Looking to change up your restaurant routine in 2014? Try checking out one of these notable area eateries as recommended by Boston.com’s The Restaurant Hub blogger, Kara Baskin. Bon appetit!
Pictured: Row 34 in Boston.
A4 Pizza Bar
This experimental pizzeria, a spinoff of Kendall Square’s A4, is an oasis in a needful spot — Somerville Avenue, in not-quite-Union-Square.
445 Somerville Ave., Somerville, areafour.com
The Globe appreciates the “silky’’ mushroom soup with curried crème fraiche and show-stealing coconut cream pie at this swanky Back Bay spot run by L’Espalier vet Alex Crabb and Shish Parsigian of Hi-Rise Bread Co.
Pictured: Braised celery with black garlic gnochi and chicken skin at Asta in Boston.
47 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, astaboston.com
Harvard Square’s dark, dreamy cavern from the Beehive team has live music, warm service, and a rollicking menu that acknowledges carnivores and veggie-lovers alike. Conspire with a new paramour over garlicky mussels frites or a “bohemian platter’’ laden with dips.
Pictured: Beat Hotel owner Bertil Jean-Chronberg.
13 Brattle St., Cambridge, beathotel.com
This should be your go-to spot for Korean food in Allston: “Nothing at Bibim has been Americanized, and the heat hasn’t been toned down either,’’ writes Globe food editor Sheryl Julian. On the menu: authentic “army stew’’ with slices of Spam.
166 Harvard Ave., Allston
Chef Ming Tsai’s buoyant Asian gastropub is a salvation for Fort Point office workers who prefer Asian sloppy Joes with sambal aioli instead of a sub with chips, thank you very much.
324 A St., Fort Point, ming.com/blue-dragon.htm
This 20-seat steakhouse-within-a-steakhouse inside Downtown Crossing’s JM Curley seems like the supreme place for a carnivorous nocturnal romp — without kids or overzealous Instagrammers. It’s adults-only; mobile phones are frowned upon.
Pictured: A cowboy steak from Bogie’s Place in Boston.
25 Temple Place, Boston, bogiesplace.com
First it was Banq, then it was Ginger Park. It took Deuxave and dbar chef Chris Coombs (pictured) to transform a doomed South End location into a hit with Boston Chops, a glam steakhouse that isn’t afraid to get frisky with oxtail croquettes and braised tripe.
1375 Washington St., Boston, bostonchops.com
Swoony couples flock to Tim Wiechmann’s Huron Village hideaway, TW Food, for French cuisine with New American twists. At Bronwyn — named after his wife, the TW hostess — he applies meticulous craftsmanship to the cuisine of Eastern Europe, with a focus on high-quality sausages and native beer. It’s a Bavarian wonderland in the heart of an ever-swankier Union Square.
255 Washington St., Somerville, bronwynrestaurant.com
Former Red Sox chef Steve “Nookie’’ Postal funded his restaurant/market the new-fashioned way: on Kickstarter. Kendall Square’s Commonwealth is proof that social media buzz and pluck really do pay off. So does serving homemade marshmallow fluff.
11 Broad Canal Way, Cambridge, commonwealthcambridge.com
El Centro Dos
Boston suddenly has no shortage of Mexican restaurants. El Centro Dos, a Brookline spinoff of the South End original, is a down-to-earth alternative to flashier spots.
236 Washington St., Brookline, elcentroboston.com
Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Café
Gene Wu (pictured) runs one of the few (if only) Xi’an restaurants in the region. His original noodle shop is on a lonesome road in Chelmsford; spice-seeking downtowners rejoiced when he opened a branch on busy Bedford Street. The aroma of his cumin-lamb hand-pulled noodles will make your cube-mates jealous.
257 Littleton Road, Chelmsford, genescafe.com
Kirkland Tap & Trotter
This casual Somerville joint from Craigie on Main chef Tony Maws has a slightly lower price point and sells the type of food that Maws cooks for his own family. Lucky family that gets to eat crispy Nova Scotia smelts and grass-fed burgers (pictured) with kimchi Russian dressing.
425 Washington St., Somerville, kirklandtapandtrotter.com
Mana Escondido Café
It’s a mere block away from Vejigantes, but it’s tough to argue with more home-style, soulful Puerto Rican food in the South End.
Pictured: Mofongo de Camarones (shrimp Mofongo).
68 Aguadilla St., Boston, manacafeboston.com
Food-truck favorite Mei Mei now has a standalone restaurant near Audubon Circle. The owners are charming, and the Chinese-American food draws raves. Now all they need is a liquor license.
Pictured: Clockwise from left, The Fat Schantz sandwich, of roast beef, house potato salad, sliced apple, and cranberry hoisin sauce wrapped in a scallion pancake, the Chinese Rice Porridge, a slow cooked rice porridge topped with ginger scallion oil, house pickles, crispy Chinese crullers, sliced ginger, scallions and a slow-poached-then-fried egg at Mei Mei restaurant in the Fenway.
506 Park Drive, Boston, meimeiboston.com
Mistral mastermind Jamie Mammano’s high-end seafood restaurant on the edge of the Theatre District is a welcome alternative to nearby mega-chains. And with Market at the W Hotel closing in late December, it’ll be nice to have another option nearby—especially if someone else is paying.
One Charles Street St., Boston, ostraboston.com
Tim Maslow left the tutelage of New York mega-chef David Chang to transform his dad’s Watertown restaurant, Strip T’s, from town hangout to gastronomic temple. Now he has his own four-star place in Brookline, Ribelle, a clamorous den of deliciousness where he elevates simple ingredients to the sublime, says Globe critic Devra First.
1665 Beacon St., Brookline, ribellebkline.com
The latest from the Island Creek oyster team has all the markings of a hit: prime Fort Point location, impeccable pedigree, lots of local beers on offer, and a madcap menu with curiosities like fish head terrine.
383 Congress St., Boston, row34.com
Ana Sortun’s recipe for success? Opening excellent restaurants in quiet neighborhoods. Oleana is on the outskirts of Inman Square, and Sofra is in a sedate corner of Cambridge. Her latest, Sarma, is a splendid mezze parlor on the fringes of Somerville’s Winter Hill. It’s a revelation: Well-priced small plates and hypnotic cocktails that lure locals and curious trekkers alike. Get the pumpkin fritters.
249 Pearl St., Somerville, sarmarestaurant.com
Shanghai Social Club
Chef Bob Botchie, an innovator at Myers + Chang, runs the show at this Buddha-studded sanctuary for potent Tiki drinks and Shanghai street food in Allston.
1277 Commonwealth Ave., Allston, shanghaisocialclub.com
Roslindale now has a branch of Dorchester Indian staple Shanti. The Globe appreciates its nod to Bangladeshi dishes, skill with vegetable dishes — and the $8.95 daily lunch buffet.
Pictured: Goat Bhuna at Shanti restaurant in Roslindale.
4197 Washington St., Roslindale, shantiboston.com
Some Ting Nice
What better place to enjoy calypso and chicken feet soup than in the shadows of the McGrath Highway? This laidback tropical spot brings a splash of the Caribbean to East Somerville.
Pictured: Executive chef Mark Reid.
561 McGrath Highway, Somerville
This moody wine bar captures the Davis Square zeitgeist in shades of amber and gold. Here, natty hipsters and neighborhood couples converge over thoughtfully sourced wines and cured meat beneath flattering lighting.
Pictured: Handmade lamb garganelli at Spoke Wine Bar in Somerville.
89 Holland St., Somerville