Are These Boston's 10 Hottest New Restaurants? Vote in Our Survey

By Scott Kearnan
October 24, 2014
By Scott Kearnan  |  October 24, 2014
Photo by: Joel Benjamin

What makes a restaurant "hot"? That's highly subjective. Great food and drinks, an enticing atmosphere, strong service and the allure of newness all play a part. Following a number of recent high-profile openings, it was tough to choose 10 local restaurants for the latest update of our "Hottest Restaurants" series. The allure of some recent mainstays still hasn't worn off, but some new kids on the block already are serving up the right stuff. 

Here's the latest update of our picks for the hottest restaurants in Boston. But how do they compare to yours? Let us us know by voting in our new survey

  • Bel Ari

    Why It's Hot: Because its predecessor, Sorriso, was a Leather District destination for a decade. But this year the space changed hands. Chef-owner Ian Just passed along Sorriso and its even older neighbor, Les Zygomates, to co-owners Anthony Botta, an alum of the Vegas restaurant biz, and Mark Tosi, owner of the Canton-based Pastene. (Yes, that purveyor of canned tomatoes.) Naturally, long-time local diners have been curious to see how they've re-imagined the spot as Bel Ari. And we're still curious to see the developments in store for Les Zygomates. 

    Must-Order: New chef Robert Fathman is an alum of Grill 23 and Legal Harborside. His menu is a bit more contemporary, and features a wide selection of sfizi. Our favorite is the goat cheese-stuffed lamb meatballs ($8) in a smoked tomato sauce. For a bit more background, check out our primer here

    Insider Tip: If you find the new artwork lining the walls particularly stylish, there's good reason. They're the paintings of Hingham-based Janice Eve Dale, a former art director at Vogue. Her whimsical works hide small, dancing sprites in fanciful food images: a splayed gourd, a halved garlic clove, and of course, among cans of Pastene. 

    107 South St.; 617-259-1560

  • Bar Boulud

    Why It's Hot: Because it marks the arrival of star chef Daniel Boulud to Boston, which bid adieu to another international name, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, last winter. There's reason to believe that the Hub will better embrace Boulud's bistro fare: elevated and elegant, leaning more toward the classic than the contemporary. (The famous French chef discussed his arrival to Boston with us here.)

    Must-Order: Head here for our look inside the restaurant and a glimpse at some of the gorgeous plates that make use of local ingredients, including this spaghetti au citron ($19/$27) that features Wellfleet Countneck clams, bottarga, lemon and fennel.

    Insider Tip: The special seven-seat charcuterie bar isn't just impressive to behold. It features selections sourced from famed Parisian charcutier Gilles Vérot.

    ​776 Boylston St.; 617-535-8800

  • Wink & Nod

    Why It's Hot: It opened earlier this year, but this subterranean South End restaurant and lounge makes a grand return to our "Hottest Restaurants" lineup. Why? The arrival of Bread & Salt Hospitality, a pop-up that has assumed semipermanent residence in its kitchen, replacing the outgoing culinary duo of Whisk. 

    Must-Order: Head here for an overview of 8 Must-Try Dishes that spotlight Bread & Salt's special focus on the flavors of Southeast Asia. Among our picks: chef Josh Lewin's marvelous monkfish brandade and showstopping andouille sausage, and pastry chef Kate Holowchik's Green Chartreuse Oreos. 

    Insider Tip: Make sure you stop in on a Monday night. In conjunction with the cocktail program's weekly "Tiki Nights," Bread & Salt unleashes a Mondays-only menu, dubbed the "South End Night Market," that looks specifically to the street foods of India and Southeast Asia.

    3 Appleton St.; 617-482-0117

  • Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar

    Why It's Hot: All eyes have been on the iconic Rosebud diner car in Davis Square, which was recently purchased by Joe Cassinelli of nearby Posto and The Painted Burro. Not only does the joint look better than ever, but it has a bold new menu from chef John Delpha that puts international accents on Southern-inflected American comfort food. 

    Must-Order: Spicy-food lovers will find much to snack upon, including these fiery Atomic BT's, a starter of smoked jalapeño peppers and pulled pork.

    Insider Tip: For dessert, scope a glass case filled with fresh-baked pies — served whole or by the slice — and fill up on $1 coffee.

    381 Summer St., Somerville; 617-629-9500

  • Bastille Kitchen

    Why It's Hot: It's huge, for one thing. An 11,000-sq.-ft. Fort Point textile factory has undergone a $4 million transformation at the hands of hospitality guru Seth Greenberg and seats about 240. The restaurant is Greenberg's first since opening the now-iconic Mistral in 1997. 

    Must-Order: The kitchen is helmed by our 30 Under 30 honoree chef Adam Kube, and he drew some inspiration from the nearby site of the Boston Tea Party, hence a strong starter of tea-smoked mussels ($14). You'll also want to swim by for seafood selections like the sautéed ocean perch meunière amandine ($26, pictured).  

    Insider Tip: Don't forget to descend for a drink in its subterranean cocktail lounge, Chalet.

    49 Melcher St.; 617-556-8000

  • Photo by: Joel Benjamin

    Brass Union

    Why It's Hot: Part American tavern, part game lounge for competitive cocktailing, Brass Union is housed in a historic building that was once Somerville police headquarters. Now visitors get arrested by American eats from Chez Henri alum Jonathan Kopacz, plus a host of diverting games, from tabletop Pac-Man to shuffleboard to oversized Jenga to cornhole on the patio. 

    Must-Order: Lobster pappardelle is a winner: a bowl filled with chunks of grilled lobster in beurre blanc with roasted tomato and English peas. But the cute factor alone requires us to mention the Pac-Man Lemon Cake seen here: a Pac-Man-shaped wedge gobbling fresh berries.

    Insider Tip: Served with an Argentinean twist, Brass Union's choripán recently made our list of the 8 Best Hot Dogs in Boston.

    70 Union Sq., Somerville; 617-623-9211

  • Photo by: Joel Benjamin

    La Brasa

    Why It's Hot: At this lodgelike new Somerville eatery, live-fire cooking is the common denominator linking international cuisine from L'Espalier alum chef Daniel Bojorquez. Anticipation was high before opening, and clearly caught the attention of national food-scene followers. It only opened in April, but already made a national Food & Wine feature on 8 Amazing New Grill Restaurants

    Must-Order: Spice up your life with za'atar-roasted lamb saddle ($20) with curry couscous, apricots and mint. For more ideas, check out our Cheat Sheet.

    Insider Tip: At some restaurants, coffee is an afterthought. Not here; they tapped java expert Judson McCrae (the man behind the coffee program at Hi-Rise Bread Company) to curate an attention-grabbing roster of beans.

    124 Broadway, Somerville; 617-764-1412

  • Photo by: Joel Benjamin

    Liquid Art House

    Why It's Hot: This ambitious project combines an art gallery with a high-end restaurant. Globe-trotting cuisine from Asana alum chef Rachel Klein and a street-art-themed opening installation have been luring a crowd of well-heeled visitors since doors opened in May. It remains to be seen if the lofty concept has legs, but right now it's enjoying plenty of curious foot traffic. 

    Must-Order: Rotisserie meats is an area of emphasis, including Green Circle Chickens ($22), known for their exceptional flavor. These D'Artagnan chickens are raised on a strict diet of scraps from restaurants like Per Se and Gramercy Tavern. Check out our Cheat Sheet here

    Insider Tip: Have more money to burn? More than the food is on sale here. Menus are accompanied by guides to the displayed art, and you can even take home dishware. 

    100 Arlington St.; 617-457-8130

  • Merrill & Co.

    Why It's Hot: Buoyed by a cool cocktail program from 30 Under 30 honoree Kevin Mabry, this seafood-centric, modern diner-style spot has breathed new life into its nook of the South End since opening in March. It's funky and boisterous, with a nice new patio for alfresco enjoyment. 

    Must-Order: Cast-iron mussels ($18) in a red curry and ginger broth are a sight to behold — and heavenly to taste.

    Insider Tip: A special "Sunday Menu" (11 AM-11 PM) is limited, but includes some comfort classics not on the regular offerings, like an "oyster roast" and hot dogs. 

    1 Appleton St.; 617-728-0728

  • Alden & Harlow

    Why It's Hot: It's been nine months since opening, yet chef Michael Scelfo's Harvard Square is still one of the buzziest restaurants around, thanks in part to a contingent of industry devotees who have been preaching the gospel of this rustic-Americana restaurant. Scelfo's pretty good at self-promotion too; we "heart" the regular Instagram updates of this Must-Follow Social Media Food Star

    Must-Order: #NoFilter necessary to capture the gorgeous smoked Moosabec farm mussels ($13) heaped on a parsley crostino with tarragon and a luscious aïoli.

    Insider Tip: The "secret burger," an eight-oz. patty with weekly rotating toppings, is already becoming a thing of legend. (And one of the Best Things We Ate This Year.)

    40 Brattle St., Cambridge; 617-864-2100


Places Mentioned

Alden & Harlow

New American • Cambridge

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
Liquid Art House

Bay Village

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
Merrill & Co.

American • South End

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
La Brasa


Food- Decor- Service- CostM
Brass Union

American • Somerville

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
Bastille Kitchen

French • South Boston

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
Bar Boulud

French • Back Bay

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
Causeway Restaurant & Bar

Barbecue • West End

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
Wink & Nod

Bar • South End

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostM
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