A special occasion deserves a special restaurant. The best fine dining restaurants in Boston will always fit the bill, but sometimes you just want a festive meal that’s not necessarily a splurge or a reverent affair. The best fancy restaurants in Boston have that little something extra—atmosphere, service, creativity—that will make any meal a celebration. For a special spot to wow a special someone, choose from one of the most romantic restaurants in Boston. For a dining option on the opposite end of the spectrum, Boston’s best cheap eats offer delicious, wallet-friendly choices, and can even be festive in their own special way.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Boston
Best fancy restaurants in Boston
The fine dining jewel in Barbara Lynch’s collection of restaurants, Menton takes its name from the Côte d’Azur town near the Italian border. The contemporary, French- and Italian-inspired cuisine, offered in both a la carte and a "chef's whim" tasting menu, features luxurious ingredients such as sea urchin and black truffle. Plush details—from French linens to Austrian crystal—and attentive service ensures guests feel utterly pampered.
The 19th-century mahogany bar that once anchored the revered Locke-Ober is still present in this Downtown Crossing restaurant. It’s just as swanky as its former incarnation, and remains a destination spot for celebratory fine dining. A cocktail in the classy library bar sets the stage for a high end meal of small plates and larger “feast” platters like whole chicken Cordon Bleu or a two-pound Niman Ranch ribeye.
The gorgeously appointed restaurant enjoys one of the city's most enviable addresses, across the street from the Public Garden. Francophiles enjoy various authentic touches, especially when it comes to the well-stocked wine cellar that includes some amazing finds from Burgundy and Bordeaux. The street-level bistro space offers its own menu of inviting, French-accented fare, while the upstairs dining room pulls out all the stops with a varied assortment of splurge-worthy dishes.
The glamorous, chandelier-lit dining room creates a special occasion-feel, but there isn’t a hint of stuffiness thanks to the friendly vibe at this Back Bay eatery, which enjoys a regal perch at the intersection of Mass and Commonwealth Aves. The contemporary French fare is complemented by a voluminous wine list with more than 20 options by the glass. Chef/co-owner Chris Coombs’s talent for hospitality and sumptuous dishes translates to a sophisticated yet relaxed experience.
The striking design featuring black-and-white stripes gives this Italian restaurant a modern design showroom vibe. The menu of elevated is equally glamorous, posh ingredients and sauces. Try the signature maccheroncelli, a spaghetti and meatballs dish with a Montepulciano sauce. The high end wine list is perfect for a toastl.
Perhaps the city’s most famous steakhouse, Grill 23 has hosted countless business dinners and special occasions. High ceilings, marble columns, white tablecloths, and white-jacket clad waiters all contribute to the big-ticket atmosphere, as do the lawyers and brokers whooping it up over pricey wines and steaks that very nearly cost their weight in gold. The wine program has won national awards, as have the perfectly-prepped steaks.
This national chain has always had a strong presence in Boston. Corporate types fill up tables to dine on dry-aged steaks that are hand-cut on the premises by the restaurant’s own butchers. Beyond steaks, 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.
Perched atop the Prudential Tower, some 52 floors above the Back Bay, Top of the Hub has been a longtime go-to as a special occasion option. Especially popular on holidays and around graduation season, the restaurant hosts many celebratory groups and corporate events. Those looking for a quicker, less expensive option can head to the lounge to enjoy a cocktail while listening to live music.
Amidst the raw bar and sushi offerings at Ocean Prime are top-notch, dry-aged steaks, from a bone-in filet to a 16-ounce ribeye, all seared at 1,200 degrees. Steaks come with “accessories” like black truffle butter or blue cheese crust, along with traditional sides like creamed spinach and asparagus with hollandaise. Add in a glam interior and impeccable service, and Ocean Prime will certainly make a meal special.
With its scenic environs and sophisticated environs—caviar service, anyone?—Woods Hill Pier 4 brings farm-to-table dining to the Seaport in style. On the site where the iconic Anthony’s Pier 4 restaurant once stood, Kristin Canty and the team behind The Farm at Woods Hill create modern, seasonal dishes using ingredients that are organic, non-GMO, and come from local area purveyors. All meat comes from The Farm at Woods Hill and other local farms that raise animals ethically and feed from an organic grass-based diet.
From its busy intersection where the Back Bay meets the Theatre District, Ostra dishes out an assortment of sophisticated seafood. The exquisite menu is dotted with Mediterranean touches, and there are plenty of big-ticket items on offer (think caviar service and three-pound lobsters), perfect for special occasions and celebratory business dinners.