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Overhead view of two Somali dishes on a pale peach tablecloth with white accents. One dish is chapati strips cooked in a tomato sauce with chunks of beef; the other is a beef biryani with multi-colored rice in shades of yellow and orange.
One local writer ordered from Tawakal in East Boston a lot in 2020
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

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Boston’s 2020 Takeout, Delivery, and Grocery Standbys: Tawakal, Bow Market, and More

Local food writers discuss the meals that kept them going this year while mostly eating at home

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?


MC Slim JB, restaurant critic at Boston.com (currently on pandemic hiatus):

“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.”

MC encourages readers to consider donating to Community Servings, the Greater Boston Food Bank, Restaurant Worker Mutual Aid of Greater Boston, and community fridge programs in your neighborhood.


Erin Kuschner, food writer for Boston.com:

“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.”

Erin encourages readers to consider donating to Boston Black Hospitality Coalition and Project Restore Us.


Marc Hurwitz, founder of Boston’s Hidden Restaurants and Boston Restaurant Talk, food writer for Dig Boston and NBC Boston/NECN:

“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).”

Marc encourages readers to consider donating to Arlington Eats and Haley House.


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.


J.Q. Louise, lifestyle blogger behind JQLouise.com and food editor at DIG Boston:

“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.


Eric Twardzik, freelance writer and contributor to the Food Lens, Boston.com, DIG Boston, and Resy:

“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).”

Eric encourages readers to consider donating to the Greg Hill Foundation and the Greater Boston Food Bank.


Samer Khudairi, contributor to Eater Boston, DIG Boston, and more:

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.


Nathan Tavares, freelance writer and culture writer for WBUR:

“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.


Rachel Leah Blumenthal, editor of Eater Boston:

“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.”

Rachel encourages readers to consider donating to Project Bread and a community fridge in your neighborhood.

South End Formaggio

268 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118 (617) 350-6996 Visit Website

Gourmet Dumpling House

52 Beach Street, , MA 02111 (617) 338-6223 Visit Website

Tawakal Halal Cafe

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

Double Chin

86 Harrison Ave, Boston, MA 02111

Soup Shack

779 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Fox & The Knife

28 West Broadway, , MA 02127 (617) 766-8630 Visit Website

Crave - Mad for Chicken

75 Kneeland Street, , MA 02111 (617) 338-0188 Visit Website

Bob's Italian Foods

324 Main Street, , MA 02155 (781) 395-0400 Visit Website

anoush'ella

35 West Newton Street, , MA 02118 (857) 265-3195 Visit Website

Peregrine

170 Charles Street, , MA 02114 (617) 826-1762 Visit Website

Pantry Pizza & Kitchen

933 Dorchester Ave, Boston, MA 02125 (617) 282-0033 Visit Website

Bánh Mì Ba Le

1052 Dorchester Ave, Boston, MA (617) 265-7171

Capone Foods

14 Bow St, Somerville, MA 02143 (617) 629-2296 Visit Website

The Biscuit

406 Washington St, Somerville, MA 02143 (317) 504-4865 Visit Website

Blossom Bar

295 Washington Street, , MA 02445 (617) 734-1870 Visit Website

Picco

513 Tremont Street, , MA 02116 (617) 927-0066 Visit Website

Reliable Market

45 Union Square, , MA 02143 (617) 623-9620 Visit Website

Stillwater

120 Kingston Street, , MA 02111 (617) 936-3079 Visit Website

Bow Market

1 Bow Market Way, , MA 02143 Visit Website
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