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. Sportello

    $$ | Fort Point Channel | Italian

    One of the city's most widely awarded chefs, Barbara Lynch had the foresight to create a culinary statement in the Seaport, long before it was...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. B&G Oysters

    $$$ | South End | Seafood

    B&G Oysters' Chef Barbara Lynch (of No. 9 Park, the Butcher Shop, Sportello, DRINK, and Menton fame) offers a style-conscious seafood restaurant...Read More

  • 5. Blue Dragon

    $$$ | Fort Point Channel | Asian

    Old Shanghai meets stylish South Boston at acclaimed chef Ming Tsai's uber-popular Asian gastropub, set in an abandoned triangular diner in...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Cunard Tavern

    $$ | East Boston | American

    Luxury apartment rentals and modern condo developments are the latest thing to transform this once industrial stretch of the Boston Harbor waterfront...Read More

  • 8. FuGaKyu

    $$ | Japanese

    The name in Japanese means "house of elegance" and the gracious and efficient service hits the mark at this flagship location, along with the...Read More

  • 9. Shojo

    $ | Chinatown | Asian

    Fun, lively, and contemporary, Shojo puts a shine on its little corner of Chinatown. Owner Brian Moy may be a millennial, but he's no stranger...Read More

  • 10. Six \ West

    $$$ | South Boston | Modern American

    Within South Boston's brand new Cambria hotel, Six \ West serves drinks and food for every meal of the day in a couple different on-site locations...Read More

  • 11. Sonsie

    $$$ | Back Bay | American

    Café society blossoms along Newbury Street, particularly at Sonsie, where a well-heeled crowd sips coffee up front or angles for places at the...Read More

  • 12. Sorellina

    $$$$ | Back Bay | Italian

    Set in an all-white dining room, everything about this upscale Italian spot is oversized, from its space near Copley Square to its flavor-packed...Read More

  • 13. Trade

    $$$ | Waterfront | Mediterranean

    Financial District and Downtown professionals fill James Beard Award–winning chef-owner Jody Adams's lofty, white windowed space, eager to unwind...Read More

  • 14. Uni

    $$$$ | Back Bay | Asian

    Inside the tasteful boutique Eliot Hotel lies an innovative izakaya (informal Japanese gastropub), owned by Boston star chefs-partners Ken...Read More

  • 15. Blue Ginger

    $$$ | Asian

    Chef Ming Tsai's nimble maneuvers in the kitchen have caught the nation's eye via a public TV cooking program, Simply Ming, and his many cookbooks...Read More

  • 16. Post 390

    $$$ | Back Bay | American

    This hopping "urban tavern" tantalizes diners with creative gastropub fare like BBQ Heritage pork ribs and house-made ravioli stuffed with local...Read More

  • 17. West Side Lounge

    $ | American

    Understated is the buzzword at this relaxed but suave bistro, where the food is as comfortable as the setting. A homey, rotating menu complements...Read More

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