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. 

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. 

The Hourly Oyster House

Oyster BarCambridge
This seafood spot in historic Harvard Square, named for the hourly-running horse-drawn carriages that once gathered outside, covers the full expanse of ocean — from raw bar eats to a splay of unique lobster-oriented dishes. It's all served in an intimate but airy dining room with a center bar spotlighting creative cocktails and eclectic international wines, several served on draft.

Must-order: The wide-ranging menu covers an expanse of sea: from mackerel to clams casino, curried mussels to tuna poke. But one of the highlights is a starter of charred octopus — delicately slow-cooked so the skin stays intact — served with squid ink rice chips, kalamata olives and cured tomatoes. ​

Insider tip: ​Thirsty? Hit the bar and try a custom cider developed exclusively for The Hourly by Charlestown's Downeast Cider House. 

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 and 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.

Fat Hen

NewItalianSomerville
Chef Michael Bergin's culinary finesse, cultivated at NYC spots like Del Posto, shines through at this intimate, homey Italian in Somerville, serving elegant but unfussy bowls of housemade pastas and braised meats, plus contemporary yet still-hearty entrees. Thoughtfully curated wines, Italian craft beers and sophisticated cocktails are served in a long, slender space flanked by inviting banquettes.

Must-order: Besides the fantastic house made pastas, check out starters like an anchovy-laden spread of white bean purée with Calarbian chile and fennel pollen, scooped with wheat crackers. 

Insider tip: There's no bar in the small space, but don't fret. If you need a tipple, Italian craft beers, unique wines and creative cocktails prepared at sibling-neighbor La Brasa's bar are passed into the space through a small square window. 

Little Donkey

NewTapasCambridge
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

NewJewishCambridge
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. 

haley.henry

NewDowntown
This Downtown wine bar highlights a thoughtfully curated vino list offered by the glass and bottle, accompanied by a light menu of cheese, charcuterie, crudo and, in particular, imported varieties of tinned fish. The very intimate space – just an 18-seat bar and two tables – has a stylish, nautical feel with wide windows to the city street.

Must-order: Though this spot emphasizes its tinned seafood program, there are also stellar small plates like the roasted carrots with sprouted lentils, kefir and coriander.

Insider tip: Check out the wall's peg board where servers can hand write updated names of currently-uncorked bottles available for other guests to try by the glass. It's a fun way of finding out what your bar mates are drinking.

The Smoke Shop

NewBarbecueCambridge
Chef Andy Husbands, who travels the country on the competitive BBQ circuit, mans the pit at this 'cue joint in Kendall Square where diners gather for trays of classic smoked ribs and brisket, whole hog meals, East Asian–inspired barbecue sandwiches and Southern sides, matched with a substantial whiskey selection. The rustic digs have an Americana feel and a spacious patio that hosts live music performances.

Must-order: Husbands' award-winning pork ribs have scored him plenty of ribbons on the competitive BBQ circuit as part of his nationally touring IQUE team. 

Insider tip: If you can pull together a few friends, go for the whole hog, a reservations-only feast that feeds up to a dozen hungry pigs. 

Bar Mezzana

ItalianSouth End
Colin Lynch, previously executive chef for star restaurateur Barbara Lynch's empire, branches out on his own with this sparkling coastal Italian gem in the South End's Ink Block development, turning out fresh crudo, handmade pasta and modern large plates. The airy, midcentury-meets-Amalfi dining room features a large bar and seasonal patio.

Must-order: Seafood is emphasized, but we can't pass up Bar Mezzana's fried rabbit, marinated in orange, cinnamon and garlic, dipped in buttermilk and a flour-semolina combo, then fried with rosemary. It's accompanied by black olive–chile mayo and a side salad.

Insider tip: Don't snooze on stellar cocktails created by beverage director Ryan Lotz, another Lynch Gruppo vet, previously of No. 9 Park. We're partial to the Amaro di Cocco, rum with Campari, pineapple, coconut and sweet vermouth.

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