderón got their foothold in the food world by hosting pop-up Peruvian dinner parties at their Somerville home, so it’s no surprise that their subsequent restaurants feel like intimate gatherings with friends: First came Somerville’s acclaimed Celeste, followed by Esmeralda in Vermont, a dining destination for traditional communal suppers. Now La Royal has opened, named for the very street where these highly genial hosts got their start. Twice the size of Celeste yet still uncommonly intimate, it is a “more varied and ambitious” sibling. Here, alongside a bevy of creative Pisco cocktails, Calderón pull out showstoppers that include a number of chifa (Chinese-Peruvian) plates: Try the steamed blue cod with XO sauce, bok choy, aji, snow peas, and more, for one.
221 Concord Ave., Cambridge, 617-823-1595, laroyalcambridge.com.
Speaking of homey dinner experiences, chef Shi Mei has said he wanted guests to feel like they were eating in his home kitchen at Lenox Sophia in Southie. Well, mission accomplished. The pint-sized spot has only a handful of seats, including four counter seats assembled at the open kitchen, where guests watch Mei craft prix fixe menus of “casual fine dining,” like the buttermilk fried quail with Thai basil and ajo blanco, or Rhode Island squid with red curry and bottarga. Bonus: It’s one of Boston’s few BYOB establishments, so you can bring over a typically-splurge-level bottle of wine at a lower, liquor-store price.
87 A St., South Boston, 617-597-2170, lenoxsophia.com.
Israeli celeb chef Eyal Shani has turned the humble pita into a superstar with Miznon, his much-heralded fast-casual chain with locations in Paris, Vienna, NYC—and now, Boston, where it opened in the Seaport in April. The uncommonly plush, fluffy pockets are here filled with decidedly nontraditional ideas: ratatouille, beef stew with pickles, a cheddar-cheeseburger with garlic aioli and sour cream. Miznon may be an international sensation, but there’s still one thing only our Hub location has: a fish ‘n’ chips pita, of course, with parsley and a pleasantly vinegary bite.
107 Seaport Blvd., Boston, 857-284-7672, miznonnyc.com.
Big news in the ‘burbs: Nomai, a splashy new restaurant from the team behind Chinatown’s perennially cool Shōjō, just landed at Hingham’s Derby Street shops. The place looks like a million bucks, swathed in soothing wood tones and teeming with red-leafed Japanese maple trees. The Asian cuisines-brushed New American food, meanwhile, is as delicious as it looks (and plates like wood-fired snap peas with black garlic romesco, or lemongrass filet mignon with corn riblets, look really damn good). In keeping with Shōjō’s famously strong bar program, Nomai should lure even downtowners to the South Shore with one of the Boston area’s largest selections of Japanese whiskey.
94 Derby St. (Derby Street Shops), Hingham, nomaihingham.com.
Superstar chef and Hell’s Kitchen hothead Gordon Ramsay arrived in January with his first Hub restaurant. Though assuredly some folks will show up just because of the famous name, it’s nice to discover that it’s actually a solid greatest-hits collection of the famously fiery, Michelin-starred chef’s signature dishes, such as his beef Wellington with red wine demi and braised lamb shank with saffron farro. The chic blue and white dining room takes over the ground-floor space at the Back Bay’s Mandarin Oriental hotel, which used to belong to yet another famous toque: Daniel Boulud, whose Bar Boulud shuttered early in the pandemic-times.
774 Boylston St. (Mandarin Oriental), Boston, 857-289-0771, ramsayskitchen.com.
Between the wide, wild menagerie of tiki-cocktail mugs and lush, highly detailed design elements inspired in part by Pacific Rim-region temples, Wusong Road looks a bit like Saugus’s beloved Kowloon restaurant as reimagined by an alum of, say, Barbara Lynch’s fancy Menton. That’s probably because, well, it’s a tribute to the storied American Chinese restaurant genre from an alum of Barbara Lynch’s fancy Menton: Chef Jason Doo, now concocting cool takes on category staples such as crab rangoon (here stuffed with house made cream cheese) and Spam musubi (little nori-wrapped sandwiches of canned pork on sushi rice and an egg omelet). The place is fun and affordable; Doo, who grew up watching his parents run a Chinese restaurant in Malden, doesn’t go all-in on fine dining. He does, though, raise the bar on rum-soaked drinks and the dishes that go with them.
112 Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge, 617-528-9125, wusongroad.com.