As is Eater’s annual tradition, we’re closing out 2018 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, or hop into our Facebook group to discuss — we’ll post a thread for each survey question.
Keep an eye on the Year in Eater archive page for other stories in this series.
Up next: What was the hottest dining neighborhood of 2018? (See the 2017 responses here.)
“Union Square. Peruvian newcomer Celeste was a huge magnet for me earlier this year; I gave it a rave review in The Improper in May and an award for Best Peruvian Restaurant in The Improper’s Boston’s Best issue over the summer. Bow Market brought along a groovy cornucopia of food stalls — pierogi, empanadas, bar pies, roast beef sandwiches, macarons, natural wines, vegetarian poutine, plus more on the way — as well as other awesome shops and services. P.A.’s Lounge reinvented itself as the Union Tavern. Combining booze and axe-throwing is probably not as terrible an idea as it first seems: hello, Urban Axes! I had a blast with Spanish karaoke at El Potro. And Juliet, Casa B, Backbar, Buk Kyung, Bronwyn, Union Square Donuts, Field & Vine, and Brass Union kept being awesome. A pretty good year for a cool little corner of Somerville.”
“Somerville seemed to be at the center of a lot of dining news this year. Bow Market opened with all of their eateries, Celeste won some national acclaim, Dakzen is fantastic, and then there was the pizza boom in Davis with Dragon Pizza and Mortadella Head. Urban Axes just opened there, too, which means Somerville is now the most convenient place to eat and then throw shit.”
“For me, neighborhood dining hotness has less to do with the number of buzzy new spots than how...satisfyingly those fresh additions meld with the existing stars to galvanize and (re)shape the identity of a particular walkable parcel of the city. There’s the crawlability aspect: What part of the city do I find myself shortlisting most often for a night of wandering around in graze mode when New York City food snobs come to town? This year, Kenmore/Fenway’s white-hot Eventide–Fool’s Errand–Tiger Mama–Sweet Cheeks–Nathálie–Eastern Standard–Tapestry–Citizen Pub corridor was a strong contender. So, too, the Craigie–Pagu–Little Donkey–Pammy’s–Waypoint–Cafe Sushi swath I’ll call ‘Greater Central.’
But for 2018 I’d say the South End takes top prize. Something about the way newcomers like Whaling in Oklahoma, Shore Leave, Southern Proper, and Bar Lyon filled in the neighborhood’s gaps — in terms of everything from cuisine, price point, and finger-on-the-pulse-ness to literal geographical distribution — making the rectangle roughly defined by Bar Mezzana, Toro, SRV, and Mooncusser (honorary-member perimeter spot) hum with an energy, relevance, and coherent identity I don’t think it’s had in a decade. That steadfast anchors like Myers & Chang, Coppa, the Gallows, the Butcher Shop, and Metropolis haven’t lost their A-game sure doesn’t hurt.”
“Allston in general seems to be the next big thing, including Lower Allston, which is seeing more and more dining options, and Allston Village, which has tons of turnover but which is getting some interesting places in (as always).”
“Fenway — I don’t make it over as much as I want to, but it’s absolutely blowing up.”
“I love my neighborhood, the Theater District. With hotspots like Yvonne’s flourishing and newbies coming into their own like Explorateur and the star power of Hamilton rolling into the Boston Opera House, the Theater District came to life this year.”
Sam Hiersteiner, contributor to the Boston Globe and more:
“All the ones I barely had time to get to north of the Charles, including Portland, Maine.”
“In terms of growth, I’d have to say Seaport. It felt like every week there was something new opening there, and each restaurant had its own fanfare.”
“Seaport? South End? Kind of a toss-up?”
“I feel like a broken record — with my own responses to the previous survey questions, and with some of the other responses above — but this was Somerville’s year, especially Union Square. Bow Market alone added so many new dining and drinking options to the neighborhood, and they’re all great. Right around the corner, Celeste took home our Restaurant of the Year award this year, not to mention other local and non-local acclaim. (The neighborhood is also home to our 2016 Restaurant of the Year winner, Juliet, which continues to be delightful.) We got an ax-throwing bar, which may be the sign of a coming apocalypse or maybe it’s just a fun spot to drink beer and throw axes; either way, something is happening in this neighborhood. It was already good; this year, it got even better.”