185 Best Restaurants in Boston, Massachusetts

Angela's Cafe

$$ Fodor's choice

Colorful and airy, this East Boston Mexican restaurant reflects the culture of many living in the neighborhood, and its eponymous cook re-creates dishes from her native Puebla. Locals love it for its authenticity and extensive selection of small, snacky plates (mmm, queso fundido) and hearty main courses (chilaquiles, mole poblano). It's definitely worth the trip from downtown.

Antico Forno

$$$ | North End Fodor's choice

Many of the menu choices here come from the eponymous wood-burning brick oven, which turns out surprisingly delicate thin-crust pizzas simply topped with tomato and buffalo mozzarella or complicated combos like pistachio pesto, fresh mozzarella, and sausage. While the name, which translates to "old oven," gives the pizzas top billing, Antico excels at a variety of Italian country dishes that harken back to the Old Country, like veal parmigiana, osso buco with pork shank, chicken saltimbocca, and handmade pastas; the specialty, gnocchi, is rich and creamy but light. The joint is cramped and noisy, but also homey and comfortable—which means that your meal will resemble a raucous dinner with an adopted Italian family. Its rustic decor of large tiles, huge rectangular bar, and imposing brick archway add even more authenticity as you fill your belly.

Bricco Salumeria

$ | North End Fodor's choice

Frank DePasquale’s sandwich and pasta shop is easy to miss, but just follow the steady stream of savvy locals down the alley adjacent to his award-winning restaurant to find the tiny spot packed with imported Italian meats and cheeses, vinegars, tomatoes, olive oils, and more. The monumental Italian sandwich is a heaping pile of mortadella, Genoa salami, soppressata, provolone, and all the fixings, while the packed Chicken Parmagiano is a shareable feast. All are served on house-made breads from the panetteria next door.

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Cafe Polonia

$$ Fodor's choice

People come to Boston for certain things—colleges, Irish pubs, Fenway Park—and Polish food isn't usually one of them. But, if you do land here, this authentic Polish restaurant in Southie is a must-stop. The menu is rife with an Eastern European culinary heritage in plates like pierogi, beet soup, stuffed cabbage and kielbasa, and there are some tasty Polish beers. You'll be glad you ventured to Andrew Square.

Caffé Vittoria

$ | North End Fodor's choice

Established in 1929, Caffé Vittoria—Boston's oldest Italian café—is rightfully known as Boston's most traditional Italian café, which is one of the reasons the place is packed with locals. With gleaming brass, marble tabletops, four levels of seating, three bars that serve aperitifs, one of the city's best selections of grappa, and one massive, ancient espresso maker, this old-fashioned café will make you want to lose yourself in these surroundings. Bring your wallet because they are cash-only.

Chacarero

$ | Downtown Fodor's choice

This place is famous among the city's working professionals, who willingly wait in long lines for the signature Chilean-style sandwich, a delicious combination of green beans, chicken, muenster cheese, tomatoes, and an avocado spread on fresh bread. There are a few other offerings, including empanadas and rice pudding.

Chickadee

$$$$ Fodor's choice

At the far eastern end of the city and tucked into the Innovation and Design Building, Chickadee is a restaurant you'd wish to stumble over. Make the trek on the Silver Line or simply walk to sample chef-owner John daSilva's curated seasonal menu, rife with unique preparations and locally sourced ingredients. The idea is to order a selection of smaller sized plates and share amongst the table, and, after a look at the Mediterranean-inspired offerings, you'll want to. As for cocktails, they're intentional, well-crafted, and laced with unique ingredients. 

Clover Food Lab

$ | Downtown Fodor's choice

After more than a decade, locals still love this vegetarian restaurant's chickpea fritters, not to mention the daily changing menu of freshly prepared sustainable and local veg- and vegan-friendly sandwiches and plates. Boston and Cambridge feature a number of Clover locations, but this one is bright and airy with huge windows that open onto School Street. Awesome place to stop for lunch along the Freedom Trail.

Coquette

$$$$ Fodor's choice

This new addition to the Seaport District has personality in spades, with pastel purple and bright red chandeliers, plumes of feathers in floral arrangements, and pink napkins on the table. The menu, too, is inspired, featuring French cuisine informed by global flavors meant to be ordered in abundance—two to three plates per diner. The hummus, which takes four days to make, is a must, as is the merde dé can (yes, that does translate to "dog shit") spinach dumplings, which beat Bobby Flay. Cocktails are gorgeous and delicious, and if you win over your server, they may just bring over the gratis Stinger digestif service (coconut butter–washed cognac with crème de menthe, absinthe, and verjus blanc) to end your meal. 

Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse

$$$$ | Back Bay Fodor's choice

Comfy armchairs and a grand, high-ceilinged dining room give diners a heightened sense of self-importance, beginning with lunch when the city's power elite stop in for great pastas (half portions are available), prime aged steaks, and oversize salads. For dinner, some patrons snag quick, pretheater bites at the bar while others opt for a more leisurely experience, lingering over sophisticated Italian dishes like tagliatelle Bolognese and succulent grilled veal chops with creamy potatoes and port wine sauce. Gluten-free and children's menus are available, along with a killer Sunday brunch with such options as poached eggs and beef tenderloin with a popover and truffle hollandaise.

Deuxave

$$$ | Back Bay Fodor's choice

At the corner of two avenues (Commonwealth and Massachusetts), which is how this restaurant got its name (deux is French for "two"), you'll find this snazzy, dark-wood enclave serving sophisticated dishes like spice-crusted ahi tuna and braised pork belly, pan-seared Atlantic halibut, and organic chicken with parsnip and foie gras agnolotti. Make sure to pair your meal with a bottle from the thoughtfully crafted and surprisingly affordable wine list served by an attentive staff.

Flour Bakery + Café

$ | South End Fodor's choice

When folks need coffee, a great sandwich, or an irresistible sweet, like a pecan sticky bun, lemon tart, or double chocolate cookie—or just a place to sit and chat—they pay a visit to one of owner Joanne Chang's 10 Flour bakeries, including this one in the South End. A communal table in the middle acts as a gathering spot, around which diners enjoy morning pastries, homemade soups, hearty bean and grain salads, and specialty sandwiches, which change seasonally.

Fox & the Knife Enoteca

$$$ Fodor's choice

Chef-owner Karen Akunowicz steps up with hearty, traditional Italian food inspired by her time as a chef and pasta maker in Italy. Locals love it so much that in order to score a table, especially on the weekends, you have to book a reservation about a month or so out. But once you get in, you'll realize it was worth the wait to dig into this James Beard Award–winner's carb-heavy fare, like warm focaccia, handmade pasta, pork Milanese, braised lamb, or whole fish. Plates are on the smaller side, so make sure to order with abandon, although your wallet won't thank you for it. At the bar, order the flight of Amaro varieties. 

Giulia

$$$ | Harvard Square Fodor's choice

With exposed-brick walls and soft lighting, the heart and soul of this charming Italian restaurant is its communal pasta table at which chef Michael Pagliarini spends hours hand-rolling superlative pastas for dishes like buckwheat pizzoccheri and pasta alla Bolognese. Plates such as house-made lamb sausage, monkfish piccata, warm semolina cakes, grilled barramundi, and Sardinian flatbread are original, generous, and, of course delicious. Known for its romantic nature, it's the perfect place for lovers to linger over a chocolate terrine and cappuccino.

Grill 23 & Bar

$$$$ | Back Bay Fodor's choice

Pinstripe suits, dark paneling, Persian rugs, and waiters in white jackets give this single-location steak house a posh tone, and the kitchen places a premium on seasonal, organic ingredients and sustainable and humanely raised meats; the divine coconut cake is worth saving room for dessert. Two bars, a big, buzzing one overlooking Berkeley Street and a quieter, smaller one on the second floor by the cozy fireplace, serve excellent drinks, specialty Scotches, and bar bites, along with the full menu.

161 Berkeley St., Boston, Massachusetts, 02116, USA
617-542–2255
Known For
  • locally owned steak house
  • Brandt family beef
  • party-dress vibe
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: No lunch

haley.henry

$$$ | Downtown Fodor's choice

Charcuterie, tinned fish, ceviche: You can eat well at this excellent Downtown wine bar that's small in size but big in reputation. Definitely make a reservation before showing up; it can be busy, even on a Wednesday night. The owner and her staff are incredibly well educated on wines, and they can lead you through the curated wine list.

Harvest

$$$$ | Brattle Street Fodor's choice

Once a favorite of former Cambridge resident Julia Child, this sophisticated shrine to New England cuisine has been a perennial go-to spot for Harvard students when their parents are in town since 1975. The seasonal menu could feature Cape scallop crudo, fresh pasta with braised veal and pesto, or fresh Cape lobster with lemon hollandaise. The restaurant also serves lunch and à la carte brunch (cinnamon buns on the pastry board are worth the visit alone). In addition to the elegant dining room there's a lush outdoor patio (with fans as well as blankets and an outdoor fire place to accommodate any season).

Helmand

$$$ | Kendall Square Fodor's choice

The area's first Afghan restaurant, named after the country's most important river, welcomes you into its cozy Kendall Square confines with Afghan rugs, a wood-burning oven, and exotic, yet extremely approachable food that reflects the motherland's location halfway between the Middle East and India. Standouts, beyond the chewy warm bread, include magical names from a faraway land like aushak (leek-stuffed ravioli over yogurt with beef ragu and mint), chapendaz (marinated grilled beef tenderloin served with cumin-spiced hot pepper–tomato puree), and a vegetarian baked pumpkin platter. The warm atmosphere, courtesy of a small fireplace and a woodburning oven that provides heat for the restaurant's famous flatbread, gives off the comforts of home while maintaining a world's away vibe.

143 1st St., Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02142, USA
617-492–4646
Known For
  • excellent Afghan fare
  • enveloping atmosphere
  • incredible breads
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Reservations essential

High Street Place Food Hall

$ | Downtown Fodor's choice

If you can't agree among your traveling partners what to eat where, this food hall features 20 different local vendors featuring delicious and top-quality foods of all varieties. Gourmet doughnuts from Blackbird, porchetta sandwiches from Pennypacker's, Jewish deli eats from Mamaleh's, sushi at Fuji, and so much more are here. 

Kava Neo-Taverna

$$$ | South End Fodor's choice

This sweet little white-washed taverna serves authentic Greek cuisine, with many ingredients imported directly from the Mediterranean, such as the feta, fish, and octopus. Order some crisp white wine off the hard-to-find Greek wines and liquors list to sip with a parade of home-style dishes, from tasty meze plates to entrées like grilled lamb chops. The tables may be tight and the wait a bit long without a reservation, but you'll forget about these tiny inconveniences once dinner arrives.

Mistral

$$$$ | South End Fodor's choice

Since 1997, Boston's fashionable set has flocked to this long-popular South End restaurant with polished service and upscale yet unpretentious French-Mediterranean cuisine. While seasonal tweaks do occur, fail-safe favorites like Burgundy-style escargot, parfait of Hudson Valley foie gras, tuna tartare, duck with cranberries, and Dover Sole Meunière are part of a menu that rarely changes—but no one's complaining.

223 Columbus Ave., Boston, Massachusetts, 02116, USA
617-867–9300
Known For
  • sophisticated Mediterranean cuisine
  • superb service
  • white-cloth, country French decor
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: No lunch

Myers + Chang

$$ | South End Fodor's choice

Pink and orange dragon decals cover the windows of this all-day Chinese café, where Joanne Chang (of Flour bakery fame) taps her familial cooking roots to create shareable platters of creative dumplings, wok-charred udon noodles, and stir-fries brimming with fresh ingredients and plenty of hot chili peppers, garlic, fresh herbs, crushed peanuts, and lime. The staff is young and fun, and the crowd generally follows suit. On Monday through Wednesday nights, the Great Date Night prefixe menu for two is a bargain at $65. Weekends are packed for the Dim Sum brunch menu.

Neptune Oyster

$$$ | North End Fodor's choice

This piccolo oyster bar, the first of its kind in the neighborhood, has only 22 chairs, but the long marble bar adorned with mirrors has extra seating for 15 more patrons, who can watch the oyster shuckers deftly undo handfuls of more than a dozen different kinds of bivalves to savor as an appetizer or on a Neptune plateau, a gleaming tower of oysters and other raw-bar items piled over ice that you can order from the slip of paper they pass out listing each day's crustacean options. Daily specials run the gamut, from lobster spaghetti to scarlet prawns to sea urchin bucatini. Dishes change seasonally, but a couple of year-round favorites include the spicy North End Cioppino (fish stew) and the signature Maine lobster roll that, hot or cold, overflows with meat. Service is prompt even when it gets busy (as it is most of the time). Go early to avoid a long wait.

No. 9 Park

$$$$ | Beacon Hill Fodor's choice

Welcome to the first and now flagship restaurant in acclaimed chef Barbara Lynch's empire. Even after 25 years, No. 9 Park continues to win rave reviews for Lynch's stellar, unique interpretation of fine French and Italian cuisine. The wine list bobs and weaves into new territory, but is always well chosen, and the savvy bartenders are of the classic ilk, so you'll find plenty of classics. This is Boston's fine dining at its best.

Oleana

$$$ | Central Square Fodor's choice

With two restaurants (including Sofra in Cambridge) and two cookbooks to her name, chef-owner Ana Sortun continues to bewitch area diners with her intricately spiced eastern Mediterranean mezes (small plates) made with fresh-picked produce from her husband's nearby Siena Farms. Oleana's menu changes often, but look for the hot, crispy-fried mussels starter and Sultan's Delight (tamarind-glazed beef with smoky eggplant puree) along with large plates of Iskender lamb kebab and lemon chicken. The Chef's choice is a delightful vegetable meze, complete with a rich dessert. When the weather is inviting, the cozy atmosphere of this tucked away spot spills out into a peaceful back patio garden.

Orinoco

$ | Harvard Square Fodor's choice

Don't miss this red clapboard, Pan–Latin American restaurant located down an alleyway in Harvard Square. Owner Andres Branger's dream to bring bountiful plates of super-fresh family fare from his home country of Venezuela to Cambridge (as well as Brookline Village and the South End) rewards diners with delectable, palm-size arepas (crispy, hot, corn-flour pockets stuffed with beans, cheese, chicken, or pork), pabellon criollo (moist shredded beef with stewed beans, rice, and plantains), and red chili adobo–marinated, charred pollo (chicken). Empanadas, hearty salads, and stuffed French-bread sandwiches at lunch, along with a small selection of wine and beer, round out the very affordable menu at this casual eatery. When weather permits, ask for a seat on the back patio, a quiet flower-and-fountain-filled oasis that makes the rest of the world feel very far away.

Row 34

$$$ Fodor's choice

Emphasizing oysters and local craft beers, this contemporary seafood restaurant has a boisterous energy contained only by its soaring ceilings. A neighborhood crowd comes for the excellent menu devoted to raw things, fried seafood, a variety of "rolls," and fish-based entrées. With 24 taps, beer plays a big role in the experience, enticing regulars to work their way through European-inspired American craft beers; there are also more than 50 by the bottle, ranging from ciders to sours and more.

383 Congress St., Boston, Massachusetts, 02210, USA
617-553–5900
Known For
  • local oysters fresh from restaurant's own oyster farm
  • seafood—carnivores and vegetarians should head elsewhere
  • excellent selection of American craft beer

Saltie Girl

$$$ | Back Bay Fodor's choice

Step into this Back Bay raw bar specializing in snappy cocktails and luscious preparations of all things seafood and you'll fall hook, line, and sinker for everything on the menu, including platters of fresh-shucked oysters on crushed ice, torched salmon belly with charred avocado, smoked fish that would make a New York deli owner proud, seafood-topped toasts, and a butter-drenched warm lobster roll overflowing with fresh meat. Rounding out the menu are tins of domestic and imported gourmet shellfish and fish (including caviar) served in all their oily goodness with bread, butter, smoked salt, lemon, and sweet pepper jam.

Scampo

$$$$ | Old West End Fodor's choice

The Italian word "scampo" translates to "escape" in English, and that's what this restaurant at The Liberty hotel—the former site of the Charles Street Jail—is: an escape into chef-owner Lydia Shire's delectable, buttery take on Italian-American cuisine. Everything is made from scratch, down to the bread, and including a dozen different exceptional pastas and nearly as many crusty pizzas. Entrees are heavy on meat and fish, and it stretches beyond standard items to lamb chops, duck, suckling pig, and Dover sole. The creative menu is complemented by a sleek orange bar, curved white-leather booths, and one of the city's most connected crowds. Gluten-free menus are available.

Select Oyster Bar

$$$$ | Back Bay Fodor's choice

Snug quarters and no desserts can't quell the stream of diners pouring into this uptown enclave eager to savor oysters and seductive seafood combinations like salmon crudo with pistachio oil, Maine lobster cabbage-kale Thai salad, and blue prawns à la plancha. With 70% of the restaurant's catch coming from New England, plus a thoughtful libations list and polished service, you have all the ingredients for a good time, whether you're sitting at the bar, at the front communal table, or in the three-season alfresco area out back.