New & Hot Places

Hottest Restaurants in Boston

We're constantly covering the most important openings around Boston, but every now and then it helps to have a refresher. From exceptional pastas to Japanese small plates to hot pastrami, here's what to order at the 10 hottest newcomers in town.

Pagu

NewAsianCambridge
Though à la carte dining is available, innovative prix fixe menus are emphasized at this hip Cambridge eatery offering Japanese- and Spanish-inspired small plates in a homey space filled with warm, live-edge woods and an open kitchen. Seats are reserved via pre-paid ticketing at the restaurant's website.

Must-order: Opt for steamed buns filled with mushroom, pork belly — and in the eye-catching example here, panko-coated Island Creek oysters in a squid ink–laced bun with rice wine–pickled purple cabbage and "norioli" (seaweed aïoli). 

Insider tip: Chef Tracy Chang previously co-founded Guchi's Midnight Ramen, a pop-up series that was a cult favorite and helped fuel the modern ramen craze in Boston. She revives Guchi's ramen right here, so look no further for your fix of noodles, pork belly and a six-minute egg.​

East Coast Grill & Raw Bar

NewSeafoodCambridge
Now helmed by the Highland Kitchen team, this reboot of a 30-year-old Inman Square eatery retains its bustling crowds and ultra-spicy plates, from live fire–grilled seafood to barbecue, that first made it an attraction, uniting flavors from American South, Latin and Asian cuisines. Tropical, tiki-leaning cocktails help extinguish the flames fanned by the heat-seeking dishes.

Must-order: In January, the team behind Highland Kitchen reopened this long-standing icon after a one-year closure. Besides reviving some old favorites and adding some wholly original dishes, they've also brought the buttermilk fried chicken made famous at Highland, where it's only available on Monday nights. Get it here anytime. 

Insider tip: Keep an eye out for the return of Hell Night, an infamous series of ultra-spicy dinners. The new owners plan to revive it soon. 

Lion's Tail

NewSouth End
The South End's Ink Block complex is home to this chic, leather- and metal-adorned cocktail den pouring classic cocktails (like the eponymous bourbon-based drink) and creative tinctures that make ample use of locally distilled spirits, accompanied by a menu of mostly shared plates and funky bites for noshing.

Must-order: Head to brunch for the fried chicken and waffles served in sandwich form with BBQ sauce, eggs over easy and a grilled-pineapple coleslaw.

Insider tip: Taco Tuesdays are so limiting. Saunter up to the bar here any weekday between 5–6:30 PM for $3 tacos. 

Ruka

NewPeruvianDowntown
This Downtown dining room culls inspiration from flavorful Peruvian and Asian street foods and also offers more composed plates that reflect the influence of Japanese and Chinese immigrants in Peru. A sushi program (which runs through late-night hours) is overseen by Oishii chef Ting Yen, while the fashionable room combines cultural motifs, from a gold sculpture of the Incan sun god over the bar to furniture made from charred shou-sugi-ban Japanese wood.

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.

The Automatic

NewCambridge
This funky neighborhood hangout near Kendall Square focuses on creative and quirky bar snacks, grilled skewers and heartier mains, all washed down with classic cocktails like mudslides and daiquiris, craft beers and thoughtfully selected wines in a laid-back lounge setting filled with hip crowds.

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 condiment 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. 

Oak + Rowan

NewNew AmericanSouth Boston
The open kitchen at this Fort Point New American turns out refined dishes, from surf 'n' turf mains to caviar tastings and decadent desserts, including creative housemade ice cream, while the bar program includes a roving cocktail cart that mixes tipples tableside. The loftlike space has an industrial-chic feel, complete with exposed-brick walls, huge windows and a sleek bar with blue velvet chairs.

Must-order: This is a good spot for dipping into 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," says 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 tableside, so that bartenders can mix up drinks as you eat and watch.

MIDA

NewItalianSouth End
Contemporary Italian-influenced cuisine, from housemade pastas to seafood dishes, plus old world wines and creative cocktails are served at this intimate, glowing South End spot. Street-front windows, chunky wood tables, pendant lighting and an open kitchen–facing bar ramp up the cozy factor.

Must-order: You won't stop quacking about the spicy duck confit orecchiette, a sensational 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 clients' homes. 

Pabu Boston

NewSushiDowntown
Star chef Michael Mina brings his San Francisco–founded Japanese concept to Downtown with this upscale izakaya tucked inside the Millennium Tower, where well-dressed crowds pass under a timber trellis to the Zen, sushi bar–equipped dining room for elegantly prepared rolls and traditional small plates with modern, regional twists. Meanwhile the paper lantern–bedecked lounge pours one of the East Coast's largest collections of sake and Japanese whiskey.

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 okonomiyaki: 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 spirit is poured.

Waypoint

SeafoodCambridge
Chef Michael Scelfo (Alden & Harlow) lures guests to this "trendy" Harvard Square–side kitchen with "incredible, innovative" coastal cuisine, including everything from seafood-topped pizzas and pastas to shared plates of roasted meats and fish and classic caviar service; a "fantastic", "knowledgeable" staff tends to the aquatic-inspired dining room, complete with a gleaming raw bar, open kitchen and cocktail bar pouring "unique" concoctions, some made with absinthe.

Must-order: Hungry? Dive into shareable feasts like whole branzino (pictured) with radish, corn and tomato. 

Insider tip: Absinthe drinkers can sip the spirit solo as well as in creative cocktails.

Little Donkey

TapasCambridge
Fans say the "hype is well-deserved" at this "hip" Central Square spot, where chef-duo Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette (Toro) deliver "super-inventive", globally inspired small plates that "keep you on your toes", plus unique raw-bar eats and "inspired" cocktails; the airy room – with floor-to-ceiling streetside windows, exposed brick and slatted wood furnishings – can get "packed", but "knowledgeable" service adds to the reasons to "go back."

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 cocktail side, go for the Donkey Punch, a mix of reposado, cassis, lime and agave served in a halved melon.

You’re missing out

The Zagat app helps you find the best places, faster.

No thanksInstall