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Boston’s Eater Awards Winners 2017

The restaurants, chefs, and taprooms that made the city run wild this year

Cafe du Pays bar
The bar at Cafe du Pays
Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

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Today, we are pleased to announce the winners of the eighth annual Eater Awards, celebrating the chefs and restaurants that made the largest impact on all 24 Eater cities over the past twelve months.

As noted throughout the voting period last week, awards are being given out in five categories, and each category features an editor’s choice winner and a readers’ choice winner. Editor’s choice winners will be receiving a traditional Eater tomato can trophy and a feature story in the coming year, and readers’ choice winners get plenty of bragging rights. Nominees were picked by Eater staff from among all restaurants that opened since last year’s awards, and in line with Eater Boston’s standard geographic coverage radius, this year’s nominees come from Boston proper and a little bit beyond.

Here now are the establishments — from a cozy French-Canadian spot (yes, it has poutine) to a lobster roll destination, from a brewery with an embedded coffee shop to a swanky Fort Point Mexican restaurant — that have taken the Boston food world by storm this year. (Curious about the 2017 national winners? Find those here.)

Restaurant of the Year

Café du Pays
233 Cardinal Medeiros Ave., Kendall Square, Cambridge

Duck at Café du Pays
Duck at Café du Pays
Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

Boston’s got plenty of poutine — or dishes that masquerade as poutine, anyway — but until the middle of 2017, you’d have to travel up north to get more of a taste of French-Canadian cuisine. The seven-person ownership team behind Café du Pays is no stranger to success; the same folks are also behind the habitually crowded State Park and Mamaleh’s a short walk away. Plus, they were also behind the acclaimed Hungry Mother, the previous occupant of the quirky house in which Café du Pays now resides. For this newest project, they’ve brought on Dan Amighi (La Brasa, Little Big Diner) as chef.

If you like that talented group of people; if you’ve been hankering for a taste of Québec right here in Cambridge, with a touch of New England; if the idea of deer frites excites you more than steak frites or you want to drop some serious cash on whole roasted foie gras — Café du Pays is a no-brainer. And especially with winter coming, the restaurant’s hearty meats, irresistible house-made sourdough, and maple-tinged desserts and drinks will be the perfect antidote to the cold weather.

Restaurant of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner

243 Hampshire St., Inman Square, Cambridge

Two bastilla pastries leaning against each other in a dark cast iron serving skillet.
Chicken bastilla at Moona
Brian Samuels/Moona

Readers threw their votes behind Moona, an intimate Inman Square restaurant that serves Eastern Mediterranean cuisine in a format geared towards sharing. The name is a slang form of an Arabic word for “storing,” referring to stocking up and preserving foods during the harvest season to prepare for winter. As such, foods like olives, pickles, and preserved lemons are featured.

Located in the longtime Rosie’s Bakery space that more recently briefly housed Playska, Moona only seats about 30 but packs a lot of flavor and personality into the small space. Oh, and Moona has a version of poutine too.

Additional Restaurant of the Year Nominees

Frenchie, Pagu, Pammy’s

Chef of the Year

Mary Dumont of Cultivar
1 Court St., Downtown Boston

Mary Dumont
Mary Dumont, chef-owner of Cultivar
Sarah Storrer for Eater

Prior to the opening of Cultivar, Mary Dumont was probably best-known by Bostonians thanks to her nearly decade-long stint as executive chef at Harvard Square’s classic Harvest restaurant. But before that, she built up an extensive and impressive resume around the country, from Jardinière in San Francisco to Blackbird in Chicago. And along the way, she’s snapped up plenty of awards and television appearances.

So it’s at long last that Dumont has opened her own restaurant, and it’s already hitting its stride in its first year. It’s a beautiful space full of beautiful plates of truly local, seasonal food, an expression of new New England cuisine that runs the gamut from lobster rolls to whole roasted chickens for two, snail toast to nettle bucatini with lamb neck sugo. Dumont’s years of experience on the West and East Coasts really shine here, and she’s assembled an expert team to help, too (don’t miss executive pastry chef Robert Gonzalez’s impeccable desserts.)

Chef of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner

Readers also voted for Mary Dumont as Chef of the Year.

Additional Chef of the Year Nominees

Andrew Brady of Field & Vine, Chris Chung of Momi Nonmi, Douglas Rodrigues of North Square Oyster, Douglass Williams of Mida

Design of the Year

Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar
253 Summer St., Fort Point, Boston

lolita cocina & tequila bar fort point
Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar’s new Fort Point location
Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

COJE Management Group — the team behind Yvonne’s, Ruka, and now two Lolita locations — really excels at creating a special ambiance. The group’s restaurants tend toward a dark, sexy, see-and-be-seen vibe, and the newest Lolita in Fort Point is no exception. It’s a long space that meanders through several different rooms of vibrant murals, eye-catching red chandeliers, statement furniture, and vivid stained glass, not to mention a striking array of skulls above one semi-private table. Nestle in with a frozen margarita (aka “frolita”), some octopus ceviche, and some seared shrimp Oaxaca, and be sure to save a bit of room for the giant portion of cotton candy that arrives with the check.

COJE’s own Project Services Group fully designed the space, and Boston-based Bergmeyer was the architect of record for the project. Lolita’s murals were created by Julia Purinton of Burlington, Vermont, and Danny Fila of Miami, Florida, both of whom also worked on Ruka.

Design of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner

Terra at Eataly Boston
800 Boylston St., Back Bay, Boston

Terra Eataly Boston
Terra at Eataly Boston
Terra/Official Site

Readers voted for Terra, the third-floor greenhouse respite from the hustle and bustle of Eataly’s main floors, for Design of the Year. Eataly USA’s Project Manager-Design, Bailey Kelliher, headed up the design of Eataly Boston’s Terra, aiming to draw particular focus to the restaurant’s grill — the centerpiece of Terra’s concept — by placing it near the entrance and giving its hood a unique, eye-catching shape. Kelliher and team wanted to play up the greenhouse feel — more specifically, an Italian greenhouse feel — by using plenty of simple raw materials and featuring antique garden objects and artwork from Italy.

Also involved in the creation of Terra: Studios Architecture designed the shell of the space, Boston-based general contractor firm Consigli worked on the buildout, an Italian company Costagroup provided furniture and Italian objects, Boston-based Edesign assisted with signage and more, and Boston-based Foliaire provided the greenery.

Additional Design of the Year Nominees

Publico Street Bistro & Garden, Roxy’s/A4cade, Les Sablons

Fast-Casual Restaurant of the Year

Eventide Fenway
1321 Boylston St., Fenway, Boston

Fried chicken katsu sandwich at Eventide Fenway
Fried chicken katsu sandwich at Eventide Fenway
Sarah Storrer/Eater

From the moment that Portland, Maine’s Eventide Oyster Co. team announced that it would open a sister restaurant in Boston, the hype grew to deafening levels. Many Bostonians had already experienced Eventide’s acclaimed brown butter lobster roll and couldn’t wait to eat it closer to home. The team was quick to explain that Eventide Fenway would be a different concept than its northern full-service sibling — more of a fast-casual concept, but with servers making the rounds to place extra drink orders and such throughout the meal. “Continued service,” if you will. But yes, there would be lobster rolls and other Eventide classics.

So the restaurant has a lot to live up to, and in its first couple of months, things are looking good. Go all out with bubbles and oysters and crudo, or keep things low-key with a lobster roll and some soft serve. Or anything in between. Eventide takes fast-casual to a new level — something sorely needed in a year when nearly every opening was yet another fast-casual chain from out of town.

Fast-Casual Restaurant of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner

Bess’s Cafe
224 Cypress St., Brookline

Beef is wrapped in a flaky scallion pancake, sitting on a white plate on a black tabletop
Scallion pancake wrap at Bess’s Cafe
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

The readers’ choice honor goes to a true hidden gem in Brookline, Bess’s Cafe, a charming and casual 14-seat Chinese restaurant that specializes in Jiang Nan-style noodles and more.

While the noodles are a must (try the dan dan noodles), don’t miss the scallion pancake wraps, which come stuffed with beef or crispy chicken, or the dumplings, particularly the pork and chive.

Additional Fast-Casual Restaurant of the Year Nominees

Manoa Poke Shop, Ruckus, Yume Ga Arukara

Taproom or Tasting Room of the Year

Lamplighter Brewing Co.
284 Broadway, Cambridge

White bar stools line a concrete bar with white tiling that opens to brewing space with silver tanks
Lamplighter Brewing Co.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

What makes a taproom successful? The beer’s gotta be great, sure, but it’s about the atmosphere as well. Do you want to hang out there for hours? Are there games to play and food to eat? Fun events, like trivia nights and pop-ups? One of 2017’s many new breweries (well, late 2016), Lamplighter Brewing Co., nails it on all counts. First things first, yes, the beer is good. The team expressed a particular interest in Brett IPAs when opening, but the current roster dabbles in a wide variety of styles. Get your hands on the Stranger Things-inspired dark saison, The Upsidedown, or the maple syrup and vanilla imperial stout, After Midnight, to warm up on these chilly days. (Need more warmth? Lamplighter sells the coziest hoodie imaginable.)

Another smart move by Lamplighter was opening with a cafe embedded inside. The independently owned Longfellows cafe fills the Lamplighter taproom with coffee, pastries, and more until 3 p.m. daily, and Lamplighter continues serving Longfellows’ cold brew, nitro cold brew, and house-made sodas through the evening. Time your wifi-ing right, and you can get work done will enjoying caffeine and booze.

Taproom or Tasting Room of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner

Bully Boy Distillers
50 Cedric St., Roxbury

bully boy distillers
Bully Boy Distillers
Jason Zucco for Bully Boy

Readers voted to bestow the readers’ choice award upon Bully Boy Distillers, which expanded into a new space this year, one that includes a 26-seat tasting room and cocktail bar looking into the 8,000-square-foot distillery.

The snug bar serves up “still-to-glass” cocktails that feature house-made tinctures, juices, and, of course, Bully Boy’s spirits (and be sure to keep an eye out for new products that aren’t yet available outside of the distillery.) There are rotating draft cocktails (such as candy apple rum punch or gin lime rickeys) and rotating barrel-aged cocktails available, as well as cocktail flights. Try the dessert flight, for example, featuring drinks such as the Truffle Shuffle, which takes Bully Boy’s Boston Rum and fat-washes it with Teddie’s Peanut Butter, combining that with muscovado syrup, house chocolate bitters, and peanut butter coffee.

Additional Taproom or Tasting Room of the Year Nominees

Castle Island Brewing, Down the Road Beer Co., Springdale Barrel Room

Congratulations to all of the 2017 winners and nominees, and thank you to the readers who took the time to vote for the readers’ choice awards. Stay tuned for more year-end coverage as 2017 draws to a close, and be sure to email us if there are any exciting 2018 openings coming up that should be on our radar.

Disclosure: Eater Boston contributor Alex Wilking is also employed by Lamplighter. He did not play a role in the creation of this piece or in the choosing of nominees and winners for the Eater Awards.

Lamplighter Brewing Co.

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

Café du Pays

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


243 Hampshire Street, , MA 02139 (617) 945-7448 Visit Website


100 State Street, , SC 29169 (803) 791-3443 Visit Website


Court Street, , MA 02108 (617) 979-8203 Visit Website


800 Boylston St., Boston, MA Visit Website

Eventide Fenway

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

Bully Boy Distillers

44 Cedric Street, , MA 02119 (617) 442-6000 Visit Website


224 Cypress Street, , MA 02445 (617) 879-0993 Visit Website

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