118 MAIN STREET KITCHEN AND SPIRITS
Lisa and Michael Merrigan’s positive spin on everything is reflected in the joy found in their food at 118 Main Street Kitchen and Spirits in Upton. Pandemic? Expedited the outdoor dining they’ve wanted to add since opening in June 2018. Shutdowns? They took the hit better than others because they buy local and fresh, so their inventory losses were minimal, they said. “Being a small family-owned business, we could make quick decisions to adapt.”
Throughout their history in restaurants (Lisa in the front, Michael in the back), that positive outlook has kept up their spirits. Speaking of spirits . . . their sugar cookie martini — Stoli vanilla vodka, Baileys, Amaretto, and fresh cream — sounds like the perfect way to chase away the winter blues, while the cranberry thyme margarita can whisk you away to that vacation you’re missing.
The appetizer menu is made up of comfort food, from French onion soup with house-made croutons and melted Swiss to plates to tempt even the most stubborn vegetable hater. Try the garlic parmesan broccolini or the fried Brussels sprouts with crispy bacon paired with a sweet chili lime soy sauce. The carefully curated, sliced-on-the-spot charcuterie is a house favorite.
Everything on the menu exudes that comfort-me appeal. French bone-in pork chop grilled with a bacon rub? A beef and pork Bolognese pasta in a creamy ragu? Butternut squash ravioli in a creamy sage brown butter sauce? Set aside your steak knife for their filet mignon Oscar. The tender meat pulls apart with ease for each buttery, perfectly salted, crab-topped forkful. The red bliss potatoes are creamy, savory goodness. The dessert menu makes it tempting to continue the indulgence with a chocolate soufflé roll or a cinnamon-spiced Belgium waffle with flambéed apple and bourbon and brown butter sauce topped with fresh whipped cream.
My meal was delivered promptly car-side after I ordered online.
Consider my spirits lifted.
118 Main Street Kitchen and Spirits, Upton, 508-603-1304, www.118mainstreetkitchenandspirits.com. Open Friday and Saturdays, 5-8:30 p.m. Appetizers, $6-$24, entrees, $15-$38.
EILEEN WOODS, editor of Address and realestate.boston.com
The last place my wife and I had dinner before the pandemic hit was Moonshine 152, a refuge in South Boston that always felt like a reward for enduring the grind of the city. Moonshine was the place we ducked into when schedules aligned and we found a spare 30 minutes. After disembarking from the Red Line at Broadway, we’d skip our transfer to the bus and sprint up the block.
No kids. No work. Just a deep breath, and Peter Cipriani behind the bar smiling as if he’d been waiting all day just to serve us a drink. But it was the food, often hand delivered by the buoyant chef/owner Asia Mei, that consistently knocked us off our stools. The grilled squid salad that rivaled Fore Street in Portland, Maine. Lamb meatballs with just enough bite. Upscale, melt-off-the-bone fried chicken wings that made other wings seem like a different food.
Unpacking Moonshine’s takeout this month offered a whiff of normalcy. Our two bags of food didn’t come with Peter or Asia, but the warmth was still there. Crispy roast potatoes with pesto aioli. A butterscotch pudding that had our kids clamoring for more. And wings with meat that still melts off the bone.
Moonshine 152, 152 Dorchester Ave., South Boston, 617-752-4191, moonshine152.com. Appetizers, $14-$32, small plates $12-$27, entrees $19-$29, desserts $11-$15.
ANDREW RYAN, investigative reporter
JENNIFER PETER, managing editor
Whenever wanderlust consumes me during this time of limited travel, I head over to Broadway in Somerville, where nearly every storefront offers tastes from across the globe. Since the summer, I’ve been steadily working my way down the bustling avenue. First, a stop in Mexico via fresh pupusas from Taco Loco, then to Brazil via juicy picanha steak from Gauchao, then to Ethiopia via a vegetarian combo from Fasika, then to Italy via melt-in-your-mouth eggplant parmesan from Vinny’s Ristorante.
Pikliz was the latest restaurant on the strip to grant a reprieve from my homebound reality. The best way to snag its Caribbean and soul food is to just show up in person. Owner Francillon Dabady dances about the modest space with a skeleton kitchen staff fulfilling orders at breakneck speed, mostly ignoring the nonstop ring of his phone. Fifteen minutes after placing an order on a busy Thursday night in February, an employee was sealing up my to-go bag of four platters, each with a meat and two heaping sides.
A fresh whole jerk red snapper (market price) was cooked up on the spot and wrapped in tin foil for the journey home. The skin was crisp and the flesh flaked off the bone. The famed stewed oxtail ($17), a staple of Caribbean cooking, was silky and tender, dripping in a sweet and hearty bean and beef broth. But it was the jerk chicken ($14) that reigned supreme. The skin packed a smoky cinnamon and allspice heat, tempered by the creamy creole mac and cheese, fried plantains and djon djon (a black mushroom native to the northern part of Haiti) rice chosen as sides. Expect enough for plentiful leftovers the next day. If you’re looking for a quick and thrifty option, Pikliz also offers a $5 chicken and rice special all day, every day.
Pikliz International Kitchen, 288 Broadway, Somerville, 617-625-6255, www.piklizint.com. Entrees (with two sides of choice) $13-$17. Extra sides $4-$5. Cards are accepted, but tips must be made in cash. Pro tip: Order in-person for ease and input from the kitchen staff, then stroll to the many specialty international grocery stores along Broadway or scope out your next takeout spot as you wait for your order.
HANNA KRUEGER, reporter
YELLOW DOOR TAQUERIA
I hadn’t been inside Yellow Door Taqueria for well over a year when I went to pick up takeout the other day, and seeing the intimate, dimly lit space — the cheerful chili pepper lights not quite offsetting the harsh reality of see-through dividers at the bar — made me realize how much I’d missed it. Back when we used to leave the house, it was our go-to spot for tasty tacos and inventive cocktails, and the occasional late-night drink on the way home from somewhere else. We have been ordering from here throughout the pandemic, and since the delivery services wouldn’t bring the jalapeno margarita mix at the top of my wish list to me, I went to it.
At home, we dove into an assortment of tacos: chili duck with vanilla plantain puree and pickled red onions, fried fish with grilled pineapple salsa, steak with oaxaca cheese, and — because there is no kids’ menu — chicken tinga hold the lettuce, radish, avocado, and crema for our 5-year-old (who still refused to eat it). They were out of pozole, so we tried the poblano tamales, along with porky refried beans and my favorite menu item: grilled corn topped with cotija cheese, chipotle aioli, lime, and smoked paprika. The jalapeno margarita mix didn’t disappoint, and even came with dehydrated limes and chiles to float on top. It was the perfect pick-me-up for a Wednesday night in February, nearly a year in.
Yellow Door Taqueria, 2297 Dorchester Ave., Lower Mills, 857-267-4201, yellowdoortaqueria.com. Appetizers $6-$12, tacos $5-$7 apiece.
KATIE JOHNSTON, business reporter
Eileen Woods can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jennifer Peter can be reached at email@example.com. Andrew Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on Twitter @globeandrewryan. Hanna Krueger can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @hannaskrueger. Katie Johnston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston.