40 Absolute Best Restaurants In Boston

If we made this restaurant list even just 10 years ago, the bulk of it would be upscale American spots, a good deal of classic seafood/oyster bars, and a handful of red sauce Italian joints. And they would mostly be located in the central neighborhoods of the city. While there's nothing wrong with those old-school stalwarts, Boston's restaurant scene has grown leaps and bounds, year after year. It's a testament to the city's ever-expanding palate.

Now, the hot spots include everything from Middle Eastern tapas restaurants (that are almost as hard to score a table at as NYC's notorious Carbone) to a pint-sized Peruvian spot with the freshest ceviche you'll taste (a nice nod to the city's tradition for top-notch seafood, we think). We're also seeing long-standing hidden gems — old and new — getting the recognition they deserve. And at least a third of the Boston area's must-try places to eat are just outside the official city limits in Cambridge and Somerville — well worth the ride on the T. Numerous celebrity chefs have put down culinary roots here and a slew of local favorites have James Beard Awards and nominations under their apron strings. Though there are many more worth visiting, read on for our list of Boston's best restaurants.


If you stumble upon Coppa while wandering the brick row home-lined streets of the South End, you've just found a treasure trove of cured meats, hand-cranked pastas, and impeccable small plates. One of iconic Boston chef duo Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonette's earlier ventures, this hip bistro beckons you in with its tightly packed tables of couples tucking into an (award-winning) meatball and friends toasting with spritzes and glasses of natty wine — on the quaint sidewalk patio in the warmer months. The menu changes with the seasons, but two mainstays — the chicken sausage-spiked cavatelli and the breadcrumb-sprinkled celery Caesar salad — are not to be missed.

KAVA neo-taverna

South End or Santorini? You won't know which one you're in once you step inside Kava. The skinny, shoebox-sized interior is swathed in sea blues and whites, with subtle nautical touches. Take your time here and order a few rounds of small plates like lemon roasted potatoes, bright horiatiki salad, lightly battered and fried zucchini medallions, and souvlaki skewers that are great alone or smothered in tangy tzatziki. And don't forget the buckets (yes, literal buckets) of complementary crusty bread and olive oil. In classic Greek fashion, the restaurant stays open pretty late for the neighborhood. The warm staff won't rush you and — if you're lucky — offer you a shot of ouzo if you're one of the last diners in the place on a weeknight. Opa!


This high-end Italian spot is owned and operated by Major Food Group, the same folks behind NYC's Carbone, and it's just as hard to score a coveted table here. The restaurant is perched atop The Newbury Hotel and is definitely one you'll want to break out your phone to document, with panoramic Boston skyline views; walls of windows that open in the warmer months; oversized pink fringed lamp shades; emerald, teal, and rose-hued velvet; pastel stone tile floors; and so much shiny brass. It's not just a pretty face, though — the lobster spaghetti is to die for and the spot slings one of the best complementary bread baskets in the city, brimming with focaccia, balsamic-soaked Parmesan, and briny olives.


Oleana is ideal for a birthday, anniversary, or graduation, but book a seat anyway at this oasis for Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare even if there's nothing to celebrate. The vibe is warm, relaxed, and quietly elegant — think dinner party at the cozy home of two well-traveled college professors. And the menu is unmatched, from juicy za'atar chicken to a rolled take on a traditional cheese borek. Don't forget a stellar dessert, either (try the baked Alaska). Grab a seat on the patio (more like in-house secret garden) to dine amidst climbing vines, wild blooms, and trees adorned with hanging orbs that glisten in the twinkle of string lights.

O Ya

This is Blake Lively's favorite restaurant in Boston, she and husband Ryan Reynolds even celebrated their 10th anniversary here. Need we say more? If you're not yet convinced of why this sophisticated Japanese and sushi spot deserves a place on our list, local food critic Jolyon Helterman has described the food as having a similar effect as viewing art by Rothko — sublime. The near-religious experience of O Ya doesn't come cheap, though, as the signature 20-course omakase will run you $295 — but it's worthy of the hype if you're in a splurge-y mood.

Dear Annie

The love child of local wine experts, this darling spot summons creative types with small-production bottles and house-cured seafood. Curiosity is encouraged, so ask the warm, whip-smart sommeliers behind the counter for suggestions (they get it right every time). Settle in at the communal table and watch the room grow dim as evening approaches — you'll sip by the light of colorful taper candles casting a kaleidoscope glow across the tabletop as they shine through colored glass vases filled with seasonal blooms. A deck of tarot cards sits on the table, too, though you won't need them to know another visit to this sweet bar is in your future.


We can't decide what we love more about Juliet, the food or the fact that their workers are paid a living wage. The airy Scandinavian-like interior is the perfect spot to enjoy everything from a casual weekend brunch with friends to a full-blown tasting menu date night. French-European cooking techniques shine in plates like radishes and butter, hake meunière, herby French omelets, and a really delectable simple spaghetti in Niçoise tomato sauce kissed with chili.

Area Four

Would you believe us if we told you the best pizza in Boston is in ... Cambridge? It's true, though, between the sourdough crust and the bright tomato sauce, these loosely Neapolitan-style pies are wood-fired to perfection every time. The classic margherita is always the right choice, but opt for the mushroom-fontina 'za if you're not in a tomato mood (it's made with a delectable mushroom sauce instead). Don't forget a basket of garlic knots and the aforementioned amazing marinara or the shaved Brussels salad for some welcome ruffage.

Fox & the Knife

From crushing it on "Top Chef" to scoring a coveted James Beard, Karen Akunowicz is a force in the kitchen. And you can feel that passion and precision in her very first restaurant. This cozy Italian enoteca hearkens back to the chef's time working in Modena and employs all the pasta-making techniques she perfected there. And oh, are they foolproof. The goat butter-drenched pepe e cacio bucatini is a triumph sprinkled in pink peppercorns and the spaghetti con vongole flavored with saffron always pleases. Add sides of grilled broccoli tossed in a creamy Caesar dressing and a half circle of house-made focaccia oozing taleggio from the center and you've got the perfect meal.

Alden & Harlow

We're all at the point of rolling our eyes when we see kale salad on the menu, but trust us, this one is worth adding to your order. The combo of raw and crispy, shredded lacinato kale is the perfect textural balance; add in u-shaped fennel slices and a creamy honey pistachio dressing and you've found salad nirvana. Other stand-outs from the subterranean Cambridge spot situated a stone's throw from Harvard: pickled corn pancakes, the basil pasta with carrot Bolognese, and the buttery "secret" burger (if you can get your hands on it fast enough).


It's been nearly a decade since Sarma opened in Somerville, but the dining room remains buzzing like it's the new kid on the block. Mezze plates take cues from Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors, with a little extra flair. Come for the venison-wrapped dates, which arrive spiked with rose and perched in a pool of pistachio labneh, as well as menu newcomers like crispy, curry-laced latke chaat (a love child of the Jewish potato pancake and Indian street food) served with a dreamy tamarind chutney. Passing plates across the table, the warm and communal energy here feels like the coziest of dinner parties.

Faccia a Faccia

Boston's Newbury Street is lined with quite a few restaurants, but the shining star is Faccia a Faccia — a coastal Italian mecca that beckons passersby in with a wisteria-covered archway and killer patio. Start off your meal with the "grandma bread," a roasty tomato-topped Sicilian pie, and the ever-changing farmer's market salad, which can be made for the table, but features a generous portion for one. Next up: housemade pasta and superb seafood, including artichoke cappelletti and local lobster drenched in chili butter. We don't know what's better: the fact that you can swap in house-made gluten-free pasta into any dish or the subterranean speakeasy wine bar downstairs.


Krasi is where you'll find Back Bay's cool crowd on a weeknight evening, packing the long bar in the shoebox-shaped space. What they're sipping: selections from the largest Greek wine list in the country. The bottles are all-natural or biodynamic and some even matured at the bottom of the Aegean Sea for five years. And, of course, the bites are just as noteworthy. Munch on Greek goodies like lalangia — a tangle of fried dough drizzled with honey and thyme — pistachio-spiked octopus mortadella, panko-crusted lemon potatoes, and a daily rotisserie special.


We know what you're thinking: How could a restaurant that just opened this spring already make it onto a "best" list? Well, a flawlessly executed dinner al fresco and longstanding culinary roots in the city is the answer. Owned by Loic Le Garrec, the chef behind the city's iconic Petit Robert Bistro, Marseille officially grand-opened mid-May to smashing success. The restaurant focuses on coastal French cuisine, offering up a delicate smoked salmon toast and flawless roast chicken preparation.

Bar Mezzana

If coastal Italy is calling you in the middle of the Northeast, head over to Bar Mezzana. The airy interior is swathed in blues and whites, and the vibe is buzzy and sophisticated, without being stuck up. Seafood stars on the menu (try the crudo, literally any of them will wow) along with housemade pastas that are light, fresh, and won't give you the immediate urge to change into baggy sweats. The cocktail selection offers myriad creative takes on classic spritzes and negronis, so steel yourself to try more than one.


Bostonians close their eyes and dream of Sofra's pastries and savory specialties (for this writer, it's always the cheese borek). And even if you wake up immediately after said dream and head over to Sofra bright and early, you'll probably still have to wait an hour or so for your fix. From pistachio rosewater croissants and bittersweet chocolate tahini tarts to lentil soup, shawarma sandos, and rhubarb-adorned baked feta, this bakery and lunch restaurant is so beloved, folks will brave the February cold just to eat their treats on the curb outside. And yes, we know technically a bakery is not a restaurant, but if it's good enough for the New York Times Best Restaurants list, it's good enough for us.

Neptune Oyster

If you step onto Salem Street in the summertime, you'll see a line snaking down the narrow sidewalk. No—it's not for any of the red sauce joints that pepper the North End, it's for this walk-ins-only, pint-sized raw bar. The tiny interior boasts nautical decor that's classed up a bit with shiny subway tile, marble tabletops, and tin ceilings. The crowd can skew young-ish (because in Boston, slurping back briny bivalves is the best date night). And though you should definitely order up some oysters, don't leave without sampling the lobster roll. Trust us.

Myers + Chang

Chef Joanne Chang is a local legend, partly for the incredible sticky buns at her bakery, Flour, and also for this flavor bomb of a restaurant she co-owns with husband Christopher Myers that tackles the specialties of China, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Delectable tangles of noodles, a duo of tuna poke, bao of all kinds, and the famous Mama Chang's pork and chive dumplings all play together to form a menu that's best enjoyed to share — too many things to try!

Row 34

Boston loves a seafood restaurant — and this one feels sleeker and sexier than most, posted up in a former factory building in the Fort Point neighborhood with ultra-high ceilings, moody lighting, and so much exposed brick. The fish is all local, including a great smoked and cured seafood selection (we don't even miss the charcuterie meats), and the oysters are tops, given the eatery is under the same ownership as the local-favorite Island Creek Oyster farm.


You know those chic-cozy restaurants that instantly make you jealous of everyone eating there when you spot them canoodling over (in this case) noodles under dim lighting? That's MIDA. Helmed by James Beard Award-nominated chef Douglas Williams, the South End Italian spot offers a trendier, more elevated take on the classic carby delights. The short rib lasagna is a must, as is the cacio e pepe gnocchi. Don't forget the cloud-like focaccia to kick things off, either.


Never will you ever feel so swanky swiping up the last dregs of your beet hummus with za'atar pita triangles than at Ilona. Amidst its interior of punchy pinks and teals (which will undoubtedly be packed at any hour with a chic crowd), you'll find a bevy of specialties from Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean. Crispy eggplant with pomegranate yogurt, a gnocchi-fied take on Hungarian goulash, a cold and crunchy fattoush with sumac vinaigrette, and a robust kebab selection are only some of the gems you can (and should) sample here.


It's New England-meets-Mediterranean over at Chickadee, which is known for approachable, yet inventive dishes like horseradish-y smoked sea trout spread that's a dip for rye chips or some not-your-nonna's spaghetti and clams, complete with razor clams and green garlic. It's perched right on the fringes of the ever-expanding Seaport district, but it's worth the hype (and the relative hike) since there are alums from the lauded No. 9 Park and Spoke Wine bar at the helm. Fly over there ASAP.

Puritan & Company

Boston is no stranger to an American restaurant with those Revolution roots and all, but this one goes beyond the humble burger in favor of modern takes on New England classics occasionally delivered by way of an international locale. Everything is made from ingredients sourced from local farms the owner, Chef Will Gilson, knows and loves. Whatever you order, whether it be the dill ranch-cloaked barbecue beets or phyllo dough-wrapped cod drizzled in thyme butter, start off with an order of fluffy Parker House rolls — a regional delicacy.


Pammy's feels like the restaurant manifestation of a love letter, between the sparkling globular lights overhead, the fresh blooms and flickering candles bedecking the tables, and the gilded Rococo-like mirror anchoring the dining room. And there's nothing more romantic than cozying up with your date at the central communal table or near the tiled fireplace at this Cambridge Italian-American trattoria revival. The food stuns with its simplicity and nuanced elevated touches. Rustic lumache is spiked with gochujang, while a classic beet salad gets a kiss of jalapeno.


If you've grown up anywhere just north or south of Boston, you've probably spent many a summer eating al fresco at your local fancy fish restaurant with your parents, probably cracking lobster or tucking into a baked haddock with buttery crumbs. Mooncusser has all the frills you'd want from a special occasion seafood spot but with a slick modern touch and a pleasantly tailored, ultra-local tasting menu compared to the New England fish houses of yore that change seasonally.


Yes, we know Toro opened back in 2005 (and the landscape of Washington Street has grown and gentrified since), but it's still an Olympic sport to snag a table there on weekends. It's worth the wait, though. The cozy Spanish tapas spot feels unabashedly European, with its rustic beams and super cozy tables for you to cozy up next to your date or play a game of footsie. We welcome the close quarters — all the better to be in reach of the patatas bravas and eggy Spanish tortilla.


This gem of a South American restaurant draws inspiration from the Caribbean to the Andes and is owned and operated all by native Venezuelans (at all three locations around the city). It's the perfect place to settle in for a casual dinner with friends, order a round of mojitos, and kick back with several plates of empanadas filled with goodies like hand-made Venezuelan cheese and stewy black beans. The steak is a popular choice, but don't sleep on the panela-marinated salmon.

Field & Vine

The whole farmer's market is on the menu over at Field & Vine, an oasis of a restaurant located in Somerville's Union Square. Every plate is local, hyper-seasonal, and makes veggies the star (it's not a vegetarian spot, though, so carnivores shouldn't skip out on the reservation). Sample sweet farm onions layered with parsley and Spanish anchovies, grilled sweet potatoes with mint labneh, and a spinach and green garlic cloaked cavatelli accented with egg yolk "bottarga." Between bites, don't forget to admire the stunning vines and greenery that snake around the loft-like ceilings.


If you're thinking of wearing those new hip-hugging leather pants out to dinner, choose your stretchiest bottoms instead if you're heading to downtown spot Stillwater. Chef/owner Sarah Wade's menu is jam-packed with stick-to-your-ribs fare with a gourmet twist. Seriously—she's coined as a local "gourmet junk food expert." The title is fitting, since Wade perfectly knows when to elevate a low-brow favorite (hi, homemade "Cheez-Its") and when to embrace it in all its glory (nostalgic Ritz crackers crust a pair of juicy chicken thighs). And if you swing by for brunch, you'll want to slather everything on the table in the "liquid gold" cheese sauce — and maybe even just lick it off a spoon, too.

Comfort Kitchen

Featured on our list of Boston's best restaurants to visit in 2023, Comfort Kitchen is still technically a newcomer to the restaurant scene but has already established itself as among the best the city has to offer. The dishes are flavored with turmeric, cardamon, black pepper, and other spices that have traveled across the globe through the international spice trade, cementing themselves as parts of myriad culinary canons along the way. The result? A menu highlighting stick-to-your-ribs dishes from Asia and the African Diaspora.


There are so many stalwart spots for stellar traditional Chinese food in Boston's Chinatown, from takeout counters to those sit-down, old-school spots with pink tablecloths. Shojo brings a little something different to the table. There's funky graffiti on the outside and throughout the interior of the place, hip hop is always bumping through the speakers, and the menu offers up fusion fare, like fried chicken over Hong Kong egg-puff waffles drizzled in five-spice butter. Just because the food is new age, though, doesn't mean the restaurant is muddling the neighborhood. Rather, it's carrying on a legacy: Owner Brian Moy comes from a line of family restaurateurs that have called Chinatown their culinary home for more than 60 years.


There's fresh seafood abound at this trendy, pint-sized Peruvian spot in Somerville's Union Square and, with just 24 seats, it feels more like you're at a dinner party hosted by your well-traveled friend who has just jetted back from South America than a restaurant. Really, a meal here feels like a party, which is why it secured a spot on Esquire's Best New Restaurants in America list back during its debut year in 2018. The gorgeous fresh ceviche is the star here as well as anything else spiked with aji amarillo and a generous squeeze of lime.

Mamma Maria

Italian food in Boston has evolved far beyond the basic red-sauce joints scattered throughout the North End, but if you want the classics done right (and a bit of that old-school Boston charm sprinkled in like Parmesan) you go to Mama Maria. The multi-level restaurant is pretty skinny, but its servers swan around in formal uniform, expertly setting platters of rustic sugo-cloaked tagliatelle. Not to mention its patio is one of the best in the whole city, tucked away in the triangular North Square, with skyline views and a spot right next to Paul Revere's house.

Yellow Door Taqueria

This funky Mexican spot has an eye-catching interior, between the neon signs and the tufted turquoise banquettes, and the decor is a preview of all the bold and unexpected flavor combinations you'll find in their tacos. Think: Tecate-beer-battered fish, scallops spiked with prickly pear molasses, steak dolloped with bacon-onion jam, and mushrooms and onions playing well with pecans. The best thing to wash it all down with? A coconut margarita — they're not too sweet and have rims cloaked in shredded coconut.


This modern-meets-homey Italian spot feels like a metaphor for the Fort Point neighborhood it's located in, where low-slung historic brick buildings rub shoulders with slick glass skyscrapers. And you'll be rubbing shoulders, too, at Spotello — literally. The restaurant is set up "diner-style," so the bulk of the seating is at stools along marble-topped counters that snake around the sleek space (a boon for solo meals or intimate dates). If you're looking for a can't-miss, try the spicy tomato soup.

Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe

Don't be misled by the name. Yes, Gene's has some good flatbread sandwiches, but the thing to order is the hand-pulled noodles. They're wide, slurpy, and packed with so much garlic flavor. You can enjoy them in a soup or alone, seasoned liberally with crushed cayenne, scallions, and fresh herbs. Blink and you'll miss the storefront — it's tiny and tucked away in the Financial District — but you'll know you're in the right place when you see the cook stretching dough in the back kitchen.

Sweet Cheeks Q

If you're in Boston right now, you need to stop what you're doing and get a bucket of biscuits from Sweet Cheeks. They're the size of your hand and have fluffy innards that release a little steam cloud when you pull the halves apart to smother each in honey butter. Of course, there are lots of other goodies to enjoy at this barbecue spot helmed by chef Tiffani Faison (of Food Network and "Top Chef" fame). It's over a decade old, but still going strong as the cornerstone of Faison's restaurant empire in the Fenway neighborhood.

Galleria Umberto

The big Boston's-best-slice debate is typically a grudge match between Regina's and Santarpio's, but if you're trying to settle the score yourself, you should also drop into this unassuming North End pizza shop. Cash-only Galleria Umberto slings Sicilian-style slices and fluffy arancini every day but Sunday from 10:45 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., but you should aim to swing by before noon or so (everything's handmade, so they sell out quickly). You can sit inside, but these square slices with perfectly blistered cheese are best enjoyed on the go while exploring the city's oldest neighborhood.

Grill 23 & Bar

In this day and age, steakhouses have gone the way of chains that never quite fit the bill (if you're in the market for that three-martini-business lunch feel). That's why Grill 23 & Bar, which is one of the only non-chain steakhouses around, deserves a spot on our list. The wine list is as sophisticated as the steak selection, which includes a Wagyu and Kobe choice. But truly, even beyond luxury meats, munching on truffle oil tater tots over a white tablecloth in a wood-paneled dining room is an experience.


Nina Festekjian isn't a professionally trained chef (she learned through experience cooking for her three sons), but you wouldn't suspect it after tasting her food. At anoush'ella, which she co-owns with husband Raffi, Nina serves Lebanese-Armenian dishes that pay homage to her childhood in Lebanon in a sleek, fast-casual space. The shining stars are the wraps, where paper-thin m'anoush — cooked to order on a convex saj griddle — hugs the most flavorful fillings: think tender pulls of za'atar-cloaked chicken, herbaceous salads, and silken hummus. But don't sleep on the sweet-and-savory labneh bar, either.