Wondering where Boston's insiders are eating and drinking? It's easy to spot lines out the door, but some underlying trends are harder to see.
We took a data-driven look at the question, using Yelp and SafeGraph, a dataset of commercial points of interest and their visitor patterns, to uncover which local businesses have been on the tips of diners' tongues this month.
To find out who made the list, we first looked at Boston businesses on Yelp by category and counted how many reviews each received. Rather than compare them based on number of reviews alone, we calculated a percentage increase in reviews over the past month, and tracked businesses that consistently increased their volume of reviews to identify statistically significant outliers compared to past performance. Then we analyzed foot traffic data from SafeGraph to validate the trends.
Read on to see which spots are on a hot streak this winter.
Whether or not you've been hearing buzz about North End's Domenic's, the Italian spot is a hot topic according to Yelp review data.
While businesses categorized as "Italian" on Yelp saw a median 1% increase in new reviews over the past month, Domenic's bagged an 11.9% increase in new reviews within that time frame, maintaining a solid 4.5-star rating.
Open at 54 Salem St. (between Hull and Stillman streets) since 2019, Domenic's offers grilled calamari, mussels marinara with spaghetti, baked macaroni with a bolognese sauce and gnocchi with fresh mozzarella and basil.
Domenic's is open from 5 p.m.–11 p.m. daily.
Time Out Market
Kenmore's Time Out Market is also making waves. Open since 2019 at 401 Park Drive, the well-established cocktail bar and New American spot has seen a 10.4% bump in new reviews over the last month, compared to a median review increase of 1.2% for all businesses tagged "American (New)" on Yelp.
Time Out Market offers seafood, cocktails, gelato and more. The market has 16 different food and drink spots, including a doughnut shop, a delicatessen and a burger joint. Over the past month, it's maintained a mixed three-star rating among Yelpers.
Time Out Market - Boston is open from 7:30 a.m.–10 p.m. on Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m.–11 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m.–11 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m.–10 p.m. on Sunday.
And Back Bay's Zuma is the city's buzziest cocktail bar by the numbers.
The sushi and cocktail bar, which opened at 1 Dalton St., Floor 2 (between Clearway and St. Germain streets) in 2019, increased its new review count by 16.7% over the past month, an outlier when compared to the median new review count of 2.1% for the Yelp category "Cocktail Bars." It outperformed the previous month by gaining 1.5 times more reviews than expected based on past performance.
It's not the only trending outlier in the cocktail bar category: FiRE + iCE Grill + Bar has seen a 3.6% increase in reviews.
Zuma offers a Shojo spritzer, a lychee and rose petal martini and a passionfruit martini and a gin and tonic with grapefruit bitters, as well as beer and wine. To eat, the spot has sashimi, grilled scallops, spicy beef tenderloin and more.
The Oceanaire Seafood Room
And finally, Downtown Boston's popular The Oceanaire Seafood Room, a member of the popular chain, is currently on the upswing in the seafood category on Yelp.
While businesses categorized as "Seafood" on Yelp saw a median 1% increase in new reviews over the past month, this seafood spot increased its new reviews by 1.2% — and kept its rating consistent at four stars. Visits to The Oceanaire Seafood Room increased by more than 50% over the same time frame, according to SafeGraph's foot traffic data.
What does this business focus on? "The Oceanaire provides the perfect setting to enjoy the freshest seafood flown in daily from around the world. You'll find out why The Oceanaire has been voted one of the best seafood restaurants in the country." — that's according to its page on Yelp.
Open for business at 40 Court St. (between Tremont and Cambridge streets) since 2008, The Oceanaire Seafood Room offers tequila shrimp ceviche, spicy tuna poke, lobster bisque, blackened fish tacos and more.
The Oceanaire Seafood Room is open from 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. on Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m. on Friday, 5 p.m.–11 p.m. on Saturday and 5 p.m.–9 p.m. on Sunday. According to SafeGraph, it usually gets busy on Sundays and Thursdays, and it attracts a quarter of its total visitors over those two days, with a slowdown on Saturdays.