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 — 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. 

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 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. 

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 loft-like 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 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.

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 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. 

Eataly

NewItalianBack Bay
Star chef Mario Batali expands his international Italian empire with his three-floor Prudential Center behemoth, showcasing locally made groceries, sustainable seafood markets, a "mozzarella lab" for on-site cheese production and a hands-on cooking school. Rounding out the marketplace: A dozen casual eateries and four seated restaurants, including Il Pesce, an Italian seafood-oriented concept helmed by beloved Boston restaurateur Barbara Lynch.

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 (MentonNo. 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. 

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 whisky.

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.

Moona

NewMediterraneanCambridge
Embracing its Arabic name (which translates to 'pantry'), this intimate Inman Square Eastern Mediterranean makes great use of housemade spices, dried herbs and jams (also packaged for sale) to brighten every bite of its hot and cold mezze, as well as mains like Cornish hen tagine. Lively mosaic tiles and copper accents complete the transporting meal.

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. 

Waypoint

NewSeafoodCambridge
Chef Michael Scelfo (Alden & Harlow) lures guests to this Harvard Square–side entry with contemporary coastal cuisine, including everything from seafood-topped pizzas and pasta bowls to shared plates of roasted meats and fish to classic caviar service. The hip, aquatic-inspired dining room boasts a gleaming raw bar, open kitchen and 24-seat cocktail bar offering 20 varieties of absinthe poured from screw-top copper taps.

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.

Little Donkey

TapasCambridge
Chef-duo Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette (Coppa, Toro) team up at this cool Central Square spot offering inventive, globally inspired small plates that cull and combine inspiration from myriad cuisines, plus unique raw-bar eats and a beverage program highlighting craft beers, small wine producers and creative cocktails. The open, airy room features floor-to-ceiling streetside windows and plenty of exposed brick and slatted wood furnishings.

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.

Mamaleh's Delicatessen

JewishCambridge
The team behind neighboring State Park puts a modern twist on Jewish fare at this all-day Kendall Square deli offering everything from smoked fish plates to pastrami sandwiches and kugel, plus soda fountain treats like egg creams and boozy milkshakes. The bright, airy space boasts comfy booths and a tiled counter lined with stools, while the take-out area features glass cases stocked with baked goods and meats by the pound.

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. 

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