The Boston area may have been overlooked on a recent national food list — Eater’s 38 Essential Restaurants — but a standout Somerville spot has brought the spotlight back to our neck of the woods. On Wednesday, Esquire released its annual list of the Best New Restaurants in America. Coming in at No. 5 out of 20: Celeste, a Peruvian restaurant in Somerville’s Union Square.
Celeste has received plenty of praise since opening in March, from glowing reviews in The Boston Globe and Improper Bostonian to a recent Eater nomination for Restaurant of the Year. Jeff Gordinier, this year’s author of Esquire’s Best New Restaurants in America list, was just as lavish with his words:
“Eh, excuse me—is this that Peruvian restaurant or are you guys just throwing a party in here?” At Celeste, hospitality and home entertaining merge into an instant and intimate bash. There are flames dancing off the frying pans. Co-owner Maria Rondeau is smiling and ushering some sort of purple cocktail to your table. South American psychedelia is choogling out of the speakers (music so good you’ll want to jot down the names of the songs), and chef JuanMa Calderón—a noted indie-film director back home in Peru—is cranking out ceviches and causas that radiate flavor and soul. Is this really New England or did we pass through some kind of magic Andean portal? Either way, dinner at Celeste is the most fun you’ll have anywhere within twenty miles of Boston.
Part of Celeste’s charm is the perpetual celebratory atmosphere that thrives within its walls, where art and music are an integral part of the dining experience. Follow the restaurant’s Instagram and you’ll find sketches of notable Peruvians, each post a mini history lesson on these figures that have impacted Peruvian art and politics. On Celeste’s website, visitors can listen to a curated selection of cumbia, merengue, and salsa on “Radio Celeste.”
Of course, the food takes serious notice, with a menu offering ceviches, causas, stews, and lomo saltado, a popular Peruvian dish with beef, onion, and tomatoes. Cocktails are also served, including a traditional Pisco Sour — the perfect drink for toasting an Esquire win.
Check out the publication’s complete list of best new restaurants here.
Celeste; 21 Bow St., Somerville; Mondays–Thursdays from 5 p.m.–10 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays from 5 p.m.–11 p.m.; celesteunionsquare.com