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All the Boston Food News That Mattered in January 2018: From Ax-Throwing Bars to Ramen

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

A bowl of ramen with an egg, noodles, mushrooms, and more
Oisa Ramen’s smoky shoyu ramen with egg and pork add-ons
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

2018 got off to a fast start in terms of local restaurant openings. A few Boston-based groups continued to expand in January, including Tatte Bakery & Cafe and Tasty Burger, while some non-local chains came to town as well, including Israel’s Cafe Landwer and D.C.-based Cava, both serving fast-casual food with a Mediterranean feel. Other openings included the much-anticipated debut of Blossom Bar, the cocktail bar reinvention of Sichuan Garden in Brookline; Delta Haus, a bar inspired by not one but three different frat house movies; Oisa Ramen, a popular pop-up that landed its own permanent space; and more.

But the year started with a few closures, too, including some very longtime spots, such as Sultan’s Kitchen in downtown Boston, the Faneuil Hall location of Bertucci’s, Tapeo on Newbury Street, and Diva Indian Bistro in the heart of Somerville’s Davis Square.

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

Two participants at an Urban Axes location smile and touch axes — the ax-throwing equivalent of a handshake — before beginning a round
A location of Urban Axes, expanding to Somerville this year.
Urban Axes [official photo]
  1. Somerville Is Getting an Ax-Throwing Bar Because of Course It Is: Urban Axes could open this summer.
  2. Tilted Kilt Shuts the Doors in Fenway: The Scottish-themed “breastaurant” has closed.
  3. The Forthcoming Natick Wegmans Will Have a Full-Service Mexican Restaurant and Tequila Bar: Courtesy of chef Roberto Santibañez of Fonda in New York City.
  4. Tiki Rock Opens Downtown With a Polynesian Super Burger and Mai Tais: There are cocktail bowls, too.
  5. Cafe Landwer Arrives in Boston With Shakshuka, Coffee, and Sandwiches: This is the Israeli chain’s first United States location.
  6. Blossom Bar Blooms in Brookline This Week: The old Sichuan Garden space has been transformed.
  7. Beer & Mortar: Five Boston-Area Breweries to Watch in 2018: These are a few players making big strides this year.
  8. Delta Haus Brings Bar Pizzas and Frat House Movie Nostalgia to Downtown Boston: There will be toga parties.
  9. Papagayo Shuts Down Its Fort Point Location: Citing a surplus of spots serving Mexican cuisine and tequila.
  10. Pikaichi Ramen, on the Comeback Trail, Lands New Home in Medford: In the former Emiliano’z Mexican Grill space.

The Saturn cocktail at Tiki Rock
The Saturn cocktail at Tiki Rock
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater
  1. The 38 Essential Restaurants in Boston, Winter 2018: Boston’s greatest restaurants for any occasion. This quarter’s update included the addition of ArtScience Culture Lab & Café, Bisq, Brassica Kitchen & Café, Café du Pays, Cultivar, The Gallows, Neptune Oyster, Pagu, Pammy’s, and Spoke Wine Bar.
  2. The Hottest Restaurants in Boston Right Now, January 2018: Already updated for February too, the monthly Heatmap features a dozen of the city’s hottest new dining destinations.
  3. The Eater Boston Winter 2018 Dining Headquarters: What’s #OpenInBOS?: Bookmark this page for weather-related openings, closures, and specials all winter long.
  4. Warm up at These 18 Ramen Destinations This Winter: So many noodles.
  5. The Winter 2017-2018 Restaurant Opening Guide: Boston Proper: Tacos, Thai ice cream rolls, Tiki drinks.
  6. A Guide to the Pop-Ups of Greater Boston: Get them before they’re gone.
  7. The Winter 2017-2018 Restaurant Opening Guide: Cambridge and Somerville: Just across the river from Boston, there will be poke, burgers, and coffee.
  8. The Eater Boston Food Events Guide: All the local food and drink events you’ll actually want to attend
  9. Where to Eat Egg Boats Around Boston: Otherwise known as khachapuri, these doughy, cheesy treats are worth tracking down.
  10. Chinatown Food Crawl: Dumplings, Eggplant, and Some Awfully Good Offal: Plus, drink a ton of Tsingtao.

Broken Spanish cocktail at Blossom Bar
The Broken Spanish cocktail at Blossom Bar, which opened in Brookline this January
Blossom Bar/Instagram
  • 75 on Courthouse Square (220 Northern Ave.): 75 Chestnut and 75 on Liberty Wharf have a new similarly named sibling in the Seaport District, serving burgers, seafood and pasta entrees, and more — as well as a build-your-own bloody mary bar.
  • The Bagel Table (9 Boylston St., Chestnut Hill): Located in the longtime Rosie’s Bakery space at The Street, this new bakery features OMG! Bagels (a local brand) and serves some of Rosie’s greatest hits as well.
  • Blossom Bar (295 Washington St., Brookline): Like its Woburn sibling, the Brookline Sichuan Garden now has a snazzy cocktail bar inside. Those who loved dining at Sichuan Garden pre-revamp will still find a number of its dishes on the new, pared-down menu.
  • Buttonwood (51 Lincoln St., Newton Highlands): This sibling to Sycamore and Little Big Diner is a family-friendly restaurant located in the former 51 Lincoln space, serving grilled meat and seafood entrees, a “pizza shop” Greek salad, Portuguese fish stew, and more.
  • Cafe Landwer (900 Beacon St., Audubon Circle, Boston): This is the first United States location for the Israeli cafe chain, which will also open in Boston’s Cleveland Circle neighborhood.
  • Caffe Nero (75 Middlesex Tpke., Burlington): Yep, this London-based cafe chain keeps expanding around the Boston area.
  • Cava (1346 Boylston St., Fenway, Boston): This fast-casual Mediterranean chain comes by way of Washington, D.C., and it’s also expanding to Boston’s Back Bay and Cambridge’s Kendall Square, as well as Dedham and Hingham.
  • Counter (209 Essex St., Salem): Drawing some menu inspiration from department store counter lunches, Counter is located in the Hotel Salem — a building that was a department store in the 1950s and 1960s. This spring, it’ll get a sibling restaurant and bar called The Roof, located on the hotel’s roof, of course.
  • Delta Haus (200 High St., Downtown Boston): From the people who brought Boston a Caddyshack-themed bar (Bushwood Cocktail Club) comes another movie-inspired spot, but this one draws inspiration from multiple frat house flicks: Animal House, Old School, and Revenge of the Nerds.
  • Globe Bar & Cafe (384 Boylston St., Back Bay, Boston): This Back Bay spot moved down the street, taking over the former Rattlesnake space. Yes, the rooftop will be open seasonally.
  • Grassona’s Italian (1704 Beacon St., Washington Square, Brookline): Fairsted Kitchen owner Steve Bowman briefly closed his restaurant to renovate it and reopen it as Grassona’s Italian, serving red-sauce Italian classics.
  • Hopsters (51 Sleeper St., Seaport District, Boston): The Newton-based brewpub and brew-your-own-beer facility has expanded to Boston proper (and has further expansion plans in the works). Go for a meal, a drink, and/or a brewing session.
  • Jana Grill & Bakery (2 Watertown St., Watertown): This Armenian restaurant serves khachapuri and more.
  • Momo Cafe (649 Hancock St., Quincy): No momo (Nepalese dumplings here) — just desserts, teas, and more.
  • Oisa Ramen (2 Broad St., Downtown Boston): This pop-up has found a cozy home in the Financial District, serving up three types of ramen to dine-in customers (there are a few standing spaces at a counter and a few seats by the window) and rice bowls to takeout customers. For those dining in, there’s a small selection of beer, sake, and canned sparkling wine cocktails available.
  • Olivia’s Bistro (136 Adams St., Nonantum, Newton): This Newton addition is serving wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzas and more Italian food.
  • Rice Passions (163 Squire Rd., Revere): Under new ownership, Maekha Thai has been revamped, renamed, and reopened as Rice Passions, serving a variety of Thai dishes.
  • Shaking Crab (140 Boylston St., Downtown Boston): This growing local group serves spicy boiled seafood; there was also a recent opening in Cambridge’s Porter Square. This new Boston location is in the original Troquet space (Troquet recently moved to the Leather District.)
  • Tasty Burger (1 Nashua St., West End, Boston): The local burger chain’s sixth location is at North Station and features the group’s biggest bar (18 seats), at which beer and wine are served. There’s also a takeout window and free pool table.
  • Tatte Bakery & Cafe (399 Boylston St., Back Bay, Boston): Yet another expansion for the local cafe chain that now has eight outposts in Brookline, Boston, and Cambridge.
  • Tiki Rock (2 Broad St., Downtown Boston): Adjacent to another January newbie, Oisa Ramen, Tiki Rock serves Tiki cocktails, sushi, and more in a lively atmosphere.
  • Toscanini’s (159 First St., East Cambridge): Central Square’s ever-popular ice cream joint has temporarily shut down its original location due to construction, but it has a new location in East Cambridge — and this new location will be Toscanini’s production home even once the original reopens. The new spot serves 32 ice cream flavors as well as baked goods and coffee.
  • Trina’s Starlite Lounge (37 Main St.): This Somerville favorite for hot dogs, cocktails, and a retro vibe has expanded to the North Shore, taking over the former No. 8 Kitchen space.
  • Xi’an Street Foods (182 Brighton Ave., Allston, Boston): Serving rougamo (flatbread sandwiches that resemble burgers), biang biang noodles, and other cuisine from the Chinese city of Xi’an, this new casual spot in Allston is one of only a few Xi’an restaurants in town. No relation to Xi’an Famous Foods, the New York-based chain expanding here eventually.
  • White Bull Tavern (1 Union St., Downtown Boston): Right by Faneuil Hall, this new tavern is serving skillet-cooked appetizers, wood-fired pizzas, and more.

A roast beef sandwich with cheese, mayo, and barbecue sauce sits on a paper plate, accompanied by thick onion rings.
Roast beef sandwich at Kelly’s Roast Beef (the Revere location, which remains open)
Katie Chudy/Eater
  • Bertucci’s (22 Merchants Row, Downtown Boston): The Faneuil Hall location of local pizza chain Bertucci’s opened way back in 1989.
  • Bistro Duet (190 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington): Located in the former Flora space (a bank before that), this French restaurant had been open for just over a year.
  • Diva Indian Bistro (246 Elm St., Davis Square, Somerville): The Indian restaurant had been open for over 20 years.
  • Kelly’s Roast Beef (2 Underprice Way, Natick): This location of the local roast beef chain — which is inside of a Jordan’s Furniture — had been around for about 20 years. Other locations of Kelly’s remain in operation.
  • Oppa’s Kitchen & Bar (157 Pleasant St., Malden): This Korean and Japanese restaurant was reportedly seized.
  • Papagayo (283 Summer St., Fort Point, Boston): In an increasingly crowded neighborhood for Mexican restaurants and tequila bar, this location shut down, but Papagayo remains open in downtown Boston and Somerville’s Assembly Row.
  • Smokin’ Betty’s BBQ (94 Lafayette St., Salem): From the owners of Gulu-Gulu Cafe and Flying Saucer Pizza Company, Smokin’ Betty’s had been open for a little under a year. The barbecue will live on through catering orders — and perhaps an eventual reopening in a smaller space.
  • Sultan’s Kitchen (116 State St., Downtown Boston): The Turkish restaurant, a staple of the downtown dining scene, had been around since 1981.
  • Tapeo Restaurant and Tapas Bar (266 Newbury St., Back Bay, Boston): Open for over 20 years, Tapeo cited the neighborhood’s “oppressive rents” as a factor in the restaurant’s closure.
  • Tilted Kilt (96 Brookline Ave., Fenway, Boston): Also known as “Scottish Hooters,” this “breastaurant” and sports bar chain didn’t last long in Fenway. In the region, a Billerica location remains open.

Four bao are on a long, narrow tray. The two in the forefront are black and made of squid ink. Bright pink pickled onions are visible inside.
Bao at Pagu, one of the big openings of January 2017
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Rewinding back to January 2017, the hot neighborhood of the month was Central Square — particularly the section closest to MIT — with the openings of Pagu, A4cade, and Roxy’s Central. Another notable opening was Frenchie in Boston’s South End, and East Coast Grill made a comeback, only to close for good just under a year later and be remade into Highland Fried (which isn’t totally different from East Coast Grill).

January 2017 also brought the news of a potential boozy Taco Bell Cantina in Somerville’s Davis Square, but it’s not happening.

Boston was awash in poke in January 2017, with Manoa Poke Shop and Poke City kicking off the start of the city’s obsession with the Hawaiian raw fish dish, an obsession that is continuing into 2018.

And Somerville got a cafe devoted to oatmal.