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The best restaurants in the Back Bay

You can work up an appetite strolling one of Boston’s busiest neighborhoods, so here’s where to satisfy that hunger in the Back Bay

Written by
Cheryl Fenton
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Whether it’s window shopping along ritzy Newbury Street or navigating the hustle and bustle around Copley Square, the Back Bay is one of Boston’s most vibrant neighborhoods. Nestled among the charming brownstones and Brahmin history, you’ll find eateries aplenty, with everything from buzzy newcomer joints and high-quality fast-casuals to iconic and formal standbys. Looking for more than just a place to nosh? Check out our Back Bay neighborhood guide for more tips on enjoying this historical community, plus our list of the best bars in Boston and the best things to do in Boston

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Boston

The best Back Bay restaurants

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Back Bay
  • price 4 of 4

Under the helm of Chef David Bazirgan, Uni is known for its standout sashimi program and inventive Japanese creations. Global street food-inspired small plates, as well as innovative makimono, nigiri and sashimi, are the highlights of this 100-seat izakaya. Grab a seat at the sushi bar to watch the experts at work. On weekends, the late-night menu draws hungry devotees to sample a small menu of creative dishes and one of the most in-demand ramens in the city.

  • Restaurants
  • American creative
  • Back Bay
  • price 4 of 4

The glamorous, chandelier-lit dining room at Deuxave creates an elegant ambiance, but there isn’t a hint of stuffiness at this friendly Comm Ave establishment. The kitchen's contemporary French fare is complemented by an extensive wine list. Chef and co-owner Chris Coombs’s talent for hospitality and sumptuous dishes translates to a sophisticated yet relaxed tryst with champagne and caviar, spiced duck breast and French onion soup simmered for a full nine hours.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Back Bay
  • price 3 of 4

Brought to you by Michael Serpa, this cozy bar supplies Back Bay with the ocean's most beautiful bounty. Marrying New England seafood with Mediterranean techniques, the menu features must-easts like its signature blue prawns a la plancha, "taverna style" whole roasted sea bream and its own, saffron-infused spin on bouillabaisse. While some diners enjoy a multi-course feast, others stop in for a quick oysters-and-wine fix.

  • Restaurants
  • American creative
  • Back Bay
  • price 4 of 4

Prix-fixe menus can be gateways to lackluster dining experiences, but in the hands of Chef Alex Crabb (of Noma and L’Espalier fame), they’re quite the opposite. Offering a tasting-menu-only format that changes monthly, Crabb and his team serve high-concept dishes in a congenial, pretension-free space (you actually pick out your own silverware from your table drawer). Past dishes have included poached leek with pastrami vinaigrette, BBQ rutabaga and seared foie gras with smashed cucumber and frozen white currants.

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  • Restaurants
  • Back Bay

An homage to New England’s long-standing fishing tradition, The Banks Fish House celebrates our love affair with the sea and its bounty. The menu starts on the docks, as Chef Robert Sisca fuels the passion by serving dishes the likes of smoked bluefish pate, cuttlefish spaghetti and Dover sole meuniere, while the first-floor working raw bar offers stellar crudo, oyster and caviar selections. The fried seafood platter is a feast to behold.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Back Bay
  • price 3 of 4

Enjoy Mexicali cuisine in a beachy atmosphere reminiscent of the Baja coast—right in the heart of Back Bay. Citrus & Salt's menu features playful cocktails and shareable small plates. Come for the boozy Dole Whip, stay for the award-winning grilled street corn covered in Flamin’ Hot Cheetos crumbs or fried chicken and waffle tacos.

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  • Restaurants
  • Steakhouse
  • Back Bay
  • price 4 of 4

Perhaps the city’s most famous steakhouse, Grill 23 continues to be the site of countless carnivorous business dinners and special occasions. High ceilings, marble columns, white tablecloths and waiters clad in white jackets all contribute to the big-ticket atmosphere (as do the swarms of local lawyers and brokers whooping it up over pricey wines and steaks). The wine program has won national awards, as have the perfectly-prepped steaks.

  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Back Bay
  • price 3 of 4

The recently renovated restaurant—you’ll love the newly brightened space—occupies one of the city's most enviable addresses, right across the street from the Public Garden. The sweeping views, impressive wine list and sophisticated, New England-inspired French fare all make for a delightfully romantic meal. Order the chocolate soufflé for a perfect finish.

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  • Restaurants
  • Back Bay

Southern flavors from Chef Jason Santos (of Hell’s Kitchen fame) transport you straight to the Bayou. Think pork belly cracklings, house-made biscuits and oyster chowder. The house-fried chicken is served Southern- or Nashville-style, with sweet and spicy or white BBQ sauce. An oyster bar keeps things light with local bivalves and peel-and-eat shrimp. A second restaurant location in Watertown recently joined this spicy spot.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Back Bay
  • price 3 of 4

This Back Bay raw bar and seafood emporium is known for pushing the limits of customary fish preparations—and having a whole lot of fun while doing it. From its fried lobster and waffles to its rock crab carbonara, this place is well worth the wait for a seat in its brownstone space or on its patio. Other noteworthy coastal attractions: its selection of New York-style smoked fish used to top a bagelette and cream cheese, as well as an incredible assortment of tinned seafood, including imported sustainable caviar and Icelandic cod liver.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Back Bay
  • price 4 of 4

Spanish for “oyster,” chef/owner Jamie Mammano's fish-focused Mediterranean restaurant in Park Square is an enthusiastic nod to the bounty of the sea. Top quality branzino, sea bream, Spanish octopus and monkfish—some flown in from the Mediterranean—are smartly prepared, while the paella “Valenciana Style” is a playground for all sorts of underwater creatures. Its extensive raw bar, crudo and caviar service is a highlight. 

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Back Bay
  • price 3 of 4

This neighborhood mainstay is a dinner date favorite, thanks to its bright but cozy brownstone space filled with bold-colored walls and tiled tables. The tacos here are never a bad idea, and its signature plates (like the puerco adobado en chipotle y naranja—pork tenderloin marinated in oranges, tamarind and smoked chipotle peppers) are bursting with flavor and just begging to be paired with a strong margarita. In the summer, Casa Romero's serene back patio, adorned with hanging plants, is an intimate retreat beloved by all.

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Sorellina
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Back Bay
  • price 3 of 4

Striking with its black-and-white striped interior motif, the oh-so stylish Sorellina could double as a modern design showroom. This Back Bay establishment (and sister restaurant to Mistral) is home to one of the citys priciest Italian menus. Its array of offerings matches the decor as far as pure glamor goes, with luxurious ingredients decking out nearly every dish (Maine lobster gnocchi and prime beef meatballs included). The varied wine list is equally splurge-worthy, perfect for those expense account-powered dinners meant to woo potential clients.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Back Bay
  • price 3 of 4

With French doors opening out on to the ever-busy Newbury Street, Sonsie could easily just serve the nearby crowds of tourists. But that's just not the case at this Back Bay gem. The fact that Sonsie's eclectic menu attracts just as many locals as it does out-of-towners is a testament to the culinary team and welcoming atmosphere. People-watching from the café tables over cappuccinos or cocktails has been a popular pastime for Bostonians since this spot opened in 1993.

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  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Back Bay
  • price 3 of 4

This sprawling and lively brasserie features contemporary French fare by recently appointed Chef Phil Lewis. The airy, multi-level space is always humming, with servers leaving the open kitchen carrying trays of classics, such as chicken liver and foie gras mousse, steak frites and rotisserie chicken. Pop into the downstairs café for a quick sammie or house-made croissants and pastries, or take to the outdoor patio for a oui bit of fresh air as the weather permits.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Back Bay
  • price 2 of 4

A line can often be seen forming in front of the Back Bay location of this Japanese chain. A prime spot for students and tourists, Santouka serves nourishing bowls of ramen—including its signature tonkatsu, whose deeply flavorful broth is made by simmering pork bones for 20 hours. Santouka also offers the lesser-known toroniku ramen, made with rich and tender pork cheek meat. The vegetarian option—featuring menma kikurage mushrooms, soy marinated wheat gluten and umeboshi—is also a worthy choice, especially for non-meat-eaters. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Greek
  • Back Bay
  • price 1 of 4

Greco is a great spot to grab fresh Greek fare in Back Bay—and fast. Tucked amongst the stretch of high-end shops that line Newbury Street, Greco slings traditional gyros, salads and plates crammed with flavorful spit-roasted meats and grilled veggies. Fries here are must (they're served hot and topped with feta and oregano), and you can't beat the homemade Loukoumades, Greek donut holes that are decked out with a variety of sweet garnishes like honey, nuts and cinnamon.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Back Bay
  • price 4 of 4

As a Northern Italian-inspired steakhouse, Davio’s is the place to go for feasting on the finest cuts of meat, alongside beloved specialties like tagliatelle bolognese and Maine lobster risotto. The flagship Boston location resides on the busy corner of Arlington and Stuart Streets, giving guests a front row seat to all of the bustling Back Bay action. The high-ceilinged space is perfect for large groups and celebratory dinners, and there's an on-site bakery where desserts, pastries, ice cream and breads are all prepared fresh daily.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Back Bay
  • price 3 of 4

A city staple since 1978, Atlantic Fish Company has thrived on letting seafood shine by keeping it simple. Daily catches can be broiled, sauteed, fried or blackened—but if you’re feeling fancy, you can always try the lobster ravioli or cioppino. This is the place to go when you need to impress out-of-towners with the allure of New England seafood.

  • Restaurants
  • Steakhouse
  • Back Bay
  • price 4 of 4

This national chain has always had a strong presence in Boston. Corporate types fill its tables, dining on dry-aged steaks that are hand-cut onsite by the restaurant’s own butchers. Beyond red meat, the menu is filled with fresh seafood, creative sides and celebratory desserts. The expansive wine list features more than 350 labels from around the world—we'll raise a glass to that! 

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