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A three-way junior roast beef sandwich on a sesame bun sits on aluminum foil
Roast beef sandwich at Hot Box at Union Square’s Bow Market
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

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The Hottest Dining Neighborhoods of 2018: Union Square, South End, and More

Local food writers zero in on the busiest areas of the year

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.)


MC Slim JB, restaurant critic for The Improper Bostonian:

“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.”


Erin Kuschner, food writer for Boston.com:

“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.”


Jolyon Helterman, contributing editor/food writer at Boston magazine:

“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 EventideFool’s ErrandTiger MamaSweet CheeksNathálieEastern StandardTapestryCitizen Pub corridor was a strong contender. So, too, the CraigiePaguLittle DonkeyPammy’sWaypointCafe 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.”


Eric Twardzik, contributor to The Food Lens, Boston.com, and more:

“Fenway. New additions like Fool’s Errand and Nathálie added to the already strong scene containing standouts like Hojoko and Eventide Fenway.”


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

“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).”


Oset Babur, co-founder of The Thirty-One Percent, food (and more) writer for a variety of publications, and digital strategist/editor/staff writer for Harvard Magazine:

“Fenway — I don’t make it over as much as I want to, but it’s absolutely blowing up.”


J.Q. Louise, blogger at http://jqlouise.com and food writer at the Boston Herald:

“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.”


Dana Hatic, associate editor of Eater Boston:

“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.”


Terrence B. Doyle, reporter for Eater Boston:

“Seaport? South End? Kind of a toss-up?”


Rachel Leah Blumenthal, editor of Eater Boston:

“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.”

A white plate sits on a white table, full of cubes of marintaed beef with peppers and tomatoes. A glass of red wine sits to the right.
Lomo saltado at Celeste
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

El Potro

61 Union Sq, Somerville, MA 02143 (617) 666-4200 Visit Website

The Gallows

1395 Washington Street, , MA 02118 (617) 425-0200 Visit Website

Mooncusser Fish House

304 Stuart Street, , MA 02116 (617) 917-5193 Visit Website

Sweet Cheeks

1381 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215 617 266 1300 Visit Website

Buk Kyung (Somerville)

9a Union Square, Somerville, MA 02143 (617) 623-7220 Visit Website

Dragon Pizza

233 Elm Street, , MA 02144 (617) 764-5026 Visit Website

Fool's Errand

1377 Boylston Street, , MA 02215 Visit Website

Yvonne's

2 Winter Place, , MA 02108 (617) 267-0047 Visit Website

Celeste

21 Bow Street, , MA 02143 (617) 616-5319 Visit Website

Juliet

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

Pagu

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

Bar Lyon

1750 Washington Street, , MA 02118 (617) 904-4020 Visit Website

Coppa

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

Citizen Public House & Oyster Bar

1310 Boylston Street, , MA 02215 (617) 450-9000 Visit Website

casa b

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

Myers + Chang

1145 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02118 617 542 5200 Visit Website

PA's Lounge

345 Somerville Ave, Somerville, MA 02143 (617) 776-1557 Visit Website

Explorateur

186 Tremont St., Boston, MA 02116

Urban Axes

2 Union Sq., Somerville, MA 02143 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

Eastern Standard

528 Commonwealth Avenue, , MA 02215 (617) 532-9100 Visit Website

Whaling in Oklahoma

647 Tremont Street, , MA 02118 (617) 266-4600 Visit Website

FIELD & VINE

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

Tiger Mama

1363 Boylston Street, , MA 02215 (617) 425-6262 Visit Website

Craigie On Main

853 Main Street, , MA 02139 (617) 497-5511 Visit Website

Hojoko

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

Backbar

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

Eventide Fenway

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

Metropolis

584 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02118 (617) 247-2931 Visit Website

Southern Proper

600 Harrison Avenue, , MA 02118 (857) 233-2421 Visit Website

Tapestry

69 Kilmarnock Street, , MA 02215 (617) 421-4470 Visit Website

nathálie

186 Brookline Avenue, , MA 02215 (857) 317-3884 Visit Website

Brass Union

70 Union Square, , MA 02143 (617) 623-9211 Visit Website

Union Square Donuts

20 Bow Street, , MA 02143 (617) 209-2257 Visit Website

Toro

1704 Washington Street, , MA 02118 (617) 536-4300 Visit Website

Mortadella Head

20 College Avenue, , MA 02144 (617) 996-6680 Visit Website

Little Donkey

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

Bronwyn

255 Washington Street, , MA 02143 (617) 776-9900 Visit Website

Shore Leave

11 William E Mullins Way, , MA 02118 (617) 530-1775 Visit Website

Bar Mezzana

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

Pammy's

928 Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02139 (617) 945-1761 Visit Website

The Butcher Shop (Boston)

552 Tremont St., Boston, MA 02118 (617) 423-4800 Visit Website

Waypoint

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

DAKZEN

195 Elm Street, , MA 02144 (617) 718-1759 Visit Website

Bow Market

1 Bow Market Way, , MA 02143 Visit Website

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