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: 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: 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.
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: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.