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All the Boston Food News That Mattered in December 2018: From Ceviche to Sushi Burritos

The month in openings, closings, top news, and more

A vibrantly colored portion of ceviche is presented on a white plate on a white table, with a glass of beer on the side.
Ceviche at Celeste, Eater Boston’s 2018 Restaurant of the Year winner
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

As the year draws to a close, here’s a look back at everything that happened in November, from the opening of Somerville’s first ax-throwing bar to the closures of a few notable Boston mainstays.

Read on for a summary of December 2018, including the most-read news stories and maps, the openings, and the closings.

Glamour shot of a fine-dining piece of roast chicken on a white plate with vegetables. The plate sits on a white tablecloth with a black background.
Roasted chicken at L’Espalier, which is closing out a 40-year run on New Year’s Eve
  1. Boston’s 2018 Eater Award Winners: The best chefs, restaurants, and bars of the year.
  2. Suburban Boston Dining News, Updated Weekly: A round-up of restaurant openings, closings, and other news outside of the immediate Boston vicinity.
  3. Somerville, Get Ready to Drink Booze and Throw Axes: Somerville’s first ax-throwing bar, Urban Axes, arrives.
  4. Two More Longtime Boston Dive Bars Close for Now: The Tam and Sullivan’s Tap are both closed, though each is slated to reopen on New Year’s Eve under new management.
  5. New England Dining Updates Beyond Massachusetts: This round-up is updated weekly with restaurant openings, closings, and more throughout New England.
  6. Cambridge’s Crema Cafe to Close Later This Month: The cafe has had a long tenure of serving exceptional coffee and food in Harvard.
  7. L’Espalier Will Close at the End of the Year: The Back Bay restaurant has been open for 40 years.
  8. Boston’s Top Restaurant Standbys of 2018: Dumpling Cafe, Bar Mezzana, and More: Local food writers discuss their regular haunts of this past year.
  9. The Soul of Crema Cafe Will Live on in Revival Cafe: Nookie’s back with his latest installment of “On the House.”
  10. The Most Beautiful New Boston Restaurants of 2018: Gaze upon the prettiest new spaces of the year.

Boiled potato-and-cheese pierogi at Cafe Polonia
Boiled potato-and-cheese pierogi at Cafe Polonia
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater
  1. The Hottest Restaurants in Boston Right Now, December 2018: Boston’s best new hotspots, updated monthly.
  2. The Ultimate Holiday Dining Guide for Boston: Find all of Eater Boston’s holiday stories right here, all year long.
  3. The Food Events Guide: All the local food and drink events you’ll actually want to attend, updated weekly.
  4. 35 of the Boston Area’s Most Essential Bars: Cocktail destinations, beer bars, wine bars, and more.
  5. A Guide to Dorchester’s Polish Triangle, From Pierogi to Pączki: Where to find kielbasa, kabanos, and more.
  6. Where to Eat and Drink in Cambridge’s Central Square: Ramen, dumplings, cocktails, arcade games.
  7. Boston’s Best Dive Bars: Drink cheaply at these fine establishments.
  8. Where to Eat and Drink on New Year’s Eve in Boston: From kitschy theme parties to casual dive bars, these are the places to usher in 2019.
  9. Where to Eat and Drink in Somerville’s Davis Square: Fried scallops, Neapolitan pizza, Thai noodles, and Japanese dumplings.
  10. Boston’s Best After-Work Dining Deals: Boozy happy hour specials are a no-go in Massachusetts, but there are food specials aplenty.

Tender Greens fried chicken sandwich
Fried chicken sandwich at Tender Greens, now open in Back Bay
Liz Clayman
  • 100% Delicias Express (660A Centre St., Jamaica Plain, Boston): A takeout-focused offshoot of Roslindale’s 100% Delicias, focusing on empanadas, cativias, mofongo, and more.
  • Aceituna Grill (100 Federal St., Downtown Boston): This is the third location for the fast-casual Mediterranean spot, which originated in Kendall Square and later expanded to the Seaport District.
  • Adventure Pub (190 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington): A gastropub with board games, card games, and immersive theater events, located in the former Bistro Duet space.
  • Bonapita (75 Spring St., West Roxbury, Boston): This casual Mediterranean spot from downtown Boston expanded to West Roxbury, in the former BurgerFi space.
  • The Breakfast Spot (651 Warren St., Grove Hall, Boston): Breakfast sandwiches, shrimp and grits, and more.
  • Coffee Break Cafe (680 Truman Pkwy., Hyde Park, Boston): A small group of local cafes, around for over 20 years, has added a fourth location, its first in Boston. There are also locations in Quincy (two) and Milton.
  • Forcella (North End, Boston): A new Italian restaurant in the old Carmen space in the North End.
  • Formaggio Kitchen (94 Hampshire St., Cambridge): The cheese-and-more shop has opened its third Massachusetts location (there’s one in New York, too.) This location is primarily aimed at beefing up Formaggio’s catering operations, but there’s plenty of retail products and sandwiches as well.
  • Giacomo’s Ristorante (14 Elissa Ave., Wayland): This Italian favorite from Boston’s North End and South End, and more recently Melrose, has now expanded to Wayland as well.
  • In Season Food Shop (Bow Market, 1 Bow Market Wy., Union Square, Somerville): The latest addition to Bow Market serves prepared foods — mac and cheese, soups and salads, and more — and sells local products and produce.
  • Jamaica Mi Hungry (300B Athenaeum St., Kendall Square, Cambridge): This local Jamaica food business is popping up in the kiosk across from 360 E. Kendall St. until spring.
  • Mitho Restaurant (831 Main St., Winchester): A Nepali restaurant in the former Cafe Piazza Dolce space, serving momos, curry, and more.
  • Poke Garden (10 Harvard St., Brookline Village): Poke bowls, “makirittos,” and more in the former Clover space.
  • Poké Station and Kitchen (Northeastern University, 313 Huntington Ave., Boston): Poke, sushi burritos, dumplings, Korean fried chicken, and more, right on Northeastern’s campus.
  • Shaking Seafood (19 Poplar St., Roslindale, Boston): One of a growing number of Cajun-style seafood boil restaurants in and around Boston.
  • Shine Square Pub (2046 Massachusetts Ave., Porter Square, Cambridge): A revamping of McCabe’s Bar & Grille, with some new folks overseeing things. Sambuca on tap, pinball and foosball, new televisions, and more, plus lots of wings.
  • The Square (1 Pond St., Sharon): Rachel Klein (Mandarin Oriental, Liquid Art House) oversees the menu at this replacement for the longtime Pizzigando in the center of town. There are burgers, steak frites, tacos, rice bowls, and more, plus a lot of local beers.
  • Stella’s Restaurant & Wine Bar (94 Lafayette St., Salem): Located in the former Smokin’ Betty’s space, Stella’s features a long list of wines from around the world, along with seafood, pasta, raw bar items, and more.
  • Tender Greens (Copley Place, 100 Huntington Ave., Back Bay, Boston): Following a Chestnut Hill location that opened in the spring, this is the second Massachusetts location for the casual California chain, which features seasonal, local ingredients in customizable protein-greens-and-a-side plates.
  • Theory: Wine Bar + Listening Room (10 Main St., Andover): A live music club and wine bar with a menu of small bites (cheese, charcuterie, sweets, etc.)
  • Urban Axes (2 Union Sq., Union Square, Somerville): Axes and booze. What could go wrong? (There’s a small food menu, too.)
  • Wahlburgers (South Bay, 9 District Ave., Dorchester, Boston): The Wahlberg family has brought its ever-growing burger chain to their hometown.

A plate of bucatini carbonara with visible flecks of black pepper, guanciale, pasta, and an egg yolk
The carbonara at Erbaluce
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater
  • 7 Central (7 Central St., Manchester-by-the-Sea): The restaurant had been around for nearly four decades, but longtime restaurateur Paul Barclay took the reins about four years ago and retired at the end of 2018. A small group of local Italian restaurants, Antique Table, will take over the space early in 2019.
  • Best Burger Bar (6 Station St., Brookline Village): After a little over a year in business, this burger-focused restaurant, which also served boozy milkshakes and a cocktail list from local cocktail legend Brother Cleve, has closed.
  • Brio Tuscan Grille (200 Boylston St., Chestnut Hill): The restaurant shuttered after its parent company was acquired by a private equity firm.
  • The Citizen Wine Bar (1 Exchange St., Worcester): The decade-old Citizen, along with its adjoining spaces the People’s Kitchen and Still & Stir, closed at the end of the year.
  • Crema Cafe (27 Brattle St., Harvard Square, Cambridge): This decade-old mainstay is being pushed out by new development — a New York-based chain cafe is coming in — but Crema will live on in its new sister spot Revival Cafe, which is now open in Alewife and opening any day now in Davis Square.
  • Erbaluce (69 Church St., Bay Village, Boston): This acclaimed Italian restaurant was open for a decade. The building that houses it is being redeveloped, and although the restaurant could have potentially reopened after construction, it wasn’t a viable option due to liquor licensing rules and other factors. Stay tuned: The Erbaluce team might open something new, but probably something more casual and/or not in Boston proper.
  • L’Espalier (774 Boylston St., Back Bay, Boston): This upscale French-New England restaurant closed at the end of the year after a 40-year run in three different Back Bay locations. Frank McClelland, who has been chef and owner for the past 30 years, after buying the restaurant from founder Moncef Meddeb, announced that it’s been a great run, but he has to “do something else that feeds [his] soul,” and the lease was up.
  • Margaritas (75 Station Lndg., Medford): This location of the Mexican chain, which has locations around the Northeast, closed in December when its lease expired.
  • McCabe’s Bar & Grille (2046 Massachusetts Ave., Porter Square, Cambridge): McCabe’s — sibling spot to Bull McCabe’s in Union Square, Somerville — closed this month, and after some quick renovations, it reopened as Shine Square Pub, with a few new faces overseeing things.
  • Naked Fish (455 Totten Pond Rd., Waltham): The seafood-focused restaurant served everything from paella to Cuban sandwiches.
  • Rani Indian Bistro (1353 Beacon St., Coolidge Corner, Brookline): The Indian restaurant had been open for 15 years. It will be replaced by a hot pot restaurant.
  • Shepard (1 Shepard St., Cambridge): After opening in 2016 and snapping up some local and national acclaim, particularly for its wood-fired cooking, Shepard had to switch away from wood fire due to neighborhood complaints. The restaurant closed at the end of the year and will reopen as something new from the same team early in 2019.
  • Tealuxe (0 Brattle St., Harvard Square, Cambridge): The tea shop and cafe had been open for over 20 years.

Overhead view of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, slaw, and dipping sauce on a red-and-white checkered paper on a white plate.
Fried chicken at Highland Fried, which opened in December 2017 in Inman Square
Highland Fried

Looking back at December 2017, openings included a fried chicken haven in Inman Square; a boisterous sushi spot in South Boston; a Thai restaurant focused on Bangkok street foods in Davis Square; a Back Bay location of an acclaimed suburban deli; and more.

On the closure side, Boston lost the latest incarnation of an Inman Square mainstay (which turned into the aforementioned fried chicken spot); a popular Allston ramen spot (which later relocated to Medford); a fairly young Italian restaurant in the South End; and more.

In other news in December 2017, rooftop igloos made their return; local food writers waxed nostalgic on the food news of the year; and Eater announced its annual award winners.