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The Season in Review: Summer 2016

What opened, what closed, and more

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A hundred restaurants opened in and around Boston this summer, and about 40 closed. Chefs moved around. Fire-damaged restaurants were reborn. People ate a lot of barbecue and drank a lot of boozy milkshakes. Here's the rundown on what went on in the Boston-area restaurant scene throughout summer 2016.

Table Of Contents (all h2's added automatically)

Openings

From big-name openings in Boston and Cambridge to familiar faces departing for the suburbs, from brand new concepts to breweries galore, it was a tremendously busy opening season in the area. (Find the full rundown right here, as well as separate detailed guides to Boston proper, Cambridge, and Somerville.)

Pale red cushioned barstools line a black bar behind which stands a wall and shelving for liquor bottles Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Little Donkey/Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

A number of highly anticipated openings are already doing quite well early on. Lucky Cambridge got Little Donkey, Mamaleh's, The Smoke Shop, and Waypoint — all from well-known local teams who already run other beloved restaurants around town. The cozy Haley.Henry Wine Bar in Boston's Downtown Crossing is drawing crowds for its imported tinned seafoods and unique wine list, Fat Hen's pasta game is strong in East Somerville, Notch Brewing Co. is a crowd-pleaser up in Salem, and the Trade team is serving up beautiful Mediterranean-inspired seafood and more with the opening of Porto in Back Bay.

It was a good season for rebirth as well. Cambridge welcomed back The Blue Room, Belly, and Beantowne Coffee House a year after a fire damaged the One Kendall Square businesses, and Beauty's Pizza, the casualty of another fire, found a new location in Inman Square. Kimchi Kitchen was closed for much of the season for unspecified repairs but reemerged under new ownership at the end of the summer. And Voltage Coffee in Kendall Square was revamped and turned into a new Barismo location. In Boston, Aquitaine celebrated its nearly two-decade South End tenure with a major revamp. Closed for renovations since February, it came back this summer.

Interior of a small restaurant with dark teal walls and light wooden accents. Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Fat Hen/Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

It wasn't a bad season further outside of the city either. L'Espalier's Frank McClelland opened Riversbend in Essex with "family-focused, farm-to-fork, wood-fired cooking," while West Bridge's Matthew Gaudet opened a casual, fun spot called Superfine in Manchester-by-the-Sea, serving pizza, ribs, and more. Waltham got a second location of popular Italian restaurant Brelundi, Cape Cod Cafe expanded to Easton to spread the bar pizza love around, and Plymouth-based KKatie's Burger Bar expanded to Hyannis.

And there was so much beer: In Everett, Bone Up Brewing Company opened and Night Shift Brewing expanded its taproom. Exhibit 'A' Brewing Company debuted in the former Jack's Abby space in Framingham, and Idle Hands completed its move from Everett to Malden. The aforementioned Notch Brewing, previously a contact brewer, moved into its own home in Salem this summer, and Dorchester Brewing Company opened its doors in Dorchester. In other booze news, Downeast Cider completed its expansion from Charlestown to East Boston, GrandTen Distilling opened a cocktail bar at its South Boston facility, and Craft Beer Cellar opened a new shop in Fort Point.

Closings

While we welcomed a lot of new restaurants to the area this season, we also said a lot of farewells. (Find our full closures archive here.)

Some longtime restaurants closed up shop, including Rialto, which was more than 22 years old. Owner Jody Adams opened Porto this season and also has a new Saloniki location on the way. The Rialto space, which is at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, will soon be home to a second Italian restaurant from Giulia's Michael Pagliarini; it will be called Benedetto. Also in Harvard Square, Fire + Ice and Uno both shut down this season after long tenures in the neighborhood.

30-year-old In a Pig's Eye closed in Salem, and Fran's Place in Lynn — one of the oldest gay bars in the state — announced its upcoming closure in the final days of the season. Rubin's Kosher Delicatessen closed in Brookline after a nearly 90-year run, although there's talk of the new owner reopening it. And Lineage also said goodbye to Brookline; it had been open a decade. Somerville lost La Hacienda to a real estate deal that was too good to refuse, and decade-old Lincoln 51 shuttered in Newton.

Other neighborhood favorites that said goodbye this season include Canto 6, a bakery in Jamaica Plain; River Gods, a music venue and restaurant near Central Square in Cambridge; Ribelle, Tim Maslow's award-winning Washington Square restaurant; and Refuge Cafe, a popular Allston spot.

On the extraordinarily new side of the spectrum, DooWee & Rice's Duy Tran moved into the kitchen at the Monroe nightclub in Cambridge, only to be thwarted several days later by licensing issues. The club had recently gotten into trouble with the board regarding a number of violent incidents in its vicinity, and now its food service is up in the air. Tran seems to have some new projects in the works already, so keep an eye out for his bao and more. And in Jamaica Plain, Pink Samurai is apparently closed just weeks after finally opening. Plus, Josephine closed after only a year in Kenmore Square, and PAUL Bakery lasted about the same amount of time in Burlington.

In Memoriam

Sadly, several beloved members of the local restaurant industry passed away this season: Armando Paolo, founder of Armando's Pizza & Subs in Cambridge's Huron Village; Mary Lee, founder of the Hong Kong in Harvard Square and downtown Boston; and Jack Reilly, founder of Ryles Jazz Club in Inman Square.

Maps & Guides

We updated a number of our maps and guides this season and published some new ones; here's the rundown on what we liked to eat and drink this summer, most of which will still be delicious as we head into fall. No one says you can only drink boozy milkshakes in the summer, after all.

Fried chicken atop a large waffle on a white plate with a red floral pattern. There are two small glass jars on the plate, too — one with hot sauce and one with syrup. Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Fried chicken & waffles at Southern Kin in Somerville/Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

Features

We added new installments to several of our feature series this summer, peeked inside some restaurants on the verge of opening, chatted with Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer about opening the 100th Shack right here in Boston, and more. Here are this season's long reads:

The Blue Room Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

The Blue Room/Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

Eater Inside

Boston Mainstays

Neat & Greet

Korsha Wilson for Eater

Cafe Sushi/Korsha Wilson for Eater Boston

Plato 'n' Plates

Wine Words

Other

Eater Boston Housekeeping

New this season, we've begun to add some new categories to the site to make it easier for you to find the stories that interest you most. We're sorting stories into a number of different streams by location, by cuisine, and in some cases, by specific item of food.

Geographically speaking, we've always had a variety of city and neighborhood tags built into the system; you can find all of those right here to jump right to, for example, our Davis Square archive or Allston archive. (And yes, we hear you: Some readers would prefer that Eater Boston only cover Boston proper, so we invite you to head directly to the Boston archive page right here to skip over Cambridge, Somerville, etc.)

When the system was built, we had a tighter focus on Boston proper and just a few surrounding areas, but these days, we've been pushing into other areas a bit, so we're tracking those stories in a few streams:

In terms of cuisine, you can now skip directly to stories about:

And we're tracking stories focused on a few specific food and beverage items as well:

Please note that all of these new categories are a work in progress; we're searching back through our archives to add relevant stories to each, so some of the categories may appear mostly bare at the moment but will grow with time (and as new stories are published). We'll also add new categories as the need arises.

Other housekeeping notes:

  • We update Eater Boston multiple times every weekday with breaking news of restaurant openings and closes, maps & guides, and other stories related to the Boston-area restaurant scene. In general, you'll find newer stories near the top of our homepage with a few major highlights at the very top and other highlights pinned to various parts of the page among the recent news stories. To see a strict reverse chronological archive of what we've published, you can check out this page.
  • You can also stay in the loop by adding us to the RSS reader of your choice, subscribing to our newsletter, and following us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).
  • Want to get in touch? You can email us directly at boston@eater.com with questions, complaints, tips, or just to say hello. You can also send a tip — which can be anonymous if you choose — via our tipline.

Main image: Shutterstock/unverdorben jr

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