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The 10 Best Things We Ate in Boston in 2015

From meatballs to donuts, our picks for the year's best bites
December 7, 2015
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by Scott Kearnan

Another year, another spate of openings — and another bounty of plates all vying for our attention and hard-earned dining dollars. So, what were our favorite dishes of 2015? We've compiled the picks below. But taste is a matter of, well, taste. So let us know your favorite plates of the year in the comments section. 

10. Village Salad at Doretta Taverna & Raw Bar

What sorcery is Michael Schlow using to turn such a simple salad ($10) into something so surprisingly delicious? At Doretta, the Greek restaurant that replaced his longtime Italian Via Matta, there are many more complex dishes on the menu. But somehow this salad stands out. Maybe it's the vine-ripe tomatoes from a New Hampshire farm, the feta sourced straight from Greece or the fresh oregano Schlow grows himself. Who cares? The Village is the tastiest new salad in town.

79 Park Plaza; 617-422-0008

9. Cabeza Ahogada at Naco Taco

Despite its name, Naco's not quite the best new taco joint (keep scrolling for that). Actually, the standout here is a pig's head torta ($12), which stuffs six-hour-roasted meat alongside smoked bacon, avocado, tomatillo crema, cotija cheese and pickled onions. Then there's pickled-corn bread. It's also served drowned in a skillet of spicy guajillo chile broth. Co-owner Alex Tannenbaum made our just-released 30 Under 30 list of dining world hot shots too. 

297 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; 617-945-1548

8. Donuts at Blackbird Doughnuts

When it opened at the beginning of the year, Blackbird came soaring out of its South End nest with an awesome array of sweet and savory treats ($3). It's been impossible to keep up with the dozens (and dozens) of unique flavors created by bakery director Tara Bresnick, one of our most recent 30 Under 30 honorees. But we'll never forget falling head over heels for the blackberry-lavender (pictured), jalapeño-pear or coffee-bacon — each a sinfully spectacular way to start the morning. 

492 Tremont St.; 617-482-9000
 

7. Meatballs at Brewer's Fork

Though the wood-fired grill at Charlestown's brew-and-pizza-focused newcomer turns out some pretty impressive pies, the small-plates menu has a number of standouts: the best meatballs ($12) we've had in recent memory. These combine beef, pork and salami ends with bread soaked in milk and yogurt for a tangy, creamy quality. Designed for maximum tenderness, they're served in a hot skillet with tomato sauce and melted sheep's-milk cheese.

7 Moulton St., Charlestown; 617-337-5703

6. Quesadillas at Chilacates

It'd be very easy to overlook Chilacates, a closet-size, counter-service Mexican joint that opened in a quiet, residential corner of Jamaica Plain over the summer. Don't. The super-friendly service and ultra-fresh ingredients make it a big winner, from the tacos to the chicken and carne-asada-filled quesadilla. All are accompanied by flavorful housemade hot sauces. 

224 Amory St., Jamaica Plain; 617-522-6000

5. Ceviche at SELECT Oyster Bar

Former Neptune Oyster chef Michael Serpa has a number of hot winners at his new Back Bay hot spot, SELECT. But his selection of raw and chilled fruits de mer might best spotlight the commitment to quality. Particular favorites include the scallop ceviche ($16), treated with a citrus marinade of lime, shallot and cilantro. 

50 Gloucester St.; 857-239-8064

4. Burger at Hojoko

Is the Hojoko burger the best thing you'll find at this funky, Fenway-side izakaya, the kicky new sibling to fancy sushi icon O Ya? Maybe, maybe not. All the quirky Japanese grub here is, to use a highly technical phrase, freaking awesome. So, maybe you'd rather some "Spam" (read: foie gras) sushi rolls, or an excellent okonomiyaki with smoky bacon and truffle Kewpie. But the burger ($14), a chuck and Wagyu short-rib patty topped with American cheese, dashi pickles and a spectacular "special sauce," is most emblematic of Hojoko's overall approach. It's seriously great food that doesn't take itself seriously. 

​1271 Boylston St.; 617-670-0507

3. N'awlins Shrimp Toast at BISq

At Bergamot's new small-plates-focused sibling, chef Dan Bazzinotti doesn't play by the rules. Cuisine boundaries blur, creative liberties are taken — and the results are mostly marvelous. Case in point: this Southern-inspired spin on shrimp toast ($8), which takes the dim sum staple and kicks up the heat with vibrant barbecue style that pays homage to one of Bazzinotti's first gigs (a post-culinary-school internship at Brennan's in New Orleans).

1071 Cambridge St., Cambridge; 617-714-3693

2. Whole Chicken at The Backroom at Moody's

Oh, mercy. Thanks to Moody's Delicatessen, chef Joshua Smith's top-notch market that supplies house-smoked and -cured meats to restaurants around town, we knew that the Tico alum had a way with charcuterie. But the wood-fired oven that anchors his kitchen at the Backroom, an adjacent wine-bar-style refuge opened earlier this year, shows off his skill in so many new ways. Behold this beautiful bird: slow-smoked whole chicken ($42) with roasted veggies, crispy spaetzle and garlic confit. Plus, a pour-over balsamic. 

468 Moody St., Waltham; 781-216-8732

1. Corn & Farro Salad at Yvonne's

Where. To. Start. Expectations were high for Yvonne's. After all, it inhabits a space rich with lore (the former home of Locke-Ober, a fine-dining institution that was one of Boston's longest-running restaurants). The venue boasts a super-sexy interior, and has a crack team behind it: two of last year's 30 Under 30 honorees, executive chef Juan Pedrosa (previously The Glenville Stops) and pastry chef Kate Holowchik (alum of jm Curley), plus culinary director Tom Berry of Proprietors in Nantucket, and booze wunderkind Will Thompson (formerly of Drink). Surprise! It all works, and wonderfully. We basically pant over everything Pedrosa puts out, from communal feasts (like a 2-lb. rib-eye with black garlic butter) down to stellar snacks like "crispy tater cubes" served with farmhouse Gouda, beet-pickled egg and a take on the Dutch condiment Joppiesaus. But if pressed, we'd pick this salad ($12) as our overall favorite. Its combo of corn, farro, smoked blue cheese, pickled peach and pistachio shows off the kind of deft flavor balance that pervades one of the city's most well-balanced new menus. 

2 Winter Place; 617-267-0047

best things we ate 2015