We're constantly covering the most important openings around Boston, but every now and then it helps to have a refresher — especially when looking for new spots. Here's a roundup of the most notable, as well as some handy links to our more in-depth looks. Listed from new to recent, we'll continue to update this list periodically as additional restaurants are unveiled.
Must-order: Poke is popping up on more and more menus lately, and RUKA puts its own Peruvian-Japanese spin on the Hawaiian specialty of raw fish salad. Here, tuna poke is tossed with a coconut-miso dressing and served with cucumber, black vinegar and quinoa crackers.
Insider tip: Pay special attention to the educational wine list, creatively organized by the elevation at which different grapes grow.
Must-order: Dive deep into comfort food with the "Frito Pie From Hell," an indulgent dose of chili, cheese and Inner Beauty Hot Sauce, the same signature hot sauce chef Chris Schlesinger first introduced to locals at East Coast Grill.
Insider tip: Like the tunes you hear? The Automatic posts a "now playing" Spotify list on its website so that you can get into the groove while cocktailing at home too.
Must-order: This is a good spot to dip your toes into exploring the caviar trend; guests can opt for a tasting of one or four different styles of caviar with varying accompaniments. Expect to sometimes find "alternative eggs as well," said chef Justin Shoults, one of our past 30 Under 30 stars, including salmonids, paddlefish, sea urchin and more.
Insider tip: Bar manager Chris O'Neill has put together a creative program that includes a dining room-roving cocktail cart. It greets guests table-side so that bartenders can mix up drinks as you eat and watch.
Must-order: You won't stop quacking about the spicy duck confit orecchiette, a standout pasta dish sprinkled with bread crumbs and parmesan.
Insider tip: Chef Douglass Williams also runs a personal chef business, Culinary Breakdown, that provides cooking courses (and personally prepared meals) in client homes.
Must-order: Among the many restaurants inside is Il Pesce, a seafood-focused venture led by Boston's own Beard award–winning restaurateur Barbara Lynch (Menton, No. 9 Park). One standout dish there is the fusilli with mint, lemon butter and heaps of sweet crab meat.
Insider tip: Eataly's fishmongers work directly with Boston purveyors like Wulf's Fish Market and Red's Best, and there's even an incentive program for shopping local. Punch cards let you notch each purchase of eligible sustainable seafood; score nine punches and your next purchase is 10% off.
Must-order: The sushi selection is top-notch, of course. But when we asked chef Ken Tominaga about his must-try dishes, he also underscored the squid okonomiyake: a savory Japanese pancake topped with pork belly, a sunny-side egg and bonito. He also loves the rotating seasonal additions like fried oyster, soft-shell crab and lobster with warm yuzu butter.
Insider tip: PABU Boston claims one of the country's largest collections of Japanese whiskey, even offering a "ceremony" whereby chosen ingredients, like citrus oils or Japanese spices, are smoked tableside to season a drinking glass and lend a unique, complementary essence once the selected whiskey is poured inside.
Must-order: The menu covers an array of Eastern Mediterranean and Arabic cuisines; we love getting our tentacles on meze like grilled octopus with fennel yogurt.
Insider tip: Looking to stock your home pantry? Starting January, a chalkboard in the restaurant will announce housemade spice blends, pickles, jams and more for guests to bring home.
Must-order: Hungry? Dive into shareable feasts like whole branzino (pictured) with radish, corn and tomato.
Insider tip: Waypoint has a robust absinthe program, with over 20-varieties available for sipping solo or in creative cocktails.
Must-order: Though Little Donkey is all about small plates, you've got to get your hands around the messy burger of dry-aged Pat LaFrieda beef topped with pickles marinated in Buffalo sauce, caramelized onions, seared pieces of foie gras, crispy jalapeño chips and a little slathering of onion soup dip–inspired mayo.
Insider tip: On the beverage side, get punch-drunk on the Donkey Punch, a mix of reposado, cassis, lime and agave served in a halved melon.
Must-order: You've been waiting too long for a truly awesome new Jewish deli, Boston. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 — just go right now and snag one of Mamaleh's deli sandwiches, stuffed with hot pastrami, corned beef or, if you're feeling indecisive, a 50/50 split.
Insider tip: With the holiday season on the horizon, Mamaleh offers catering that'll make your party planning much easier.