Welcome to day four of the ninth annual Eater Awards, honoring the most talented restaurant and bar industry gurus in cities across the world. Here’s a refresher on how the Eater Awards work, in case you’re just tuning in: All 24 Eater cities and the national site will grant prizes in multiple categories, including but not limited to Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year, and Design of the Year.
In each category, there will be an editors’ choice winner (chosen by the editorial staff of each Eater site) and a readers’ choice winner (chosen by poll) — all to be announced on December 5, 2018. The readers’ choice winners get unlimited bragging rights as Eater fan favorites. The editors’ choice winners will each receive an illustrious tomato can trophy, as is the tradition around here.
And that’s not all. Over the course of the coming year, stay tuned for features highlighting what makes each of the editors’ choice winners so great.
A few notes on nominee eligibility: As with all Eater Boston coverage, the Eater Awards cover not just Boston proper but Cambridge, Somerville, and a bit beyond. Secondly, the Awards focus solely on restaurants that opened in the past year (including openings from late 2017, after nominations closed for that year’s awards, which means that late 2018 openings will be considered next year). And thirdly, nominees are not repeated among the five awards categories, so if you’re wondering why your favorite restaurant isn’t included today, keep an eye out: It may appear in one of the other categories, which will all be announced over the course of this week.
Earlier this week, you voted on Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year, and Design of the Year. Today: Fast-Casual Restaurant of the Year. Which new quick-service or limited-service restaurant is so good that you won’t mind standing at a counter or grabbing your own utensils or slurping down noodles as fast as you can?
Eater Boston’s 2018 nominees in the Fast-Casual Restaurant of the Year category are serving everything from Thai to ramen to bar pizza to bagels.
Brush up on the details on today’s nominees before voting, if you’d like:
- Dakzen: This cheery Davis Square Thai restaurant is an eye-opening experience for those who have only tasted standard Thai-American takeout fare. Even those familiar dishes take on new life here — the tom yum soup is packed with springy fish balls, fish cakes, and intense heat; the pad thai, dotted with dried shrimp, has a delightful funk. Servers will take your order and bring you your food, but you’ll grab your own water, utensils, and the like at this perpetually busy spot.
- Exodus Bagels: This farmers market staple will one day open a long-promised restaurant in Roslindale, but in early 2018, the team jumped at the chance to first open a storefront in the former Canto 6 space in JP, serving up its popular bagels and bagel sandwiches to long lines of fans daily (except Mondays).
- Hot Box: Located in Somerville’s Bow Market, this Mike & Patty’s sibling hits on two distinct regional Massachusetts classics — South Shore bar pizza and North Shore roast beef sandwiches — and does both irresistibly well. Place your order at the window and wander the rest of the market while you wait. Feel free to bring your pizza or sandwich into one of Bow’s drinking establishments, such as Remnant (a brewery and cafe) or Rebel Rebel (a wine bar).
- Oisa Ramen: It’s perhaps not a fast-casual restaurant in the truest sense of the phrase — there are servers — but you’ll be slurping down your fantastic meal quickly in this tiny, bustling ramen joint that just offers a few counter seats along the open kitchen and a few more along the front window. A former pop-up with quite a following, Oisa has translated that magic into its minimal downtown space, serving ramen, donburi, and poke don.
Now, without any further ado, it’s time to vote for the readers’ choice winner in the Fast-Casual Restaurant of the Year category; come back tomorrow to vote in the final category for this year’s Eater Awards. Polls will be open for 24 hours (beginning at 10 a.m. each day) and will be strictly policed for funny business.
Cast your vote for Fast-Casual Restaurant of the Year now; the poll closes at 10 a.m. on Friday, November 30:
Note: If you cannot see the above poll, please try again in a different browser or on a different device; there is a known issue regarding the poll not showing up on AMP and Apple News platforms.