Boston Restaurants

In a city synonymous with tradition, Boston chefs have spent recent years rewriting culinary history. The stuffy, wood-paneled formality is gone; the endless renditions of chowdah, lobster, and cod have retired; and the assumption that true foodies better hop the next Amtrak to New York is also—thankfully—a thing of the past.

In their place, a crop of young chefs has ascended, opening small, upscale neighborhood spots that use local New England ingredients to delicious effect. Traditional eats can still be found (Durgin-Park remains the best place to get baked beans), but many diners now gravitate toward innovative food in understated environs. Whether you're looking for casual French, down-home Southern cooking, some of the best sushi in the country, or Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, Boston restaurants are ready to deliver. Eclectic Japanese spot o ya and iconic French restaurant L'Espalier have garnered widespread attention, while a coterie of star chefs like Barbara Lynch, Lydia Shire, and Ken Oringer have built mini-empires and thrust the city to the forefront of the national dining scene.

The fish and shellfish brought in from nearby shores continue to inform the regional cuisine, along with locally grown fruits and vegetables, handmade cheeses, and humanely raised heritage game and meats. But don't expect boiled lobsters and baked apple pie. Today’s chefs, while showcasing New England’s bounty, might offer you lobster cassoulet with black truffles, bacon-clam pizza from a wood-burning oven, and a tomato herb salad harvested from the restaurant’s rooftop garden. In many ways, though, Boston remains solidly skeptical of trends. To wit: the cupcake craze and food truck trend hit here later than other cities; the Hawaii-inspired poke movement has only recently arrived. And over in the university culture of Cambridge, places like the Harvest and Oleana espoused the locavore and slow-food movements before they became buzzwords.

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  • 1. Angela's Café

    $$ | East Boston | Mexican

    Colorful and airy, this East Boston Mexican restaurant reflects the culture of many living in the neighborhood, and its eponymous cook re-creates...Read More

  • 2. Area Four

    $$ | Modern American

    A bona fide hit from day one, everything at this glass-enclosed eatery in the avant-garde Technology Square area is scrumptious—from the morning...Read More

  • 3. Cutty's

    $ | Coolidge Corner | American

    Don't be fooled by this self-named "sandwich shop," which belies the care, creativity, and culinary quality of the luscious offerings found...Read More

  • 4. Eastern Standard Kitchen and Drinks

    $$$ | Kenmore Square | American

    A vivid red awning beckons patrons of this spacious brasserie-style restaurant with menus for breakfast, lunch, midday, dinner, and late night...Read More

  • 5. Flour Bakery + Café

    $ | South End | American

    When folks need coffee, a great sandwich, or an irresistible sweet, like a pecan sticky bun, lemon tart, or double chocolate cookie—or just...Read More

  • 6. Hei-La Moon

    $ | Chinatown | Chinese

    Hei-La Moon is located on Beach Street, but don't get lost looking for it; you have to put Chinatown at your back and cross Surface Road, almost...Read More

  • 7. Tatte Bakery & Café

    $ | Seaport | Israeli

    You've never had kouign-amann or Jerusalem bagels quite like Tzurit Or's, the owner and recipe mastermind behind this upscale bakery and café...Read More

  • 8. Tatte Bakery & Café

    $ | Downtown | Israeli

    Tzurit Or's upscale bakery and café takes pastries to the next level with items like kouign-amann, pistachio croissants, and Jerusalem bagels...Read More

  • 9. Tatte Bakery & Café

    $ | Beacon Hill | Israeli

    Tzurit Or's upscale bakery and café takes pastries to the next level with items like kouign-amann, pistachio croissants, and Jerusalem bagels...Read More

  • 10. The Paramount

    $ | Beacon Hill | American

    Don't be surprised to see a queue at this neighborhood hot spot, no matter the time of day. Regulars happily line up for waffles topped with...Read More

  • 11. Thinking Cup

    $ | Downtown | Café

    Across Tremont Street from Boston Common, Thinking Cup caters to a mixed crowd of area professionals and comm students from nearby Emerson College...Read More

  • 12. Anna's Taqueria

    $ | Beacon Hill | Mexican

    Inspired by the authentic Mexican take-out readily available in West Coast cities, Anna's owner moved to Boston and opened shop more than 25...Read More

  • 13. Blackbird Doughnuts

    $ | The Fenway | American

    Creative, delicious and irresistible, these sweet treats from Blackbird Doughnuts have a cult following–-even rock star Adele praised them when...Read More

  • 14. Brassica Kitchen + Cafe

    $ | Jamaica Plain | American

    This tiny spot, tucked into a row of businesses across from the Forest Hills T station, is a café by day, serving coffee, breakfast and lunch...Read More

  • 15. Clover Food Lab

    $ | Downtown | Vegetarian

    After more than a decade, locals still love this vegetarian restaurant's chickpea fritters, not to mention the daily changing menu of freshly...Read More

  • 16. Dewey Square Food Trucks

    $ | Financial District | Fast Food

    On weekday mornings and afternoons, locally operated food trucks congregate at Dewey Square plaza on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, ready to serve...Read More

  • 17. Diesel Cafe

    $ | Café

    Known as Somerville's "refueling station," this bright, window-y spot with bold local artwork and spacious tables draws in Davis Square hipsters...Read More

  • 18. El Oriental de Cuba

    $ | Jamaica Plain | Cuban

    This cozy spot with wooden tables and walls full of artwork—featuring tropical fruit, Cuban street life, and magazine covers—serves a large...Read More

  • 19. Flour Bakery

    $ | South End | Bakery

    Recharge with a fresh-baked sticky bun and oversize mug of coffee at this South End favorite. Award-winning chef Joanne Chang and her staff...Read More

  • 20. Flour Bakery + Café

    $ | South End | American

    A good spot to refuel on a budget is Flour Bakery + Café, a perennial candidate for Boston's best sandwiches and stuffed bread. Also superb...Read More

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