As is tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, bloggers, and readers. We've already looked at top restaurant standbys, top newcomers, and the one word to sum up 2013. For our next question, friends of Eater pick the best dining neighborhoods of the year. (Here are last year's responses if you'd like to relive 2012 memories as well.) Readers, please add your thoughts to the comments.
[Photo: A4 Pizza/Rachel Leah Blumenthal]
Q: What were the best dining neighborhoods this year?
MC Slim JB, restaurant critic, The Improper Bostonian: Nobody knocked Allston off its longstanding perch as my favorite concentration of excellent restaurants serving traditional cuisines from around the world at nice prices. But honorable mention goes to Washington Square, Brookline, which was dull for years but suddenly is a dining destination. Somerville isn't just one neighborhood, or I'd cite it, too: it had a banner year across the dining spectrum from fine dining to budget eats.
Luke O'Neil, freelance journalist on cocktails and lots more, all over the internet: Are there even restaurants in Boston anymore? Camberville or die. Inman obviously had some strong newcomers, and Kendall. Don't sleep on Union of course.
Leah Mennies, food editor at Boston Magazine: Washington Square. Thanks to the addition of Ribelle, Fairsted Kitchen, and Barcelona Tapas Bar (plus already great area hangs like Publick House and The Abbey), the small, lovely neighborhood has gained destination-worthy status.
South End blogger BosGuy: I still think the South End offers some of the best dining options, variety of cuisines and best chefs.
Damien S., community manager for Yelp Boston: Such a toughie. With spots like Po Boy, the you-brew/hop-fed charcuterie mecca Hopster's Brew & Boards and the recently opened Craft Beer Cellar, I will give the "Filling The Void" award to... Newton?!
Katie Chudy, Eater Boston contributing writer: Kendall has a great food scene. The pastrami sandwich at Commonwealth is ridiculously good, Hungry Mother is always a favorite, and Belly has a great wine list (and cheese pairings to match).
Drew Starr, Eater Boston contributing writer: Kendall, Fort Point, and Union Square all have strong arguments to make for themselves this year, but the crown has to go to Washington Square in Brookline. Much ink has rightfully been spilled for Tim Maslow's Ribelle, but Fairsted Kitchen is another very strong newcomer. Even Barcelona — a chain restaurant — offers strong food and is seeing success in a formerly cursed spot. Add in places that have been there for a few years or more like The Abbey or Washington Square Tavern (best charcuterie I have had in the Boston area), and I find myself thinking about moving to Brookline.
All that said, I probably spend more time in Chinatown. Dumpling Cafe, Taiwan Cafe, Shojo, China King (though perhaps reclaiming the King Fung name), Peach Farm, East Ocean City, Winsor Cafe, Hei La Moon — all places any food nerd in this town really should be familiar with. And if you go late at night, you're all but guaranteed to run into big names in the restaurant world.
Jacqueline Dole, food writer and photographer: Union Square! Union Square Donuts, Bronwyn, A4 Pizza, backbar, Journeyman...
Dave Levy, We Love Beantown blogger: I'm going to call it more of a moment than an overall year, but the rise to take back Boylston/Back Bay in the last week of April was one of the most stirring sights I've seen while living downtown. People leaving overwhelmingly large tips, smiling a little more at strangers and truly supporting those restaurants was awesome.
Bianca Garcia, Confessions of a Chocoholic blogger: Fort Point! Fort Point! Fort Point!
Leah Klein, Leah's Life: Pearls and Oysters blogger: Kendall in Cambridge
Aaron G., Eater Boston reader: Union Square in Somerville was the best dining neighborhood in 2013. Casa B, Bronwyn, backbar, journeyman, and El Potro, to name a few of the bright spots.
Michele Won, Eater Boston reader: Central Square, Davis Square, and SALEM