MC Slim JB, restaurant critic for The Improper Bostonian:
- "Alden & Harlow. Folks who have been reading me for a decade know I’ve long tried to bring attention to the assiduous work of Michael Scelfo, who elevated a succession of other owners’ restaurants out of deserved obscurity. His first place of his own got my Best New Restaurant of the Year nod in The Improper Bostonian back in July, and I stand by that in December, despite some stiff competition. A humble, dedicated craftsman is finally getting his due. About effing time.
- Sarma, which I know opened in late 2013 but I was slow to get to, so please indulge me. Running delectably around the Mediterranean, with some emphasis on one of my favorite underrated-by-Americans cuisines (Turkish), this ultra-cool Somerville place makes every sequence of small plates a memorable night out. Vik Hegde’s terrific bar program is another huge plus. One protracted, 20-plate, overstuffed January evening there — did we really say yes to four helpings of the Turkish-style fried chicken thighs with yogurt remoulade? — was a close second on Single Best Meal of 2014.
- La Brasa. Beautiful, eclectic, inventive food, much of it kissed by wood fire and smoke, with another fine bar program. I don’t live in Somerville, but places like this and Sarma make me wish I did.
- Thao Ngoc. Humble room, incredible Vietnamese fare from a huge menu, and prices so low it feels like theft. Don’t call yourself a food geek if you haven’t been here.
- Moody’s. I’m no longer bitching about the lack of a proper delicatessen in Boston, even if it means I have to extend my definition of Boston to Waltham. Feast on one of their shockingly good sandwiches on premise if you can, but regardless, don’t leave without an armful of sausages, charcuterie and salumi. No deli in my experience this side of New York or Montreal holds a candle to it."
BosGuy, blogger: "My favorite newcomer to Boston in 2014 was Bastille Kitchen. Anyone who can convert unused space into a comfortable, cool new restaurant is a welcome addition to the Boston dining scene. The fact that Bastille Kitchen brings consistently good French cuisine to a neighborhood oddly devoid of brasseries makes them my hero."
Marian White, staff writer at BostInno: "Highlights from 2014 included Alden & Harlow, Wink & Nod, the newly revamped Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar, Liquid Art House, Cafe ArtScience and Merrill & Co. It feels like these restaurants have been in Boston forever and it’s been less than a year!"
Marc H., founder of Boston's Hidden Restaurants and Boston Restaurant Talk: "I personally didn't get to many newcomers this year, though McCabe's on Mass in Cambridge really impressed (I'd love to put the smell of their bacon appetizer into a balsam pillow) and I also feel that My Other Kitchen in Belmont is a terrific new spot with one of the best spinach pies I've tried. I do regret not getting to Chef Chang's in the Back Bay and Yong Yong in Malden; hopefully early 2015 for those."
Damien Smith, community manager for Yelp Boston: "I want to take this opportunity to tip the hat towards all the wonderful local breweries (and kin) that started anew, opened a tap room, closed and re-opened, or moved to new digs. Slumbrew, Bantam, Trillium, Aeronaut, Night Shift, and Downeast immediately come to mind as brands with fresh beginnings in 2014."
Rachel Leah Blumenthal, Editor of Eater Boston: "Alden & Harlow has had my undying love since opening night. I don't often go to restaurants on the first night, but I did, and it was virtually flawless. And it got even better from there. (Lately I've had a major crush on one of their winter cocktails, Snowfall in Voiron — alcoholic hot chocolate with alcoholic whipped cream, pretty much.) I adore La Brasa — especially how I smell like a campfire when I walk out, and I'm really enjoying what Josh Lewin and the Bread & Salt team are doing at Wink & Nod, especially on Monday nights. And then there's Viale, particularly the pasta dishes. And I can't forget Gracie's Ice Cream and Bagelsaurus..."