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. 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

  • 2. Gracenote Coffee

    $ | Chinatown | Café

    Gracenote roasts top-shelf coffee beans using its own unique process here in Massachusetts, and then serves it in a teeny Leather District storefront...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 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. Thinking Cup

    $ | Downtown | Café

    Across Tremont Street from Boston Common, Thinking Cup caters to a mixed crowd of area professionals and comm students from nearby Emerson College...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. 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

  • 15. 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

  • 16. 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

  • 17. 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

  • 18. Darwin's Ltd.

    $ | Harvard Square | American

    Once beyond the vicinity of Harvard Square, Brattle Street lacks eateries, so before your walk consider stocking up at Darwin's Ltd. on Mt....Read More

  • 19. 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

  • 20. Eldo Cake House

    $ | Chinatown | Bakery

    Devotees of this Chinese bakery's Hong Kong–style egg tarts travel from miles around to get them—and it's no wonder; they are really good. Eldo...Read More

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