You know how you can tell a Malaysian restaurant is good if there are a ton of Malaysians eating there? Well, you know the year's best openings by how often they're packed with industry people. So here are the new spots the insiders have been hanging in.
Brahm Callahan, Wine Director at Grill 23 & Bar and Post 390 "JM Curly's. A great industry spot that does it right and doesn't deal with any BS."
Brian Moy, Owner of Shōjō "Yumewokatare ramen shop. Authentic ramen at its best. Just hate the long lines!
Dustin Rennells, Instructor at the BCAE/Owner of Bad Boy Bake Shop "Estelle's in South End. There is nothing Brian Poe can't do, and, fortunately for us Southerners, he hasn't failed with Estelle's. Fried catfish and po' boys, and all the trimmings and fixings, make it the best stop this side of the river (mad props to Hungry Mother in Kendall) for grandma's home cooking. My arteries are telling me no, but my heart and tummy are telling me 'do it, y'all'".
Kathy Sidell, Owner of MET Restaurant Group "Lone Star Taco and Sweet Cheeks. [Both have] great vibe(s). Super good food."
Emma Hollander, Bartender at Trina's Starlite Lounge "Brick & Mortar. Ice cold Budweiser's in koozies, hospitality professionals, and an all-around fun vibe.
Manny Gonzales, Bar Manager at Saloon "Tres Gatos in JP. The food's very well thought out and delicious. It's made the restaurants in JP step up their game."
Max Toste, Proprietor of Deep Ellum & Lone Star Taco Bar "Belly and West Bridge are the best new spots in town by a ton!
William Kovel, Chef/Owner of Catalyst "One of my favorite's Steel and Rye in Milton. Dan and Chris are doing a great job and 2013 is going to be a good year for them."
Hadley Douglas, Owner of The Urban Grape "One of the most exciting meals we had this year was at Shojo. The food is delicious and their sake list is great. It’s nice to see sake being featured on more beverage lists this year.
John Mayer, Beverage Director at Local 149 "My favorite new spot is a favorite 'new, old' spot, and that's the bar at No. 9 Park. They have been not-so-quietly hiring some of the best bartenders in Boston and the staff is loaded with individuals who know how to craft a perfect cocktail. And it doesn't hurt that the food and wine are still among the best in the city. I just keep wanting to go!"
Chuck Barbato, Director of Operations for Salvatore’s Restaurants "The Salty Pig. Sharing is all the rage and these perfectly mini-sized dishes served a la carte make it fun."
Kevin Long, Executive Chef for Big Night Entertainment Group "Tasty Burger in Southie. It’s by far my favorite burger in town and definitely makes for the perfect guilty pleasure!
Chef Erwin Ramos, Executive Chef at Ole Mexican Grill "I like Strip T’s in Watertown. It is has a simple approach, but it's interpreted in an interesting and elegant way."