A look back at some dining and drinking faves for 2017
2017 was quite a year for eating and drinking, with some really impressive spots being looked at here over the past 12 months. So what were some favorites of the year? A “cheat sheet” showing some specific dishes, restaurants, and bars can be found below, wrapping up with a top overall pick for the Boston area and another for those who are into taking road trips just for food and drink.
Macaroni and Cheese
Winthrop Arms, Winthrop A tremendous old-school version of a classic dish from a restaurant within a historic hotel that’s across the street from the ocean.
Simco’s, Mattapan Foot-long dogs smothered with cheese and chili from a decades-old takeout window located just north of Mattapan Square.
Cafe Sushi, Cambridge An under-the-radar industry fave between Harvard Square and Central Square that features fresh, beautifully presented dishes.
Poopsie’s, Pembroke Bar pizza that’ll make your knees weak from a plain-looking dining and drinking spot in a shopping center by the Marshfield line.
Santarpio’s, East Boston Tomato-heavy pies from an old wood-paneled spot that has some serious attitude.
Brewer’s Fork, Charlestown Perfectly charred wood-fired pizzas from a bustling spot that features a beer garden during the warmer months.
Cagney’s, Quincy Huge, meaty burgers from an underrated neighborhood joint, including a version with white-hot ghost chilies.
Joe Sent Me, Cambridge Reasonably priced chicken wings with excellent marinades from a “speakeasy” near the Arlington line.
Joe Sent Me, Cambridge No, this wasn’t a cut-and-paste accident, as JSM also happens to have some of the best hand-cut fries you’ll find anywhere in the local area.
Ganko Ittetsu Ramen, Brookline Not anything like your cheap late-night college dorm ramen, from a tiny spot hidden in an old arcade in Coolidge Corner.
La Victoria Taqueria, Arlington A cheap-eats street-food version of a fave from a closet-sized eatery in the center of town.
Villa Mexico, Boston Another cheap-eats street-food version of a popular dish, with these getting an extra boost from having the tortillas browned on the grill.
CK Pearl, Essex Pricey but oh-so-worth-it rolls from a road trip-worthy riverside eatery on the North Shore.
Saus, Boston An excellent version in a city with a lot of so-so versions, from a quirky little downtown spot that’s also known for its Belgian fries.
Roast Beef Sandwiches
Skampa, Cambridge North Shore-quality super beefs from a humble storefront just a mile from downtown Boston.
Lone Star Taco Bar, Cambridge and Allston A cabbage and cotija cheese-based version with influences coming from a restaurant in Mexico where nachos were reportedly invented.
Tavolo, Dorchester A slightly more upscale version of an often-downscale dish, this is a sublime version with crunchy battered chicken and delicious house-made pasta.
Snappy Pattys, Medford A dish that almost overshadows the reason that most people come to this recently expanded West Medford restaurant (and yes, the sliders are marvelous as well).
Bob’s Italian Foods, Medford A near-perfect sandwich from an old-world market in South Medford, and the version to get here is the remarkable Deluxe Imported Italian.
NewBridge Cafe, Chelsea A very competitive field (including Floramo’s and Telegraph Hill), but this neighborhood joint continues to impress with all of its tips, including lamb, pork, and turkey.
Massimo’s, Wakefield Exquisite scratch-made dishes such as lasagna, pesto, and pasta drum with meatballs from a homey little spot behind Wakefield Center.
Four Winds, Lynn A biker hangout with lots of character (and characters) that has a deck on Sluice Pond complete with a bar and great sunset views.
Soup Dumplings from Shanghai Gate, Allston Pork dumplings that “squirt” when you eat them, from a storefront near the Brookline border that’s popular with college students.
Kimball Farm, Carlisle Alas, it is closed for the season, but this bucolic spot has the type of rich and creamy ice cream that isn’t good for the waistline but is very, very good for the taste buds.
Burnt Toast from Toast, Hull A sweet and crunchy delight (basically creme brulee French toast) from a greasy spoon across from Nantasket Beach.
Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Cafe, Boston and Woburn A couple of places with little atmosphere but food so good it’ll make you weep, including hand-pulled noodles and hot and sour dumpling soup.
Bayberry Cafe, Woburn A warm and cozy storefront in the downtown area of the city that offers tremendous vegetarian (and vegan) takes on pan-Asian dishes.
KO Pies at the Shipyard, East Boston A friendly Aussie meat pie place located beyond a guard booth—and a place with great harbor (and sunset) views from its communal patio.
Bova’s, Boston Italian pastries, pizza, calzones, arancini, bread, and more from a 24/7 spot in the North End.
Newtowne Grille, Cambridge Not a true dive because it serves food (and the New York-style pizza is very fine), but a place to go for cheap beer, gruff service, and some very good people-watching.
Armsby Abbey, Worcester So worth the ride for some of the best beers in the Northeast (including Vermont’s Hill Farmstead) and elsewhere in the country and beyond.
Steel & Rye, Milton Often mentioned as a place to go to for its seasonal new American fare, this spacious spot competes nicely with some of the best bars in Boston when it comes to both modern and classic drinks.
Favorite Boston-Area Restaurant for 2017
Ashmont Grill, Dorchester Inventive takes on comfort food, excellent cocktails, a hidden back patio with a fire pit, and a very friendly staff makes this the pick of the year.
Favorite Restaurant Outside of the Boston Area for 2017
Worthy Burger, South Royalton, Vermont A rustic restaurant and bar in an old freight house tucked away in a deep valley, this special place is all about wood-fired burgers and Vermont beers.
Marc is the founder of @hiddenboston, a textbook editor, a hike leader for @AppMtnClub, and a food and travel writer and commenter for DigBoston, NBC/NECN, WBZ, WMFO and indie617.