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Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

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Boston’s Top Restaurant Standbys of 2017: Waypoint, Chilacates, and More

Local food writers discuss their regular haunts of this past year

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As is Eater’s annual tradition, we’re closing out 2017 by surveying local food writers (including our own staff and contributors) on various restaurant-related topics, and we’re publishing their responses in these final days of the year. Readers, please feel free to chime in with your own thoughts in the comment section below.

Keep an eye on the Year in Eater archive page for other stories in this series.

Today’s first question: What were your top restaurant standbys of 2017? (See the 2016 responses here.)

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MC Slim JB, restaurant critic for The Improper Bostonian:

Banh mi at Little Donkey
Banh mi at Little Donkey
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

“With 24 full-length Improper Bostonian reviews and a big chunk of the Boston’s Best food/drink and bar/club awards to write up every year, I don’t get to my favorite restaurants as much as I’d like, but I still dined widely outside of my professional research this year. I had the opportunity to do a lot of daytime exploring of Boston’s northwestern suburbs, an undersung culinary treasure trove.

Woburn has incredible Shaanxi hand-pulled noodles at Gene’s Chinese Flatbread, good fast-food Coney Island dogs at WuBurger, nice-priced Brazilian barbecue at Tuda Na Brasa, fine vegan Asian at Bayberry Café, and quality pork gyros at Olympia Grille.

Burlington has the awesome Sichuan Gourmet, the bargain-deluxe H-Mart food court, delectable Korean barbecue at New Jang Su, terrific vegetarian South Indian at Ritu Ki Rasoi, and for celebrations, the new Island Creek Oyster Bar.

Arlington has great sushi at Toraya, brilliant Thai at Thana, amazing tacos at La Victoria, lovely Persian kababs at Sabzi, and creditable Turkish at Pasha (love their döner).

Lexington has great Punjabi at Royal India, solid Taiwanese at Taipei Gourmet, and terrific French crepes and imported groceries at MA France.

In Waltham, I hit the genius Moody’s Deli, Taquería El Amigo, and Gustazo Cuban on the regular.

Weather permitting, I like the lakeside Fred’s Franks truck in Wakefield for a shnurble (charcoal-grilled hot dog and Portuguese chouriço with slaw on a good bun) al fresco.

At night back in the city, I kept returning to hallowed haunts like Erbaluce, Estragon, J.J. Foley's Café in the South End, Dumpling Café, Peach Farm, The Hawthorne, Drink, and Backbar, as well as newer favorites like Bar Mezzana, SRV, and Little Donkey.”


Marc Hurwitz, founder of Boston's Hidden Restaurants and Boston Restaurant Talk, restaurant critic for Dig Boston, and more:

Cheddar and bacon tots at Cagney’s
Cheddar and bacon tots at Cagney’s
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“As always, I try so many places that it's sometimes hard to have any real go-to spots, but this year I did frequent Joe Sent Me in Cambridge (great wings, burgers, and fries), Cagney's in Quincy (a dive/not dive that has outstanding pub grub and lots of local beers), and Massimo's in Wakefield (friendly people, excellent pasta dishes).”


Jenna Pelletier, food editor of Boston Magazine:

Yellowtail crudo at Bar Mezzana
Yellowtail crudo at Bar Mezzana
Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

Yvonne's, Bar Mezzana, Waypoint, Sarma, Uni, Hojoko, the Table at Season to Taste.”


Jacqueline Cain, associate food editor of Boston Magazine:

Sausage pizza at Brewer’s Fork
Sausage pizza at Brewer’s Fork
Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

Parlor Sports is, as ever, the little sports bar that could. Watching several uninspiring U.S. men's soccer games there in 2017, with a fellow regular's F*** TRUMP soccer scarf hanging prominently under the ‘Refugees Welcome Here’ sign, made not qualifying for the World Cup ever so slightly less painful.

But I also moved away from Camberville in the fall — sob! — so my new local is the lovely Brendan Behan pub. My move has been picking up a burrito at Chilacates —another 2017 standby — but I just learned Eat More, Mexican! pops up there regularly with El Paso-style burritos, so I'll be taking more advantage of that in 2018.

I also absolutely love Vee Vee and have been by several times to take advantage of their top-notch beer list and snacks liked deviled eggs and manchego potato croquettes.

Flour's newest location on Dalton Street location is the BEST work lunch option. Love Parlor Ice Cream Co. popping up with frequency in Allston all year. Other perennial favorites are Brewer's Fork, Row 34, and Render Coffee.”


Catherine Smart, contributor to the Boston Globe and cast member of Milk Street TV:

Six pieces of sashimi sit on a light blue asymmetrical plate.
Cafe Sushi
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Waypoint is my favorite any-time dinner spot right now. It's fun, and festive, and open late. Do not miss the addictive crab fries or clam pizza. Close your eyes and point at the cocktail menu; you're bound to pick something wonderful.

Cafe Sushi. It's embarrassing how long it took me to get here, and now I dream about their pressed oshi-zushi and sparkling mackerel. This place is like a black cashmere sweater that's always the right fit; it's equally good for a casual weekday lunch or dressed up for date night.

Cantina La Mexicana has been a standby since my husband and I moved to Somerville a decade ago back when it was a small taqueria. This year they've really improved their cocktail game, while the food has remained delicious and affordable. Plus, they are super kid-friendly, and my toddler loves the refried beans almost as much as I love the rellenos and margaritas.”


Sam Hiersteiner, contributor to the Boston Globe and more:

Little Big Diner ramen
Ramen at Little Big Diner
Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

“For when no one is looking: Wegman's Chinese food hot bar.

For uproarious good warm times: Alden & Harlow, Waypoint, Sarma, Smoke Shop, Row 34, all of Portland, Maine.

For quick and casual: Chilacates, Saloniki, Bon Me, Mei Mei.

For lil' toddler CJ's pleasures: Little Big Diner, Clover Food Lab, Eventide Fenway.

For every time my wife goes out of town: Sichuan Gourmet House.

For long boozy lunch: Coppa.”


Dan Whalen, blogger at The Food in my Beard and author of upcoming cookbook Tots!:

Mussels, shrimp, and clams sit atop a skillet of rice and vegetables
Paella at Toro
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

“I think I answer this question the same every year, but for me it will always be Toro and Coppa. In September I moved walking distance to Toro, which is a dangerously awesome thing. Island Creek Oyster Bar will also always be a standby for me, and I even went to their Burlington location this year and was happy to see the formula remaining strong in the suburbs.”


Dana Hatic, associate editor of Eater Boston:

Bialy from Bagelsaurus
Bialy from Bagelsaurus
Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

“I'm a creature of habit, so some of my 2016 responses hold true this year, including Punjabi Dhaba and Lamplighter Brewing/Longfellows, along with Bagelsaurus. I've expanded my standby burrito places (from El Pelon in Fenway and Olecito in Inman Square) to include Habanero on Brighton Avenue in Allston, and I will make the trip to Washington Square for some comfort food at Stoked any time.”


Alex Wilking, contributor to Eater Boston:

A brunch option at Burro Bar
A brunch option at Burro Bar
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“I have quickly become a regular at Burro Bar’s new-ish weekend brunch in Brookline. It’s incredibly inventive and affordable food, with top-notch service to boot. At this point, I’m always ordering either the smoked salmon eggs benny or the stacked chicken milanese sandwich.

I still can’t say enough kind words about Coreanos Allston, either. I probably order from there at least once a week.”


Rachel Leah Blumenthal, editor of Eater Boston:

Pear pavlova at Cafe ArtScience
Pear pavlova at Cafe ArtScience
Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

“Most of my standbys are right in my neighborhood (Union Square, Somerville) — which I guess is unsurprising, considering the very nature of a ‘standby.’ I often find myself at Juliet, Ebi Sushi, Backbar, and, increasingly, the new and fantastic Field & Vine. And Casa B, always a favorite spot, has entered into even more frequent rotation now that the street-level dining room has been revamped into a cocktail bar. Taso Papatsoris and his crew are doing magical things at that bar. And for an easy weekday lunch, a quick stop into Capone Foods for a sandwich does the trick.

Just a little beyond Union, Highland Kitchen will always be on my standby list, and I’m also loving its new sibling, Highland Fried.

Over in Kendall, Cafe ArtScience is my go-to for cocktails — Tenzin Conechok Samdo is a genius. Dessert’s great, too. Tip: Grab a drink and a snack (some duck fat fries, perhaps?) at Commonwealth, followed by a drink (or two) and a dessert (or two) at ArtScience, a very short walk away. Solid night. And the other side of Kendall is making me happy these days, too. I fit in a number of visits to Mamaleh’s, Smoke Shop, Cafe du Pays, and The Automatic this year.

Nearby, the Central Square edge of MIT is on fire these days, and I squeeze in visits to Pagu, Saloniki, and Abide as often as I can.

Elsewhere in Cambridge, there are a few spots that I wouldn’t call standbys yet just because I haven’t been there enough times, but I see them easily becoming standbys in 2018: weird and wonderful little basement haunt Upperwest, which I’m ashamed I didn’t try until late this year, over a year after it opened; Pammy’s, which mixes stellar hospitality with a really pretty space and outstanding Italian-ish food; and Momi Nonmi, which has totally won me over in Inman Square in its first few months. Especially for late-night sake and snacks.

I don’t really cross the river with enough frequency to get in regular visits to many Boston proper spots, but I do have a few tried-and-trues up my sleeve, such as Haley.Henry and Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Cafe.”


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Mamaleh's Delicatessen

One Kendall Square, Building 300, Cambridge, MA 02139 Visit Website

Saloniki (Fenway)

4 Kilmarnock St, Boston, MA 02215 (617) 266-0001 Visit Website

Stoked Pizza

1632 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446 (617) 982-3473

Saloniki (Central Square)

181 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139 Visit Website

Erbaluce

69 Church Street, , MA 02116 (617) 426-6969 Visit Website

Café du Pays

233 Cardinal Medeiros Avenue, , MA 02141 (617) 314-7297 Visit Website

Drink

348 Congress Street, , MA 02210 (617) 695-1806 Visit Website

Uni Boston

370A Commonwealth Avenue, , MA 02215 (617) 536-7200 Visit Website

Sarma

249 Pearl Street, , MA 02145 (617) 764-4464 Visit Website

Alden & Harlow

40 Brattle Street, , MA 02138 (617) 864-2100 Visit Website

Parlor Sports

1 Beacon Street, , MA 02143 (617) 576-0231 Visit Website

Taqueria El Amigo

196 Willow Street, , MA 02453 (781) 642-7410

Lamplighter Brewing Co.

284 Broadway, , MA 02139 (617) 945-0450 Visit Website

Mei Mei

Unit 52 Rochester Walk, , England SE1 9AF Visit Website

Olecito

6 Cypress Street, Brookline, MA 02445 617 739 1408 Visit Website

La Victoria Taqueria

12 Medford Street, , MA 02474 (781) 859-5503 Visit Website

Sabzi Persian Chelow Kabab

352 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474 (781) 753-0150

Render Coffee

563 Columbus Ave., Boston, MA 02118 (617) 262-4142 Visit Website

The Smoke Shop (Cambridge)

1 Kendall Sq., Cambridge, MA 02139 (617) 577-7427 Visit Website

The Table at Season to Taste

2447 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140 617-871-9468 Visit Website

Brendan Behan Pub

378 Centre Street, , MA 02130 (617) 522-5386 Visit Website

Vee Vee

763 Centre Street, , MA 02130 (617) 522-0145 Visit Website

The Automatic

50 Hampshire Street, , MA 02139 (617) 714-5226 Visit Website

Juliet

21 Union Square, , MA 02143 (617) 718-0958 Visit Website

haley.henry

45 Province Street, , MA 02108 (617) 208-6000 Visit Website

Dumpling Cafe

695 Washington Street, , MA 02111 (617) 338-8859 Visit Website

Highland Fried

1271 Cambridge Street, , MA 02139 (617) 714-4662 Visit Website

Pagu

310 Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02139 (617) 945-9290 Visit Website

Coppa

253 Shawmut Avenue, Boston, MA 02118 617 391 0902 Visit Website

El Pelon Taqueria

92 Peterborough Street, Boston, MA 02215 617 262 9090

casa b

253 Washington Street, Somerville, MA 02143 617 764 2180 Visit Website

Toro

1704 Washington Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02118 617.536.4300 Visit Website

Joe Sent Me

2388 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140 (617) 492-1116 Visit Website

Sichuan Gourmet House

1203R Walnut Street, Newton Highlands, MA 02461

Capone Foods

14 Bow St, Somerville, MA 02143 (617) 629-2296 Visit Website

Chilacates (Amory Street - JP)

224 Amory St, , MA 02130 (617) 522-6000 Visit Website

WUBurger (Woburn)

880 Main St, Woburn, MA 01801 (781) 281-0277 Visit Website

Cantina La Mexicana

247 Washington Street, , MA 02143 (617) 776-5232 Visit Website

UpperWest

1 Cedar St, Cambridge, MA 02140 (617) 714-5734 Visit Website

J.J. Foley's Cafe

117 East Berkeley Street, , MA 02118 (617) 728-9101 Visit Website

Massimo's

19 Centre St, Wakefield, MA 01880 (781) 587-1757 Visit Website

SRV

569 Columbus Avenue, , MA 02118 (617) 536-9500 Visit Website

Cafe Sushi

1105 Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02138 (617) 492-0434 Visit Website

Peach Farm

4 Tyler Street, , MA 02111 (617) 482-1116 Visit Website

FIELD & VINE

9 Sanborn Court, , MA 02143 (617) 718-2333 Visit Website

Momi Nonmi

1128 Cambridge Street, , MA 02139 (617) 945-7328 Visit Website

Hojoko

1271 Boylston Street, , MA 02215 (617) 670-0507 Visit Website

Backbar

7 Sanborn Court, , MA 02143 (617) 718-0249 Visit Website

Highland Kitchen

150 Highland Avenue, , MA 02143 (617) 625-1131 Visit Website

Eventide Fenway

1321 Boylston Street, , MA 02215 (617) 545-1060 Visit Website

Estragon

700 Harrison Ave, , MA 02118 (617) 266-0443 Visit Website

Moody's Delicatessen & Provisions

468 Moody St, Waltham, MA 02453

Bon Me (Fort Point)

313 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02210 Visit Website

Little Big Diner

1247 Centre St., Newton, MA 02459

Thana Thai Kitchen

882A Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476 (781) 648-8888

Flour Bakery + Cafe (Dalton Street)

30 Dalton St., Boston, MA 02115 (857) 233-2255 Visit Website

Yvonne's

3 Winter Pl., Boston, MA 02108 Visit Website

Gustazo Cuban Restaurant and Cafe

663 Main Street, , MA 02451 (855) 487-8296 Visit Website

Island Creek Oyster Bar

500 Commonwealth Avenue, , MA 02215 (617) 532-5300 Visit Website

Ebi sushi

290 Somerville Avenue, , MA 02143 (617) 764-5556 Visit Website

Brewer's Fork

7 Moulton Street, , MA 02129 (617) 337-5703 Visit Website

Commonwealth

11 Broad Canal Way, , MA 02142 (617) 945-7030 Visit Website

The Hawthorne

500A Commonwealth Avenue, , MA 02215 (617) 532-9150 Visit Website

Cafe ArtScience

650 East Kendall Street, , MA 02142 (857) 999-2193 Visit Website

Burro Bar (Brookline)

1665 Beacon St., Brookline, MA 02445 Visit Website

Chilacates (Centre Street - JP)

658 Centre Street, , MA 02130 (617) 522-4500 Visit Website

Abide

315 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139 Visit Website

Clover Food Lab

1326 Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02138 Visit Website

Little Donkey

505 Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02139 (617) 945-1008 Visit Website

Bagelsaurus

1796 Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02140 (857) 285-6103 Visit Website

Bar Mezzana

360 Harrison Avenue, , MA 02118 (617) 530-1770 Visit Website

Punjabi Dhaba

225 Hampshire Street, , MA 02139 (617) 547-8272 Visit Website

Habanero Mexican Grill

9003 East Fairview Avenue, , CA 91775 (626) 286-1914 Visit Website

Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe

86 Bedford Street, , MA 02111 (617) 482-1888 Visit Website

Row 34

300 District Avenue, , MA 01803 (781) 761-6500 Visit Website

Waypoint

1030 Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02138 (617) 864-2300 Visit Website

Coreanos

7500 Almeda Road, , TX 77054 (281) 728-3751 Visit Website
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