The coolest foodies traveling through Boston will want to stop for a bite and a beverage at one of these already-hot spots of recent opening.
Alden & Harlow
Michael Scelfo’s food at his new Harvard Square outpost Alden & Harlow tastes as good as it looks—unsurprising for fans of nearby Russell House, the chef’s former digs. Snacks like peppery grilled cauliflower caponata or charred broccoli with squash hummus and nutty cashew crumble are unexpected takes on veggies many people don’t normally love, but you will devour them. And then there are the entrees: oyster gratin, pork belly with grits, and one whimsical ‘secret’ burger.
40 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617.864.2100
Central Wharf Co.
Bostonians will recognize this as the former home of Jose McIntyre's, a bar with an Irish-Mexican theme and floors as sticky as the crowd was college-aged: very. But the Glynn Group's new vision, named Central Wharf Co., does justice to its historic building, pairing modern touches like aqua-painted benches and light gray stuffed banquets with the rusticity of exposed brick walls and framed real vintage newsprint. In the main dining room, a wall of windows completely opens onto Milk Street. The menu is mix of really tasty bar food like Asian-flaired wonton nachos (could this be a tribute to Jose Mc's?), some salads like the kale-spinach with wild mushrooms and toasted hazelnuts, and hearty sandwiches like buttermilk fried chicken.
160 Milk St., Boston, 617.451.9460
Brookline ristorante Ribelle is a breath of culinary fresh air for this city. It’s also the new venture of Tim Maslow, a young Bostonian who moved to New York, became chef de cuisine at David Chang’s trendy Momofuku Ssam Bar, and then returned home to take over the kitchen at Strip-T’s, his dad’s Watertown diner, turning the local dive into a must-stop for gastronomes. Now at Ribelle, Maslow’s imaginative cooking delights palates at an elevated level. Dishes like octopus rigatoni, sweetbreads Milanese, short rib and marrow agnolotti, pork chop with maitake ragu, and sardine panzanella deliciously broaden ideas about what Italian food can be. Absolutely save room for the olive oil ice cream.
1665 Beacon St., Brookline, 617.232.2322 —Mat Schaffer
The Seaport District sits, quite literally, on the shores of the sea, making it a very appropriate ‘hood in which to find Boston’s latest seafood restaurant, Row 34. You won’t be ordering broiled scrod here though. Instead, chef-partner Jeremy Sewall whips up modern dishes like grilled swordfish with bone marrow horseradish butter and Faroe Island salmon with braised greens. Don’t miss the raw bar’s unbelievable tuna crudo and, of course, the bivalves from co-owner Skip Bennett’s Island Creek Oyster.
383 Congress St., Boston, 617.553.5900
You will not score a reservation at State Park, because, well, the Kendall Square hot spot doesn't take them, but even if it did, it's just so darn good you'd likely have to book months in advance. The sister restaurant to Barry Maiden's Hungry Mother, this Southern-inspired rendezvous serves up whimsy, poise and some pretty delicious grub. Order up the curious Cajun boudin balls, the fiery fried pickled okra, and the "Kentuckyaki" roasted broccoli for starters, then dig into Snappy's famous pork chop or the cornmeal catfish with hushpuppies. Maiden's reputation and Beard nominations precede him, and for that, we Yankees aren't wary at all, even about the boudin balls.
1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, 617.848.4355
Its location in the far reaches of the North End (read: not on Hanover Street) doesn't hamper Ward 8's bar from being jammed every night of the week with young professionals working/living in the neighborhood and the nearby West End. Bar Manager Mike Wyatt revisits different eras with many of his cocktail creations, sometimes staying true to classic recipes and sometimes putting a new spin on one. We like the Moscow Mule and the Queen's Cooler. Bristol Lounge vet Kenny Schweizer mans the kitchen, serving up a menu of sinful dishes the run the gamut from fresh lobster chowder to the signature Ward 8 mac and cheese.
90 North Washington St., Boston, 617.823.4478
Wink & Nod
The Prohibition-era speakeasy trend enters the South End with Wink & Nod, tucked away on quiet Appleton Street. Mixologist Curtis McMillan puts a premium on liquors from craft distilleries and fresh juice that he merges into innovative cocktails and pours into special glassware befitting their tone and flavor. The bar also serves up truly unique items, like a bottled carbonated gin and tonic drink made with a house quinine syrup, and the mysterious $100 "Black Card Cocktail." For noshing, dig in to a rotating selection of chichi bar bites created by chefs Jeremy Kean and Philip Kruta of culinary concept Whisk, brought on board for this lounge's opening.
3 Appleton St., Boston, 617.482.0117
Additional reporting by Mat Schaffer