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Three tacos in an aluminum takeout container on a picnic table.
Tacos at Chilacates
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

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Boston’s Top Restaurant Standbys of 2019: Chilacates, Bow Market, and More

Local food writers discuss their regular haunts of this past year

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As is Eater’s annual tradition, we’re closing out 2019 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.

Keep an eye on the Year in Eater landing page for other stories in this series, rolling out over the next several days.

Up first: What were your top restaurant standbys of 2019? (See the 2018 responses here.)

MC Slim JB, restaurant critic at

“I had a four-month break between the shuttering of The Improper Bostonian and my new gig at, so I had more me-time than usual. My favorites included Celeste, Blossom Bar, Five Spices House in Central Square, Rebel Rebel at Bow Market, Chickadee, Sei Bar in Wakefield (very traditional Hunanese), Nathálie, Sarma, and the late-night menu at Tasting Counter. In my own South End neighborhood, I spent the most time at J.J. Foley’s Café, Bar Lyon, Estragon, Anchovies, Whaling in Oklahoma, and Union Park Pizza.”

Erin Kuschner, food writer for

“It’s always hard to answer this question, since a lot of this job dictates trying new spots most of the time. But I went to my neighborhood Chilacates more times than I can count — they expanded quite a bit this year. I was a frequent visitor at Gantetsu-Ya in Brookline, and I took every single one of my friends to Shore Leave after it opened in November last year (if you haven’t been to their Sippin’ Santa pop-up yet, I highly recommend it.) And Tiger Mama served as my go-to Fenway spot this year; I feel like it just keeps getting better every time I visit.”

Jacqueline Cain, deputy food editor at Boston magazine:

  • “This was the first year I rang in at Parlor Sports, a perennial favorite on account of it being the best bar. It still rules!
  • SRV. Love their monthly cicchetti takeover series with guest chefs and free snacks.
  • Chilacates. Three new locations in 2019, they’re all good.
  • Bow Market. Chiefly Rebel Rebel Wine Bar, Buenas, and Gate Comme des Filles chocolates. Even though it’s truly horrible for most of us to get there (c’mon, GLX!), my boyfriend and I find ourselves there frequently (from JP), saying hi to friends and tasting through what’s new.
  • The Brendan Behan Pub. Can you imagine what it will be like with a patio??
  • Render Coffee South End. Flour Dalton. Pavement Symphony. The holy trinity of breakfast and lunch fuel for me.”

Marc Hurwitz, founder of Boston’s Hidden Restaurants and Boston Restaurant Talk, food writer for Dig Boston:

“As always, it’s tough for me to have a regular hangout because I check out so many restaurants for reviews, but I did spent a bit of time at The Restaurant in Woburn for their excellent (and cheap) Greek food, Cagney’s in Quincy for their whiskey flights and pub grub, and Caffe Vittoria in the North End for their cappuccino and biscotti.”

Eric Twardzik, freelance writer and contributor to The Food Lens,, and Dig Boston:

“The near-death experience of Gourmet Dumpling House has me appreciating it more than ever. I continue to stand in line at Yume Ga Arukara (and keep waiting for those lines to grow shorter, which may never happen), and survived another winter thanks to Gene’s Flatbread, which happened to debut its first new menu item in years — a hot and sour dumpling soup. I also discovered Dakzen this year, which has re-introduced me to flavors I haven’t experienced since I visited Thailand.”

J.Q. Louise, lifestyle blogger behind and food writer at the Boston Herald:

“My go-tos lately have been the Butcher Shop, Aqua Pazza, Salty Pig, and Oak Long Bar. I rediscovered the Butcher Shop this year, and I have to say that Barbara Lynch does the best rendition of Bolognese in town. And of course, the ribeye is always on point as well, but the Bolognese is one of those dishes you’ll be thinking about days later, persuading you to come back again. Another surprising craving I’ve had is Aqua Pazza’s burger. Always cooked to perfection, the delightful balance between the truffle aioli and the red onion jam is such a unique flavor, it’s become my favorite burger in town. Salty Pig has remained the best casual-cool hangout for when you just want some charcuterie and a glass of wine. And finally, I just love what Chef Lockwood has done at Oak Long Bar over the past few years. His shareable, locally sourced menu is the perfect fit for the space and is what keeps me coming back again and again.”

Dan Whalen, cookbook author and blogger:

“My restaurant happy place will always be sitting at the bar at SRV. We live nearby, so it’s on the way home from anywhere. Stopping in for a nightcap, a few snacks, and one of Meg’s unique and ever changing desserts is a common occurrence for us. We also spent a fair amount of time having drinks and late-night snacks at Shore Leave. I guess we like drinks and late-night snacks?”

Katie Faust Stryjewski, cocktail Instagrammer and Eater Boston contributor:

“I have a two-year-old, so my husband and I are always looking for kid-friendly places where we can still get really good food and drinks. Pastoral in Fort Point has become our go-to for this. It’s a family-friendly spot that still checks all our boxes: The pizza and pasta are absolutely fantastic, the beer list is long, and the cocktails are well-crafted and creative.

And when it comes to takeout, Chilacates reigns supreme. I’m quite positive I ate more grilled shrimp tortas in 2019 than any other food, a trend that is sure to continue into 2020.”

Dana Hatic, former Eater Boston associate editor:

“One of the best things about the Boston area is that your neighborhood places are just that — spots you’ll visit time and time again because they’re close to home and they’re so, so good. In some cases, mine repeat from year to year: Punjabi Dhaba, Olecito, and Pita are all solid Inman Square establishments, as is Trina’s. New this year is Bow Market, where I usually end up getting something from Saus or Buenas and beverages from Rebel Rebel, Remnant, or Create upstairs.”

Terrence B. Doyle, Eater Boston reporter:

“I eat in Allston and Chinatown more than I do in any other neighborhoods. The Super 88 food hall is a constant source of nourishment. I mostly used to slurp on a big bowl of pho at Pho Viet’s whenever I went to Super 88, but the addition of Silk Road Express means Uyghur food — and especially hand-pulled noodles — occupies as much or more of my attention these days. And while Chinatown is without a question the city’s best food neighborhood, I am a creature of habit and almost always eat at Dumpling Cafe when I’m in that part of town. I probably ate 20 orders of their Taiwan-style pan-fried dumplings in 2019.”

Rachel Leah Blumenthal, Eater Boston editor:

“As some of the others noted above, the nature of the job makes it difficult to be a regular at too many places as most of my dining out is taken up with checking out new places. That said, I ate many a meal in my own neighborhood, Union Square in Somerville, which has been, in my opinion, one of the Boston area’s best dining neighborhoods for a few years now. In my fairly regular rotation: Bow Market, especially Hot Box (where I love the pizza and roast beef equally); Casa B, especially for cocktails at the street-level bar; Celeste (well, when I can manage to get a reservation, anyway!); and Ebi Sushi, where I can’t get enough of the torched salmon.

Beyond Union, my 2018 obsession with Dakzen continued throughout 2019. I think I ate more Thai food than anything else in 2019 (I went to Thailand in February, fueling my obsession) and worked my way around the Boston-area Thai food scene, finding lots to love, but always leaning on Dakzen as my number one. I also explored the broader Southeast Asian food scene in the Boston area, falling in love with Cambridge newcomers Mae Asian Eatery and Chalawan — I’ll be raving more about those in one of the other survey questions.

And of course I can’t forget Newtowne Grille, my reliable pizza takeout joint for the better part of the last decade.”

Overhead shot of khao soi on a bright yellow surface. The bowl has a traditional Thai pattern on it, including a rooster. The khao soi includes pickled mustard greens, an egg, lime wedges, a nest of crispy noodles, and more.
Khao soi at Dakzen
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater Boston

casa b

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

Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe

86 Bedford Street, , MA 02111 (617) 482-1888 Visit Website

Render Coffee

563 Columbus Ave., Boston, MA 02118 (617) 262-4142 Visit Website

Parlor Sports

1 Beacon Street, , MA 02143 (617) 576-0231 Visit Website

Pavement Coffeehouse (Symphony)

44 Gainsborough Street, , MA 02115 (617) 859-7080 Visit Website


135 Richmond St., Boston, MA 02109 Visit Website


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


21 Drydock Avenue, , MA 02210 (617) 531-5591 Visit Website

Silk Road Express

1 Brighton Avenue, , MA 02134 (617) 987-0121

Brendan Behan Pub

378 Centre Street, , MA 02130 (617) 522-5386 Visit Website


700 Harrison Ave, , MA 02118 (617) 266-0443 Visit Website


569 Columbus Avenue, , MA 02118 (617) 536-9500 Visit Website

Tiger Mama

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

Bow Market

1 Bow Market Way, , MA 02143 Visit Website

Bar Lyon

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

Blossom Bar

295 Washington Street, , MA 02445 (617) 734-1870 Visit Website


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

Trina's Starlite Lounge

3 Beacon Street, , MA 02143 (617) 576-0006 Visit Website

Mae Asian Eatery

781 Main Street, , MA 02139 (617) 354-3388 Visit Website

The Salty Pig

130 Dartmouth Street, , MA 02116 (617) 536-6200 Visit Website

Dumpling Cafe

695 Washington Street, , MA 02111 (617) 338-8859 Visit Website


345 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210 617 345 0005 Visit Website

Chilacates (Amory Street - JP)

224 Amory St, , MA 02130 (617) 522-6000 Visit Website

Punjabi Dhaba

225 Hampshire Street, , MA 02139 (617) 547-8272 Visit Website

Pita Cambridge

12 Springfield Street, , MA 02139 (617) 945-1214 Visit Website

Rebel Rebel

1 Bow Market Way, , MA 02143 (617) 721-7773 Visit Website

Tasting Counter

14 Tyler Street, , MA 02143 (617) 299-6362 Visit Website

Caffe Vittoria

290-296 Hanover Street, , MA 02113 (617) 227-7606 Visit Website

Yume Ga Arukara

1815 Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02140 Visit Website

J.J. Foley's Cafe

117 East Berkeley Street, , MA 02118 (617) 728-9101 Visit Website

OAK Long Bar + Kitchen

138 Saint James Avenue, , MA 02116 (617) 585-7222 Visit Website

Shore Leave

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

Super 88 Market Food Connection

1 Brighton Ave, Allston, MA 02134 (617) 787-2288

Newtowne Grille

1945 Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02140 (617) 661-0706 Visit Website

Saus at Bow Market

1 Bow Market Way, , MA 02143 Visit Website


433 Columbus Avenue, , MA 02116 (617) 266-5088

Remnant Brewing

2 Bow Market Way, , MA 02143 (617) 764-0641 Visit Website


6 Cypress Street, Brookline, MA 02445 617 739 1408 Visit Website

Ebi Sushi

290 Somerville Avenue, , MA 02143 (617) 764-5556 Visit Website

Hot Box

1 Bow Market Way, , MA 02143 (617) 284-9600 Visit Website


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

The Butcher Shop (Boston)

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


249 Pearl Street, , MA 02145 (617) 764-4464 Visit Website

Gourmet Dumpling House

52 Beach Street, , MA 02111 (617) 338-6223 Visit Website

Pho Viet's

1022 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215 (617) 562-8828 Visit Website

Whaling in Oklahoma

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


318 Harvard Street, , MA 02446 (617) 505-6415 Visit Website

Chalawan Asian Eatery

1790 Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02140 (617) 547-8888 Visit Website

Five Spices House

546 Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02139 (617) 714-3339 Visit Website