Best Restaurants in Boston

It’s highly curated, completely subjective, and 100 percent ranked according to us: Our annual guide to the places you need to try right now.

A fried chicken sandwich features two big slabs of crispy chicken between buns, topped with green tomato slices and a drip of honey.

Brassica Kitchen + Café’s crispy fried chicken is a must-try, regardless of which version of it shows up on the menu. / Photo by Joe St. Pierre

If we had to put a label on this year’s Top 50 Restaurants feature, we might call it the Year of the Italian Restaurant, judging by the eight Boot-inspired spots on the list (plus a handful under a broader Mediterranean umbrella). Or maybe it’d be the Year of the High-End Seafood Tasting Menu, given the prevalence of fancy sushi and other special-occasion fish-forward feasts. Or perhaps, more succinctly, this was simply the year we were excited to get out and dine in-person again. Whether we’re sitting inches from a wine-loving stranger at a communal table in the middle of Cambridge’s hippest new wine bar/pescatarian restaurant or enjoying a cozy evening twirling forkfuls of carbonara in sight of the Zakim, this past year has been a time to relish all that Boston’s restaurant scene has to offer.

That’s why this year, we’ve decided to once again rank our Top 50 restaurants after a pandemic-related pause. While challenges remain—the industry will surely continue to face staffing difficulties and supply-chain issues for months to come—restaurants and diners are embracing some semblance of normalcy again, and we’re following suit as we count down 50 of the most exciting places to eat right now.

The restaurants on this year’s Top 50 list touch on a variety of cuisines, neighborhoods, and vibes, but they have one thing in common: They’re where we want to be for a fun night out. Maybe fancy, maybe not: We’re just as enthusiastic about a dressed-up omakase feast at an old favorite as we are for a counter-service platter of the best fried chicken around from a local staple that just re-emerged from a long hiatus. After a few years of dining disruptions, we’re betting you will be, too.

1. O Ya

Fifteen years in, this luxe izakaya gets booked out exactly 60 days in advance by fast-fingered foodies seeking the comestible sublime: kombu-cured mackerel nigiri with fiery floral Meyer lemon kosho, Wagyu dumplings with tallowed-up chili crisp, uni- and caviar-studded chawanmushi, and virtuosic pairings (+$150) by newcomer wine/sake savant Gabe Bellegard Bastos. The 20-course omakase costs $250 sans drinks, but there’s good news, too. You’ve got two months to save up!

Leather District | Japanese

2. Mooncusser

In 2022, few restaurants bother to match this Park Square charmer’s refined details: white tablecloths, genteel service, and luminous nighttime views. But the compelling reason to visit this decidedly grownup, conversation-friendly room is the inventive, globetrotting cuisine of chef Carl Dooley, who plates an extraordinary seafood-focused tasting menu. And at four courses plus an amuse-bouche (or three) for $95, Mooncusser might be the best lavish-dining deal in Boston.

Back Bay | Seafood

3. Uni

With chef David Bazirgan at the helm as of mid-2021, the current incarnation of Ken Oringer’s lively sushi destination feels like the decadent party we all need right now. For the best experience, reserve a seat at the sushi bar and order the chef’s-choice family-style menu for a brilliant lineup of surprises: think luscious fatty tuna, duck confit gyoza on a cloud of corn pudding, and even beyond-Japan bites like Thai-inspired sai oua, a spicy pork sausage.

Back Bay | Japanese

Chefs and customers sit on either side of a bustling sushi bar in a dim restaurant with pale green walls.

O Ya offers a serene space for Boston’s ultimate sushi feast. / Photo by Brian Samuels

4. Nightshade Noodle Bar

One of Boston’s best dining experiences right now is…in Lynn? Why yes, it absolutely is, thanks to Nightshade chef Rachel Miller and her out-of-this-world tasting menus highlighting Vietnamese and French flavors and techniques through a seafood-focused lens. And not just any seafood: One might find delicacies like live sea urchin, eyecatching gooseneck barnacles, and plenty of caviar at this hip spot with a vaguely tropical vibe. Of course, there are the namesake noodles, too, and they are heavenly—particularly if Nightshade’s caramelized garlic sauce is involved.

Lynn | Vietnamese/French

5. Asta

Almost a decade has passed since Asta began serving high-end tasting menus with the kind of precise minimalism you’d see at a fancy Copenhagen restaurant. The menu is constantly changing to highlight the best seasonal fare, but everything else feels steadily reliable at this fine-dining mainstay, embellished with little quirks like a Zeus painting on the wall (a holdover from a previous occupant of the space), bunny-shaped cookies with caramel popcorn for dessert, and occasional fried-chicken-sandwich pop-ups.

Back Bay | New American

6. Sarma

Still one of the area’s toughest reservations to score, this restaurant inspired by Turkish meyhanes pivoted during the pandemic, introducing things it didn’t normally do, including takeout and outdoor dining (there was even takeout breakfast for a wonderful but brief period). Now it’s returned to its bustling original form, offering exclusively indoor dining in its colorful space. We miss ordering the irresistible sesame fried chicken to go, but nothing beats cozying up at the energetic bar for honey-soaked cornbread and plump manti with cumin lamb.

Somerville | Mediterranean

A man in chef's whites cooks behind the counter of an upscale restaurant where all the customers sit right at the counter and look on.

Every seat at Tasting Counter is at, well, the counter—a perfect front-row view of the culinary spectacle. / Photo by Brian Samuels

7. Tasting Counter

Making a blob-and-swoosh multi-courser soar (and keeping diners’ palates and attention spans from quiet-quitting three-ish dishes in) requires a rare mix of technical wizardry and artistic fire. Peter Ungár brings both to his 20-seat Somerville counter, plus a keen sense of pacing. He follows up on more abstract creations—on one recent visit: gremolata dumplings strewn in spaetzle-like flutterings across a sea of uni, preserved lemon, and house-soured cream—with a slab of butter-basted, miso-glazed, persimmon-chili-dot-flanked venison you can really sink your teeth into.

Somerville | New American

8. Celeste

Consummate hosts Maria Rondeau and JuanMa Calderón make every meal feel like a dinner party at this Peruvian spot, from the pretty plates of citrusy ceviche to the delightfully pisco-heavy cocktail list (try a spicy maracuya sour). While the team has kept themselves busy with the opening of Cambridge’s La Royal in 2022, their tiny Union Square flagship remains the ideal date-night destination.

Somerville | Peruvian

9. Pammy’s

The past few years have seen a wave of Italian-inspired restaurant openings, but five-year-old Pammy’s—a self-described “New American trattoria”—continues to forge its own path with its blend of influences from Italy and beyond. One menu mainstay, for example, smothers snail-shell-shaped lumache pasta in a Bolognese spiked with the Korean chili paste gochujang. The staff goes above and beyond to make diners feel welcome in the stunning space, which features details such as a tiled hearth and giant gold-framed mirror. With hospitality like this, you’ll want to keep this one in your back pocket for warm and cozy occasions, both special and everyday.

Cambridge | New American

Fried chicken is garnished generously with a green herb and sits on a Turkish-style decorative tray with a glass of wine nearby.

If Sarma’s Turkish fried chicken comes around the dining room as a special, say yes. / Photo by Brian Samuels

10. Brassica Kitchen + Café

In some ways, Brassica feels like the quintessential neighborhood spot (a necessity for us all coming out of a tumultuous few years): casual, playful, a little eccentric. But hidden underneath the low-key vibes? High-end culinary sensibilities and global influences. There’s the popular koji risotto, for example, an umami-packed masterpiece made with just Parmesan and a house-cultured butter (and corn, when in season). It’s the kind of place where one table might enjoy chorizo tacos alongside a Thai-style crab curry and doughnuts, and the unlikely juxtaposition works beautifully.

Jamaica Plain | New American

11. Oleana

After more than two decades in business, Oleana feels timeless, not tired. Drawing inspiration from various Middle Eastern cuisines, chef Ana Sortun’s legendary Cambridge restaurant infuses intense flavor into a rotating array of cold and hot mezze, from simple dark leafy greens with a Lebanese garlic sauce to Baharat-spiced local quail kebab with barberries and pistachio. They’re all best enjoyed on the patio, one of the most romantic around.

Cambridge | Mediterranean

12. Select Oyster Bar

Every visitor to Boston wants to know where to eat seafood. In 2022, Select Oyster Bar is the answer—for tourists and locals alike. Humming with life just off Newbury Street, it fits all needs, from business lunches to swanky post-shopping dinners overflowing with pristine crudo, giant raw-bar platters, and Mediterranean-inspired entrées. Pay attention to the concise cocktail list; it’s not an afterthought. The refreshing selection pairs exceedingly well with fish.

Back Bay | Seafood

Gooseneck barnacles are served on a bed of ice in a round plate, with an oyster shell of dipping sauce in the center.

Don’t worry, those aren’t dinosaur claws on your plate: Those are percebes—gooseneck barnacles—and they’re just one example of the unusual seafood dishes you’ll find at Nightshade Noodle Bar. / Photo by Brian Samuels

13. Spoke Wine Bar

Bostonians love an intimate wine bar—perhaps none more so than this Davis Square gem, where co-chefs Kelcey Rusch and Paul Butler continue to churn out gorgeous small plates from the impossibly tiny kitchen. The menu descriptions lend an air of mystery to the food—sunchoke doughnuts with XO Gouda and powdered leeks; grilled mochi with creamed corn and garlic chives—but one taste, and you’ll be glad you took the plunge. While innovative pandemic pivots—including a monthly takeout cocktail club—were fun, it’s thrilling to see this pair back up and running in full capacity.

Somerville | Wine Bar

14. Contessa

Nothing beats a scene-y New York brand extension, said no Bostonian ever. But game respects game. Roll into town like Major Food Group’s sparkling trattoria—rocking a carpet bag packed with dynamite cooking, wow-factor pastas (see: hand-cranked macaroni smothered in preposterously rich wild-boar ragu the color and velvety viscousness of chocolate fondue), deep-cellar Nebbiolo knockouts, stunning Back Bay sight lines, and non-pandering service of the polish encountered at Big Apple siblings Carbone and Dirty French—and we might just make an exception. We’re not an unreasonable people.

Back Bay | Italian

15. Mahaniyom

Greater Boston’s Thai food scene has been getting better and better in recent years, and Mahaniyom is a shining example of the current incarnation of the genre. Offering a pared-down menu that’s daring in its succinctness, the restaurant bounces around a variety of regions, but not haphazardly: Every dish reminds the team of home, whether that’s a simple crab fried rice or Hat Yai fried chicken, a southern Thai recipe. It all pairs well with the inventive drinks, which is no surprise given that co-owner Chompon (Boong) Boonnak spent time behind the bar at Chinatown cocktail gem Shojo.

Brookline | Thai

Overhead view of long strands of linguini on a plate, garnished with plump dark red cherries with a glass of white wine in the background.

Pammy’s rotating list of inventive pasta options includes this linguini with cherries, boquerones, wax beans, and local mozzarella. / Photo by Joe St. Pierre

16. Krasi

Come for the incredibly deep Greek wine list; stay for the date-night vibes, fresh breads, DIY tzatziki, and flavorful seafood and meat entrées, including savory braised beef cheeks with regional Greek pasta. The Krasi team had a busy 2022 opening the dark and mysterious cocktail bar Hecate downstairs, but the nearly-three-year-old restaurant, born just before pandemic shutdowns, has remained steady, quickly cementing itself as a neighborhood favorite for upscale Greek fare.

Back Bay | Greek

17. Giulia

The genius of Michael Pagliarini’s Umbrian-savant comfort food lies in the juxtaposition between fussy perfectionism—painstakingly crafted sauces, meticulous pastas hand-rolled hours earlier—and a deep longing to pass as the sort of homespun sustenance a kindly Perugian innkeeper might whip up if your train got in late from Florence. The results are favorites like bucatini all’amatriciana studded with house-cured pancetta, or silky chicken-liver crostini with a bright, sweet pop of green-tomato marmellata served in a low-key neighborhoody space.

Cambridge | Italian

18. Neptune Oyster

Two years shy of its 20th birthday, this North End institution continues to have hours-long waits. It’s no wonder: Whether in 2004 or 2022, this is Boston dining at its most essential: the freshest of fish consumed in a loud, crowded space, washed down with a very local beer. Sure, get the famous lobster roll, but don’t be afraid to branch out with the johnnycake topped with honey butter, smoked bluefish, and caviar; a daily special, like Monday’s lobster spaghettini; or even the burger—topped with fried oysters, naturally.

North End | Seafood

Overhead view of Peruvian ceviche on a white plate, studded with choclo and herbs.

Celeste’s ceviche mixto showcases blue cod, shrimp, and squid. / Photo by Joe St. Pierre

19. Haley.Henry

If cozying up in a snug, dark space that feels vaguely nautical seems like the ideal night out as we’re nudging our way back into public spaces, you’ll want to add Haley.Henry to your regular rotation. For six years, this oenophile’s wonderland has been livening up Downtown Crossing with an extra-funky wine list; tinned fish and mix-and-match charcuterie and cheese combos; and comforting small plates with creative twists (you’ll never see a fancier-looking plate of sausage and beans).

Downtown | Wine Bar

20. Bar Mezzana

“Coastal Italian” may seem like an ambiguous cuisine descriptor when you consider that Italy has nearly 5,000 miles of coastline, but this South Ender defines the concept by excelling in two arenas: crudo and pasta. Six years later, it’s still one of the best places around for artfully plated crudo, such as Japanese madai cured between seaweed, charred delicately, and topped with basil pesto, tomatoes, and oranges. The pasta, too, is top-notch; don’t miss the paccheri—on the menu since the early days—which dresses up fat tubes of pasta with ample lobster meat and lobster crema, plus green onion and tomato.

South End | Italian

21. Grill 23 & Bar

Opulent steakhouses are like Dunks in Boston: one on every corner and few differences among them. This locally owned institution perches atop the leather-trimmed heap by consistently nailing the essentials: impeccable prime steaks (including prized Wagyu and dry-aged cuts), pristine local seafood and raw-bar selections, birdbath-size cocktails, and a trophy-heavy wine list—all wrapped in cosseting old-school service. In other words, even if you’re not a Brahmin private-club member, Grill 23 will make you feel like one.

Back Bay | Steakhouse

Overhead view of a salmon crudo, with four plump slices lined up on a slate plate in a pool of olive oil, dusted with chili flakes.

There’s perfection in simplicity when it comes to Select Oyster Bar’s Faroe Islands salmon crudo. / Photo by Joe St. Pierre

22. Toro

The OG Jamie Bissonnette/Ken Oringer collab is still going strong after 17 years, serving the South End a taste of Barcelona, from a solid selection of Spanish vermouths and sherries to a showstopping paella packed with seafood, chorizo, and chicken. Once one of the toughest spots in town to get a table, Toro thankfully reversed its no-reservations policy a few years back, and the mid-2021 addition of a spacious back patio made it even easier to get in. In other words, these days, it’s all of the same magic, none of the hassle.

South End | Spanish

23. Dear Annie

What happens when you take the owner of a killer wine bar and add the team from a restaurant obsessed with local sourcing? A doubly awesome new venue, apparently—one that serves intriguing wines and a lovely, light food menu (all pescatarian) in a quirky counter-service environment. After a few years of social distancing, it feels downright celebratory drinking shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers at a big communal table while snacking on fish preserved in-house, grilled cheese with seasonal accoutrements, and the cake or pie slice of the moment.

Cambridge | Wine Bar

24. Table

Former sports reporter and cooking-show contestant Jen Royle heads a runaway North End Italian hit with a novel format: an extravagant seven-course set menu served family-style with communal seating. But Royle brings much more than outsize charisma and a rabid social-media following to Table. Her cooking skips from soulful standbys like red-sauced meatballs and delicate house-made pastas to finely executed versions of seared octopus and lemon shrimp. In a world with few second chances, Table is a smashing third act.

North End | Italian

Interior view of a restaurant that toes the line between upscale and rustic, with grayish walls and conspicuous wine paraphernalia.

The space at Back Bay hot spot Krasi is a little bit rustic, a little bit swanky. / Photo by Brian Samuels

25. Dakzen

If huddling over a steaming bowl of northern Thai khao soi—the best in the region and made even better with the addition of crispy pork belly—is your jam, you’ll want to bring your date to Dakzen. Since its 2018 opening, the casual Davis Square gem has been leading the charge of Boston-area Thai restaurants offering concise menus specific to a certain region or genre—in this case, a mostly noodle-based collection of street food.

Somerville | Thai

26. Puritan & Company

Chef Will Gilson managed to open not one but three pandemic-era restaurants and has another one on the way, but his decade-old original spot, Puritan & Company, continues to reign as one of Greater Boston’s best shepherds of jazzed-up New England fare. Buttery Parker House rolls set the scene; swordfish pastrami, bacon-y clam chowder, and just-right seared scallops round things out. Puritan’s team takes special care with vegetables, so don’t miss options like barbecue beets with mustard glaze.

Cambridge | New England

27. Fox & the Knife

In a city with no shortage of red-sauce Italian joints, chef Karen Akunowicz has managed to create an idiosyncratic stunner in Fox & the Knife. An ode to her time in northern Italy’s delicious and charming Emilia-Romagna region (with some influences from beyond, too), it specializes in elegant plates of pasta, like a warming tagliatelle Bolognese with wild boar; wedges of focaccia stuffed with stretchy taleggio; and aperitivo flights that feel right at home in the new Southie.

South Boston | Italian

Overhead view of a wooden table full of colorful Thai dishes, including a whole fried fish as the centerpiece.

Whether it’s a whole fried fish topped liberally with fresh herbs or hearty pork ribs in a southern Thai-style chili paste, each dish at Mahaniyom is transportive. / Photo by Brian Samuels

28. Sycamore

Maybe it’s pure coincidence, but ever since June, when Newton cozy-eatery kingpin David Punch (Little Big Diner, Jinny’s Pizzeria) sold chilled-out neighborhood favorite Buttonwood to a former staffer, something about his flagship, Sycamore, has felt simultaneously more focused yet also extra kicked back and comfy. The Wednesday-only French fries seem to come out crispier. The grilled–lamb kebab has a tad more spring in its spring-pea–ezme garnish. The pork schnitzel with warm bacon-potato salad and cave-aged Gouda tastes, well, cave-aged better.

Newton | New American

29. Yume Ga Arukara

Bouncy udon. Tender, thinly sliced beef. A slick of chili oil if you like some spice. Choose the hot or cold version: Yume Ga Arukara’s niku udon is right for any season. Takeout is available, but these noodles are best eaten fresh at the busy counter inside Lesley University’s Porter Exchange, where you’ll get a front-row seat to the udon-making process. Stay tuned for an expansion to the Seaport—because there’s nothing wrong with more noodles.

Cambridge | Japanese

30. Chalawan

A menu spanning too many cuisines can sometimes be a red flag, but Chalawan manages to touch on numerous parts of Southeast Asia—and beyond—with great success. Thailand gets the biggest spotlight, from a single perfect seared scallop topped with caramelized crispy duck (a nod to modern Thai cuisine, per the well-labeled menu) to crispy chicken skin with eggplant relish (the Isan region). If this slipped your notice thanks to its debut just six months before the pandemic, now’s the perfect time to visit.

Cambridge | Southeast Asian

Overhead view of an octopus tendril garnishes with citrus slices, tomatoes, and chickpeas.

The grilled octopus in umido with chickpeas, tomato, ‘nduja, and citrus from Giulia. / Photo by Brian Samuels

31. Row 34

While Row 34’s empire keeps expanding—a Cambridge location is in the works—the cavernous Fort Point space remains the ideal spot for tucking into seafood with a distinctly Boston vibe. Keep it simple with classic fish and chips, try something creative from the beer list (quietly one of the best around), or go a little fancy with a big raw-bar platter or even the grilled whole fish.

Fort Point | Seafood

32. Peach Farm

Eat like the professional chefs we routinely bump into at this deliberately plain-looking Chinatown institution by choosing a whole fish from the live tanks up front to be steamed; dressed simply in ginger, soy, and scallions; then filleted tableside moments later. You also won’t want to miss Peach Farm’s terrific lineup of Cantonese hits like spicy salted shrimp, scallops with vermicelli, and clams with black bean sauce. The pros know: There’s no more consistently fresh, vividly flavored seafood in the city.

Chinatown | Chinese

33. Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen

Soul food gets dressed in its Sunday best at this restaurant/club featuring live music most nights and at Sunday brunch. At the helm since 2018, owner Nia Grace expanded her reach with a new café and lounge at Northeastern in late 2021, but she has succeeded in keeping Darryl’s thriving as a neighborhood destination for quintessential southern dishes like Creole jambalaya, shrimp and grits, and legendary fried chicken. Big drinks and hefty sides—including the Platonic ideal of collard greens—only add to the experience.

Roxbury/South End | Soul Food

Interior view of an upscale restaurant with distinctive black-and-white-striped drapes overhead, a colorful tiled floor, and turquoise velvet seating. / Photo by Brian Samuels

Contessa is one of the prettiest restaurants in town, with unparalleled views to boot. / Photo by Brian Samuels

34. Sportello

If 2022 is the Year of the Italian Restaurant in Boston, Barbara Lynch’s always-spot-on Sportello is well deserving of another visit. The ambiance—classic diner, but make it sleek and upscale—is inviting; that spicy tomato soup that’s been on the menu forever is like a warm hug on a cold day. And you’ll want pasta, of course, whether a classic tagliatelle Bolognese or tortellini with lamb and salsa verde.

Fort Point | Italian

35. Tawakal Halal Café

This homey little Somali restaurant has been delighting East Boston’s Jeffries Point neighborhood for four years—and that’s not counting an earlier incarnation elsewhere in Eastie that drew local acclaim before closing in 2011. It’s gearing up to move again—still within Eastie—so stop by now for warming shaah, hearty lamb-shank-topped spaghetti, and flaky chapati in its cozy nook near the airport while awaiting updates on the third version of Tawakal. Oh, and don’t forget to stock up on a few bottles of the mango-based house hot sauce.

East Boston | Somali

36. Chickadee

It’s worth the trek to the farthest corner of the Seaport District to experience Chickadee’s New-England-meets-Mediterranean fare, which debuted to quick praise in mid-2018 and has only gotten better since. While some familiar dishes have remained on the menu over the years, their accompaniments tend to change with the seasons—a good excuse to return for signatures like the slow-roasted porchetta, whether served with watermelon and fried peanuts or artichokes and fennel. The breadcrumb-dusted squid-ink fusilli is another must.

Seaport | New England/Mediterranean

37. Tambo 22

It’s easy to forget that you’re steps from Route 1 while kicking back on the charming patio at Tambo 22, Chelsea’s destination for Peruvian cuisine from chef and owner Jose Duarte. He’s best known for his now-defunct Italian-Peruvian restaurant Taranta, which closed in the North End in 2020, but Tambo 22, which opened that same year, is deserving of the same level of acclaim. From the fruity heat of aji amarillo to the herbal bite of sacha culantro, Peruvian flavors shine in dishes like grilled beef skewers, a light stew featuring the fish of the day, and a ceviche-style dish with Andean lupini beans.

Chelsea | Peruvian

Overhead view of a table full of Italian food, including crudo, anchovies, pasta, and more.

A proper meal at Bar Mezzana should hit all of the bases: definitely crudo and pasta, but also focaccia and entrées such as chicken under a brick or grilled branzino. / Photo by Brian Samuels

38. Dumpling Café

A top 50 list could surely be written for Chinatown alone; it’s one of Boston’s best dining neighborhoods, after all. A reliable mainstay that has something for every appetite, the beloved Dumpling Café is a great representation of the neighborhood’s culinary prowess. Best bets fall into two categories: dumplings (unsurprisingly) and Taiwanese dishes. Connect the two with the Taiwanese-style pan-fried dumplings, but save room for the mini juicy buns (a.k.a. soup dumplings) with pork and the spicy-sweet Taiwanese-style eggplant.

Chinatown | Chinese

39. Rare

You don’t need to be a high-roller to enjoy one of this steakhouse’s high-roller steaks. Set inside the Encore Boston Harbor, Rare offers meat lovers the, err, rare opportunity to order genuine Kobe beef sourced from the Hyogo Prefecture in Japan, and is one of a select number of restaurants in America to serve elusive yet sought-after plates of perfectly marbled, real-deal Wagyu. Not in the mood to go all-in on the steaks? Take a walk on the seafood side with two-and-a-half pounds of broiled Maine lobster while you sit in a spacious and modern dining room and stare out the bay windows at stunning views of the Harborwalk and Mystic River below.

Everett | Steakhouse

40. El Oriental de Cuba

This long-running neighborhood joint gets everything right about the cozy cuisine of Cuba: the flaky, savory empanadas; the colossal pork, ham, and cheese Cuban sandwiches; the hearty stews; the luscious flans and tres leches cakes. But we’re especially grateful for El Oriental’s homey atmosphere, generous spirit, and bright flavors, especially in the colder months (don’t miss the tropical shakes).

Jamaica Plain | Cuban

Overhead view of a big pan of seafood-packed paella.

You’ll want to order plenty of tapas at Toro, but be sure to leave room for the paella Valenciana, which features shrimp, mussels, clams, chorizo, and chicken. / Photo by Brian Samuels

41. Yvonne’s

The flagship of COJE Management Group (Ruka, Mariel, Lolita, and Coquette) still dazzles in the fabled old Locke-Ober space with one of the sexiest rooms in town. Glowing, glamorous, and luxe, it’s custom-made for Instagram-envy-inspiring group selfies—but unlike many similarly scene-y spots, Yvonne’s service, cocktails, and wildly eclectic food by executive chef Tico Huynh actually deliver the goods. Don’t miss the chance to share (and snap) one of his head-turning large-format plates, like the 2-pound long-bone rib-eye steak or the grilled “viper” chop.

Downtown Crossing | New American

42. The Coast Café

When the Coast Café took a long hiatus during the pandemic, it struck fear in the hearts of longtime fans. Thankfully, the Cambridgeport soul-food staple is back and better than ever: The always-popular fried chicken remains a must-order; get it as a combination plate, which includes cornbread and two sides (try the baked mac ’n’ cheese and the collard greens, extra flavorful thanks to smoked turkey). The chicken’s the perfect vehicle for sampling the irresistible house sauces—Buffalo, jerk, barbecue, and hot.

Cambridge | Soul Food

43. Alcove

Before diving headfirst into restaurant ownership with Alcove, Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli managed the bar at Eastern Standard (RIP). So it makes sense that this quintessential brasserie follows a similar formula as the one-time Kenmore Square favorite: a versatile mix of raw bar, European, and farm-to-table American fare, plus a first-rate cocktail program. The twist? New executive chef Chuck Draghi, who has supercharged the menu with hits from his beloved late restaurant Erbaluce (including green-crab bisque and a mind-bending carbonara). That’s an upgrade thrilling enough to distract diners from those gorgeous Zakim views.

West End | New England

Overhead view of seared scallops on a bright yellow puree with lots of green veggies.

The scallops at Puritan & Company—shown here with succotash, marjoram, and corn purée—are always seared just right. / Photo by Brian Samuels

44. Shojo

While a 10-year-old restaurant can feel almost young in a historical neighborhood like Chinatown, Shojo has cemented itself as a mainstay during the past decade—which makes sense, given that it’s one of the most convivial places around to take out-of-town guests or just enjoy a night out. It could get by on the reputation of its cocktails alone, but Shojo takes it to the next level with a bold food menu, using the umbrella of “modern Asian” to hop from fries smothered in mapo tofu and “kimcheese” to fluffy bao stuffed with Japanese-style fried chicken or smoky barbecue pork.

Chinatown | Modern Asian

45. Blossom Bar

By the time you read this, the Blossom Bar team will have likely just opened the doors to their new Brighton cocktail bar, Birds of Paradise. But in your hurry to flock over there, don’t forget about Brookline Village’s beloved Blossom Bar: Nearly five years in, the minty-green-hued oasis continues to serve some of Greater Boston’s most complex (and delicious) drinks—Duan’s Whip, a boozy twist on Dole Whip, is a must. The fiery Sichuan food complements them nicely, particularly spicy options like the Chengdu dry hot chicken.

Brookline | Chinese

46. Porto

Chef Jody Adams has spent her post-Rialto years continuing to serve Greater Boston some of the best Mediterranean food around, whether at Porto, Trade, or the ever-expanding casual Saloniki chain. Porto is our pick for gorgeous seafood, from a herby lemon branzino to saffron mussels, best enjoyed on the lovely haven of a patio tucked back and above the bustle of Boylston Street.

Back Bay | Mediterranean

47. Deuxave

The seesawing vogue for French fare is at a cyclical low in Boston these days, making our celebratory alternatives to midrange bistro fare especially scant. That makes this quietly wonderful restaurant particularly valuable. Chef Chris Coombs presents canonical classics such as onion soup, duck confit, foie gras, and roast chicken with uncommon precision, luxury sourcing, and beauty. Add a spectacular wine list and gracefully unobtrusive service, and Deuxave rates as our most elegant channeler of la belle vie.

Back Bay | French

A pile of bucatini in a buttery sauce with cheese and grated pink pepper sits on a dark plate with a glass of white wine to the side.

Looks simple, tastes extraordinary: Fox & the Knife’s pepe e cacio tops supple bucatini with goat butter and pink peppercorns. / Photo by Joe St. Pierre

48. Ilona

Most Bostonians don’t know much about Eastern Europe’s republic of Georgia, but they are learning thanks to the herb-y, smoky food and swanky scene at this South End hot spot. It’s not so unfamiliar: You’ll detect echoes of Greece, Turkey, and the Levant among Ilona’s superb flatbreads, vegetable dips, kebabs, and—especially—grilled seafood. Throw in a lively party vibe, chic crowd, and cleverly curated wine list, and you’ll be glad you added another card to your deck of world cuisines.

South End | Georgian/Eastern Mediterranean

49. Mida

Start with the pillowy, garlicky focaccia. Next, the sticky-sweet glazed duck wings. Finally, pasta—the gnocchi cacio e pepe or spaccatelli al pesto satisfy. While chef Douglass Williams added a new Mida in Newton and a casual pizza counter, Apizza, in Boston’s West End in 2021, he and his team are still working carb-y magic at the original Mida in Boston. The hospitality is warm, the portions are hearty, and the noodles are dreamy.

South End | Italian

50. Branch Line

Nothing beats a juicy, well-seasoned rotisserie chicken. Branch Line offers that and more: warmth from the Garrett Harker school of hospitality, the best greens in Greater Boston (really—try the sugar snap pea salad), a spacious heated patio, and an atmosphere that somehow skews both casual or special occasion. Bring picky or adventurous eaters: Branch Line knows how to make everyone happy.

Watertown | New American