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All the Boston Food News That Mattered in January 2020: From Boba to Brewery Barbecue

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

Two hands hold cups of brown sugar boba from Taiwanese chain Tiger Sugar. The iced tea drink is milky white with streaks of dark brown.
Boba chain Tiger Sugar is planning on expanding to Boston
Tiger Sugar [Official Photo]

2020 has begun, and Boston’s restaurant scene is keeping busy with a variety of openings and closings, out-of-town chains announcing Boston expansion plans, so much pizza news, and more.

The Boston area welcomed a permanent location for a longtime barbecue company this month, as well as the rebirth of a nonprofit bakery and cafe, a grilled pizza joint from Rhode Island, a suburban location for a growing local doughnut chain, and more.

On the closure side, a creative Japan-meets-New-England spot has bid farewell to the South End, a decades-old restaurant with one of the best views in town announced an upcoming closure, and a favorite downtown burger shop closed in preparation for a move to a nearby food hall.

Read on for a summary of January 2020, including the most-read news stories and maps, the openings, and the closings.

Overhead view of a round dish of bulgur, an orange mashed squash, pomegranate seeds, and endives, sitting on a copper bar top.
A bulgur dish at Honey Road, a recommended dinner stop to break up the drive from Boston to Montreal
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater
  1. Boston Booze News, Updated Weekly: Brewery openings and closings and other Boston-area beer, wine, cider, and liquor updates (with a focus on beer).
  2. Boston’s Winter 2020 Restaurant Openings, Updated Weekly: A roundup of pertinent updates on Boston-area restaurant openings.
  3. Boston’s Coming Attractions, Updated Weekly: A roundup of restaurants slated to open in and around Boston in the near and far future.
  4. Boston’s Winter 2020 Restaurant Closings, Updated Weekly: A roundup of pertinent updates on Boston-area restaurant closings (and announced closings that will take place later).
  5. Taiwanese Boba Chain Tiger Sugar Will Bring Its Photogenic Tea to Boston: Tiger Sugar has filed paperwork for Cambridge and Allston locations, furthering its explosive American expansion.
  6. Two Delicious Ways to Break Up a Drive Between Boston and Montreal: A five-hour drive away, the Canadian city makes for a perfect multi-day road trip from Boston. Here’s where to eat on the way.
  7. Top of the Hub, Boston’s Decades-Old Restaurant With a View, Is Closing in April: The closure will bring an end to 55 years of dining with a 52nd-story view of the city.
  8. Boston’s Insatiable Hunger for Pizza Continues Into 2020: Updates from the pizza scene, from a grilled pizza restaurant on the verge of opening to a new source for Detroit-style pizza — and lots more.
  9. Boston’s Newest Udon Restaurant Debuts in Kenmore Square: Osaka, Japan-based udon chain Tsurutontan is now open on Commonwealth Avenue.
  10. New England Restaurant News, Updated Weekly: Regional food and beverage updates from New England, beyond the borders of Massachusetts.

Bucatini piled onto a decorative plate and topped with herbs at Orfano in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood
Bucatini at Orfano, one of Boston’s top Italian restaurants
JM Leach
  1. The 38 Essential Restaurants in Boston, Winter 2020: Boston’s greatest restaurants for any occasion.
  2. The Hottest Restaurants in Boston Right Now, January 2020: Boston’s best new hot spots.
  3. The Ultimate Guide to 2020 Restaurant Openings Around Boston: Japanese food, so much chicken, food halls, plenty of booze, lots of Dorchester openings, and more.
  4. The Hottest New Brunches in Boston Right Now, January 2020: Tired of your usual brunching routine?
  5. 20 of Boston’s Best Affordable Dining Destinations: Save money while eating well.
  6. The Best Dishes the Eater Boston Team Ate This Week: We’re sharing some of our current favorite dishes with you every Friday.
  7. 24 Boston-Area Restaurants That Serve Top-Notch Fried Chicken: Crispy, juicy, sometimes spicy.
  8. Outstanding Breakfast Sandwiches Around Boston: Behold, some of the Boston area’s most mouth-watering, all-in-one breakfasts: on croissants, on biscuits, on point.
  9. Where to Eat Italian Food in Boston: It’s not all about the North End (but okay, sure, there’s a lot of good Italian food in the North End).
  10. The Cocktail Heatmap: Where to Drink Right Now, January 2020: Hot new cocktail destinations to try this month.

Saucy pork ribs sit on a metal tray with a side of round cornbread and a small cup of sauce. A giant bowl of mac and cheese is visible in the background.
Ribs, cornbread, and mac and cheese from M & M BBQ at Dorchester Brewing
Bobby Shakes/M&M BBQ

For a comprehensive list of January openings, check this weekly updated roundup. Here are a few highlights from the month:

  • Inside Dorchester Brewing Company, M & M BBQ finally has a permanent restaurant space, serving ribs, fried chicken sandwiches, pretzels, and more. Formerly known as M & M Ribs, the business has existed in some form or another, mostly as a food truck and catering business, since the 1980s.
  • Roxbury’s Haley House Bakery Cafe has reopened after a year hiatus in Nubian Square (the neighborhood formerly known as Dudley Square). The nonprofit cafe is part of nonprofit community organization Haley House, which has been operating for decades, providing the community with food and housing support through a variety of initiatives.
  • Newport, Rhode Island’s Bar ‘Cino has expanded to Brookline, where it’s serving thin-crust grilled pizzas, pasta, and more.

A slice of fluffy Japanese-style cheesecake sits on a speckled blue-ish plate, topped with a dollop of drippy cheese. A small wooden fork sits on the plate.
Cheesecake with runny cheese at Whaling in Oklahoma
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

For a comprehensive list of January closings, check this weekly updated roundup for details. A few sad farewells from the month:

  • Whaling in Oklahoma has closed in the South End after about a year and a half in business. Chef Tim Maslow’s (Strip-T’s, Ribelle) restaurant paired Japanese flavors with New England ingredients.
  • Downtown Boston burger shop Wheelhouse closed up shop at its original location at the end of the month — but not to worry; it’s reopening in a couple months at forthcoming downtown food hall High Street Place, along with a sibling spot focused on fried chicken.
  • It’s not yet gone, but decades-old restaurant-with-a-view Top of the Hub, located on the 52nd floor of the Prudential Center, has announced that it will be closing in April, along with the Skywalk Observatory two floors below.