Rising airfare costs needn’t daunt Boston’s globetrotters. Thanks to a brand-new batch of restaurants serving the foods of France, Greece, Thailand, and beyond, it’s easy to get your wanderlust on in Beantown.
In Cambridge, a transportive Parisian bistro serves pitch-perfect boeuf bourguignon and coq au vin. Grilled meats from northeastern Thailand are the main draw at a jewel box of a place in Allston. A prolific tequila and mezcal selection steals the scene at a pan-Latin seafood spot in Fenway.
These 6 restaurants across the Boston area are the ones to book right now—no boarding pass required.
Launching a fish-focused spot in a seafood haven like Boston takes some courage, especially when you’re a New York City-based restaurant group. But the Blue Ribbon team did just that when they opened Pescador in November. The Latin America-inspired escape is the second in a trio of restaurants the group plans to unveil across the city (their sushi spot came to Kenmore Square in June 2022). At Pescador, co-executive chefs Dan Bazzinotti and Keith Pooler dazzle with coastal creations such as crispy calamari, corn “ribs” with ancho, cotija, and lime, plus lobster prepared three ways. Bonus points for the tropical sunset-colored interiors and one of the city’s most extensive tequila lists.
Shy Bird (South Boston)
When Shy Bird opened its second Boston location in December, the poultry palace brought comforting menus to the city’s south side. In the mornings, it serves fried chicken breakfast sandwiches and bacon, egg, and cheese between buns with housemade piri piri aioli. That same bright spice blend tops one of the restaurant’s most popular evening plates, a half rotisserie chicken paired with herb fries. There’s a reason beyond chicken to visit—a “Work from Shy Bird” program that offers unlimited coffee and tea for those who dine with laptops in tow.
Batifol means “to frolic” in French and there are plenty of reasons to do so at this transportive spot. Open since October, the charming bistro from the Petit Robert Bistro team serves pitch-perfect boeuf bourguignon and coq au vin. Other parts of the menu lean more international, such as cashew-crusted red perch in Thai-style red curry. The after-work crowd comes for charcuterie boards and colorful cocktails including the Pigalle, a bright purple concoction featuring gin, lemon, and lychee. A curved wall adorned with subway tiles that spell the restaurant’s name adds to the je ne sais quoi. Stay tuned for a French bakery slated to open next door soon.
Laughing Monk Cafe (Allston)
Between the omakase offerings at its Wellesley location and chef Nick Korboon’s sumptuous sushi at its Mission Hill outpost, Laughing Monk Cafe has earned local favorite status. At its newest Allston edition that opened in December, the typical sushi and stir-fry menu is swapped for delicacies from northeast Thailand. Expect larb salads and plenty of grilled meats, all spiked with fiery peppers, herby accents, and salty fermented sauces courtesy of chefs (and Isan natives) Paula Boontee and Now Jitkasemphong. Despite its big, bold flavors, the walk-in-only restaurant is petite—there are just 12 seats to choose from, so be sure to arrive early.
Hue (Back Bay)
The Back Bay renaissance continues with Hue, a cosmopolitan supper club and cocktail lounge that opens its doors in the next few weeks. The spot in the newly renovated Copley Square Hotel comes from restaurateur George Aboujaoude (of Eva and Bijou fame) who joined forces with Maurice Rodriguez (La Brasa, Fat Hen). Their labor of love is a glamorous bi-level stunner, rich with Art Deco accents. In the upstairs dining room, tuck into New American shared plates by executive chef and longtime Ming Tsai sideman, Barnett Harper. The downstairs supper club serves a French-accented menu featuring escargot with XO butter and red-wine braised short ribs. A DJ will spin nightly, rounding out the buzzy nightclub vibes.
Bar Vlaha (Brookline)
This rustic Greek spot by chef Brendan Pelley is poised for a mid-February opening. Though it comes from the same team behind Krasi, a meze and wine haven, Vlaha’s menu pays homage to Greece’s mountain villages and the Vlach community. That means family-style platters of slow-cooked meats, live-fire grilled fish, savory pies, and lesser-seen cheeses. Mushrooms will also play a starring role at Vlaha: Pelley is a longtime foraging enthusiast whose research included a trip to Grevena, a northern Greek city known as the nation’s fungi capital.
Tried them all? Check out other options here.
Carley Thornell-Wade is a Boston-based food, travel, and technology writer who’s been to more than 70 countries and delighted in tasting the regional delicacies of each.