Here at Thrillist, we like to talk about the “best” of everything. There’s the best sushi in town, the best donuts, the best coffee, the best make-out spots (Have we done that article? Should we write that article?), the best hotels, the best Korean joints, and so on, forever and ever. So today, we present to you an epic catchall of this year’s bests in our fair city: the roundup of roundups, the best of the best of Boston’s most recent bests.
The Thrillist Awards: Boston's Best New Food & Drink of 2015
Yvonne’sAddress and Info
Not only is it gorgeous, the food is amazing, the drinks are delicious, and it works for everything from impressing your date to impressing that important client. Fuel your night with a gigantic “feast” plate and large-format cocktail for the table, or go easy on yourself with the grilled octopus, crispy tater cubes, chicken quinoa meatballs, and a rubicon (gin, lemon, dry cherry, Chartreuse, and rosemary). Don’t expect to walk right in though... make a reservation or suffer the consequences.
Ames Street DeliAddress and Info
Don’t let the cute latte art (kitties for Caturday!) and snarky signage fool you; this chic coffee shop is one of the best cocktail spots in town. Sam Treadway and the team behind backbar have put together an all-day café featuring everything from bacon-stuffed donuts and Kouign Amann to a full dinner menu. And of course, the drinks are bomb. The on-menu cocktails, organized by flavor profile and key ingredient, range from weird tiki (like the bitter Honey I Choked the Kids) to nouveau mezcal (like the punchy Zig-Zag Wanderer).
New coffee shop
OgawaAddress and Info
This Japanese coffee roaster got us hooked with its signature drinks: foamy chilled espresso -- the smoothest around -- and a strong hot latte with custom art. It’s adorable to share and stupidly Instagrammable. Plus, the strange stadium seating lends itself as well to meeting up with a friend as it does to working.
New date spot
Lone Star Taco BarAddress and Info
There is nothing not to like about stand-out mezcal, homemade guac, and $4 tacos. Thankfully, the classy-but-not-too-classy Allstonian’s go-to date place just opened up a new outpost near the Lechmere T station. We love the Man with No Name, the Siete Leguas Blanco (write that down, you'll thank us later), the actually good music, and the fact that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is probably playing in the background.
New date activity: brunch
TownsmanAddress and Info
On the last Saturday of every month, Townsman cooks up a special brunch centered on an overflowing #caketable (yes, the hashtag is in the name... it is actually that beautiful.) You’ll look cool for knowing about it (it’s not on the website), and you’ll look even cooler because treating your significant other to chicken-fried steak with English muffins and gravy, insane house-smoked bacon, and cinnamon bun grilled cheese is just about as close as it comes to true love. Add in a #caketable and you might as well elope.
New nightlife spot
Stage NightclubAddress and Info
Stage opened at the beginning of 2015 and was immediately voted the best nightlife spot of the year by Improper Bostonian and every other nightlife news section in town. It’s the only club in Boston for live vaudeville-style performances every night. Go to dance and watch improv sets by professional aerialists, contortionists, dancers, glow performers, hula hoopers, and more.
New food truck
Uyghur Kitchen (address and info)
No idea what Uyghur food is? We didn’t either, and when we first tried it, we didn’t care! It’s great! For the record, the Uyghur culinary tradition is somewhere between Turkish and Chinese. If you love Middle-Eastern food or have a fondness for lamb kebabs, try it out.
The Backroom at Moody’s Delicatessen & ProvisionsAddress and Info
We love Moody’s for its mountains of fresh charcuterie, artisanal cheese, and wine. It turns out their brunch kills it, too, featuring their signature pork rolls, duck confit hash, fried chicken & waffles with smoked maple syrup and cranberry compote, and New Orleans-style eggs Benedict with ham and shrimp.
Envoy Hotel (address and info)
The Seaport’s newest hotel is sleek, modern, and host to an incredibly young crowd. We like everything about the restaurant/bar downstairs, from the outlets hidden next to every seat to the typographically driven cocktail menu, custom beer (by Harpoon), and the crazy campfire dessert torte with smoking marshmallows. The whole hotel is structured for maximizing views of the harbor, but the rooftop bar makes it easy if you’re not ready to spring for an ocean-view room.
New cocktail: Netflix and Chill
River BarAddress and Info
There are a ton of amazing cocktails out there. We picked this one because it captures the direction that Boston’s cocktail scene took in 2015. Made in the emerging neighborhood of Assembly Square, the Netflix and Chill combines bourbon with chai, lapsong suchong (a smoked black tea), and Barolo chinato, a little-known Italian wine. Tea is getting a lot of play, and pairing unlikely alcohols (like wine and whiskey) is, too. A few years back, the idea of a cocktail like this one would have been pretty odd, but these days, Bostonians are seeking out drinks defined by some thoughtful wackiness.
New vegetarian joint
Whole Heart ProvisionsAddress and Info
The folks behind Roxy’s Grilled Cheese and Rebecca Arnold, a previous employee of Sarma and Alden & Harlow, opened up a vegetable restaurant in Allston this past September, and, surprising nobody, it’s really good. The signature bowls come with a base of various grains or lettuce and are only $8.50, and the street food snacks (like seared avocado) go for half that. The concept is a lot like Clover, only completely vegan and almost entirely gluten-free.
New oyster happy hour
VialeAddress and Info
Boston is full of oyster happy hours, and our favorite new one is at Viale, which dishes out dollar oysters on weekdays from 5-7pm. Stick around for a dinner of fancy pasta with wild boar Bolognese.
Best 2016 restaurant preview
After a residency at Wink & Nod, Akinto is set to open a brick-and-mortar in the former Merrill and Co. space in Summer 2016. We hope they’ll keep the crispy soft-shell crab bao tacos, duck dumplings with three kinds of sauce, Japanese gyudon, and wok-fired flowering chives in crab butter. (The Thai tea crème brulee and banana fritter with jack fruit and smoked caramel can stay, too.)
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Kim Prosise is a Boston-based travel and lifestyle writer who really can't decide on the best cocktail and recommends that you try them all.
1. Yvonne's Supper Club2 Winter Place, Boston
2. Ames Street Deli73 Ames St, Cambridge
3. Ogawa Coffee Boston10 Milk St, Boston
4. Lone Star Taco Bar479 Cambridge St., Boston
5. Townsman120 Kingston St, Boston
6. Stage Nightclub19 Boylston Pl, Boston
7. Uyghur Kitchen, Boston
8. Moody's Backroom468 Moody St, Waltham
9. River Bar661 Assembly Row, Somerville
10. Whole Heart Provisions487 Cambridge St, Boston
11. State Street Provisions255 State St, Boston
12. Puritan & Company1166 Cambridge St, Cambridge
13. Viale502 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge
This bar and eatery in Downtown Crossing is without a doubt one of the most stunning places you'll ever drink or dine -- just one look at its grandeur collection of chandeliers, Victorian patterned wallpaper, and plush velvet and polished leather booths will have you weak in the knees. And that's before the food even arrives at your table, which you'll want to pack with your entire entourage because sharing's the name of the game here. You can split a plate of grilled octopus, beef matambre, or quinoa meatballs, but that doesn't mean you'll have to share your handcrafted cocktail (that is, unless you spring for a spiked-punch bowl).
The geniuses behind Journeyman and Backbar deliver a one-two punch in the suddenly hyper-charged Kendall Square. First up is Ames Street Deli, the extra-funky sammy haven featuring not-your-grandpa’s meat-on-bread combos. Think zanier, more to the tune of rabbit mortadella on carrot bread (ironic) and foie gras on coconut brioche.
This bright and sleek cafe -- appropriately located on Milk St -- serves fresh roast coffee and daytime bites with a Japanese touch. Coffee flights and pour-overs are available with your choice of beans, but if you aren’t picky, the Kyoto house-blend, featuring a trio of beans from Brazil, Guatemala, and Ethiopia, will suffice. Ogawa’s food options include bacon and eggs with toasted shokupan white bread, and specials like matcha sundaes and rice flour cake rolls. The spot features custom-designed stadium seating designed to give customers an excellent view of the baristas working their magic on the field -- er, bar.
Break up the cycle of clam chowder and sea food with some Texas-sized Mexican dishes.
This New England brasserie dazzles with dishes like crunchy chicken fried sweetbreads and the Bang’s Island mussels: a smoldering cauldron of garlicky chorizo verde broth and a colossal hunk of bread for dipping/mopping. Bring a friend and take on the 32 Ounce Rib Steak for 2 cranked up with chimichurri and served alongside hambone collards and spiced frites.
This swanky, burlesque inspired nightclub caters to a trendy clientele who come in droves for vaudeville style events and artisanal cocktails.
This roving eatery serves traditional Turkish cuisine with a twist-- dishes are organic, fresh, and immensely affordable (all under $10). Check their website as the truck's location changes daily.
Moody's Backroom is exactly that -- a dining room tucked in the back of Moody's Deli in Waltham. The full-service dining room serves cheese, charcuterie, pasta, flatbreads, and various meat-centric small plates. If the Backroom feels like an upscale wine bar, that's because it kind of is: drinks revolve around a California-centric wine list, but there are also a few classic cocktails (Old Fashioneds, Negronis, Manhattans) and IPAs on tap.
A palace of wood, glass, and white marble, Somerville's River Bar dishes up Asian fusions on American classics. The sleek interior and fire-warmed back patio guarantee you'll see more than a few couples splitting a small plate of fried potatoes with miso aioli or corned beef and cabbage dumplings. If they're really comfortable with each other, them they're probably sinking their teeth right into the grass-fed burger -- a bulgogi-marination creation topped with bacon eggs rolls -- instead. That's true love (we mean for the burger).
Allston is a bonafide vegetarian’s paradise with a roster of restaurants that includes this tasty takeaway spot whose menu revolves around meat-free bowls. A favorite is the Mission bowl, tossed with toppings like shaved Brussels sprouts, Japanese eggplant, smashed cucumber, and tahini sauce, but there’s also the option to build your own (you can do so online, too). Copper tables, gray banquettes, and reclaimed wooden planks create an interior that's as fresh and stylish as the dishes themselves.
Yankee classics (clam chowder, lobster rolls) go modern at this Seaport area resto. But New England fare isn't all that's on the menu. The space is massive but count on the kitchen to churn out refined, simple dishes with lovely and complex flavors (think duck confit and steak frites). Pair your meal with an old fashioned cocktail or New England local draft beer.
Puritan & Co. plates modern American grub with emphasis on a classic New England style, in an attractive, well-lit location that used to be home to the historic Puritan Cake Company.
Co-owners (also childhood pals) Mark Young and Chef Greg Reeves (both vets of Green Street Grill) finally opened their first restaurant, and Central Square rejoiced. Viale, in the Rendezvous shell, takes you to the Mediterranean for rustic-refined Italian eats sourced from local ingredients. Opt for wood-fired Fried Calamari Pizza (always) and/or the Pumpkin Ravioli bathed in aged sherry and brown butter. The wines tilt toward small organic and biodynamic growers, while the cocktails will just make you tilt. The 1919 rocks hard with Rittenhouse 100 Rye, Old Monk Rum, Punt e Mes, and Benedictine.