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. Bastille Kitchen

    $$$ | Fort Point Channel | French

    Clubby, homey, grand: all describe the look and feel of this Fort Point–located, contemporary French restaurant that will provide one of the...Read More

  • 2. 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

  • 3. Lumière

    $$$ | French

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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. Troquet on South

    $$$$ | Theater District | French

    Despite having what might well be Boston's longest wine list, with nearly 500 vintages (more than 50 of which are available by the glass), plus...Read More

  • 6. Catalyst

    $$ | Kendall Square | French

    Chef-owner William Kovel’s simple, approachable French American cuisine translates to dishes like chicken liver mousse, squid ink cavatelli...Read More

  • 7. Craigie on Main

    $$$ | Central Square | French

    This soulful, white-cloth restaurant belongs to chef-owner Tony Maws, who's passion for all things fresh and local is reflected in a daily changing...Read More

  • 8. Frenchie Boston

    $$$ | South End | French

    Step down into this charming bistro and you'll feel like you've been transported to Paris, with a menu of classic French fare dressed up a bit...Read More

  • 9. Les Zygomates

    $$$ | Downtown | French

    The French expression for the facial muscles that make you smile is les zygomates and this combination wine bar–bistro inarguably lives up...Read More

  • 10. Menton

    $$$$ | Fort Point Channel | French

    Those for whom price is no object will want to dine here, at Barbara Lynch's luxurious, France-meets-Italy-inspired eatery that's arguably the...Read More

  • 11. Rochambeau

    $$$ | Back Bay | French

    This two-story French-inspired bistro and café offers a stylish spot to sip a latte and enjoy a quiche in the morning, power lunch at mid-day...Read More

  • 12. Ten Tables

    $$$ | Jamaica Plain | French

    Jamaica Plain's postage stamp–size, candlelit space is an enchanting mix of Gallic elegance and chummy neighborhood revelry—both in the atmosphere...Read More

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