Massachusetts’s COVID state of emergency lifted on June 15, 2021, marking the end of most of the state’s pandemic-related mandates. For a month or so, it almost felt like things were getting back to some sort of normal. But cases are on the rise again, thanks to the delta variant; too many restaurants are not getting federal relief funds they were promised; labor shortages continue; and many restaurants are rolling back to stricter masking and distancing (some are even requiring proof of vaccination.)
It’s not the carefree summer for which everyone was hoping. Despite the challenges and uncertain months ahead, though, new restaurants keep managing to open. Here’s the rundown on new arrivals to the Boston area in summer 2021, serving everything from northern Italian cuisine to vegan pizza to lobster Rockefeller to fast-casual burgers to Flamin’ Hot Cheeto mac and cheese. And don’t forget seafood towers — so many seafood towers.
This roundup will be updated as the season continues. Know of a new spot that should be on Eater Boston’s radar? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. (And don’t stop supporting your longstanding favorites — all restaurants, new and old, could use all the support you can give right now, and always.)
This roundup was most recently updated on September 20, 2021, adding notes on Bakey in downtown Boston; the Hub Hall food hall in Boston’s West End; Cocorico, Kestra, and the Sporting Club in Boston’s Seaport District; Bibim Box, Las Carolinas, and Las Palmas at MIT; Beyrut Espresso Coffee Shop in Revere; and Sweet Piglet Bakery & Cafe in Randolph.
Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.
Giving off extremely glamorous vibes, Contessa (1 Newbury St., Boston) opened in June on the rooftop of the Newbury Boston, courtesy of the New York-based Major Food Group, which operates trendy restaurants worldwide. Contessa leans northern Italian, with dishes such as bistecca fiorentina and tortellini en brodo. [Read more.]
In other Newbury Street news, vegan pizzeria and wine bar Double Zero (163 Newbury St., Boston) opened in July. It’s from vegan chef and restaurateur Matthew Kenney, a Maine native who has restaurants worldwide. This is one of several Double Zero locations. (Locally-ish, there’s also one in Providence, within Kenney’s entirely vegan food hall, Plant City.) [Read more.]
And one more for Newbury Street: Taiwanese boba chain Yi Fang (215 Newbury St.) has arrived, focusing on fruit teas, tea lattes, and brown sugar lattes.
Also new to Back Bay is the Banks Fish House (406 Stuart St., Boston), taking over the former two-level space of its sibling Post 390; it’s also related to Grill 23, Harvest, and Bistro du Midi. Owner Chris Himmel and executive chef and partner Robert Sisca are serving a seafood-heavy menu that tells the stories of their fishing adventures around the globe, which means everything from shellfish and caviar towers to fried seafood. [Read more.]
The Charles River Speedway has begun to open up, starting with its anchor tenant, Salem’s Notch Brewing (525 Western Ave., Boston). The Brighton location of the brewery features a spacious taproom and year-round beer garden, offering around a dozen session beers on tap. Outside food is allowed (the Speedway will eventually have several options), and kids are allowed during most hours. [Read more.]
My Sister’s Crawfish III (1487 Dorchester Ave., Boston) is now open in Dorchester’s Fields Corner, near the original (now-closed) My Sister’s Crawfish space. (Yes, there’s a My Sister’s Crawfish II — it’s in Worcester.) In addition to Vietnamese food, the restaurant features Viet-Cajun seafood boil, with an emphasis, of course, on crawfish. No online ordering available yet; call (617) 282-9791.
The Langham hotel (250 Franklin St., Boston) is newly revamped, and the renovations killed Cafe Fleuri and its long-running chocolate buffet. But there are new dining and drinking options instead, including the Fed, a cocktail bar that opened in July with customizable seafood towers, a boozy frappe, a lobster BLT, and a corndog-inspired potato-crusted hot dog with kimchi and spicy mayo. [Read more.]
Also at the Langham, Italian restaurant Grana opened in September in the oh-so-luxurious former great hall of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, serving breakfast, lunch, and weekend brunch as summer winds down.
That’s not it for downtown: Casual Greek restaurant Greco (1 Milk St., Boston) has added a new location (it’s also in Back Bay and the Seaport District, as well as within the Hub Hall food hall — another summer 2021 addition; see below), serving its popular gyros and loukoumades. [Read more.]
A third new downtown addition: Alma Cantina (15 Union St., Boston) opened in August in the former Blackstone Grill space, featuring tacos and booze. It’s open from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, with food available the whole time. Taco options include charred octopus, vegan chorizo, chicken verde, pork belly, and more. Nachos, street corn, churros, and a few other items round out the menu.
Another: Not to be confused with Colette Wine Bistro, the French restaurant in Cambridge, or Colette Bakery, the (unrelated) French bakery in Medford, there’s yet another Colette in town. Colette Lounge (140 Boylston St., downtown Boston) opened in August on the ground floor of the downtown Boston location of Cajun seafood joint Shaking Crab. Open Thursday through Sunday evening, the new lounge serves small plates (catfish bites, shrimp ceviche, and such) and a New Orleans-inspired drink menu.
And yet another: Steps from Boston Common, Bakey is now open, courtesy of cofounders Uri Scheft, an acclaimed Danish-Israeli baker, and Or Ohana. The bakery and cafe features various types of babka, burekas, breads, and lots more, along with coffee from Seattle’s Caffè Umbria. [Read more.]
Tall Ship (1 E. Pier Dr., Boston)— from the team behind Pier 6 and Reelhouse — is open, well, on a tall ship. The group is describing it as a floating oyster bar (there are also a few other things to eat, like charcuterie boards), and it plays host to live music and other events. A rotating cast of food vendors sell additional treats out of refurbished shipping containers along the pier.
Also in East Boston, waterfront favorite KO Pies has now closed, but Seabiscuit (256 Marginal St., Bldg. 16, Boston) — from the team behind now-closed Somerville bakery and cafe the Biscuit — opened in its place on September 2, continuing to serve KO’s Australian meat pies and more. “We’re keeping KO’s menu and schedule for the time being but will be expanding as we grow into our new surroundings,” co-owner Andrew Platt tells Eater. [Read more.]
Flying Embers Brewery & Social Club (152 Hampden St., Roxbury) is now open in the former Backlash Beer space. The California-based company specializes in hard kombucha and hard seltzer, as well as beer brewed with probiotics. The taproom also serves food, a collaboration with Boston’s Bon Me food truck/restaurant chain. [Read more.]
Fans of south Indian food will find dosas galore at Madras Dosa Co. (55 Boston Wharf Rd.), a fast-casual spot in Boston’s Seaport District from the team behind south Indian restaurant chain Godavari. The huge list of dosa fillings includes a lot of vegan or vegetarian and/or gluten-free options. Also on the menu: idli, ghee grilled cheese, Indian soft drinks, and more. [Read more.]
Also in the Seaport District, Coquette (450 Summer St., Boston) — not to be confused with the three Colettes mentioned above — opened on September 9 at the Omni Boston Hotel, courtesy of COJE Management Group, which is also behind beautifully designed Boston restaurants Lolita, Mariel, Yvonne’s, and Ruka. Reportedly focused on coastal French cuisine with touches of Basque Country, Coquette is one of several summer openings to showcase seafood towers (see also the Fed, the Banks Fish House, and Cut 21.) The sizable restaurant includes private dining space, a big bar, a casual cafe-style dining area as well as the main dining room, and — coming next year — patio space. Stay tuned for an inside look at the menu.
At the Omni Boston Hotel, Coquette is joined by several other dining and drinking options, including all-day Mediterranean-American restaurant Kestra; upscale sports bar the Sporting Club, with cocktails and small plates; and French-inspired boulangerie Cocorico, serving coffee, bread, and pastries.
Hunter’s Kitchen & Bar (110 Dorchester St., Boston) opened in August in the former Junction space. It comes from the Broadway Restaurant Group, which is taking over Southie bit by bit — the group is also behind Lincoln Tavern, Loco Taqueria, Capo, and Fat Baby. The group actually took over the Junction in late 2019 but shut it down during COVID and planned the rebranding and renovation. Now, the place gives off rustic hunter’s lodge vibes (hence the name), with tons of reclaimed wood, taxidermy, fireplaces, and such. On the menu: Southern comfort food, such as shrimp and grits; chicken and waffles; gumbo; ribs; hushpuppies; and more.
It’s food hall time: Hub Hall (80 Causeway St., Boston) opened at the Hub on Causeway development next to TD Garden in September, bring 18 new food options to the increasingly food-filled neighborhood. The lineup includes new locations of Cusser’s, Greco, and Lily P’s; a New Haven- and Roman-style pizzeria from the Mida team; a soup shop and an oyster bar, both from the ReelHouse team; and more. [Read more.]
Rhode Island-based frozen lemonade company Del’s Lemonade (1050 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington) has expanded to Arlington, its closest location to Boston so far. (Most locations are in Rhode Island, with a few scattered around southeastern Massachusetts.) The new storefront features a walk-up window for frozen lemonade, hot dogs, ice cream, and more.
Jewish-style delicatessen Mamaleh’s (1659 Beacon St., Brookline) expanded to Brookline’s Washington Square in August 2021; its original location opened in Cambridge’s Kendall Square back in 2016. Currently open daily from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., the new location serves ready-to-eat bagels and schmears, smoked fish platters, various Reubens (vegetarians can try the smoked mushroom version) and other sandwiches, and more, and there are also a variety of fridge, freezer, and pantry items to grab (knishes, blintzes, matzoh ball soup, etc.). There are also cans of Dr. Brown’s sodas, of course.
From the owners of Gâté Comme des Filles, a Somerville chocolate shop, and Picnic & Pantry (formerly known as In Season Food Shop), a Somerville grocery shop, comes an Inman Square wine and dessert bar that doesn’t allow cellphones. Zuzu’s Petals (204 Hampshire St., Cambridge), currently operating on a limited schedule, is a dark, intimate spot in the former City Girl Cafe space offering a small selection of wines by the glass, cheese and charcuterie boards, and desserts such as tiramisu (pictured above), creme brulee, and chocolate mousse loaded with vanilla bean. [Read more.]
Also in Inman Square, Drifter’s Tale (1281 Cambridge St., Cambridge) is now open in the former Bukowski space, describing itself as a “global street food gastrobar and tavern.” The menu includes moules frites, carnitas tacos, seafood paella for two, flatbreads, and more.
In Harvard Square, the Boston area’s first location of ramen chain Menya Jiro (57 JFK St., Cambridge) has opened; it’ll soon be joined by locations in Boston’s Seaport District and in Dedham. It features ramen in the style of Japan’s Kagoshima prefecture, with a pork and chicken broth, chashu pork, and fried garlic. Pork belly buns, gyoza, takoyaki, and more round out the menu. [Read more.]
In Porter Square, the Halal Guys (15 White St., Cambridge) opened its second Massachusetts location on August 6; the New York-based chain — which started as a food cart — also has a downtown Boston location that opened back in 2017 with the promise of more locations to come. The Halal Guys specializes in chicken and rice plates and gyros.
In Central Square, early pandemic pop-up hit Nu Do Society (125 River St., Cambridge) has finally opened its storefront in the old River Gods space. The restaurant — which focuses on noodle dishes that draw inspiration from several Asian cuisines — was supposed to open in early 2020, but we all know how that time of the year turned out. Faced with construction delays, the Nu Do team spent much of 2020 operating out of a temporary kitchen, offering a rotating menu for weekly delivery. Its flavor-packed dishes were a big hit. Now, it’s finally operating in its own space, serving lunch and dinner daily. Order online for takeout. The current menu, which leans mainly but not exclusively in the Thai direction, features dishes like khao soi, tom yum noodle soup, and garlic yaki udon.
Also in Central Square, rooftop bar Blue Owl (907 Main St., Cambridge) opened atop boutique hotel 907 Main on September 1. The menu has changed a bit since the iteration reported way back in early 2020; gone, for example, are the deep-fried Junior Mints, although the “Confectioner’s Row” candy bowl remains. Overall, the menu reportedly centers around international street food you’d want to eat late at night after a few drinks, with dishes such as Korean fried chicken wings, beef teriyaki skewers, podrao (a Brazilian-style hot dog), and oxtail beef patty.
And in Kendall Square, a food court called the Launchpad (84 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge) has opened inside MIT’s Stratton Student Center. It’s a collaboration with Dorchester-based nonprofit food business incubator CommonWealth Kitchen, which has placed several of its resident businesses in the food court: Bibim Box (Korean food), Las Palmas (Dominican food), and Las Carolinas (Venezuelan food). [Read more.]
WynnBET Sports Bar (1 Broadway, Everett) opened inside Encore Boston Harbor on September 10. Located on the casino floor, it has a ridiculously large number of TVs (60), as well as a giant video wall, plus a 15-seat full-service bar with video poker. It also contains two restaurants of its own: a location of international burger chain Shake Shack and counter-service/grab-and-go Italian restaurant Frank & Nick’s, from North End restaurateurs Frank DePasquale and Nick Varano. (They’re also behind Fratelli at Encore.) Frank & Nick’s serves panini, brick-oven pizza, salads, desserts, coffee, and more.
Elsewhere in Everett, fast-growing California-based ghost kitchen delivery/pop-up service Man vs Fries (114 Spring St., Everett) has arrived, offering delivery throughout the Boston area via the major third-party services. Customers can also pick up at the Everett kitchen. “Boston has all the street credit of the most iconic gastronomic foodie-centric city, and I strive to add to her eclectic food scene,” said founder William Bonhorst, a Connecticut native, via press release, adding that the business is meant to showcase “the maximum version of the french fry.” The menu includes fries as a main course — curly or straight — topped with carne asada or pollo asado and other toppings inspired by northern or southern California. There are also fry-stuffed burritos, fried desserts, and a lot of opportunities to eat Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and/or Doritos.
Tous les Jours, a French-Asian bakery and cafe chain with over a thousand locations worldwide, expanded its Boston-area presence with a new Malden location in July (230 Pleasant St., Malden); there are also locations in Allston, Natick, and Burlington. The bakery serves items such as honey cheese mochi pancakes, red bean doughnuts, raspberry turnovers, ham and cheese sandwiches, and more.
As of mid-August, Malden also has a new Japanese restaurant: Ōmori Izakaya & Sushi (166 Eastern Ave., Malden), whose older sibling opened in Brookline Village in late 2019. An izakaya is a Japanese pub, so Ōmori has plenty of snack-y dishes that pair well with its Japanese beers, sake, and mixed drinks (such as shochu-based cocktails) — think skewers of grilled meats, pork belly buns, fried gyoza, and lots more. There’s also sushi, sashimi, and a variety of lunch specials. Takeout, delivery, and reservations are available.
Clover Food Lab — the vegetarian food-truck-turned-restaurant-empire with over a dozen fast-casual locations around the Boston area — expanded to Newtonville (835 Washington St., Newton) in July, opening inside the Trio apartment building. This location features a standalone espresso bar staffed by George Howell Coffee Company, as well as a dedicated area for CSA pickup. Like other Clovers, the menu includes the chain’s popular chickpea fritter sandwich, rosemary fries, and lots more.
In West Newton, Blue Salt Restaurant (1255 Washington St., Newton) opened in August in the former La Tate Mexican Restaurant space, serving Eastern European-inspired dishes — and lots more. There’s borscht, caviar blini, and mushroom blintz, for example, but there’s also Brazilian seafood stew, a burger, and Moroccan vegetable tagine. Reservations can be made by phone: (617) 466-3174 or (617) 466-3175.
The Boston area’s banh mi options have increased again with the opening of Banh Mi Boston (716 Hancock St., Quincy) in Quincy’s Wollaston neighborhood. The counter-service shop also features numerous versions of the Vietnamese dessert che, both hot and cold.
And one more for Quincy: JnJ Turo Turo, one of the Boston area’s only Filipino restaurants, has sadly closed, but Bright Light (143 Water St., Quincy) is now open in its space, and it’s serving both Filipino and Jamaican food.
Revere Beach pizza mainstay Bianchi’s (381 Revere Beach Blvd.) has reopened in a new(ish) space, the former Renzo’s space where it previously popped up temporarily (sharing with Renzo’s). Now Renzo’s is gone and Bianchi’s is open permanently in the space, with partner the Sandbar serving some non-pizza food and a full bar onsite. [Read more.]
In other Revere news, Cut 21, sibling spot to nearby restaurants Dryft and Fine Line, is now open at the Ryder apartment complex on Revere Beach (21 Revere Beach Blvd., Revere). Restaurateur Michael Aldi — with executive chef Greg Reeves, who owns Viale in Cambridge — is serving seafood (including seafood towers and lobster Rockefeller), steak, cocktails, and more. Bring a change of clothes on your beach day: “Casual dressy attire” is encourage; swimwear is not allowed.
In July, vegan pop-up Littleburg put down roots in a garage in Union Square (5 Sanborn Ct., Somerville), hidden away off that parking lot where you can also find Backbar and Field & Vine. The Littleburg storefront is currently offering takeout and meal delivery, but a small dining room might be in the plans a year or so down the road. Littleburg draws inspiration from Mediterranean cuisines, especially Greek, and aims to make vegan food that stands on its own — not just vegan versions of non-vegan dishes. [Read more.]
Elsewhere in Union Square, Bow Market’s Nibble Kitchen (1 Bow Market Way, Somerville) — which features rotating residencies of local food entrepreneurs, cooking food from around the world — welcomed a new chef to the mix. Edwin Orellana’s Dos Manos Kitchen is serving Salvadoran pupusas on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Also in Somerville, international burger chain Shake Shack opened its ninth Massachusetts location in early July at the Assembly Row development; it’s on the ground floor of the residential building Miscela (355 Assembly Row, Somerville). This location features a walk-up window where customers can pick up orders placed on Shake Shack’s app. See Burlington below for another new Shake Shack.
Assembly Row also got a location of fast-casual salad chain Sweetgreen (345 Assembly Row, Somerville) in July, one of quite a few in the Boston area. (Watertown’s Arsenal Yards and Boston’s Longwood Medical Center are next on the list.)
And one more for Somerville: Over in Magoun Square, sizable Italian-American restaurant and music venue Premiere on Broadway (517 Broadway, Somerville) celebrated its grand opening in early August. Charcuterie enthusiast Dan Bazzinotti — an alum of Bisq and Eataly — is leading the kitchen, serving grilled oysters fra diavolo; mozzarella with burrata and lobster; chicken parm; and more. [Read more.]
Buttermilk & Bourbon (100 Arsenal Yards Blvd., Watertown) opened in August, a sequel to chef and restaurateur Jason Santos’s Back Bay hit by the same name. The ambiance and some of the ingredients and menu items are a direct homage to New Orleans — this new location boasts roasted oysters, a nod to New Orleans icon Felix’s, for example — while other aspects of the menu are more of a general ode to the South, and others are just plain fun. (Hello, Flamin’ Hot Cheeto mac and cheese.) [Read more.]
Another newcomer to Arsenal Yards: Tori Jiro (98 Arsenal Yards Blvd., Watertown). It’s the first United States location for the Japan-based yakitori chain, which has over 60 locations in Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Italy. The restaurant is currently requiring reservations, which can be obtained by email (no groups larger than six). Watch Instagram for updates. [Read more.]
A new location of salad chain Sweetgreen (100 Bond Sq., Watertown) — whose CEO has some, uh, interesting views on how to stop the pandemic — joined Buttermilk & Bourbon and Tori Jiro at the Arsenal Yards development in late August. This location includes seasonal patio seating for 26 diners. (In addition to expanding, Sweetgreen has also been busy acquiring Boston-based robotic restaurant Spyce.)
And also in Watertown but not at Arsenal Yards, Flavor Boom (222 Arsenal St., Watertown) describes itself as “a gourmet fast-food restaurant ... specializing in slow-cooked Asian food with an international twist,” with most of its dishes served over rice or in sandwich form. There’s an “explosively spicy” Thai-inspired crab and scallop curry, for example, served over rice, as well as a beef rendang sandwich, not to mention sides like marbled tea eggs and “stupid hot” chopped chiles.
Caterer and meal delivery service Eva’s Little Kitchen (200 Great Rd. 7A and 7B, Bedford) has opened a Bedford storefront packed with cafe fare and grab-and-go items, from breakfast pastries like blueberry muffins with peach glaze to lemon pistachio bars, peach hand pies, and rotating flavors of chia seed pudding. There’s also coffee and tea.
Offering live music seven days a week in a variety of styles, Railway Tavern (131 Rantoul St., Beverly) is now open. There’s dinner nightly and brunch on Sundays; here’s a peek at the brunch menu, with dishes such as lobster eggs Benedict, a Nashville hot chicken sandwich, ahi tuna tartare nachos, and more.
Following the opening of Somerville’s new Shake Shack location, Burlington also got one, bringing the total number of Massachusetts locations to 10. The burger chain opened at the Burlington Mall (75 Middlesex Tpke., Burlington) on August 2. This location has indoor and outdoor dining, and lunch and dinner are available daily. Shake Shack first appeared in Massachusetts in 2013, when it debuted in Chestnut Hill.
Quirky New England diner chain the Friendly Toast (50 Independence Way, Danvers) expanded to Danvers in August, joining locations in Boston’s Back Bay; Burlington, Massachusetts; Burlington, Vermont; Bedford, New Hampshire; and the original in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. (The longstanding Cambridge, Massachusetts, location in Kendall Square temporarily closed at the start of the pandemic but announced in summer 2020 that it would not reopen.) The Friendly Toast is known for its eclectic decor and extensive brunch menu, packed with dishes like a breakfast sandwich on French toast doughnuts; Rice Krispies-coated chicken and waffles; and quiche in hash brown bowls.
New American restaurant Alchemy (1100 Market St., Lynnfield), from the North Shore’s Serenitee Restaurant Group, is now open at MarketStreet Lynnfield, paying homage to the restaurant group’s previous Alchemy restaurant in Gloucester, which operated from 2003 to 2016. The new spot seats almost 300, and there’s plenty of outdoor dining space. The menu hops around the globe with dishes such as Japanese street corn with togarashi aioli and tonkatsu sauce; sticky St. Louis-style ribs; ramen fries; lamb rigatoni; and more.
Bitty & Beau’s Coffee (462 Main St., Melrose), a small national cafe chain, has opened its first Massachusetts franchise. Named for two of founders Amy and Ben Wright’s four children — Bitty and Beau, who both have Down syndrome — the company provides job opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The Angry Donut (44 Inn St., Newburyport) opened in downtown Newburyport in August. The business started as a pop-up five years ago and also has another Newburyport storefront. It specializes in brioche doughnuts and other baked goods, such as scones, cakes, muffins, and cookies. There’s also a range of cafe fare — soups, salads, sandwiches, and a variety of coffee and tea drinks. Doughnut lovers will find flavors such as cinnamon sugar, chocolate sea salt, maple bacon, and more. Watch for specials on Instagram.
With ties to the Godavari chain of south Indian restaurants — which has a local outpost in Woburn and a new fast-casual offshoot, Madras Dosa Co., in Boston’s Seaport District — 1947 by Godavari (997 Providence Hwy., Norwood) is now open on Rt. 1. The restaurant features a giant menu, including quite a few varieties of dosas and tiffins. There are ample options for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diets.
The team behind Trina’s Starlite Lounge, Parlor Sports, and more has done it again: Sunset Club (4 Old Point Rd., Plum Island) is now open on Plum Island, featuring plenty of outdoor seating with views and fire pits, along with a seafood-heavy menu and summery cocktails. There are also bocce courts and a sandbox and play area for kids. [Read more.]