No. 5: Boston
Boston, aka The Hub, attracted some big-league talent from around the country in 2015. First Daniel Boulud brought Bar Boulud to the Back Bay last fall, and then 2015 saw Mario Batali make a splash with his Seaport newcomer Babbo Pizzeria. Batali followed it up with the announcement that Boston would become the next city to receive his Eataly concept, signing a 20-year lease to open a three-floor, 44,000-sq.-ft food hall in Prudential Center. And this summer star chef Michael Mina announced that he would soon be opening an outpost of Pabu in Downtown Center. The attention is appreciated, but Bostonians most take pride in our hometown talent — like Tim Maslow (Ribelle, Strip-T's), named one of Food & Wine's Best New Chefs this year, three-time James Beard finalist Matt Jennings, whose Townsman (pictured) was picked by Esquire as one of the country's Best New Restaurants, and James Beard Best Chef: Northeast winner Barry Maiden, whose next move we eagerly await after the shuttering of his upscale-Southern joint Hungry Mother.
Among the other Boston Beard nominees was Karen Akunowicz (Myers + Chang), one of two chefs representing our city on the just-debuted 13th season of Top Chef. (She's joined by former Craigie on Main chef de cuisine Carl Dooley, set to open The Table next month.) The 12th season of Top Chef, which stretched into early 2015, was actually set in Boston — giving millions of viewers a front-row seat at our city's culinary landscape. And this year saw no shortage of new openings — from Beard winner Susan Regis's open-flame-focused Shepard to Top Chef runner-up Tiffani Faison's adventurous Southeast Asian entry Tiger Mama — that we'd put up against bigger cities any day. And by the way, we're not slouching in the cocktails category, either: this year Boston's Eastern Standard took home Best American Restaurant Bar from Tales of the Cocktail.