Five Woman-Owned Restaurants in Boston You Should Know
Boston’s food scene is one of the best in the country, from world-famous Italian food in the North End, to Fenway Franks. And do we even need to mention Boston Cream Pie? Just when we thought the city couldn’t get any “foodier,” new restaurants continue to pop up in every neighborhood, and in nearby suburbs, like Somerville and Cambridge. And the Boston food scene is no longer dominated by the boys. Women are making their way into the spotlight, skyrocketing to the top of Boston’s must-visit restaurant lists. Here are some of our favorites.
Sweet Cheeks Q, Tiffani Faison
Tiffani Faison is nationally known for her stint on Bravo’s first season of “Top Chef.” But locally, she’s known as the chef and owner of Sweet Cheeks Q, one of Boston’s best southern barbeque joints. The restaurant was one of the first to grace Fenway’s quickly expanding food scene, which is also home to three other restaurants owned by Faison, Fool’s Errand, Orfano, and Tiger Mama. At Sweet Cheeks Q, diners will find southern staples, like biscuits with honey butter, and barbecue “trays” piled high with smoked meats, mac n cheese, potato salad, and all the best southern fixings. Earlier this year, Sweet Cheeks Q deemed Monday evenings, Hot Chicken Night, offering a special menu of hot chicken and cool sides, like pasta salad and cornbread. Come for the barbecue, and stay for southern-style desserts, like lemon meringue pie and carrot cake in a jar.
TRADE, Jody Adams
Jody Adams is the chef and co-owner of TRADE, the financial district staple favored by after-work crowds and tourists, alike. Not only is Adams one of the top female chefs in Boston, but she has also won countless “best” awards, including a James Beard award. After starting and eventually closing her first Cambridge restaurant, Rialto, Adams opened TRADE in 2011 where she’s known for serving up their signature flatbreads. In the warmer months, diners can be found flocking to the restaurant’s outdoor patio, noshing on small plates like spanakopita and fried brussel sprouts. For those who come extra hungry, expect a spread of local seafood entrees, as well as tried-and-true favorites, like fried chicken and pork belly. Adams is also the owner of Porto is Back Bay, and fast-casual Greek outpost, Saloniki.
Rebel Rebel, Lauren Friel
If you’re tuned into the Boston food scene, you’ve probably heard the name Lauren Friel floating around. She’s the brain behind Rebel Rebel, a wine bar in Somerville’s Bow Market that specializes in natural and unconventional wines. Friel has a strong background in wine—in 2014, she founded VinDrop, a beverage consulting and content development company. That stint led her to create wine programs for dozens of restaurants along the East Coast, including Boston’s Committee and The Wine Bodega, as well as Michelin-rated Dirty Candy in New York City. Rebel Rebel doesn’t have a lengthy food menu, but they do offer a small sampling of snacks—a cheese tray curated by Fromaggio Kitchen, olives, and Spanish potato chips for a quick bite. Diners are encouraged to bring in food from Bow Market’s other food vendors, to pair with glasses from Rebel Rebel’s wine collection.
Scampo, Lydia Shire
Lydia Shire’s Scampo has one of the best locations in Boston, situated on the first floor of the Liberty Hotel, the former Charles Street Jail. That’s why Shire named the restaurant Scampo, which means “escape” in Italian. Shire has been a key player in the Boston food scene for many years, starting in the 1970’s when she spent time in the kitchens of Harvest, Café Plaza at The Copley Plaza Hotel and Parker’s at the Parker House Hotel. In 1982, she opened Seasons at the Bostonian Hotel, and opened BIBA in 1989 (which was later renamed to Excelsior). In 1992, Shire received a James Beard Award as America’s Best Chef in the Northeast. Scampo was born in 2008, and has been serving up Italian fare ever since. Diners can enjoy a unique spread of seafood, fresh pastas, and modern meat dishes, as well as an extensive mozzarella bar and handmade breads. Shire is also the owner of Towne Stove and Spirits in Back Bay.
Fox & the Knife, Karen Akunowicz
South Boston’s newest hit spot, Fox & the Knife, is chef Karen Akunowiczs’ first solo restaurant, inspired by her time living in Moderna, Italy. Prior to Fox & the Knife, Akunowicz was best known for her time spent as the executive chef at Joanne Chang’s Myers + Chang, which helped her win a James Beard award for best chef in the Northeast. Like Tiffani Faison, Akunowicz is no stranger to the silver screen. In 2015, she competed on Bravo’s “Top Chef,” and also appeared on Food Network's "Beat Bobby Flay.” At Fox & the Knife, diners can enjoy a casual, contemporary environment, with an extensive wine list and food reminiscent of Italian classics, like antipasti, freshly baked focaccia, and handmade pastas. Akunowicz has also designed an extensive drink menu, with a focus on spritzes and aperitifs, to complete every meal, from the first bite, to dessert.
There you have it! Boston has some awesome women dominating the food scene, and we couldn’t be more proud to call them our neighbors. No matter where you live, don’t forget to support your local woman-owned restaurants—you’ll feel good, and get a great meal while you’re at it.
Beth Rivelli is a Boston-based contributor for JUGs. She's a full-time content marketer, part-time Netflix addict, and self-proclaimed ice cream expert. Follow her @elizabethrivelli on Instagram.