At an explosive culinary time full of inspired openings, the embracing of world flavors, nods to our heritage and trends pushed to the limit, here are those that stand out right now.
THE BUZZ Chef-owner Youji Iwakura has pulled out all of the stops in this three-level emporium—a temple to intricate, artful Japanese creations.
THE DRINK Order up one of the Koshu wines—a rare variety from Japan’s Yamanashi region.
MENU HIGHLIGHT Hamachi pastrami with fig tempura at dinner; at lunch, the Maine littleneck clam aka dashi miso shiru.
WHY WE LOVE IT Eating bigeye tuna from Boston, Ora King salmon from New Zealand, lubina from Spain and hobo from Japan all in one meal reminds us that Boston is, in fact, an international city.
CHEF’S SPECIALTY The Cha Kaiseki dinner, a modern spin on the age-old Japanese tradition, which spotlights sustainability, delicate dishes and clean flavors.
50 State St., 617.377.4588, kamakuraboston.com
2. SHORE LEAVE
THE BUZZ Putting the fancy in fancy-free— with killer food and more Tiki chic than you can shake a mini umbrella at.
THE DRINK The house concoction, aptly named The Shore Leave Cocktail: white rum, Jamaican rum, passionfruit, lime, aromatic bitters, molasses and a dram of Madeira. Whew.
MENU HIGHLIGHT Pork belly bao laced with pineapple hoisin, and full of fi re (jalapeno) and crunch (cucumber).
WHY WE LOVE IT Boston needed a spot that took its food and drink seriously, but not its atmosphere.
CHEF’S SPECIALTY If you’ve got a small group (or are just unreasonably hungry), go all in for the Rohan duck pancakes, complete with baos, house sauces and myriad delish accoutrements.
11 William E. Mullins Way, 617.530.1775, shoreleaveboston.com
THE BUZZ Finally, a heavy hitter with top-notch food and a gorgeous view of the Zakim Bridge, all in the shadow of TD Garden.
THE DRINK Hard-to-find vintages like the Wieninger Wein Gemischter Satz “Rosengartl Nussberg” from Vienna.
MENU HIGHLIGHT The whole-roasted branzino, wrapped in speck and flanked by asparagus and fava beans, is a marvel of flavors and textures—crispy, tender, sweet and salty in one bite.
WHY WE LOVE IT Owner Tom Schlesinger Guidelli has helped create gems in the treasure trove that is Boston’s restaurant scene. Now, he rightfully has one of his very own.
CHEF’S SPECIALTY The charred avocado arrives stuff ed with a velvety harissa aioli, reined in by the bitterness of delicate red-veined sorrel.
50 Lovejoy Wharf, 617.248.0050, alcoveboston.com
THE BUZZ It’s been seven years since executive chef Tony Messina joined up with Ken Oringer in the quest to create a new dimension of global sushi artistry, and he’s by no means resting on his laurels. Case in point: The James Beard Foundation just crowned him best chef in the Northeast.
MENU HIGHLIGHT The stinging nettle cacio e pepe dumpling with peas, ricotta and fermented black bean.
THE DRINK For Messina’s sushi menu, the sake list is right where you want to be.
WHY WE LOVE IT It’s a complete delight for any Bostonian to witness the evolution of what Oringer started decades ago with Clio. He replaced that icon with Uni in this same space.
CHEF’S SPECIALTY Order the omakase, sit up straight in your chair and get ready for anything.
The Eliot Hotel, 370A Commonwealth Ave., 617.536.7200, uni-boston.com
5. FOX & THE KNIFE
THE BUZZ An alum of Oleana and Myers + Chang, of Top Chef and a James Beard Award recipient for best chef: Northeast, Karen Akunowicz is now in her element at her own midsize enoteca.
THE DRINK The vino list is structured to honor women winemakers, so expect a few long-overdue curveballs.
MENU HIGHLIGHT Pasta’s the magic word here. Sweet and briny dishes like zafferano spaghetti con vongole with saffron and fennel will show you why.
WHY WE LOVE IT How refreshing to see a woman chef who’s as outspoken and fearless in public as she is in her cooking.
CHEF’S SPECIALTY Don’t bypass dishes like the campanelle al pesto di pistacchio with feta and mint.
28 W. Broadway, 617.766.8630, foxandtheknife.com
THE BUZZ Understated elegance, where everything feels personal and just right—all from a chef husband and beverage guru wife who named the place after their baby daughter.
THE DRINK Danielle Ayer has put her vino expertise to good use in the varied list. And just to be extra-nice, she offers a house Champagne by the glass.
MENU HIGHLIGHT Veal agnolotti with roasted spinach, parsnips and Parmigiana-Reggiano.
WHY WE LOVE IT Dishes that feel like they’ve been made (and served) by a gastronomically gifted friend win us over.
CHEF’S SPECIALTY Impossible to tell. Conor Dennehy excels at going where the best available ingredients take him.
377 Walden St., Cambridge, 617.714.5584, talullacambridge.com
THE BUZZ A palpable energy pervades in a worldly, cleverly decked-out outpost.
THE DRINK The Inigo Montoya —bourbon infused with coffee, carrot, cinnamon and clove.
MENU HIGHLIGHT Hamachi amarillo pairs spicy tuna and quinoa with grilled peppers and avocado, cukes and a cevichado sauce.
WHY WE LOVE IT There’s something fantastic about watching Bostonians lap up lusty food and let loose a little.
CHEF’S SPECIALTY While envelope-pushing Peru-meets-Japan sushi may be the focus here, the servers will whisper to you that no dinner’s complete without a bowl of dan dan noodles.
505 Washington St., 617.266.0102, rukarestobar.com
THE BUZZ Sumptuous comfort food meets seamless service in… The Innovation & Design Building?
THE DRINK Owner and beverage director Ted Kilpatrick has curated a cocktail program with clean-fl avored drinks like the gin- and grapefruit-based Tern Around.
MENU HIGHLIGHT The harissa cavatelli with lamb merguez, chickpea, rapini and Parmigiano.
WHY WE LOVE IT It’s a rare combination of urbane, cosseting, sophisticated and unpretentious all rolled into one experience.
CHEF’S SPECIALTY Owner-chef John daSilva and Kilpatrick met working at No. 9 Park, and the handmade pastas echo the greatness of their former home.
21 Dry Dock Ave., 617.531.5591, chickadeerestaurant.com
9. THE OYSTER CLUB
THE BUZZ Decorated chef and seafood wizard Chris Parsons open his first fish resto in the space once belonging to legendary spots Biba, Via Matta and Doretta.
THE DRINK Toast the icy sea-wrought delicacies with a glass of any of the house’s chilly rosés.
MENU HIGHLIGHT In lieu of the usual plat du jour, the lobster of the day rollout puts the spotlight on our regional treasure.
WHY WE LOVE IT We feel like we’re kicking back at a contemporary, cool yacht club.
CHEF’S SPECIALTY Parsons has built much of his career wowing diners with exemplary takes on New England seafood classics, and here he’s oneupping even himself.
The Heritage on the Garden, 79 Park Plaza, theoysterclubboston.com
10. TRILLIUM BREWING COMPANY
THE BUZZ This is no mere beer hall; the sleek 18,000-square-foot, threefloor behemoth is an ode to spectacular craft beer and equally upscale, meticulously crafted dining.
THE DRINK Craft beer, natch.
MENU HIGHLIGHT The pastrami with a sunny egg is something we could eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even dessert.
WHY WE LOVE IT It’s taken Boston brewery dining to a new, civilized level.
CHEF’S SPECIALTY Executive chef Michael Morway is the real deal when it comes to farmhouse-driven creations, and his dry-cured heritage ham and salamis (like fennel and wild boar with coriander and nutmeg) are proof.
50 Thomson Place, 857.449.0078, trilliumbrewing.com
Photography by: PHOTOS BY 1. ALEXANDRA HALL 2. BRIAN SAMUELS PHOTOGRAPHY 3. EMILY KAN 4. ANDREA MERRILL 5. BRIAN SAMUELS PHOTOGRAPHY 6. WAYNE EARL CINNOCK 7. DREW KATZ 8. KRISTEN TEIG 9. SASHA ISRAEL 10. GENE BUONACCORSI