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
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 A
In a city synonymous with tradition, Boston chefs have spent recent years rewriting culinary history. The stuffy, wood-p

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 pizzas simply topped with...Read More

  • 2. Area Four

    $$ | 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. Atlantic Fish Co

    $$$ | Back Bay | Seafood

    Designed to look like an ocean vessel with gorgeous wood finishes and nautical artwork, this local seafood restaurant delivers first-class fish...Read More

  • 4. 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 food, which...Read More

  • 5. Davio's

    $$$$ | Back Bay | Italian

    Comfy armchairs and a grand, high-ceilinged dining room give diners a heightened sense of self-importance, beginning with lunch when the city...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. Grill 23 & Bar

    $$$$ | Back Bay | Steakhouse

    Pinstripe suits, dark paneling, Persian rugs, and waiters in white jackets give this single-location steak house a posh tone, and the kitchen...Read More

  • 9. Harvest

    $$$ | American

    Once a favorite of former Cambridge resident Julia Child, this sophisticated shrine to New England cuisine remains a perennial go-to spot for...Read More

  • 10. Island Creek Oyster Bar

    $$$ | Kenmore Square | Seafood

    As the name indicates, this Hotel Commonwealth restaurant specializes in seafood, beginning with oysters that come fresh from the restaurant...Read More

  • 11. L'Espalier

    $$$$ | Back Bay | French

    Adjacent to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, this elegant French restaurant, with floor-to-ceiling windows and modern decor, is the sort of place...Read More

  • 12. Lumière

    $$$ | French

    Relying on local, sustainable, seasonal ingredients, the frequently changing menu features such delights as steak tartare with all the fixings...Read More

  • 13. Mistral

    $$$$ | South End | French

    Boston's fashionable set flocks to this long-popular South End restaurant with polished service and upscale yet unpretentious French-Mediterranean...Read More

  • 14. Myers + Chang

    $$ | South End | Chinese

    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...Read More

  • 15. Neptune Oyster

    $$$ | North End | Seafood

    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...Read More

  • 16. No. 9 Park

    $$$$ | Beacon Hill | European

    The stellar cuisine at chef Barbara Lynch's first restaurant continues to draw plenty of well-deserved attention from its place in the shadow...Read More

  • 17. o ya

    $$$$ | Downtown | Japanese

    Despite its side-street location and hidden door, o ya isn't exactly a secret: dining critics from the New York Times, Bon Appetit, and...Read More

  • 18. Oleana

    $$$ | Mediterranean

    With three restaurants (Sofra in Cambridge and Sarma in Somerville) and two cookbooks to her name, chef-owner Ana Sortun continues to bewitch...Read More

  • 19. Orinoco

    $ | Harvard Square | Latin American

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

  • 20. Posto

    $$ | Italian

    A central wood-burning oven at this Davis Square spot churns out over a dozen varieties of excellent tomato or "white" bubble-crusted pies ...Read More

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