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Chef Peter Ungár, tasting counter
Photograph: Courtesy Tasting Counter Chef Peter Ungár

Michelin star-caliber restaurants in Boston

If Boston had the Michelin Guide, which restaurants would make the cut and what would their star rating be?

By Eric Grossman and Time Out Boston Staff
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Michelin-starred Boston restaurants? We all know The Hub has yet to be rated by the esteemed culinary Guide...but if it did, we can't help but wonder which restaurants would make the cut. Its easy enough to think of the most award-winning, swoon-worthy places around town, and sure enough many of the best fine dining spots and most romantic restaurants in Boston appear on our list. If thoughtful, high-end restaurants are not your idea of fun, you can always seek out the best pizza in Boston or the best burgers in Boston. As we see it, Boston’s vibrant food culture has nurtured several chefs who could go toe-to-toe with the best New York City or London has to offer. Here’s our take on which restaurants would win the coveted stars.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Boston

Star-worthy restaurants in Boston

O Ya
Photograph: Gentl and Hyers

1. o ya

Restaurants Japanese Leather District

Owners Tim and Nancy Cushman set a new bar for special-event dining with O Ya’s opening in 2007; even today the restaurant regularly wins accolades as one of the best restaurants in town. The sushi and omakase menu is a marvel of both flavor and presentation, with every morsel—from the foie gras nigiri to the bluefin tuna and smoked salmon sashimi—a delectable work of art.  
Two stars

Craigie on Main
Photograph: Courtesy Craigie on Main/Michael Piazza

2. Craigie on Main

Restaurants Contemporary American Central Sq

Chef-proprietor Tony Maws uses the best local and organic ingredients for his Franco-American creations. While there are plenty of à la carte choices, the multi-course tasting menu provides an overview of Maws’s seasonal cuisine. The highly-prized grass-fed beef burger—offered in limited quantities—is the stuff of legend.
Two stars

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Menton
Photograph: Courtesy Menton/Michael Warren

3. Menton

Restaurants American creative Seaport District

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.
Two stars

No. 9 Park
Photograph: Courtesy No. 9 Park/Susan Cushman

4. No. 9 Park

Restaurants French Beacon Hill

Situated in the shadow of the State House, Barbara Lynch’s flagship restaurant offers a head-on view of Boston Common. Lynch's culinary team produces a harmonious blend of regionally-inspired Italian and French dishes, served a la carte or as part of a chef's tasting menu. Don't miss one of the city's most famous dishes: an appetizer of prune-stuffed gnocchi with foie gras, almond, and vin santo.
Two stars

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Oleana, Restaurants and cafes, Boston
Photograph: Elan Fleisher

5. Oleana

Restaurants Inman Sq

Ana Sortun’s delicate small plates (meze)—e.g. chickpea crepes, lamb siniya, and spinach falafel—are both revelatory and pleasing to a wide range of palates. The homemade ice creams are a must (always keep an eye out for the salted butter varietal), as is a seat on the patio during the warmer months, ideally underneath the fig tree.
Two stars

Tasting Counter
Photograph: Courtesy Tasting Counter

6. Tasting Counter

Restaurants American creative Somerville

Chef Peter Ungár's culinary talents bring foodies out to a hidden corner of Somerville. Ungár worked in the kitchen of the late, lauded Aujourd'hui, as well as in Paris, and is unafraid to push the envelope across all courses of his tasting menus. Creative dishes are prepped in front of the 20-seat counter, thus the “dining as theater” aspect of the experience.
Two stars

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Toro
Photograph: Courtesy Toro/Noah Fecks

7. Toro

Restaurants Spanish South End

For all its dynamism, Toro really hasn’t changed much in the decade-plus since it opened, blowing the roof off of Boston’s then-gentrifying South End. The rustic cubbyhole of a storefront it occupies is as jam-packed and convivial as ever with revelers passing porróns of Cava around; day-one staples like grilled street corn and quince-glazed duck drumsticks are still breaking the hearts of every tapas virgin who wanders in for their first visit. 
Two stars

Uni Sashimi Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Uni Sashimi Bar/Eric Roth

8. Uni

Restaurants Japanese Back Bay

What was once a tucked-away sashimi bar has blossomed into a 100-seat izayaka, where you can now pair your nigiri with Japanese milk bread, ember roasted duck breast, King crab yakitori and wagyu beef dumplings. But the sushi is still a must, including the lobster BLT roll, the A5 wagyu sirloin nigiri and the still-incredible sashimi offerings upon which Uni built its reputation. 
Two stars

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Bondir
Photograph: Andrew Ryan

9. Bondir

Restaurants American creative Inman Sq

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.
One star

Coppa
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Cherrylet

10. Coppa

Restaurants Italian South End

Never mind sitting elbow-to-elbow with your neighbor at this shoebox of a wood-and-brick enoteca. The famous wood-fired pizzas, robust pastas, and small-plate bar snacks make this cozy nook worth the tight squeeze. 
One star

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Eastern Standard, Restaurants and cafes, Boston
Photograph: Elan Fleisher

11. Eastern Standard

Restaurants Contemporary American Fenway/Kenmore

Ever since it opened in 2005, Eastern Standard has led the pack among the city's all-hours, do-it-all places. The bar program has always been a strong point, and the various menus truly offer something for everyone. Friendly, enthusiastic servers maintain a welcoming vibe. And there's plenty of seating options, including a popular patio. 
One star

Harvest
Photograph: Courtesy Harvest/Dan Salafia

12. Harvest

Restaurants Contemporary American Harvard Sq

Since 1975, this refined Harvard Square stalwart has led the local farm-to-table charge, celebrating regional ingredients with an elegant, seasonal menu. The kitchen personifies a sophisticated approach to New England dining; locally-sourced seafood and meats, plus homemade pastas, are all meticulously and imaginatively prepared.
One star

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Neptune Oyster
Photograph: Courtesy Neptune Oyster/Ana M. Reyes

13. Neptune Oyster

Restaurants Seafood North End

Neptune Oyster is exemplary in its East Coast raw bar perfection. The simple, subway tiled interior gleams with retro charm. While many patrons focus on the raw bar, those who opt for substantial fare enjoy one of the city's most renowned lobster rolls, served hot with butter or cold with mayo. 
One star

Asta
Courtesy Yelp/Brains D.

14. Asta

Restaurants American creative Back Bay

Prix-fixe menus can be the gateway to dining regret, but in the hands of Chef Alex Crabb they become revelatory—you simply sit back and revel in his unmatched creativity. Crabb once interned at Noma and did a stint at dearly departed L’Espalier, so high-concept dishes are de rigeur in his congenial, pretension-free space (you actually pick out your own silverware from your table drawer). It’s tasting-menu only, which is perfect: you simply sit back and wait to see what wonder Crabb and his team will come up with next; your only lament will be that each dish has to end.
One star

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Oishii, Restaurants and cafes, Boston
Photograph: Elan Fleisher

15. Oishii

Restaurants Japanese South End

This South End sushi den is where you come for the flashy, loft-like setting and stay for the specialty rolls. Start (relatively) simply with the spicy tempura tuna or “real” California maki, then tuck in for a culinary adventure: rolls made with lobster tempura, truffles, caviar and wagyu beef, to name but a few outré elements. 
One star

Sarma
Photograph: Courtesy Sarma

16. Sarma

Restaurants Mediterranean Somerville

Among the 40 or so small plates on Sarma’s menu might be salmon ceviche, baked feta, cauliflower fatteh, or Tunisian steak tartare—but that’s just today, as the menu changes according to the seasons. The regular off-menu specials, however, always remain the same and are brought around by the congenial wait staff dim sum-style.
One star

More top dining destinations in Boston

Eat List Boston
Photograph: Courtesy No. 9 Park/Barbara Lynch Gruppo

The best restaurants in Boston you need to try right now

Restaurants

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 city’s best restaurants are changing the perception that Boston isn’t 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 doesn’t necessarily have to break the bank to eat well.

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