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 first: What were your takeout, delivery, and/or local market/grocery standbys in 2020?
“I avoided food delivery, as services like DoorDash take such a big bite out of restaurant profits, but did takeout from South End spots like Anoush’ella, Picco, Maná Escondido, and Nicole’s Pizza. Mostly I cooked at home and shopped almost entirely at locally owned South End markets: Foodies Urban Market, C-Mart (a chain, but not Whole Foods), El Platanero / Tropical Market, South End Formaggio, Walden Butcher Shop, and Don Quixote Market. The North End’s Wine Bottega kept me well-supplied with organic, natural, and biodynamic wines, something a close friend obsessed with the style led me into.”
“Blossom Bar was one of my recurring takeout options this year, even if sometimes that takeout was just a couple of their truly excellent to-go cocktails that I’d pick up on a Friday and enjoy throughout the weekend (and their mapo tofu might be in my fridge right now...). In my neighborhood, Soup Shack and Streetcar Wines were both regular haunts, the former for khao soi and pho, the latter for bottles of Paleokerisio, an orange wine that I drank quite a bit of this summer.”
“Jenna’s in Weymouth (friendly roadside stand with amazing chicken sandwiches), Bob’s in Medford (Italian market with some of the best subs anywhere), New London in Concord (New London-style pizza which is a bit like Greek but more New London-y), and Greek Corner in Cambridge (still some of the best Greek food in the Boston area).”
Joel Ang, staff writer for The Infatuation:
“Tawakal Halal Cafe, a restaurant I reviewed in January, has been my go-to for many, many nights this year. I tried to avoid delivery wherever possible to ensure as much money as possible went to the restaurants and not third-party apps. ”
Joel encourages readers to consider donating to Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center.
“I’m so proud of all the restaurants who were able to pivot to takeout and delivery successfully during this terrible year. But a few of my favorite go-to dishes that we had on repeat were: lunch specials at Double Chin in Chinatown, Stillwater’s mac ’n cheese, the Korean BBQ chicken at Crave Mad for Chicken, and burritos from Viva Burrito in the West End.”
J.Q. encourages readers to consider donating to Project Restore Us.
“Early on in the pandemic, when I was living in Beacon Hill, I staved off existential with the help of the Sardinian sub from Peregrine, which might be my favorite sandwich of all time —followed closely by the Italian-style sfizio from Sally’s Sandwiches, which I’ve frequented ever since moving to the South End. Some of the best at-home dinners I’ve had this year were thanks to Fox & the Knife selling fresh pasta and house sauces, and I can confirm that Gourmet Dumpling House tastes just as good outside of its cramped confines (with the added bonus that a takeout cooling off-period means I’m no longer scalding my mouth on soup dumplings).”
“Bow Market’s Safe Supply. The Bow Market crew created a board game-like safe shopping experience to help customers support their favorite small businesses. The market’s place markers started with a hand-washing station and ended with the opportunity to donate to the Greater Somerville’s Homeless Coalition. The reimagined public market had offerings from the Biscuit, fresh produce from regional farms, and frozen grocery items from Bow Market’s restaurants, as well as food to go and beer and wine.”
Samer encourages readers to consider donating to MassUndocuFund.
“I hit up Ba Le in Dorchester all the time and can eat one of their barbecue beef banh mi sandwiches every day. The Daily Market right by the Savin Hill T stop in Dorchester has been a life-saver for quick grocery runs and ‘I need to leave this house or I’m going crazy’ grab-and-go lunches. Pantry Pizza is also perfect for those nights when I just needed to turn off my brain and eat chicken tenders in front of the TV. Which happened often.”
Nathan encourages readers to consider donating to Restaurant Worker Mutual Aid of Greater Boston and your local community fridges.
“Terrence and I mapped a lot of our takeout and delivery standbys of the year here (and there are plenty more great spots that could be on there, but a 50-point map is probably overkill), so I’ll use this space to talk about some of my grocery standbys instead of restaurants.
I live in the Union Square, Somerville, area, so Reliable Market was my go-to throughout the year. While the shop specializes in Asian products, particularly Korean, there are a variety of American pantry staples, too, as well as a really good selection of craft beer, so it’s the perfect place to pick up everything from stir-fry ingredients to frozen dumplings to countless jars of chile crisp, not to mention the three or four different soy sauces and fish sauces I seem to need every time I attempt a complicated Thai recipe.
The neighborhood Italian shop, Capone Foods, has also been vital to my pandemic home-cooking, although more often than not I simply stock my freezer with Capone’s frozen Bolognese tortellini, which I add to some chicken broth for the easiest tortellini en brodo. (I was vacationing in Bologna days before the pandemic shut Italy down, so I’ve been reliving that last bit of travel ever since. My husband also spent several days painstakingly making a Bolognese-style lasagna over the pandemic, and I’m still dreaming about it.)
Shoutout to Picnic & Pantry at Bow Market, too, where I’ve been obsessively buying yogurt from Belmont-based Sophia’s Greek Pantry. This is the best Greek yogurt you will ever eat. I like adding some lemon curd or whatever interesting jam or honey I have on hand, as well as a bit of granola. This was my official breakfast of 2020.”