The 10 Best Things We Ate This Year (So Far) in Boston

By Scott Kearnan  |  June 30, 2014

It's hard to believe that the year is half over; harder still to believe that so many great new restaurants have already opened in Boston. We're excited to see what the rest of 2014 brings. But for now, here's a look at some of the standout plates that we've tasted so far. We focused on the new: new eateries, mostly, though we also considered exciting new ideas at established spots. (Like one boozy new dessert at jm Curley.) Check it out, then get to taste-testing yourself. 

  • Squid-Ink Pasta from Whisk at Wink & Nod

    Why We Love It: For a while, it seemed that the culinary program would be an afterthought at Wink & Nod, a South End newcomer that was really stressing itself as "speakeasy-style" cocktail den. Then they tapped the Whisk pop-up team for the kitchen, gifting us with a permanent home to find their glorious squid-ink pasta with baby octopus, miso, cauliflower and black garlic. It's fabulously flavor-forward.  
    3 Appleton St.; 617-482-0117

  • Brondog at Bronwyn

    Why We Love It: Chef Tim Wiechmann is one of the area's most esteemed toques, but he gets down and dirty (and messy) with this dog. Made from pork and beef, it's nestled in a house-baked potato bread roll crusted with poppy seeds, slathered with Sauerbraten (vinegar-marinated brisket, ground and stewed with paprika and tomatoes) and topped with sauerkraut and melty Emmenthaler. On the side: homemade paprika chips.

    255 Washington St., Somerville; 617-776-9900

  • Credit: Joel Benjamin

    Justin's Burger at Roxy's Gourmet Grilled Cheese

    Why We Love It: We were excited when we found out that grilled-cheese food truck Roxy's was going to get a brick-and-mortar location. We were even more excited when we found out it would be adding burgers to the menu. Then, we worried: would they live up to the gooey goodness of their signature item? Short answer: heck yes, especially the loaded Justin's Burger, covered with a special Thousand Island-style sauce, pimento cheese, caramelized onion, bacon and Grillo's pickles.

    485 Cambridge St., Allston

  • Credit: Michael Young

    Memphis BBQ Spaghetti at State Park

    Why We Love It: The dive bar-inspired spin-off to the more elevated Southern Hungry Mother, State Park has plates that take inspiration from various destinations below the Mason-Dixon line. We could drown and die happy in this bowl, a nod to a similar dish served at Interstate Barbecue in Memphis. It's an bold heap of smoked pork shoulder, pasta and a 50/50 mix of housemade marinara and barbecue sauce. 

    1 Kendall Sq., Cambridge; 617-848-8355

  • Credit: Courtesy of Jennifer Che/Alden & Harlow

    Secret Burger at Alden & Harlow

    Why We Love It: Craigie on Main's legendary Craigie Burger officially has competition from this icon in the making. Though off-menu permutations change often, the listed version is patty perfection in and of itself. Available in limited quantities per day, it's a three-way Creekstone blend of short rib, brisket and an obscure cut called the short plate topped with a no-name sauce (inspired by a recipe from Scelfo's grandmother), little gem lettuce, salted onions, Cabot cheese tuile and bread and butter pickles.

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

  • Fernet Bon Bons at jm Curley

    Why We Love It: They sound like a good idea; they taste like a great one. Downtown spot jm Curley has always been somewhere you can rely on finding inventive offerings, but pastry chef Kate Holowchik created something really special with these. Her boozy bonbons are filled with Fernet ice cream to fantastic effect. Learn a little more about how they're made here.

    21 Temple Pl.; 617-338-5333

  • Ramen Burger at Ki Bistro

    Why We Love It: We hate to admit to being envious of NYC-based friends, but we turned a little green when they started reporting back on ramen burgers. Then Boston received its own spot to find them with the arrival of Ki Bistro. Their ramen noodle "buns" are available with any burger — from the kimchi to banh mi style — and get an extra lift from herb aïoli mayo and Ki special sauce. 

    270 Babcock St., Boston; 617-208-6922

  • Drunken Mussels at Trophy Room

    Why We Love It: Pretty fitting for a place that used to be a sports bar: the drunken dish is a winner. Trophy Room replaced Fritz a few months ago, and its efforts to elevate the dining options score big with this heaping bowl of shells sinking into a bold, flavorful broth made from aromatics, lemon and lager. Delicate it's not; delicious it certainly is. 

    26 Chandler St.; 617-482-3450

  • Credit: Joel Benjamin

    Crab-Crusted Cod at Bostonia Public House

    Why We Love It: Bostonia promised contemporary twists on New England staples. Enter the crab-crusted cod in an asparagus, leek and potato succotash that is fresh, light and heavenly. It's standout seafood at a non fish-focused eatery. 

    131 State St.; 617-948-9800

  • Credit: Michael Young

    Pizzas at Pastoral

    Why We Love Them: Fennel sausage. Clams. Lemon with bonito. We could try to choose just one, but let's be honest: Pastoral delivers delicious pizzas, no matter how you slice it. As only the second Massachusetts restaurant currently certified by the U.S. and Canadian branch of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, the international board governing authentic Neapolitan pizza-making, Pastoral had a lot to live up to. Chef Todd Winer does; we love his crusts, his fresh toppings and the passion he clearly bakes into each pie.  

    345 Congress St.; 617-345-0005