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Arcade video games and pinball machines fill a room. White and yellow striped decorative panels hang from the ceiling.
A4cade was one of several big Central Square openings this year
Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

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The Hottest Dining Neighborhoods of 2017: Seaport District, Central Square, and More

Local food writers zero in on the busiest areas of the 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 was the hottest dining neighborhood of 2017?

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MC Slim JB, restaurant critic for The Improper Bostonian:

“I suppose Southie was the hottest in terms of number of splashy debuts, but it wasn’t a very exciting destination for me. Too many openings were enervating chain outlets in the Seaport, or noisy Old Southie spots that prize a hopping scene over amazing food and drink. I’m much more thrilled about what’s going on in Malden these days, which along with Quincy is starting to look like Boston’s answer to Flushing. Crying Thaiger, District Kitchen, Golden Garden, Ibasaw, Sun Kong, Ming’s, Wow BBQ, Café de Lulu, Sousaku, Sichuan Taste, and so on and on? Much more compelling.”

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

Inman Square continues to be red-hot and is one of my favorite neighborhoods for dining and drinking, but keep an eye on Dorchester, as it's starting to really boom now. On a related note, that South Bay area (which encompasses both Dorchester and Roxbury) seems like it's on the verge of becoming the next big thing, especially with a handful of places making beer, cider, and spirits moving in there.”

Jacqueline Cain, associate food editor of Boston Magazine:

“It was hard just keeping up with all the openings in the Seaport. Central and Kendall squares are also keeping things exciting.”

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

“It seemed like the first in a while where the focus wasn't on one neighborhood and great places were popping up everywhere, even in areas that had grown stale, like Downtown, the North End, and Back Bay.”

Alex Wilking, contributor to Eater Boston:

“I have to hand it to Brookline this year; it’s been an exciting ride. The area has seen some quality (read: much needed) additions over the past few months, like Prairie Fire, Union Square Donuts, and Burro Bar, to name a few. Equally exciting to me is what’s to come, like the soon-to-be Porto Maltese in Washington Square and Gen Sou En tea house in Coolidge Corner.”

Rachel Leah Blumenthal, editor of Eater Boston:

“Probably the Seaport District by sheer volume — but I don’t think that most of the openings there were the most exciting; there were just a lot of them. Too many big, non-local chains.

I found Cambridge to be the most exciting in 2017, especially Central Square — and more specifically, the MIT section of it. I think that the existence of the Kendall/MIT T stop makes people forget that there’s basically a bit of a Central/MIT neighborhood as well, and that stretch of Massachusetts Avenue has become the home of so many great openings over the last year or so, including Pagu, Saloniki, Roxy’s/A4cade, and temporary but longish-term pop-up Abide, which is serving up really interesting teas and coffees inside Middlesex Lounge. Whole Heart Provisions will open in that area next year as well.

And nearby in Kendall Square, we got Cafe du Pays this year, not to mention The Automatic (which snuck in at the tail end of last year) — and Mamaleh’s and Smoke Shop were 2016 openings but continued to draw big crowds in 2017.”

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Middlesex Lounge

315 Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02139 (617) 868-6739 Visit Website

Mamaleh's Delicatessen

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

Saloniki (Central Square)

181 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139 Visit Website

Union Square Donuts (Brookline)

409 Harvard St., Brookline, MA 02446 Visit Website

Café du Pays

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

The Smoke Shop (Cambridge)

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


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

The Automatic

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

Roxy's Central

292 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139 Visit Website

Gen Sou En Tea House

299 Harvard St., Brookline, MA 02446 Visit Website

Golden Garden

9 Highland Ave., Malden, MA 02148 (781) 322-3708 Visit Website

Porto Maltese

1634 Beacon St., Brookline, MA 02446

Whole Heart Provisions (Central Square)

298 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139 Visit Website


292 Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02139 (617) 714-3960 Visit Website

Burro Bar (Brookline)

1665 Beacon St., Brookline, MA 02445 Visit Website

Prairie Fire

242 Harvard Street, , MA 02446 (617) 396-8199 Visit Website


315 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139 Visit Website
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