21 Most Anticipated Boston Restaurants of 2017
Last year brought with it an impressive roster of new Boston restaurants, and 2017 is shaping up to be another stellar one for Hub dining. Here's our early look at some of the most hotly anticipated entries in the year ahead, from big, buzzing imports out of Portland and Nantucket to brand-new ventures from star chefs.
Buttermilk and Bourbon
Blue-haired chef and Hell's Kitchen runner-up Jason Santos (Abby Lane, Back Bay Harry's) takes his penchant for American comfort food in a distinctly Southern direction with this Back Bay newcomer, complete with a lounge and oyster bar. Expect refined takes on the classics, like fried chicken with white BBQ sauce, confit pork belly cracklings and smoked cheddar mac 'n' cheese with a "red hot Cheetos crust." Bourbon-based drinks and batched cocktails, including hurricanes on tap, lend some New Orleans character, as do the murals (like the one seen below) painted on exposed-brick walls. There will be patio seating for 40 as well.
Courtesy of Buttermilk and Bourbon
Courtesy of Publico Street Bistro
Publico Street Bistro
Chef Keenan Langlois, previously of The Sinclair, is set to helm this new South Boston restaurant on the ground floor of the Allure luxury apartment building. The global menu culls inspiration from Europe to South America, with dishes such as corn crêpes, pizzettas and chicken asado, and so does the drink list by Teodora Bakardzhieva, the first female bartender hired at Locke-Ober — the late Boston fine-dining institution that was a men-only venue until the 1970s — who co-owns Publico with her husband, fellow hospitality vet Theo Bougas. The 150-seat space mixes midcentury-modern design with rustic elements, including a live edge communal table as its dining room centerpiece, and a vine-covered canopy in the Publico Garden, its open-air atrium. Check out renderings above and below.
Courtesy of Publico Street Bistro
Roxy’s Central / A4cade
Details have changed a bit since the original announcement of this joint venture from the teams behind Roxy's Grilled Cheese and Area Four. Roxy's Central and A4cade will share an address but be comprised of independent spaces, according to a rep for the project. In the front room, Roxy’s will serve its signature gooey sandwiches and burgers (pictured), while a "speakeasy-style" door offers access to the Area Four crew's A4cade, complete with shuffleboard, foosball, vintage arcade games and pinball machines — plus quirky cocktails by bar manager Tainah Soares, previously of Somerville's beloved Trina's Starlite Lounge.
Courtesy of Gre.Co
Jody Adams' Saloniki isn't the only new fast-casual Greek option in town. Demetri Tsolakis, part-owner of the Seaport's buzzing Hellenic hot spot Committee, is branching out to open Gre.Co in Back Bay's former Scissors & Pie space, serving Greek street food made with meats sourced locally from Savenor's Market and produce from Eva's Garden and other local farms. A highlight is going to be the loukoumades, Greek dumplings made with everything from wildflower honey to dark chocolate ganache, coconut, mastiha crème and pistachio, and more.
La Bodega by Salts
It's been nearly three years since Salts shuttered due to flooding — and the subsequent news that its MIT-owned setting would be repurposed. But now the restaurant's married team, chef Gabriel Bremer and Analia Verolo, are about to launch a follow-up: La Bodega by Salts, which will focus on wood-fired, farm-to-table Uruguayan food with a smattering of Spanish and French-Basque influences (and that means the return of Salts' beloved whole roasted duck for two). The 90-seat space will have the vibe of a Latin American wine bar, with a thoughtful selection of bottles to go along with it, and include a refurbished 1950s diner car.
ETA: Early 2017
When this South Boston Italian opened at the beginning of 2016, we reported that a lower-level lounge was in the works. Now, nearly a year later, it's about to be unveiled. So far we know that the room will have a separate entrance, separate menu and space for live music. With similar options seeming to dwindle in Boston lately, any chance to nosh and sip while taking in some tunes is definitely welcome.
Courtesy of Mike Diskin/Tiger Mama
We know we're mixing sports metaphors, but Top Chef runner-up Tiffani Faison (pictured) is about to score a hat trick by Fenway. Her ballpark-side restaurants, barbecue joint Sweet Cheeks Q and Southeast Asian–inspired Tiger Mama, will soon be joined by this super-intimate, 12-seat outfit that will operate on a ticketed reservation system. It will transform into a cocktail den at 10 PM, though some late-night bites will still be available.
Courtesy of Cultivar
Longtime Harvest chef Mary Dumont (pictured) departed the Harvard Square locale last year to begin prepping her first venture as an owner: Cultivar, set to inhabit the ground floor of Downtown's Ames Hotel. Dumont promises that the restaurant (sporting a patio) will serve "modern American garden cuisine" using ingredients from the restaurant’s hydroponic garden, as well as her personal one-acre plot.
Courtesy of Better Bagels
This cult favorite pop-up is finally landing its own permanent brick-and-mortar space in the Watermark Seaport building. Biz partners James Grimes and Sam Harden have been baking out of a Malden commissary kitchen and distributing their delicious carb wheels through appearances at spots like Coppa, offering up boiled-then-baked bagels with fancy toppings like oysters Rockefeller cream cheese. Expect more of that, plus some breakfast eats and deli-style sandwiches too.
ETA: Late February/early March
It's always exciting when an established restaurateur adds to an empire — and so it is with Cunard Tavern, heading to the Jeffries Point section of East Boston. Owner Phil Frattoroli is behind the Italian North End restaurants Ducali, Filippo and Lucia, but this Eastie venture will have a pub vibe with an oyster bar and extensive burger menu, spread over two floors and replete with patio overlooking Boston Harbor. Waterfront dining is a surprising rarity here, so save us a seat.
The Franklin Restaurant Group (Franklin Cafe, Citizen Public House & Oyster Bar) has focused largely on expanding its Tasty Burger brand over the last six years, so Our Fathers, a nod to its three chef-owners' dads, will be the team's first non-Tasty venture since Citizen opened in 2010. The Jewish-style deli, set inside the Continuum building in Lower Allston, is inspired by owner Dave DuBois' childhood visits to similar spots, so look for familiar fare like pastrami, brisket and smoked fish, plus make-your-own sodas, a full bar and a patio. DuBois adds that the housemade bagels will be based on synthesizing the best elements of bagel cultures in NYC, Montreal and London.
ETA: Early spring
How perfect: a new place to carb-load, just steps from the Boston Marathon finish line. Piattini owner Jo Megwa, who reopened that Italian restaurant last month following a full-scale renovation, is about to debut Ora Trattoriza, a Back Bay destination stressing Neapolitan pizza and house pastas. Other details are being held close to the chest, but expect a sophisticated interior style swathed in white and gold.
Courtesy of Big Night Entertainment Group
Big Night Entertainment Group has more big plans for 2017. The hospitality titans behind restaurants like Red Lantern and Empire are opening Explorateur inside Downtown's Masonic Temple (the western hemisphere's third oldest), and they're going for the comfy feel of European cafe-bakery-bar. Info is scarce right now, but Big Night chef Kevin Long (pictured) will be at the helm of the French kitchen.
Certified Meatball Company
Boston Nightlife Ventures, the team behind Griddler's Burgers & Dogs, The Tap Trailhouse, Southern Kin and Wink & Nod, branches out with a fast-casual spot in South Boston dedicated to — take a wild guess? — meatballs. The menu will offer six different types of meatballs that can be paired with six different sauces, plus a half-dozen specialties like the "turkey mole poblano ball" and "cashew-curried vegetable ball." Another section of the menu will be devoted to "bao balls," which lets guests slather different sauces on steamed buns, and there will also be some sweet "dessert balls." A few panini, salads and sides will also be available.
Courtesy of Lola 42
Fans of Nantucket's Lola 41, prepare yourself: The upcoming sibling in Boston's Seaport is upping the attitude along with the latitude. The swanky space covers 3,700 square feet at Twenty Two Liberty (a luxury residential building on Fan Pier, pictured in the rendering above) and is roughly double the size of the ACK original, designed with lots of oak and wide walls of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the harbor. The cooking will still draw from global traditions — Mediterranean to Japanese — but the Seaport location will add a yakitori grill and sushi bar.
ETA: Early spring
OK, from a food perspective, there will be more compelling openings in 2017. But from a purr-ely entertaining standpoint, we're pumped to welcome this "cat cafe" to Chestnut Hill, a spot to bring your laptop, kick back with coffee and tea, and spend some time petting adorable feline friends: About 25 adoptable shelter cats will roam the premises at any given time. The cafe will partner with local restaurants to bring in some snacks, since sanitation reasons preclude preparation inside, and a portion of proceeds will be donated to local shelters.
Cher Marc Orfaly, previously of The Beehive, has partnered with the hospitality group behind Pier 6 to open this East Boston locale on the ground floor of a high-rise apartment building. The seafood-oriented endeavor will span 5,000 square feet, complete with an open kitchen and waterfront patio with bar. One of the coolest amenities: boat service provided to and from Pier 6 in Charlestown, just a hop across the harbor.
Courtesy of The Blue Ox
Looking briefly beyond Boston to Salem, a hub of new restaurant openings recently, we're already bewitched by this upcoming New American from chef Matt O'Neil (pictured) of Lynn's The Blue Ox. Inside a bank built in 1818, The Ledger will serve food inspired by classic Yankee cookery, much of it prepared on a wood-fired custom grill, in a setting that makes use of still-standing elements like exposed brick, safety deposit boxes and an old vault (now a walk-in refrigerator). There will also be an open kitchen with a raw bar and charcuterie counter, so some guests can cash in on a front-row view of the culinary magic.
ETA: Late spring/early summer
Courtesy of Eventide Oyster Co.
After scoring national kudos and two shared James Beard nominations for chefs Michael Wiley and Andrew Taylor, Portland, Maine-based Eventide Oyster Co. is coming to Boston. So far there's little info available on how this Hub location, dubbed Eventide Fenway, will differentiate itself — but frankly, we're perfectly fine with simply replicating all the seafood-serving, oyster-slurping success of the original.
Courtesy of Akinto
Chef Patrick Enage debuted his Southeast Asian concept in the kitchen at Wink & Nod, where it was one of several to inhabit that restaurant's "culinary incubator" program. (Head over now to find the Nepalese pop-up Gita.) Now Akinto will find a permanent home in the neighboring South End space formerly occupied by Merrill & Co. Expect an even more robust menu, plus the transplant of Wink & Nod's Monday night tiki program to its bar.
Courtesy of Cayla Zahoran/STK
Rumors have been swirling for awhile, but a rep for the modern steakhouse chain has confirmed that a Boston location will open in 2017 at the One Seaport Square development. Like other STK locations across the U.S., the two-story space will have an in-house DJ and a contemporary chophouse menu with loungey offerings too.