Today, Eater restaurant editor Bill Addison dropped his annual list of the 38 best restaurants in America, the restaurants that really defined the year in dining. Oleana was the only local spot to make the cut on his previous two lists (2015, 2014), but this year, he swapped in Oleana’s little sister, Sarma.
Regarding his sole local pick, Addison says: “Sarma taps in to all sorts of national trends — the ceaseless love for small plates and casual dining; our growing appreciation for cuisines of the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Turkey; the fun idea of flaunting specials through the room dim-sum style — and it does them all exceptionally well. I’d say Sarma’s closest local competitors for a spot on the list include Bondir, Asta, and Loyal Nine (which was on Eater’s inaugural Best New Restaurants in America list last year).”
Meanwhile, to the north, Portland, Maine’s Eventide Oyster Co. has appeared on all three years of Addison’s list of the best restaurants in America. “It’s going to be one of those restaurants that’s hard for me to ever pull off the list,” says Addison. “Boston has some really wonderful oyster bars — I try to go to B&G and Neptune whenever I’m in town — but Eventide is the absolute paradigm of a modern oyster bar. I love both its sense of place but also that it slips in Asian flavors (pickled ginger kimchi ices to accompany oysters, for example) in a way that doesn’t come off as hokey or jarring.”
Some background on the process, courtesy of Addison, who spent the year visiting numerous restaurants in numerous cities: “I take my cues from the local 38 lists; ‘best’ is catchy shorthand, but more specifically I’m thinking about restaurants that are essential to their communities and that also, when considered together, define dining in America right now.”
This year’s National 38 is a mix of restaurants that have already been on the list for a year — or both years — along with newcomers. “Like the local lists, the national counterpart is meant to evolve slowly,” says Addison. “It wouldn’t hold water as a list of essentials if I chose an entire new roll call of restaurants every year.” (Locally, we update the Boston 38 quarterly, making approximately three or four changes to introduce newly eligible restaurants or restaurants that have recently stepped up their game.)