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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. Lumière

    $$$ | French

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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Abe & Louie's

    $$$$ | Back Bay | Steakhouse

    Go ahead: live the fantasy of the robber baron feasting in a setting of cavernous fireplaces and deep-textured, plush mahogany booths. Abe ...Read More

  • 10. Bricco

    $$$$ | North End | Italian

    A sophisticated but unpretentious enclave of nouveau Italian, Bricco has carved out quite a following. And no wonder: the handmade pastas alone...Read More

  • 11. Café ArtScience

    $$$ | Kendall Square | Mediterranean

    Harvard professor and innovator David Edwards, an inventor of edible food packaging, creates mad scientist-like cocktails infused with ingredients...Read More

  • 12. Deuxave

    $$$ | Back Bay | American

    At the corner of two avenues (Commonwealth and Massachusetts), which is how this restaurant got its name (deux is French for "two"), you'll...Read More

  • 13. Mamma Maria

    $$$ | North End | Italian

    Don't let the clichéd name fool you: Mamma Maria is far from a typical red-sauce joint. From the handmade pappardelle layered with braised rabbit...Read More

  • 14. Menton

    $$$$ | Downtown | French

    If price is no object, head over to the Fort Point neighborhood to experience Barbara Lynch's Italian-meets-French Relais & Chateaux eatery...Read More

  • 15. Ostra

    $$$$ | Back Bay | Seafood

    Boston has plenty of great seafood restaurants, but this sophisticated option near the Theater District turns out delicate and exquisitely prepared...Read More

  • 16. The Capital Grille

    $$$$ | Back Bay | Steakhouse

    A carnivore's utopia awaits within the clubby, dark-wood walls of this beloved steak house favored by those on expense accounts. Adjust your...Read More

  • 17. Rialto

    $$$$ | Harvard Square | Italian

    The soothing sage and yolk-yellow dining room and its bar have drifted back to their Italian beginnings under the deft helm of chef-owner Jody...Read More

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