As is Eater’s annual tradition, we’re closing out 2020 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. (Keep an eye on the Year in Eater archive page for subsequent posts in this series.)
Of course, the survey questions look a little different this year, but we wanted to continue the tradition as a way to highlight some of the restaurants that have been there for us during this extraordinarily difficult year as we look ahead to better times in 2021.
Readers, please feel free to chime in with your own thoughts by joining our Facebook group.
Up next: What planned 2021 restaurant opening or reopening are you particularly excited about?
“Short version: I’ll take what I can get and be grateful for it.
Dining out in Greater Boston for fun and professional review research has been the all-consuming centerpiece of my social life and general pleasure for 30 years. I might moan about the abyss the pandemic has left in my life on that score, but that would be contemptible carping in the face of the tens of thousands of local industry workers, purveyors, marketers, food journalists, and other professionals whose lives and livelihoods have been devastated in this terrible interregnum. Next to that, the loss of my trivial leisure pursuits can fuck right off.
At this point, I’m just hoping that the damage caused by the unconscionable failure of our national leadership to provide meaningful pandemic support to the industry doesn’t destroy half of our restaurants. After a year-plus of being marooned in my home (but still able to work at my day job), I’ll be anxious to get back out there pretty much wherever I can. Meanwhile, I await greater certainty of safe indoor dining (I have family members with high Covid vulnerability, so must be extremely cautious), hope that not too many of my favorite chefs, bartenders and servers have moved onto other professions out of necessity, and pray for the luxury of picking and choosing a few standouts by next December’s Eater survey.”
“I never got to Michael Serpa’s new restaurant, Atlántico, before it went into hibernation shortly after opening. The last international trip I took before the world shut down was to Portugal, so I’m excited to taste some familiar flavors from that region when Atlántico reopens in the spring.”
“I can’t wait for the Wenham Tea House to reopen, if it indeed does in 2021. It’s totally refined (which is not me) and old-school (which is me) and transports people to another world and era. Hopefully it doesn’t get changed too much. As far as more regular stops for me, Villa Mexico in downtown Boston can’t reopen soon enough.”
Joel Ang, staff writer for The Infatuation:
“I’m really looking forward to another wine and small plates evening at Gray’s Hall when it reopens. I also never had a chance to visit Atlántico before its hibernation, so that’s certainly one for the books in 2021.”
Joel encourages readers to consider donating to Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center.
“I am hopeful that Oak Long Bar + Kitchen will come back stronger than ever in the spring when the world is a little brighter. Their new head chef Zaid Khan has some big plans, and I can’t wait to see what 2021 has to bring for this classic spot.”
J.Q. encourages readers to consider donating to Project Restore Us.
“I’m holding out hope for Eastern Standard and the Hawthorne. If you happen to be their landlord and are reading this: Please, for the love of all that is beautiful and good, don’t let these places die. Their value to Boston’s hospitality scene, both as top-of-their-field establishments and incubators for local and even national talent, are without comparison. Losing both would be like missing two front teeth.”
“Highland Kitchen. My friends and I made sure to stock up on quart-sized margaritas on their last day of takeout service. Bars like Highland Kitchen and State Park are really special places that evoke a particular feeling that can’t be replicated. Holding onto those fond memories are great, but it would be fantastic to visit them again.”
Samer encourages readers to consider donating to MassUndocuFund.
“I’m looking forward to checking out all the new spots at High Street Place once it’s ready to open, especially Daiquiris & Daisies and Tiffani Faison’s Dive Bar. I’m also counting down to when Next Step Soul Food Café reopens in Dorchester. Mostly, I’ll know that life is back to normal again when I’m eating Sunday brunch at Tiger Mama and sipping on a Da Nang cocktail.”
Nathan encourages readers to consider donating to Restaurant Worker Mutual Aid of Greater Boston and your local community fridges.
“I’m seconding Samer’s mention of Highland Kitchen, one of my neighborhood standbys. I’ve been pregnant for basically the entire pandemic and was looking forward to the day post-birth when I could grab one of their excellent burgers, a nice medium rare, and one of their new boozy milkshakes, but alas: They went into ‘hibernation’ days before my due date. When reopening day rolls around, I’ll be first in line.
In terms of new openings, I can’t wait for Comfort Kitchen to open in Dorchester, serving global comfort food. I got a taste of it at a preview pop-up in Somerville recently — watch for more pop-ups coming soon — and I was blown away by the flavors.
I’m also obsessed with the imminent arrival of Cicada Coffee Bar near Cambridge’s Central Square; it’s a Vietnamese cafe from the Nem Kitchen pop-up team. I love the Nem Kitchen dishes I’ve had at several events and have high hopes for their first brick-and-mortar project.
And one from the suburbs: My family is out in Sharon, my hometown, and I’m looking forward to a day when it’s safe to visit and go out to dinner at the forthcoming Northern Spy next door in Canton, from Cambridge’s Loyal Nine team. There are some picky eaters in my family, and Northern Spy sounds like it’ll offer a crowd-pleasing, New England-y menu that everyone can enjoy. (I’m writing this in mid-December as I’m heading out for parental leave any day now, but it looks like Northern Spy might actually be open by the time this goes to publication — watch Instagram for any updates.)”