ShepardAddress and Info
1 Shepard St, Cambridge
Harvard Square is experiencing its own sort of culinary renaissance within the greater Boston boom, and Shepard is arguably the brightest light to emerge so far. Chef de cuisine Peter McKenzie has been exploring and exploiting all the myriad ways a hyperlocal menu in Boston can tantalize year-round using only a wood fire. Seriously. They don’t have ovens.
JulietAddress and Info
257 Washington St, Somerville
Juliet’s tiny, sun-filled dining room used to house the casual Sherman Cafe, faithfully serving Union Square commuters (and telecommuters). When Chef Josh Lewin and his partner Katrina Jazayeri took over the space, they transformed it -- from clutter to minimalism, breakfast sandwiches to refined European cafe fare -- while keeping one important factor the same: integration into the fabric of Somerville’s daily life.
Tiger MamaAddress and Info
1363 Boylston St, Boston
When Tiffani Faison came *this close* to winning the inaugural season of Top Chef, the young chef was a relatively obscure name in Boston dining. Now the whole city adores her -- due largely to her groaningly good Sweet Cheeks Q. She took a risk when she opened a very different second concept a year ago, and the risk paid off. Tiger Mama’s complex yet elementally satisfying riffs on dishes from across Southeast Asia have smitten Bostonians all over again. Plus: She found a way to make dim sum even more awesome (it may have something to do with tiny cocktails).
WaypointAddress and Info
1030 Mass Ave, Cambridge
So, let’s say you open a restaurant and people right away fall in love with it and make it super popular. And then about a year later you decide to open a second restaurant, and people right away fall in love with it and make it super popular. Do you rest on your laurels? Not if you’re Michael Scelfo, who is always looking ahead to his 10-year plan and has more things on the horizon.
This neighborhood restaurant on Harvard Square is a farm-fresh destination that changes its menu depending on the availability of local and seasonal goods. The food is vaguely French, though it wouldn't be a New England restaurant without a fine selection of seafood either. That said, Shepard's oven-roasted chicken is primal and perfect, served on a wood slab with the head and feet still attached.
At Juliet, a sophisticated, white-walled cafe in Union Square, you can order a quick cup of coffee from the takeaway counter or sit down for a full breakfast, lunch, or dinner. In the morning, you'll find an a la carte breakfast menu with drip coffee, matcha tea, and turmeric tonic, as well as toasts with sweet and savory spreads and rotating breakfast taco specials. The afternoon and evening bring more elegant and seasonal dishes, and a formal prix fixe option served at the chef’s counter.
We’ll follow Tiffani Faison anywhere, but thankfully she skipped right down the street with Tiger Mama, her follow-up to Sweet Cheeks. A haven for neon lights, punchy tiki cocktails, and umami flavor, it's a 180-degree turn from her down-home 'Q sanctum. The menu explores all manners of spicy Southeast Asian food, from crispy chili potatoes to Singapore street noodles and lamb roti. The family-style dishes implore you to come with a crowd that's willing to share and order most items on the menu. The only thing you shouldn’t eat? The herbs growing on the vertical indoor garden.
Cambridge’s Waypoint could have exceeded our expectations with its beverage program alone, but even 20 types of absinthe along with rum, mezcal, agave, sherry, and gin stand second to the coastal-inspired seafood menu. The raw bar is complete with such maritime gems as smoked and salted peel-n-eat shrimp, while hot dishes include pizza, pasta, roasts, and small plates. Seafood is incorporated in unconventional ways wherever possible, from the squid ink bread and smoked whitefish pizza to the fish-shaped neon signs that decorate Waypoint’s walls.