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The best Boston restaurants

From well-established favorites to the latest hotspots, these are the Boston restaurants you need to know about

Photograph: Catherine Owens
Journeyman

While the city may be better known for its sights and museums, culture and universities, Boston restaurants are becoming an attraction in their own right. An impressive roster of local culinary talent is fostering a dining scene to rival that of New York or Chicago—in fact, some local stars, such as Ken Oringer, who opened an NYC location of Toro in 2013, are expanding into other food capitals. The city may be small, but its many neighborhoods offer plenty of diversity.

Best restaurants by cuisine

Restaurants

The full list of the best Boston restaurants

While the city may be better known for its sights and museums, culture and universities, Boston restaurants are becoming an attraction in their own right. An impressive roster of local culinary talent is fostering a dining scene to rival that of New York or Chicago—in fact, some local stars, such as Ken Oringer, who opened an NYC location of Toro in 2013, are expanding into other food capitals. The city may be small, but its many neighborhoods offer plenty of diversity.

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The best pizza in Boston

It’s a subject as hot as a wood-fired oven: Who bakes the best pizza? Boston has countless no-frills places serving deliciously greasy slices, and many of the best Boston restaurants offer twists on the perennial favorite (and not just Italian restaurants). RECOMMENDED: See the best Boston restaurants by cuisine

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The best brunch in Boston

Sure, other cities may boast bottomless mimosas (illegal in Beantown) and year-round patio dining (improbable in New England), but there's something special about the mighty pack of Boston brunch joints that fling open their doors each weekend to offer their finest late-morning meals, regardless of weather conditions or lousy blue laws. To start your perfect Saturday or Sunday in leisurely fashion, keep it simple and classic at neighborhood hangs like the Paramount and Deep Ellum, or splurge on gourmet fare at one of the best restaurants in Boston. Whether you’re fighting a hangover or fueling up before shopping or taking in a few museums or galleries, these are the best places for brunch in Boston.RECOMMENDED: See the best Boston restaurants by cuisine

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The best Boston coffee shops and cafés

It may have been christened "Beantown" on account of the baked variety, but Boston can't get enough coffee beans. Like any other major city with a fair share of wind-chilled, under-slept professionals, the Hub boasts a plethora of cafés that have high-quality espresso, extensive tea selections, cozy atmospheres and (on occasion) pool tables. The best Boston coffee shops and cafés don't just offer java. You'll find obscure magazines, weekly trivia nights and a humble cup of joe at cult favorite Trident in the Back Bay. Get a fair-trade cup with local baked goods at Equal Exchange Café in the North End. And then there's the seatless, coffee-snob haven barismo in Arlington, and iced bucketfuls of hyper-flavored coffee-like concoctions at Dorchester's PS Gourmet. Latte lovers who also like art galleriesshould stop by cool hybrid Voltage Coffee & Art in Kendall Square.RECOMMENDED: See the best Boston restaurants by cuisine

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The best sushi in Boston

Craving sushi? Boston has an array of excellent Japanese restaurants and sushi joints—some of which made it into our list of the best Boston restaurants. Snappy Sushi on Newbury Street is our pick for a quick lunch break during a Back Bay shopping spree, while upscale Oishii in the South End is known for its authentic omakase.RECOMMENDED: See the best Boston restaurants by cuisine

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The best Italian restaurants in Boston

Many diners seeking spaghetti, pizza or veal scaloppine will simply head for the North End, Boston’s “Little Italy.” But some of the best Boston restaurants happen to have culinary roots in the boot. There are excellent Italian restaurants all over the city, from refinedBeacon Hill to evolving Fort Point.RECOMMENDED: See the best Boston restaurants by cuisine

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The best ice cream in Boston

Boston has been a hotbed of ice cream innovation since the ’70s when Steve Herrell began mixing Oreo shards into freshly churned batches in his (defunct) Somerville shop. Emack & Bolio’s soon followed, joined in the early ’80s by the first J.P. Licks in Jamaica Plain. Follow the lead of some top Boston restaurants and get your frozen fix at these exceptional ice cream shops. Go for two scoops—you can always hit the gym afterwards.RECOMMENDED: See the best Boston restaurants by cuisine

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The best Boston food trucks

We thought they were just having a moment a couple years ago, but now it's clear that we haven't seen the end of food trucks. Boston has lagged behind the likes of Los Angeles and New York in this arena, but food trucks are gaining ground in Boston and Cambridge thanks to support from local government and organizations such as the Boston Food Truck Alliance. These mobile food vendors dispense everything from veggie fare to burgers. Some, like Bon Me and Clover Food Lab, are so successful they've branched out into brick-and-mortar locations.RECOMMENDED: See the best Boston restaurants by cuisine

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The best vegetarian restaurants in Boston

Read our essential guide to Boston's best vegetarian and vegan restaurants—with insider tips and recommendations, written by local experts. From long-established downtown joints such as My Thai to ever-shifting food trucks like Harvard Square's Clover Food Lab, Time Out editors' pick of the best Boston restaurants for veggies and vegans.RECOMMENDED: See the best Boston restaurants by cuisine

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The best burgers in Boston

The 21st-century burger boom shows no sign of abating and in most U.S. cities, opinions run high on who makes the best burgers (closely followed by the perennial best pizza debate). Many of the best Boston restaurants, including the excellent Craigie on Main in Central Square have a signature version on the menu, but cheap-eats aficionados love Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage, a Cambridge fast food legend since the 1960s.RECOMMENDED: See the best Boston restaurants by cuisine

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The best donuts in Boston

There is only one proper way to break your gluten-free, diet-determined resolve: donuts-and lots of them. Sin in style at one of these superior donut shops, spanning the latest cult bakeries, pop-ups and under-the-radar mom-and-pops. The antithesis of mass production, the treats are lovingly made from the South End to Somerville. And unusual flavor combinations mean they’re not just for breakfast (or brunch) any more…

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The best Chinese food in Boston

With the third largest Chinatown in the country, it stands to reason Downtown Boston yields plenty of authentic Chinese food and cult hole-in-the-wall dumpling spots. But there are also exceptional eateries serving top-notch noodles, dim sum and diverse regional fare all over Boston, Cambridge and suburban areas. Chinese restaurants are a great late-night dining option in a city that shuts down early—and some of them even double as nightclubs!

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The best ramen in Boston

Why hello, brutal New England winter, so nice to see you again. While you’re busy pounding us withsnow, we’ll be thawing out at one of these heart- and feet-warming ramen spots. If that doesn’t cut it, we’ll just make our way through this list of creative ways to beat the cold or hunker down in a nearby bar.

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The most romantic restaurants in Boston

Puritan reserve be damned—Boston’s romantic restaurants cater to every predilection. From champagne and caviar in plush surroundings to sizzling shrimp in lively Latin quarters, when it comes to date ideas, it’s just a matter of whatever floats your boat. For a truly special occasion, come armed with a thoughtful, sexy or funny gift for him or her, or say it with flowers with our top florist picks. Want to make it a night you won’t forget? Get a room at one of the best hotels in Boston and follow up with a decadent brunch in the morning.RECOMMENDED: Valentine’s Day ideas for Boston

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The best Boston restaurants

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Bondir

You’d never guess that beyond the nondescript brick façade are an enchanting farmhouse dining room, a roaring fireplace and a daily edited menu that takes full advantage of the ebb and flow of seasonal and local ingredients. Chef-owner Jason Bond spent 20 years in New England restaurant kitchens before showcasing his talents via local produce, seafood and meats. It shows in the small yet careful selection of four courses—Maine halibut with baby brussels sprouts and shellfish emulsion, pistachio steam cake with poached figs, for example—and house-made breads. Presentations are elegant, not stuffy. Guests sip an aperitif in front of the fire before heading to their table where old church pews (with cushions!) serve as seats.

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Clio

The taupe and cream color scheme says “refinement”; the leopard-print rug says “excitement.” The menu says both at once—and the cooking that first earned Ken Oringer his celebrity status bears out that promise. In the tiny kitchen of the Eliot Hotel's ever-buzzing special occasion mecca, Oringer sculpts miniature New French masterpieces from foie gras, lobster, game and exquisite produce you've never heard of. If the boss is footing the bill, by all means splurge on the Wagyu prime beef, which rings in at 30 dollars an ounce.

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Coppa

Never mind sitting elbow-to-elbow with your neighbor at this shoebox of a wood-and-brick enoteca. The famous wood-fired pizzas (especially the Parma, with mozzarella, tomato, rocket and prosciutto di parma), robust pastas and small-plate bar snacks (beef-heart pastrami crostini with harissa) make this cozy nook worth the tight squeeze. Owners Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette (both James Beard Award-winning chefs) introduced the trend for topping everything from pastas to pizzas with a farm-fresh egg, with delicious results. But be warned: Although prices appear to be more than reasonable, even on the Italian-only wines and craft beers, the half-portion pastas, small bites and four-slice pizzas are pleasing enough to tempt you into ordering more than your stomach—or wallet—can handle.

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Craigie on Main

The buzz surrounding this culinary hotspot has been palpable since renowned chef Tony Maws moved his tiny bistro into a new, larger space. It's retained the quirkiness of the previous location, while expanding its capacity to better accommodate the growing number of devotees who pack the house most nights for Maws' latest Franco-American creations—each born of his intense dedication to using the best local, organic ingredients. Craigie on Main's knowledgeable and friendly staff (including a handful of smiling cocktail mavens) will guide you through the seasonal menus. The ten-course tasting menu is a favorite, and might include crispy Florida frog's legs, hirmasa sashimi salad or rhubarb-hibiscus mousse. And the grass-fed beef burger is the stuff of legend.

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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