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Friends of Eater Name the Top Newcomers of 2011

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As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, bloggers, and readers. We've already covered Best Standbys. Now it's time for best newcomers.
[Photo: Facebook/Meadhall]

Q: What are the top restaurant newcomers of 2011?

Tom O'Keefe, BostonTweet: I think the top newcomer for 2011 is Kendall Square. Eight months ago Kendall Square was only the biotech capital of the world. Now Kendall Square is the biotech capital of the world and a top destination for food and drinks - my favorites are Area Four for small plates and Meadhall for over 100 craft beers on tap.

MC Slim JB, restaurant reviewer, Stuff Magazine, Boston Phoenix: Bondir, Staff Meal Truck, Dumpling Café, Area Four, and Strip-T’s. The Hawthorne was a fantastic late add to the bar scene.

Penny and Ed Cherubino, BostonZest: We've really enjoyed Sweet Cheeks. Looks like they’ll make it into our regular rotation anytime the sports crowd is away. For our taste, many of the places that opened this year are unpleasant spaces – too loud to enjoy a quiet conversation. We rejected a couple by walking in the door and out again.

Marc H., HiddenBoston: Area Four in Cambridge.

Devra First, restaurant critic, food reporter, The Boston Globe: 80 Thoreau, Catalyst, and Trade. Can I grandfather in Bondir, which opened at the tail end of 2010?

Rachel Leah Blumenthal, Boston Food Bloggers, restaurant reviewer, CBS Boston: I have high hopes for Sweet Cheeks; I was happy with my first meal there and look forward to seeing it develop. On the new BBQ front, I'm also into Blackstrap BBQ in Winthrop. My new obsession (not really a restaurant) is my neighborhood cafe, 3 Little Figs. I'm addicted. Everything they bake is fantastic, and the service is extraordinarily friendly. I'm also extremely excited about Wegmans (again, not a restaurant, but you can definitely eat a meal there). I spent five years in Rochester, NY, where Wegmans is a way of life, so I'm thrilled that it's finally here.

Damien S., community manager, Yelp Boston: I'm loving the little guys that got hot, fast. Dore Creperie and Saus brought smiles to Government Center, while cheflebrities Tiffani Faison and Jay Santos hit their stride with Sweet Cheeks and Blue Inc, respectively. The year ushered in transformation, and a lot of promise to an evermore eclectic food scene.