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. Antico Forno

    $$ | North End | Italian

    Many of the menu choices here come from the eponymous wood-burning brick oven, which turns out surprisingly delicate thin-crust pizzas simply...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. Caffe Vittoria

    $ | North End | Italian

    Established in 1929, Caffe Vittoria—Boston's oldest Italian café—is rightfully known as Boston's most traditional Italian café, which is one...Read More

  • 4. 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

  • 5. Daily Catch

    $$ | North End | Seafood

    You've just got to love this shoebox-size place—for the noise, the intimacy, the complete absence of pretense, and, above all, the Sicilian...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Orinoco

    $$ | Harvard Square | Latin American

    Don't miss this red clapboard, Pan-Latin American restaurant located down an alleyway in Harvard Square. Owner Andres Banger's dream to bring...Read More

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Algiers Coffee House

    $ | Harvard Square | Middle Eastern

    Algiers Coffee House, upstairs from the Brattle Theatre, is a favorite evening hangout for young actors and artists. Linger over mint tea or...Read More

  • 10. 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

  • 11. 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

  • 12. Bon Me

    $ | Fort Point Channel | Vietnamese

    Bon Me's moniker is a whimsical take on Vietnam's signature sandwich, the bahn me, and the versions that this local fast-casual restaurant serves...Read More

  • 13. Bova's Bakery

    $ | North End | Italian

    The allure of Bova's Bakery, a neighborhood institution since 1926, lies not only in its takeaway Italian breads, calzones, and pastries, but...Read More

  • 14. Brewer's Fork

    $ | Charlestown | American

    With the Bunker Hill Monument in your sights, relax with a wood-fired pizza and a pint. Brewer's Fork's list of 30 draft cider and craft beers...Read More

  • 15. Bronwyn

    $$ | German

    Harkening back to his German heritage, chef-owner Tim Wiechmann and his wife, Bronwyn, the restaurant's namesake, have brought a rib-sticking...Read More

  • 16. Caffe dello Sport

    $ | North End | Italian

    An Italianate version of a sports bar, Caffe dello Sport has two wide screens transmitting live soccer. The buzz is not only from the world...Read More

  • 17. Cardullo's

    $ | Harvard Square | Sandwiches

    This snug, nearly 70-year-old shop (family-owned and -operated up until a few years ago) in Harvard Square purveys exotic imports, including...Read More

  • 18. Centre Street Café

    $$ | Jamaica Plain | Italian

    Nearby farms provide the bulk of the ingredients for simple yet sublime appetizers, homemade pastas, and main dishes at this laid-back, 34-seat...Read More

  • 19. China King

    $ | Chinatown | Chinese

    This friendly, family owned Chinese restaurant serves crave-worthy, modern-ish takes on classic Chinese dishes. China King is not large, and...Read More

  • 20. 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

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