John Fraser, a decorated chef known for championing vegetables — including at his former Michelin-starred vegetarian restaurant Nix in New York — is making his Boston debut this month. On January 17, the chef is opening a food hall inside luxury real estate development the Winthrop Center in downtown Boston.
The food hall, called the Lineup, features five different stalls, including a coffee shop and daytime cafe, a vegetarian and vegan California-influenced Mexican spot, and a fast-casual offshoot of Fraser’s critically acclaimed NYC Mediterranean restaurant Iris. (A forthcoming, yet-to-be-named sit-down restaurant is slated to open in the residential tower later this year.)
Scroll below for more on each of the five new spots at the Lineup:
In a nod to Fraser’s southern California upbringing, Ariana is all about California-influenced Mexican food. And, there’s no meat. Diners can choose between burritos, grain bowls, or salad bowls, and then load ‘em up with fillings like paprika-fried avocado, “al pastor” made with hearts of palm, and sweet potato and chorizo-spiced tofu. “It has kind of Chipotle vibes,” Fraser says. “But guac doesn’t cost extra.” The chef also recommends the Nachos In a Box, which is, quite literally, a pile of loaded nachos in a box. Tortilla chips are tossed with queso, crema, guacamole, olives, and grilled jalapenos, and served with red and green salsa. (It can also be served vegan.)
Big Grin is the Lineup’s burger joint, and there is meat on the menu here. Specifically, three-and-a-half ounce Pat LaFrieda beef patties, which are stacked on potato buns with American cheese, a special Big Grin sauce, and beef tallow onions, which are cooked in rendered beef fat. The straightforward Big Grin cheeseburger “is really, really good,” Fraser says, and pairs well with the “pickle minitini,” a small $5 martini served with a pickle. There’s also an Impossible Burger (which is meatless), cold lobster rolls, hot dogs, crinkle-cut french fries, duck-fat waffle hash browns served with melted Fresno chile-cheddar cheese, and desserts including apple or spiced gingerbread hand pies.
At this stall, charred Neapolitan-style pizza takes center stage. The restaurant group’s corporate chef Timothy Meyers, an alum of cult-favorite New York pizzeria Roberta’s, helped develop the pies, which include a traditional margherita with mozzarella, basil, and olive oil; sausage and broccoli rabe, and the signature Gatto Pazzo, with marinated shrimp, golden vodka sauce, soft caciocavallo cheese, and scallions. The name, which means “crazy cat” in Italian, is a nod to the leopard-spotting, or bubbly, blackened spots on the crust, that is the hallmark of a good Neapolitan pizza. The stall also sells a smattering of antipasti, including hot stuffed peppers and eggplant caponata, salads, and pinsa, or sandwiches with fillings like mortadella and spicy salami stuffed into folded pizza dough.
Perhaps the most exciting stall to keep an eye out for is Iris Mezze, a fast-casual take on Fraser’s acclaimed Greek and Turkish restaurant Iris in New York. The sit-down restaurant won a spot on the New York Times’ list of the 100 best restaurants in New York City in 2023; Iris Mezze is the team’s first spin-off of the original idea. The counter serves a variety of mezze including hummus, tzatziki, whipped feta with chile oil, roasted eggplant dip, and build-your-own bowls, salads, or pita pockets, with proteins including a pomegranate beef brisket, lamb leg with chermoula (a bright herb sauce), za’atar-spiced shrimp, and minted pea falafel.
Day Shift is a coffee shop and cafe open on weekdays starting at 7 a.m. It’ll be stocked with breakfast sandwiches, salads, hot and cold lunch sandwiches, soup, and snacks like fruit and hummus with vegetables. The coffee comes from Philadelphia-based roaster La Colombe, and it’s $1 a cup for those who bring their own mugs (or buy one from Day Shift). The restaurant group’s pastry chef, Sofia Schlieben, has “a pretty deft hand with doughnuts,” Fraser says, and that skill will be on display at Day Shift as well. There’s a variety of flavors available, but don’t miss the cookies-and-cream rendition.
The Lineup is located at 115 Federal Street, in downtown Boston. Starting on January 17, all of the stalls will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for the coffee shop Day Shift, which is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.