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A Somali Restaurant in East Boston Is ‘Truly Special’

A critic discusses what makes Tawakal Halal Cafe so good, plus more local reviews

Tawakal Halal Cafe
Tawakal Halal Cafe
Tawakal Halal Cafe/Facebook

Welcome back to Week in Reviews, a weekly round-up of the restaurant reviews recently written by Boston’s food critics at publications such as The Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, and

A Truly Special Somali Restaurant

Reflecting on Tawakal Halal Cafe’s inclusion on the long list of nominees for Bon Appetit’s annual “hot 10” new restaurants around the country, the Boston Globe’s Devra First muses on what makes the East Boston restaurant so special.

Tawakal, which serves Somali cuisine, is run by Yahya Noor and his family, who emigrated from Somalia and have built a restaurant that serves food “stamped with the flavors of trade, immigration, and occupation: spices brought in by Indian merchants, dishes from the Arabic world, pasta that is a legacy of Italian colonialism,” writes First.

The result, First observes, is “fragrant, layered comfort,” and the restaurant is “truly special, very tiny, a place you would probably never find if you didn’t know to look for it.”

This is a reboot, of sorts, for Tawakal, which used to operate under the name Tawakal Halal Cuisine in East Boston’s Orient Heights neighborhood before closing in 2011. It opened in its new location, with the slightly changed name, in late 2018.

Just Right

Sheryl Julian stops in at the new Goldilox Bagels in Medford for a “quick bite,” or part of an early look series from the Boston Globe. “Every bagel sandwich is made to order, and it all comes to you quickly — with a smile,” she writes. True to the shop’s name, it’s like the fairytale — “these golden rounds are not too soft, they’re not too airy, they’re not too doughy, they’re not too chewy, they’re not too dense,” Julian writes. “They’re just right.” Five days a week, Goldilox operates until it sells out, which is more common an occurrence than not. “It’s the sweetest, most appealing little place.”

Tiny, Beautiful Lobster Rolls

Former Boston Magazine food editor Jenna Pelletier is now appearing on the virtual pages of with an early review of Time Out Market Boston, a Fenway food hall with 15 restaurants. It takes a minute to orient oneself in the 25,000-square-foot dining complex, Pelletier writes, and once she gets her bearings, she digs in: The “pièce de résistance” is the lobster roll from Saltie Girl, which she calls a “tiny, beautiful thing,” while another winner is the karaage chicken and waffle fries from Ms. Clucks Deluxe Chicken (from the owners of Hojoko and O Ya). Craigie Burger also lives up to the reputation of its fine dining big sibling, and dessert spot Gelato and Chill is a “must-try.”

“Overall, the market’s atmosphere is streamlined, comfortable, and urbane,” Pelletier writes.

Time Out Market Boston opened in June, and so far it’s been subject to a handful of first looks, including from the Boston Globe’s Sheryl Julian, who called the Craigie burger “astonishingly good.”

An ‘Essentially Uncomplicated Facsimile of the Good Life’

For Boston Magazine, Colin Kingsbury visits Rare, a steakhouse at the new Encore Boston Harbor resort and casino in Everett. His review starts with cutting into a Kobe ribeye that goes for a whopping $220 for four ounces. Rare is apparently the only place in New England to sell this rare cut of beef, but with that card in its hand, the restaurant makes for dining that’s an “expensive proposition with uncertain outcomes,” Kingsbury writes. He recommends the “meltingly tender and deeply flavorful” Snake River Farms wagyu, as well as the organic chicken and the 16-ounce bone-in filet, overall awarding the restaurant two stars out of four, which corresponds to a “good” rating.

Why a Somali Nook in East Boston is One of the Country’s Best New Restaurants [BG]
Takawal Halal Cafe Coverage on Eater [EBOS]
At Goldilox Bagels in Medford, Rounds Are Just Right [BG]
Goldilox Bagels Coverage on Eater [EBOS]
This Fenway Food Hall Brings High-End Dining to the Masses []
Time Out Market Boston Coverage on Eater [EBOS]
Is Rare Raising the Steaks at Encore Boston Harbor? [BM]
Encore Boston Harbor Coverage on Eater [EBOS]

Goldilox Bagels

186 Winthrop Street, , MA 02155 Visit Website

Time Out Market Boston

401 Park Drive, , MA 02215 (978) 393-8088 Visit Website

Tawakal Halal Cafe

389 Maverick Street, , MA 02128 (617) 418-5890 Visit Website