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Two hands hold cups of brown sugar boba from Taiwanese chain Tiger Sugar. The iced tea drink is milky white with streaks of dark brown.
Tiger striped, tooth-achingly sweet boba in Allston
Tiger Sugar [Official Photo]

7 Exciting Boston-Area Restaurants Opening in (or Around) Spring 2021

Wood-fired pizza, Vietnamese coffee, sugary boba, and more

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Tiger striped, tooth-achingly sweet boba in Allston
| Tiger Sugar [Official Photo]

Spring begins in a week and a half (March 20, officially); clam shacks are reopening for the season on the north and south shores; the 10-day forecast shows mostly days in the 40s, and more crucially suggests days in the 20s and 30s are drifting out of view again. Spring is springing, and with it new restaurants are opening in and around Boston.

This map zeroes in on seven of the Hub’s most exciting spring 2021 (and spring 2021 adjacent) restaurant and bar openings. This post is usually dedicated solely to restaurants that are on the verge of opening, but it’s been a deeply weird and difficult year for everyone, especially the restaurant industry, so we decided to include some restaurants that have opened in the past month or so.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does provide an overview of some of spring’s likely highlights.

Please note that a number of Boston-area restaurants have resumed dine-in service, and the level of service offered is indicated on each map point. However, this should not be taken as endorsement for dining in, as there are still safety concerns: For updated information on coronavirus cases in the area, please visit the Massachusetts coronavirus website.

Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Cicada Coffee Bar

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106 Prospect St
Cambridge, MA 02139

The team behind the Nem Kitchen pop-up recently opened their stunning Vietnamese coffee shop inside an ivy-covered building on Prospect Street in Cambridge that used to be a church office and an art gallery. Chef and co-owner Vinh Le and co-owner Duong Huynh like the motto “live slowly to understand deeply,” inspired by the teachings of Vietnamese monk and spiritual leader Thích Nhất Hạnh. That vibe is on display at Cicada, which has a zen garden out back and doesn’t offer WiFi. Guests are encouraged to unplug and relax — and to enjoy some excellent coffee drinks, of course.

A three-layered coffee drink sits in a curved glass on a white table. There’s a milk layer, a coffee layer, and a foam layer visible. Cicada Coffee Bar [Official Site]

2. Cloud and Spirits

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795 Main St
Cambridge, MA 02139

The Blackfin Collective launched what it called a “hibernation opening” in January 2021, meaning that it opened its latest restaurant — the Korean-inspired New American Cloud and Spirits, which occupies the former Cuchi Cuchi space in Central Square — into an immediate hibernation situation. For now, diners can try chef Katie Cheung’s excellent pork katsu sandwiches, which are being distributed out of the Cloud and Spirits space under the Mikkusu pop-up moniker. Made with shokupan, a soft Japanese milk bread, these sandwiches are not to be missed. (Check the pop-up’s website for ordering options.) When Cloud and Spirits eventually opens, expect wagyu ribeye, juk (a savory rice porridge), steak tartare, mini matcha doughnuts, and more.

A sandwich made with shokupan — a Japanese milk bread — stuffed with crispy, golden brown pork katsu (deep fried pork cutlet)
The pork katsu sando from Mikkusu, which is currently popping up inside Cloud and Spirits
Mikkusu/Official Site

3. Mida Newton

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261 Walnut St
Newton, MA 02460

Chef and owner Douglass Williams has been operating Mida, his beloved South End Italian restaurant, since 2016. Now, he’s expanding the business to Newton: Williams plans to open a second Mida outpost in June. It’s difficult (impossible?) to find better house-made pasta in Greater Boston, and Mida’s arancini is one of the best bites in the city. Put simply, Newton is getting an absolute gem. And for the uninitiated, Mida’s “Mangia Monday” is one of the best deals around: Two diners can sample five pasta dishes, salad, and bread for $70. It’s like the Olive Garden, but actually good. (Keep an eye out for Apizza, the forthcoming New Haven-style pizzeria Williams is opening inside Hub Hall.)

Two white cups of gelato (one scoop pink, one white), with two wooden spoons laying off to the side Emily Kan for Mida

4. Tiger Sugar

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181 Harvard Ave
Boston, MA 02134
(917) 818-7661
Visit Website

A Taiwanese chain called Tiger Sugar that specializes in extremely Instagrammable brown sugar-spiked boba tea opened in Allston at the beginning of March. The boba shop is best known for its brown sugar-spiked boba tea, which combines a brown sugar syrup with milk and slow-cooked tapioca pearls to make its signature drink, which is, it must be said, striped like a tiger. Take a trip to Allston for some tooth-achingly sweet boba, and don’t forget to take pics.

Two hands hold cups of brown sugar boba from Taiwanese chain Tiger Sugar. The iced tea drink is milky white with streaks of dark brown. Tiger Sugar [Official Photo]

5. Wood Fired Love

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134 Smith St
Boston, MA 02120

It was sad when the Squealing Pig closed on Mission Hill because the Squealing Pig was a good restaurant and a better bar. It’s made less sad because the owners installed a wood-fired pizza oven and decided to transform the space into a pizzeria. Mission Hill has some great restaurants, but it’s always in need of more, and Wood Fired Love seems poised to scratch that itch. It should be opening some time in late March.

6. Punch Bowl

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700 Brookline Ave
Brookline, MA 02446

Jen and Josh Ziskin, the wife and husband duo behind La Morra (which is one of the best Italian restaurants in Greater Boston), are opening another restaurant in Brookline. Punch Bowl (an homage to the historic 18th century tavern on Pearl Street) will serve contemporary New England fare, and cocktails influenced by Brookline’s history. Once it’s safe to gather in groups again, Punch Bowl’s terrace will be a great spot to share, well, punch bowls with friends. The restaurant is set to open in early April.

A dark purple cocktail in a tumbler, dressed with blackberries, preserved lemons, and various fresh herbs Punch Bowl/Official Website

7. Jinny’s Pizzeria

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1231 Centre St
Newton, MA 02459

Owner Lydia Reichert — who opened the pizzeria with the team behind Buttonwood, Little Big Diner, and Sycamore — named this Newton newcomer after her grandmother, Jinny. “My grandma was a great lady,” Reichert told Boston.com recently. “She spoke her mind and always had an opinion about stuff, but was incredibly welcoming and always wanted to throw a party. And so I wanted to embody that in our restaurant and keep that spirit going.” The pizzeria opened in early March and specializes in American-style Neapolitan pizza. The pies are cooked in a wood-fired oven at 700 degrees Fahrenheit, and have an outer crust that is both pillowy and charred. There’s a full liquor license (Negroni, anyone?), and the beer list focuses on local brews.

1. Cicada Coffee Bar

106 Prospect St, Cambridge, MA 02139
A three-layered coffee drink sits in a curved glass on a white table. There’s a milk layer, a coffee layer, and a foam layer visible. Cicada Coffee Bar [Official Site]

The team behind the Nem Kitchen pop-up recently opened their stunning Vietnamese coffee shop inside an ivy-covered building on Prospect Street in Cambridge that used to be a church office and an art gallery. Chef and co-owner Vinh Le and co-owner Duong Huynh like the motto “live slowly to understand deeply,” inspired by the teachings of Vietnamese monk and spiritual leader Thích Nhất Hạnh. That vibe is on display at Cicada, which has a zen garden out back and doesn’t offer WiFi. Guests are encouraged to unplug and relax — and to enjoy some excellent coffee drinks, of course.

106 Prospect St
Cambridge, MA 02139

2. Cloud and Spirits

795 Main St, Cambridge, MA 02139
A sandwich made with shokupan — a Japanese milk bread — stuffed with crispy, golden brown pork katsu (deep fried pork cutlet)
The pork katsu sando from Mikkusu, which is currently popping up inside Cloud and Spirits
Mikkusu/Official Site

The Blackfin Collective launched what it called a “hibernation opening” in January 2021, meaning that it opened its latest restaurant — the Korean-inspired New American Cloud and Spirits, which occupies the former Cuchi Cuchi space in Central Square — into an immediate hibernation situation. For now, diners can try chef Katie Cheung’s excellent pork katsu sandwiches, which are being distributed out of the Cloud and Spirits space under the Mikkusu pop-up moniker. Made with shokupan, a soft Japanese milk bread, these sandwiches are not to be missed. (Check the pop-up’s website for ordering options.) When Cloud and Spirits eventually opens, expect wagyu ribeye, juk (a savory rice porridge), steak tartare, mini matcha doughnuts, and more.

795 Main St
Cambridge, MA 02139

3. Mida Newton

261 Walnut St, Newton, MA 02460
Two white cups of gelato (one scoop pink, one white), with two wooden spoons laying off to the side Emily Kan for Mida

Chef and owner Douglass Williams has been operating Mida, his beloved South End Italian restaurant, since 2016. Now, he’s expanding the business to Newton: Williams plans to open a second Mida outpost in June. It’s difficult (impossible?) to find better house-made pasta in Greater Boston, and Mida’s arancini is one of the best bites in the city. Put simply, Newton is getting an absolute gem. And for the uninitiated, Mida’s “Mangia Monday” is one of the best deals around: Two diners can sample five pasta dishes, salad, and bread for $70. It’s like the Olive Garden, but actually good. (Keep an eye out for Apizza, the forthcoming New Haven-style pizzeria Williams is opening inside Hub Hall.)

261 Walnut St
Newton, MA 02460

4. Tiger Sugar

181 Harvard Ave, Boston, MA 02134
Two hands hold cups of brown sugar boba from Taiwanese chain Tiger Sugar. The iced tea drink is milky white with streaks of dark brown. Tiger Sugar [Official Photo]

A Taiwanese chain called Tiger Sugar that specializes in extremely Instagrammable brown sugar-spiked boba tea opened in Allston at the beginning of March. The boba shop is best known for its brown sugar-spiked boba tea, which combines a brown sugar syrup with milk and slow-cooked tapioca pearls to make its signature drink, which is, it must be said, striped like a tiger. Take a trip to Allston for some tooth-achingly sweet boba, and don’t forget to take pics.

181 Harvard Ave
Boston, MA 02134

5. Wood Fired Love

134 Smith St, Boston, MA 02120

It was sad when the Squealing Pig closed on Mission Hill because the Squealing Pig was a good restaurant and a better bar. It’s made less sad because the owners installed a wood-fired pizza oven and decided to transform the space into a pizzeria. Mission Hill has some great restaurants, but it’s always in need of more, and Wood Fired Love seems poised to scratch that itch. It should be opening some time in late March.

134 Smith St
Boston, MA 02120

6. Punch Bowl

700 Brookline Ave, Brookline, MA 02446
A dark purple cocktail in a tumbler, dressed with blackberries, preserved lemons, and various fresh herbs Punch Bowl/Official Website

Jen and Josh Ziskin, the wife and husband duo behind La Morra (which is one of the best Italian restaurants in Greater Boston), are opening another restaurant in Brookline. Punch Bowl (an homage to the historic 18th century tavern on Pearl Street) will serve contemporary New England fare, and cocktails influenced by Brookline’s history. Once it’s safe to gather in groups again, Punch Bowl’s terrace will be a great spot to share, well, punch bowls with friends. The restaurant is set to open in early April.

700 Brookline Ave
Brookline, MA 02446

7. Jinny’s Pizzeria

1231 Centre St, Newton, MA 02459

Owner Lydia Reichert — who opened the pizzeria with the team behind Buttonwood, Little Big Diner, and Sycamore — named this Newton newcomer after her grandmother, Jinny. “My grandma was a great lady,” Reichert told Boston.com recently. “She spoke her mind and always had an opinion about stuff, but was incredibly welcoming and always wanted to throw a party. And so I wanted to embody that in our restaurant and keep that spirit going.” The pizzeria opened in early March and specializes in American-style Neapolitan pizza. The pies are cooked in a wood-fired oven at 700 degrees Fahrenheit, and have an outer crust that is both pillowy and charred. There’s a full liquor license (Negroni, anyone?), and the beer list focuses on local brews.

1231 Centre St
Newton, MA 02459

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