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.
Check out the Year in Eater landing page for other stories in this series.
We’re wrapping up this year’s survey series with our most meta question: What was your favorite piece of local food writing this year? (See the 2018 responses here.)
MC Slim JB, restaurant critic at Boston.com:
“It was another great year to love food writing in Boston. A few that stood out to me include:
- Kara Baskin writing for the Boston Globe about eating while recovering from a kidney-stone attack
- Rachel Leah Blumenthal writing in Eater Boston about Thai street-food star Dakzen and my personal favorite Peruvian restaurant Celeste
- My Boston.com colleague Erin Kuschner for her ongoing near-daily food-news reporting, but also her reviews (I loved her take on Nightshade Noodle Bar in Lynn)
- Marc Hurwitz for his super-useful, far-ranging blog coverage of restaurant news as well as his reviews for Dig Boston (check out his piece on hiking and eating in Plymouth)
- Julia Clancy for her review of Peregrine in Boston Magazine (we disagreed a lot on specific dishes but still both gave it a rave)
But I was most consistently impressed again with Devra First’s work for the Globe, both with her reviews, like her hilarious take on the Encore Casino’s dining options and her loving appreciation of Anchovies, as well as her socially-conscious feature writing, as with her piece on Douglass Williams at Mida, her ‘crack pie’ takedown, and her examination of historic restaurant closings.
Thanks, my colleagues: you continue to fascinate and inspire me!”
Erin Kuschner, food writer for Boston.com:
“I really enjoyed Devra First’s ‘The Sky Bar’s Triumphant Return,’ a rise-from-the-ashes story about the candy bar’s improbable comeback. I remember finishing it and thinking, I need to buy this candy bar immediately.
I also love reading Eater’s Boston Stalwarts pieces! They’re such a great reminder of our city’s institutions — and why we should keep frequenting them.
I think the piece that I kept coming back to this year was ‘Death of the Neighborhood Bar’ by Gabriel O’Malley (co-owner of Plough & Stars) for Boston Magazine. It can be a treat to hear about the industry from the inside in such an intimate way, and his remembrance of an old regular, Richard, really stuck with me — as did his beautiful writing about the importance of a neighborhood bar, the health effects of loneliness, and the everlasting need for community.”
“Anything from MC Slim. It’s so nice to have him back.”
“Like many of its drinkers, natural wine is something I’ve recently come to enjoy but don’t know very much about. So I appreciated Rowan Jacobsen’s Boston Magazine piece on New England’s natural winemakers for shining a light on the category and profiling some of its producers in our own backyard.”
Dana Hatic, former Eater Boston associate editor:
“I love beer and I love a good surprise. This story by Mike Pomranz for Food & Wine, though not strictly local, was a particular treat, because it delivered unexpected news about the founders of popular Boston brewery Pretty Things, which closed in 2015. Pomranz catches up with Dann and Martha Paquette at their new brewery in Sheffield, England, which is just as out-of-the-way from common foot traffic as they hoped.
At the same time, this review of Kala Thai Cookery near Haymarket from MC Slim JB appeared in the Improper Bostonian (RIP). I love this piece not just because it reviews a restaurant everyone should visit for some delicious Thai food, but because Slim has a masterful way of describing dining experiences in the most relatable ways, whether he’s eating at casual places like this one or high-end establishments.”
Terrence B. Doyle, Eater Boston reporter:
“Anything by Dana Hatic.”
Rachel Leah Blumenthal, Eater Boston editor:
“A couple shoutouts to my own team first:
I’m going to sorely miss Dana Hatic’s contributions to Eater Boston as she embarks on new adventures in 2020. I’m excited to share with you all her final feature in the coming weeks; of her already-published 2019 works, I’m particularly fond of her profile of burrito mainstay Villa Mexico Cafe and her 10th anniversary piece on Trina’s Starlite Lounge. I will also miss her cheese obsession!
While a lot of Eater’s focus is on new restaurants, I hope we can continue to bring you more pieces like these in the coming year, paying homage to the region’s mainstays and icons.
Beyond Eater, I eagerly read lots of local food writing this year. Several highlights:
- Any review by MC Slim JB, now at Boston.com (and at the Improper until its shutdown earlier this year).
- Anything by Devra First at the Globe, and I sincerely hope she does not venture into the comment section of those pieces online, because yikes. MC noted a few of her best pieces of the year above, and I also agree with Erin that Devra’s Sky Bar piece was a great read.
- This New England dining package from Boston Magazine, edited by Scott Kearnan, made me want to make a whole bunch of reservations immediately.
- And I was delighted to see Mei Mei’s Irene Li start a food column on the WBUR website, covering numerous important topics, from a lack of diversity in restaurant criticism to food insecurity to accessibility.
All in all, it was a good year for food writing, and I’m grateful to my colleagues, competitors, frenemies, or whatever you’d like to call us for their hard work — not to mention their willingness to answer all the survey questions in this series while juggling all of their own end-of-year work!
I hope that 2020 sees some new voices coming to the table, too. (Got a story you want to tell? Pitch me.)”