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. 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

  • 4. Fox & the Knife Enoteca

    $$$ | South Boston | Italian

    James Beard Award–winning Best Chef Karen Akunowicz steps up with hearty, traditional Italian food (not to be confused with Italian-American...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. 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

  • 7. Legal Harborside

    $$$$ | Seaport | Seafood

    Three huge floors, three different menus, and one spectacular view makes Legal Harborside a worthy flagship for Boston's iconic Legal Sea Foods...Read More

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Oleana

    $$$ | Central Square | Mediterranean

    With two restaurants (including Sofra in Cambridge) and two cookbooks to her name, chef-owner Ana Sortun continues to bewitch area diners with...Read More

  • 11. Posto

    $$ | Italian

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

  • 12. Row 34

    $$$ | Seaport | Seafood

    This modern beer-bar-meets-oyster-bar vibes boisterous energy contained only by its soaring ceilings. A neighborhood crowd comes for the excellent...Read More

  • 13. Scampo

    $$$$ | West End | Italian

    The Italian word "scampo" translates to "escape" in English, and that's what this restaurant at the Liberty Hotel—the former site of the Charles...Read More

  • 14. Select Oyster Bar

    $$$$ | Back Bay | Seafood

    Snug quarters and no desserts can't quell the stream of diners pouring into this uptown enclave eager to savor oysters and seductive seafood...Read More

  • 15. Sweet Cheeks Q

    $$ | The Fenway | American

    Red Sox fans, foodies, and Fenway residents flock to this meat-lover's mecca, where Texas-style barbecue is the name of the game. Hefty slabs...Read More

  • 16. 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

  • 17. 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

  • 18. 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

  • 19. Toro

    $$$ | South End | Spanish

    Chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette's tapas joint, which now has an outpost in Manhattan, is a lively, popular spot where the small plates...Read More

  • 20. Woods Hill Pier 4

    $$$$ | Seaport | Modern American

    Kristin Canty’s brand new restaurant features floor-to-ceiling windows and sweeping, 270-degree views of the Boston Harbor waterfront. Neutral...Read More

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