The 35 best restaurants in Boston you need to try

From Boston to Cambridge and beyond, serving everything from steak to sushi: these are the best restaurants in Boston

When you think of the best things to do in Boston, eating like royalty might not be the first activity that comes to mind. But some of the citys best restaurants are changing the perception that Boston isnt a destination for gourmands. From the North End to the Back Bay and beyond, an impressive roster of local culinary talent is fostering a dining scene to rival those of DC or Philly. The city may be small, but its many neighborhoods offer plenty of dining options, and one doesnt necessarily have to break the bank to eat well. Here are the best restaurants in Boston—start making your reservations.

1
Smoked salmon, duck confit, celery salad with quail egg at L'Espalier
Photograph: Courtesy L’Espalier
Restaurants, Contemporary American
L’Espalier
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Marriage proposals and six-figure deals are par for the course at chef-owner Frank McClellands legendary Back Bay restaurant. The French-accented fare, inspired by New Englands seasons, can be enjoyed many ways; dinnertime guests choose between pricey, multi-course tasting menus or the chefs tasting journey. Dishes are often breathtaking in their creativity, scope and execution.
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2
No. 9 Park
Photograph: Courtesy No. 9 Park/Barbara Lynch Gruppo
Restaurants, French
No. 9 Park
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Despite some strong competition from its newer siblings, No. 9 Park remains the crown jewel of Barbara Lynchs culinary empire. Regally perched across from Boston Common in the shadow of the State House, the handsome, sophisticated restaurant offers expert service and an inviting assortment of regionally-inspired Italian and French dishes. The welcoming bar area is a favorite among industry types looking to unwind with a well-made cocktail or selection from one of the city's most decorated wine lists.
icon-location-pin Beacon Hill
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3
Craigie on Main
Photograph: Courtesy Craigie on Main/Michael Piazza
Restaurants, Contemporary American
Craigie on Main
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Near Central Square, the local “snout-to-tail” pioneer Tony Maws uses the best local and organic ingredients for his modern Franco-American creations. While there are plenty of à la carte choices, the multi-course tasting menus best provide an overview of Maws’s seasonal cuisine. The chef’s whim tasting menu, available Sundays after 9pm, is one of the city's best fine dining deals. Arrive early to try one of the city's most in-demand burgers, sold nightly in limited quantities.
icon-location-pin Central Sq
4
O Ya
Photograph: Michael Ascanio Peguero
Restaurants, Japanese
O Ya
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Bite for bite, this Japanese hideaway offers one of the most expensive, and lauded, dining experiences in town. A must for true sushi lovers, the grand omakase menu incorporates a breathtaking assortment of artfully composed plates that are daring yet meticulous, delicate but rarely precious. The James Beard Award-winning chef Tim Cushman transforms the humblest fare—such as miso soup and tonkatsu—into edible luxuries, which sommelier Nancy Cushman pairs with selections from a world-class sake list.
icon-location-pin Leather District
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5
Menton
Photograph: Courtesy Menton/Michael Warren
Restaurants, American creative
Menton
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Barbara Lynch’s priciest fine dining establishment takes its name from the Côte d’Azur town near the Italian border. The French- and Italian-inspired cuisine, enjoyed à la carte or via a customized chef’s whim menu, features exotic ingredients like sea urchin and black truffle. Plush details—from French linens to Austrian crystal—and attentive service will make you feel utterly pampered. Also impressive is the chef’s table, a private space with a glass wall providing intimate views into the kitchen.
icon-location-pin Seaport District
6
Island Creek Oyster Co.
Photograph: Courtesy Island Creek Oyster Co.
Restaurants, Seafood
Island Creek Oyster Bar
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One of the city’s best seafood-focused eateries, the original ICOB resides in a high-visibility Kenmore Square space. A mix of Sox fans, local seafood lovers, and guests of the (connected) Hotel Commonwealth pack the large, loud dining area to slurp down the namesake bivalves. Chef Jeremy Sewall puts out an inviting, seafood-heavy menu that runs the gamut from creative plates to warm buttered lobster rolls.
icon-location-pin Fenway/Kenmore
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7
Uni Sashimi Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Uni Sashimi Bar/Eric Roth
Restaurants, Contemporary Asian
Uni
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Chef-partners Ken Oringer and Tony Messina wow Back Bay diners with an assortment of global street food-inspired small plates, as well as innovative makimono, nigiri and sashimi. The best seats in the house are at the sushi bar, where you can watch the magic happen. On weekends, the late-night menu lures foodies looking to check one of the citys most in-demand ramens off their culinary bucket list.
icon-location-pin Back Bay
8
Toro, Restaurants, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy Toro
Restaurants, Spanish
Toro
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Ken Oringer’s wildly successful take on a tapas bar is one of the South End’s most atmospheric spots. With its exposed brick and wooden beams, central communal table, and chalkboard-listed drink specials, Toro captures the rustic spirit of an upscale, chef-driven taperia. The kitchen churns out an assortment of Barcelona-inspired hot and cold small plates, and the beverage program features well-made classic cocktails and an eclectic, curated wine list.
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9
Oleana, Restaurants and cafes, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy Oleana
Restaurants, Mediterranean
Oleana
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Hidden away near Inman Square, Oleana provides an edible journey via Chef Ana Sortuns passion for, and mastery of, the hauntingly aromatic cuisines of Turkey and the Middle East. Diners pack the cozy bar, attractive dining rooms, and enormously popular garden patio to sample from Sortuns lengthy menu. Most of the small plates are memorable, while many of the desserts are downright extraordinary.
icon-location-pin Inman Sq
10
Coppa
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Cherrylet
Restaurants, Italian
Coppa
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Expect to sit elbow-to-elbow with your neighbor at this brick-and-wood enoteca, nestled away on an idyllic South End street. The famous wood-fired pizzas, robust pastas and addictive bar snacks make this cozy nook worth the tight squeeze. Trend-setting owners Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette top everything from pastas to pizzas with a farm-fresh egg. A smattering of eclectic wines and inventive cocktails keep the mood social and festive.
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11
Tasting Counter
Photograph: Courtesy Tasting Counter
Restaurants, American creative
Tasting Counter
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Chef Peter Ungárs ticketed reservations-only Somerville dining experience is one of the most progressive dining experiences in the area. A veteran of several French kitchens, Ungár is unafraid to push the envelope across his multi-course tasting menus. Creative dishes are prepped in front of the 20-seat counter, providing a multi-sensory, dining-as-theater experience.
icon-location-pin Somerville
12
Bondir
Photograph: Courtesy Bondir
Restaurants, American creative
Bondir
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Cambridge diners fill an enchanting farmhouse dining room to select from a daily tasting menu packed with seasonal, local ingredients. Chef-owner Jason Bond - a veteran of several New England kitchens - applies his talents to just-picked vegetables and fish caught the same day. Guests sip an aperitif in front of the fire before heading to their table, where old church pews serve as seats.
icon-location-pin Inman Sq
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13
Eastern Standard, Restaurants and cafes, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy Eastern Standard
Restaurants, Contemporary American
Eastern Standard
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This big, bustling American brasserie in the heart of Kenmore Square is accessible in every sense of the word. Its open early and closes late, serving as an anytime destination perfect for all your drinking and dining needs. Friendly, knowledgeable staffers and expert mixologists make sure the huge bar and heated patio stay lively. The lengthy menu features creative, seasonal dishes alongside comfort food faves such as steak frites, baked rigatoni, and roasted chicken.
icon-location-pin Fenway/Kenmore
14
Select Oyster Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Select Oyster Bar
Restaurants, Seafood
Select Oyster Bar
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Chef Michael Serpa - formerly of Neptune Oyster - opened his first solo venture in a townhouse-like enclave in the heart of the Back Bay. Serpa marries New England seafood with Mediterranean techniques, exemplified by the signature blue prawns a la plancha. While some diners enjoy a multi-course feast, others stop in for a quick oysters-and-wine fix.
icon-location-pin Back Bay
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15
Neptune Oyster, Restaurants and cafes, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy Neptune Oyster
Restaurants, Seafood
Neptune Oyster
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Ever since it opened in 2004, Neptune Oyster has been one of the citys most in-demand options for fresh local seafood. (Theres almost always a line out the door.) Lined with pressed tin, subway tiles and etched glass, the tiny space exudes an unmistakably retro charm. Expert shuckers handle a variety of fresh bivalves with aplomb, and rare is the order that doesn't include one of the city's most lauded lobster rolls.
icon-location-pin North End
16
Sarma
Photograph: Courtesy Sarma
Restaurants, Mediterranean
Sarma
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As the casual sibling of Ana Sortun’s much-lauded Oleana, Sarma is one of the areas best spots for enjoying the flavors of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Chef Cassie Piumas menu of colorful meze is a vegetarians delight, with an entire section devoted to veggie plates. The bar deserves its own mention, with cocktails that contain spices like cardamom and clove.
icon-location-pin Somerville
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17
Myers & Chang
Photograph: Courtesy Myers + Chang
Restaurants, Pan-Asian
Myers + Chang
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This hip South End gem - named after owners (and culinary bigwigs) Joanne Chang and Christopher Myers - serves Asian fusion cuisine with aplomb. Menu highlights include tea-smoked spare ribs, Thai pork lettuce wraps, Indonesian fried rice, and hot Szechuan dan dan noodles. The vibrant but intimate spot is a smart choice for a romantic rendezvous—especially on Mondays and Tuesdays when “cheap date night” menus are offered.
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18
Puritan & Company
Photograph: Courtesy Puritan & Company
Restaurants, Contemporary American
Puritan & Company
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Situated a short stroll from Inman Square, Puritan & Company delivers a retro-minded experience, complete with vintage decor and kitchen towels used as napkins. Chef-owner Will Gilson uses locally sourced ingredients to create New England-inspired fare. After trying not to fill up on house-made Parker House rolls, guests enjoy items such as swordfish pastrami, Moxie-glazed lamb belly, or a griddled turnip cake with smoked ham.
icon-location-pin Inman Sq
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19
Kirkland Tap and Trotter
Photograph: Michael Piazza
Restaurants, American
Kirkland Tap & Trotter
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KTT is the second, more casual (and affordable) option from Craigie on Main's Tony Maws. A welcoming, neighborhood-minded hangout on the Cambridge-Somerville line, the restaurant is filled with mismatched chairs and vintage ephemera. The kitchen puts out globally-minded comfort dishes, many of which are prepped on a wood grill. Classic cocktails and craft beers are served alongside crowd faves such as house-made sausage, lamb burgers, and chermoula-spiced chicken.
20
Beacon Hill Bistro, Restaurants and cafes, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy Beacon Hill Bistro
Restaurants, Bistros
Beacon Hill Bistro
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This bustling, French-style bistro (and cozy corner bar) reside on the ground floor of the charming Beacon Hill Hotel. Local residents and hotel guests come in to satisfy all their dining needs, from morning through night. Comfort faves dot the menus; some diners opt for fresh soups and well-made sandwiches, while others enjoy sustaining entrees such as housemade cavatelli, steak frites, roasted haddock, or chicken under a brick.
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21
Row 34
Photograph: Morgan Ione
Restaurants, Seafood
Row 34
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Courtesy of Jeremy Sewall and the team behind Island Creek Oyster Bar, Row 34 has become Fort Points go-to spot for wickedly fresh seafood. On weekdays, business types stop in to close deals over platters of oysters and orders of lobster rolls (offered hot and cold, based on Sewall’s grandmother’s recipe). Those waiting for a table have more time to explore the extensive, seafood-friendly wine and beer lists.
icon-location-pin Seaport District
22
Oishii, Restaurants and cafes, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy Oishii
Restaurants, Japanese
Oishii
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With its slick postmodern environs, Oishii’s South End outpost provides a more sophisticated option compared to the modest, tiny original location in Chestnut Hill. The lengthy menu features everything from pricey cold appetizers (foie gras torchon, smoked oysters) to wagyu served any number of ways (tartare, taquitos, sliders, cooked on a hot stone). But its the specialty maki that most impresses; rolls are filled with luxury ingredients like lobster, truffle, caviar and wagyu.
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23
Trade, Restaurants, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy Trade
Restaurants, American creative
Trade
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Chef Jody Adams maintains one of the most popular eating spots along the Greenway, an airy space featuring floor-to-ceiling windows, artistic light fixtures, and a long marble bar—perfect for after-work crowds seeking cocktails and light fare. The kitchen churns out small plates (more than a dozen globe-spanning choices), flavorful flatbreads topped with exotic ingredients, and larger plates such as seared scallops, lamb chops, and a one-pound cowboy steak.
icon-location-pin Downtown
24
Bergamot, Restaurants, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy Bergamot
Restaurants, American creative
Bergamot
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A staff of industry veterans ensures this neighborhood favorite maintains its high standards, including dutiful service and an inviting atmosphere. The progressive American cuisine pairs fresh local produce with ingredients from around the world. Customers choose between creative cocktails and selections from impressive wine and beer lists. Locals in need of a treat reward themselves with a lobster melt and hand-cut fries at the bar.
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25
Cafe Sushi
Photograph: Courtesy Cafe Sushi
Restaurants, Japanese
Cafe Sushi
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Cafe Sushi attracts a varied mix of patrons - including lots of chefs and industry veterans - to its nondescript home in a retail complex just outside of Harvard Square. Customers are lured by the opportunity to devour affordable plates of perfectly prepared maki and nigiri. All the standards are here, from salmon skin rolls to hamachi sashimi, at prices rarely seen on the other side of the river.
icon-location-pin Harvard Sq
26
Giulia
Photograph: Courtesy Giulia
Restaurants, Italian
Giulia
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Chef-owner Michael Pagliarini and his staff pamper their guests with friendly, professional service and killer pastas, which are prepped daily on a custom-made table that accommodates large groups at night. Brick walls and candlelight keep the vibe romantic and rustic. The all-Italian wine list pairs well with the menu, some of which is inspired by the chef’s travels to Italy.
icon-location-pin Porter Sq
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27
Alden & Harlow, Restaurants, Bars, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy Alden & Harlow
Restaurants, Contemporary American
Alden & Harlow
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Duck into this subterranean Harvard Square hideaway and discover a bustling, multi-room dining and drinking destination that balances a rustic laid-back vibe with an industrial edge. Chef-owner Michael Scelfo’s creative cuisine reflects a similar juxtaposition—chef-driven home-cooking with an edge. Most dishes are under $20, encouraging patrons to sample an assortment of vivid, offbeat flavor combinations.
icon-location-pin Harvard Sq
28
Sportello, Restaurants and cafes, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy Sportello
Restaurants, Italian
Sportello
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Tucked away in Fort Point, Barbara Lynch’s sleek iteration of a classic diner offers up supremely tasty, trattoria-inspired Italian cuisine. Sit at the large communal counter that showcases the bustling kitchen in action, or grab a bite to-go from the bakery counter’s rotating selection of pastries, soups and sandwiches (perfect for a waterside picnic).
icon-location-pin Seaport District
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29
Ten Tables, Restaurants and cafes, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy Ten Tables
Restaurants, American creative
Ten Tables
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By virtue of its size, this JP bistro offers one of the area’s coziest dining environments. Neighborhood couples pack the dining room, looking out in to the bustling open kitchen. The culinary team take a creative approach to its menu, which is jam-packed with locally grown organic produce and artisan products. Wallet-friendly specials include a killer prix fixe on Sundays, and wine dinners on the last Tuesday of every month. 
icon-location-pin Jamaica Plain
30
Asta
Courtesy Yelp/Brains D.
Restaurants, American creative
Asta
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Chef Alex Crabb produces one of the city’s most creative dining experiences via his prix fixe tasting menus. (Crabb spent time in the kitchens L’Espalier and Copenhagen’s Noma.) The cozy space features exposed brick walls and an open kitchen. After picking out their own silverware from the dining tables’ drawers, guests nibble on artfully-composed dishes packed with a cornucopia of seasonal, on-trend ingredients.
icon-location-pin Back Bay
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31
Shepard
Photograph: Courtesy Shepard
Restaurants, Contemporary American
Shepard
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This neighborhood spot just outside Harvard Square celebrates  seasonal bounties with French flair, minus any pretension. The menu changes to reflect what's in season, and the wood-fired stove plays a central role in both preparation and presentation (the kitchen is partially open to diners). Proprietor Rene Becker also owns the locally-beloved Hi-Rise Bread Company, which provides Shepard with delightful breads.
icon-location-pin Avon Hill
32
Yvonne's
Photograph: Courtesy Yvonne's
Restaurants, Contemporary American
Yvonne’s
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This Downtown Crossing restaurant maintans the same 19th-century mahogany bar and clubby ambiance that made the previous inhabitant, Locke-Ober, one of the city’s most revered eating houses. Regarding the cuisine, Chef Juan Pedrosa looks forward, not backward, with an assortment of international small plates and larger “feast” platters such as a whole chicken Cordon Bleu or two-pound Niman Ranch ribeye. Well-made cocktails, including several large-format options, are best enjoyed in the handsome library bar.
icon-location-pin Downtown
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33
Hojoko
Photograph: Kristin Tieg
Restaurants, Japanese
Hojoko
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Tim and Nancy Cushman, the couple behind the venerated O Ya, brought a cheekier, more accessible concept to the Fenway's modish Verb Hotel. Creative maki rolls share menu space with ramen, robata items (grilled skewers), and impossible-to-categorize dishes like the bacon-wrapped, jalapeno-stuffed “doggzilla” hot dog. The drink menu includes frozen concoctions, large-format drinks, and an impressive sake list.
icon-location-pin Fenway/Kenmore
34
Highland Kitchen, Restaurants and cafés, Boston
Photograph: Courtesy Highland Kitchen
Restaurants, American
Highland Kitchen
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One of Somerville’s most popular neighborhood hangouts, Highland Kitchen keeps its regulars happy thanks to well-made cocktails and popular jukebox. The kitchen keeps the fun going by prepping a variety of southern-accented comfort faves such as shrimp and grits, pulled pork sandwiches, and spicy jambalaya. Weekly offerings include buttermilk fried chicken and tiki drinks on Mondays, and live music on Sundays.
icon-location-pin Somerville
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35
Posto
Photograph: Courtesy Posto
Restaurants, Italian
Posto
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One of the most serious pizza options around, Posto proudly tops its wood-fired pies with house-made mozzarella and locally-sourced ingredients. Each pizza is made according to guidelines laid out by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. Neighborhood residents fill the rustic, airy space to devour classic Italian favorites like meatballs made with “nonna’s recipe,” gnocchi with braised beef short ribs, and tagliatelle with a veal-pork-beef bolognese.
icon-location-pin Somerville