For the first time in a long time, Boston has felt like itself again this year. Lots of excitement in sports, culture, food and the arts across the city all year long. Each neighborhood has seen new restaurants open, local businesses have created new experiences for us all to enjoy, the MBTA has continued to frustrate, we welcomed a new Governor and lots of hilarious viral moments were shared far and wide. For this year’s Best of the City Awards, we are highlighting the best and brightest around Boston—from comedy shows to new bars and world-class dining. Read on to celebrate the best of Boston in 2023.
An email you’ll actually love
🙌 Awesome, you’re subscribed!
Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!
Best of the city
Best New Restaurant: Prima
While we saw lots of exciting openings this year, Prima in Charlestown tops them all. And in classic Bostonian fashion, we love Prima because it is both new and old. Taking over the former Olives space in City Square Park and a stone’s throw away from TD Garden, this Italian restaurant stands out because it feels both fresh and like it’s been there for years, which in a way it has! The pastas, steaks and wine list are all top notch and don’t forget to sneak into the speakeasy in the back after dinner.
Best New Bar: Long Bar at Raffles
Anyone who lives in Back Bay has been awaiting the opening of Raffles for the past few years now. And Long Bar on the 17th floor exceeded our hopes of a hotel bar that we locals could enjoy as well. With a spacious outdoor terrace, chic interior and a fairly priced cocktail list this is the spot we have had on repeat when in search of a place to meet up with friends for drinks, a date or even a cheeky wine-fueled business lunch. Order the Boston Sling for a local take on the Raffles signature, the Singapore Sling.
Best Pop-Up of the Year: Elvis Jungle Room
The Love Me (Bar)Tender was an experiential pop-up bar that came to Boston in October and transformed the upstairs at the Point into a replica of the iconic Jungle Room at Elvis Presley’s Graceland. This kitschy tiki-inspired pop-up was a big hit with Elvis fans and was sold out almost immediately! Jungle Room-style furniture and decor, Elvis songs, signature Memphis cocktails and lots of photo ops were all on the menu during this brief, but fun pop-up.
Best New Nightlife: Grace by Nia
Nia Grace, owner of Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen, teamed up Big Night to create Grace by Nia in the Seaport this year. Grace By Nia is a 5,000-square-foot dining and entertainment venue and modern-day supper club with cultural vibrancy, live music and soulful flavors. Splashes of teal and gold, giant golden palm trees and walls adorned with artwork from local artists bring the vision that Nia Grace and Ed Kane partnered around to bring the Seaport a live music venue that is now a staple of nightlife in Boston.
Best Comedy Show: Stavros Halkias
Stavros Halkias had the best comedy show of the year in Boston. With an electric atmosphere at the Wilbur, he showcased his talent for crowd work and quick wit. Front-row attendees were in for a ride as he hilariously dissected their backgrounds, drawing laughter from every corner of the room. Stavros Halkias certainly left a lasting impression with his performance. We hope to see him back in the Hub next year.
Best Event of the Year: Era’s Tour
- Things to do
- City Life
No matter how you feel about Taylor Swift, there is no denying the fact that the Era Tour’s stop at Gillette was the biggest event of the year. Not only because of the concerts themselves, but also because of all the special menus, special drinks and other pop-ups celebrating all things Swifty around Boston. This was honestly more evident if you were not going to a concert because you really could not avoid Taylor Swift songs no matter how hard you tried that weekend whether you liked to or not!
Best Exhibition of the Year: Strong Women in Renaissance Italy at the MFA
The history of the Italian Renaissance is usually told through the lens of the accomplishments of famous men. But this fall, the Museum of Fine Arts, presented a huge exhibition focused on the experiences of women during this time period. Strong Women in Renaissance Italy featured over 100 works of art—sculpture, paintings, ceramics, textiles, illustrated books and prints. This stunning exhibit was around great reason to visit the MFA this year.
Best Immersive Experience of the Year: Space Adventure
In a year where seemingly, everything was turned into an ‘immersive experience’, we kicked off 2023 with one that featured a grounding in reality that made it even more intriguing that those purely artistic. Space Adventure featured real artifacts from several NASA missions to the moon in the 1960s and 1970s, immersive light displays, and replica space rovers and capsules, as well as a VR experience, so that visitors of all ages could learn about the great effort that was the moon space program of that era.
Viral Moment of the Year: Kowloon Wedding
There were lota of local viral moment this year, but the one that tops them all has to be the “Kowloon Royal Wedding.” If you are from this area, you know Kowloon, you have had birthday parties there, gotten takeout there and more recently probably visited for one of their drive in movie nights. But this year the mega restaurant on Route 1 did something that they have never done before and that is close for a full property takeover for a local wedding and was it as Bostonian as it gets. The theme was sports jerseys and it looked like a ton of fun for everyone involved.