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. Bostonia Public House

    $$$ | Downtown | American

    Airy and classic in atmosphere, this modern restaurant focuses on two things: food and local history (it is, after all, situated in a historic...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. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. Peach Farm

    $ | Chinatown | Chinese

    It may look a bit worse for wear, but this authentic Cantonese restaurant is a Chinatown landmark among locals and neighborhood visitors. What...Read More

  • 7. 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

  • 8. A&B Burgers

    $ | West End | American

    Burgers, of course, are the staple of the menu here, featuring all-natural, farm-raised beef (or all-natural, farm-raised Wagyu, if you're feeling...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Anthem Kitchen & Bar

    $$$ | Government Center | American

    With its tavern vibe and prime location (just steps from historic Faneuil Hall in the South Market Building), a meal at Anthem conjures up visions...Read More

  • 11. Babbo Pizzeria

    $ | Downtown | Italian

    With his signature ponytail and orange clogs, celebrity chef Mario Batali is the name behind this bountiful pizzeria with three bars and a 1...Read More

  • 12. 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

  • 13. 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

  • 14. Dado Tea

    $ | Harvard Square | Café

    Named after the art of the tea ceremony, the new-age feel to this shop starts with organic teas and coffee (displayed in canisters behind the...Read More

  • 15. 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

  • 16. Dumpling Cafe

    $ | Chinatown | Chinese

    Discerning diners stream into this no-frills Taiwanese eatery to slurp down the house specialty—wobbly, xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) filled...Read More

  • 17. Full Moon

    $$ | American

    Here's a happy reminder that dinner with children doesn't have to mean hamburgers and juice for everyone. While the youngsters race around the...Read More

  • 18. J.P. Licks

    $ | American

    The locally owned-and-operated J.P. Licks scoops homemade ice cream, frozen yogurts, sherbet, and sorbet in all the basic varieties, plus there...Read More

  • 19. James Hook & Co.

    $$$ | Waterfront | Seafood

    This Waterfront seafood shanty in the heart of Downtown leaves all its frills for its lobster-loaded rolls; they're served with mayo or with...Read More

  • 20. Joseph's Bakery

    $ | South Boston | Bakery

    If you're in the neighborhood and jonesing for Sicilian-style pizza, a fruit pie, or anything in between, make a stop at this Italian bakery...Read More

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