The Best Restaurants In Boston

Our guide to the 25 quintessential places that make eating in Boston what it is.
Plates of oysters, crab claws, and other seafood on the bar at Neptune Oyster.

photo credit: Natalie Schaefer

In short, dining out in Boston is about trying every bite of seafood that comes out of the nearby waters. Yes, we're of course talking about lobster rolls, but also shellfish-loaded pasta at the city’s surplus of Italian restaurants and plates of oysters and crudo from the growing number of raw bars that seemingly appear overnight. We’ve also got some pretty solid pizza options, too.

The restaurants on this guide are equally great for first-time visitors and those of us who remember cheering the C’s and B’s at the old Boston Garden. Does this list include every single great dish in town? Not possible. Will it give you a great introduction to the best that the city has to offer, and loads of context for what dining in Boston is all about? Absolutely.



North End

$$$$Perfect For:Unique Dining Experience
Earn 3x points with your sapphire card

Besides Jayson Tatum and literally any of the musicians at Wally’s Cafe, there’s almost nothing we currently rep for harder than Daily Catch on Hanover Street. This is where you’ll find the best Italian American seafood in the city, with pasta and sauces made fresh daily and seafood that was probably plucked from the ocean the morning of your visit. There’s almost always a wait, but try to walk in on a weeknight (they don't take reservations) and grab a tiny table next to the hot and busy kitchen. Get the aglio olio with squid ink pasta, ground calamari, and anchovy, and don’t plan on doing anything but going to bed afterward. This is one of the few restaurants in town that inspires us to consider a second dinner if we’re walking by and have already eaten.

Ask enough people, and you’ll start to realize this colorful Winter Hill Mediterranean spot is everyone’s favorite restaurant in Boston. This is one of the longest menus in town, but you only need a few plates like lentil nachos and harissa BBQ duck to fill you up. Even though this place is behind the high school in Somerville, it’s extremely hard to get a table. If you don’t have a reservation, get there early and try to grab seats at the bar, where you can watch the prep station and ask the bartenders to whip up whatever they feel like making.

photo credit: Jimmy Pineapple



OpenTable logo

Greek food is having a moment in the Boston area, and Bar Vlaha is the best example of the cuisine done exactly right. The food is all about super shareable dishes from the mountain regions of Greece: think pork and fennel sausage, whipped feta aloifes, and flatbread-style pitas topped with fresh cheeses and smoky meats. It’s one of the toughest reservations to get in town, unless you show up right at 5pm on a Wednesday (and even that’s iffy). So force your friends, family, neighbors—pretty much anyone you can—to commit to a night out roughly a month in the future so you can try it all.

Celeste is quite possibly the most fun restaurant in Somerville. Head here with a date or even a double-date (more people, more sharing) for ceviche that’s been marinated in the Peruvian-style leche de tigre. Get the mixed seafood ceviche (blue cod, shrimp, and squid) and a glossy lomo saltado with perfectly cooked steak and softball-sized onion slices. Top it off with a purple pisco drink while you watch the flames dancing from the fast-moving pans in the kitchen. The energy is generally chaotic, but everyone who works here is extremely nice and your waiter will probably do a shot of pisco with you.

If you’ve ever wanted to blow your whole paycheck in one night (first off, please get a financial advisor), or you have access to a corporate credit card, you’re not going to do much better than this Leather District sushi restaurant. Expect lots of over-the-top touches of truffles, caviar, and gold leaf to go with perfect cuts of fish. The $295, 20-course omakase menu will be an exceptionally memorable meal. We can’t tell you exactly what the chef will choose to serve you, but expect the unexpected, like kombu-cured spring mackerel nigiri or Atlantic wild ika crisped gently with a torch.

Boston is proud of its Irish pubs, but we’re aware it might seem wild to put one on a list of best restaurants. Let us explain. You won’t find mozzarella sticks on the menu at The Dubliner, but you will find what’s quite possibly the best pot pies, scotch eggs, housemade soda bread, and Irish stew this side of the Atlantic. The space works for big groups or dining alone at the bar (with a perfectly poured Guinness, of course) and they have live music on the weekends. This is exactly where you want to chow down on crispy batter-covered day boat fish and chips before a Celtics game or concert at the Garden.

Every city should have an old-school steakhouse with incredible service, great prime-aged steak, and perfect highball cocktails. Grill 23 is that spot in Boston. They’ve been open since 1983, serving up martinis speckled with chunks of ice, overflowing seafood towers, and steaks aged and cooked to perfection. One of the best things we put in our mouth recently was the grade A5 wagyu striploin, but the 14-ounce prime New York steak isn’t shabby either. With two stories of space dedicated to beef, there’s a spot for most special occasions: secluded tables for two for an anniversary, comfy bar seats for a third date you’re especially excited about, and a private dining room to celebrate your extended family finally coming to visit.

Since opening in the Seaport in 2018, Chickadee, with its Mediterranean-leaning menu, cavernous space, and a playlist straight off a 1999 Walkman, has been a regular hang for locals and cooler tourists who don’t get sucked into the cheesy ghost tours. This big, noisy spot sits in the Innovation and Design Center, so it’s got major cool kid energy—besides the great music, the staff looks like they’re heading to a secret loft party when their shift is done. Order chickpea panisse fries, fresh baked pita and spreads (consider this caption a love note to the pimento feta), and ultra-crackly fried chicken with golden brown skin dressed with labneh ranch.

At Woods Hill Pier 4, the food and harbor views will constantly battle for your attention. This is a good thing, because both are excellent. We love the smoky adelita margarita, the Cubano with ham and pork shoulder confit on the butteriest baguette, and any towering shellfish platter that comes, naturally, with Old Bay aioli. Go for brunch on a sunny day to sit in a comfy booth, gaze out the floor-to-ceiling windows, and try the lobster popover (possibly the fanciest lobster roll on our list) that’s reached celebrity status around town. We’ve seen Mindy Kaling getting down with one. They’re also really serious about food sourcing: they run and operate their own farm that supplies most of the restaurant’s meat, produce, and dairy.

South Boston recently had a restaurant glow-up, and Lenox Sophia is a welcome addition to the growing lineup. This cool, casual spot turns out a French and Asian tasting menu four nights a week for under $100, featuring things like tagliatelle with black truffles and buttermilk fried quail with nori wasabi seasoning. Everything you eat is going to be excellent, whether you go for the omnivore or vegetarian menu. This spot is tiny and almost always packed, so make a reservation and stop by Social Wines on the corner to pick out a bottle before heading over—this is one of the few BYOB restaurants in Boston.

You should have your next birthday dinner at Table, and not just because that’s where you’ll find us on ours. It’s a different, more grown-up type of birthday party, where you sit at a communal table and share an incredible, no-substitutions, always-changing $125 pre-fixe Italian meal. You’ll be seated with your group and some strangers—who, in our experience, are usually pretty cool. In the past, we’ve enjoyed dishes like ricotta bolognese and a chicken milanese with sunflower seeds and sharp shaved parmesan. It sure beats doing shots and snacking on mediocre appetizers, especially because Boston doesn’t really have a worthwhile clubstaurant (which is somewhere you’ll never find us on our birthday).

While Neptune Oyster is cramped, crowded, and almost always filled with tourists, if we’re ever in the area and there’s a break in the line, we’ll absolutely head in and take a seat at the bar, even if we just ate. It’s that good, and it’s the type of oyster bar that makes you wonder why you don’t make plans to house shellfish at 3pm more often. Seriously, even if you just downed a plate of clams over linguine around the corner, snag that bar seat and buckle up for the johnnycake, crudo, and one of Boston’s best lobster rolls.

Peach Farm should be the first place you check out in Boston’s Chinatown. While it’s now only open until midnight every day (it used to be 3am), this is a neighborhood classic that consistently delivers, and is especially good for a later dinner with a bunch of people. Bring a group for family-style king crab, fried stuffed taro root with duck, head-on spicy salted shrimp, and off-menu platters of sesame noodles with pork. There are lots of pink tablecloth-covered tables with lazy susans to accommodate all the big shareable plates. Grab a cocktail at Offsuit or late-night beers at The Corner Pub after dinner.

There are a lot of exciting restaurants in Boston serving food from the African diaspora. And Comfort Kitchen, with plates of Senegalese yassa chicken, za’atar-brown-butter trout, and jerk jackfruit sliders, is the best option for a decadent, boozy dinner in Dorchester. Pair anything you eat with a daiquiri and snag one of the five seats at the bar for a front-row spot to see the chefs in the open kitchen do their thing.

You’ll want to be a regular at Spoke Wine Bar, a cozy Davis Square spot with a staff that will remember your name (and order) after a few visits. The always-rotating small plates also mean return trips are not only a good idea, but necessary. Load up on under-$25 bites like coffee-poached duck breast and sweet and sour bluefish, or keep it plant-based with grilled chickpea tempeh and sunchoke donuts. The curved bar is where you want to be, lingering over one of the many $60-80 bottles or wine, or sipping an interesting cocktail with ingredients like vermouth and roasted dandelions. Even though the whole space is pretty small, you can usually get a last-minute reservation.

This spot serves some of the best Sichuan food in Boston, with dishes like chili-covered pork ribs, salt and pepper crispy fish, and stuffed tofu crepes. What makes this place extra special though is the addition of Blossom Bar’s fantastic tiki-style drinks. You’ll feel super fancy with your glass of pebbled ice filled with rum or tequila, mixers, and some kind of flower garnish that perfectly complements the tingly Sichuan dishes. There’s also a great late-night menu peppered with spring rolls, lo mein, and dumplings.

Mahaniyom is one of the best Thai restaurants in the city, full stop. There’s also graffiti in the restroom that we’re kind of obsessed with, tremendous cocktails, and an energy that always puts us in a good mood, even if our roommate half-assed cleaned the kitchen again. In terms of food, you can’t go wrong with any of the small dishes on the menu, so bring a small group, start with the kang puu and chicken ka praw, and go from there. Pair it all with the Kin Na Ree cocktail, which uses both Thai and Jamaican rums.

Puritan & Co. is the kind of restaurant you can take anyone to (yes, that includes your grumpy cousin who constantly corrects your grammar). This cozy New England restaurant uses produce in most of their dishes from a farm they operate in Groton, and it all happens in a classic bistro setting in Cambridge. They’ve got simple pastas that change regularly (get the short rib pappardelle if it’s available), seafood risotto loaded with shellfish, and homemade Parker House rolls that are perfect for sopping everything up.

This is the spot to stop at if you’re walking around town, have a couple of bucks in your pocket, and want some delicious pizza and incredible arancini. The Sicilian slices are just the right amount of thick with perfectly charred cheese, and the arancini could put on a TED Talk covering texture contrast with its crunch-to-gooey ratio. It’s cash only, and you should be prepared to eat off paper plates. Also, you’ll really want to have your order ready when you get to the counter—we’re not saying you’ll get a dirty look, but you’ll probably get a dirty look.

This Italian restaurant opened in May 2023 and it’s already a neighborhood hit—probably because they’re offering the freshest plate of pasta in Dorchester. The decor is unfussy, but gives the feeling of a retro Roman holiday, with colorful prints, hanging wine glasses, and tons of baked goods on display. The menu features a lot of meat, so expect dishes like focaccia with homemade crackly porchetta and rich lasagna bolognese. The cacio pepe suppli are also a must, as is a pizza or two for the table—go with the sausage pie or the Quattro Formaggi if they have it, because why just have one cheese on your pizza when you could have four?

Pagu is Japanese Spanish fusion, and the mix of flavors work together as well as noise-cancelling headphones and screaming airplane babies. They do excellent small plates that are ideal for tackling with a group before hanging out in Central Square—especially if you opt for one of the greatest group dining experiences in the city: the suckling pig roast, which you can get for parties of two, four, or six. We’re not the first ones to realize this place is great, so you should plan on booking in advance.

A casual bite for lunch or breakfast can still be something you'll be thinking about for months. That’s why you come to Sofra, a counter-service Mediterranean cafe and bakery from the team behind Cambridge spots Sarma and Oleana. Go for a dreamy Turkish breakfast, shakshuka, any mezze for lunch, and baklava for dessert.

Toro hits that perfect sweet spot between bar and restaurant. This South End tapas restaurant has high-top tables and a busy bar area where you'll want to cozy up with friends so you can try as many dishes as possible. It’s never been an easy place to get into, but plates like the uni bocadillo with miso butter make it worth the wait. It’s definitely easier during the warmer months, since they have a good number of sidewalk tables.

There’s an extraordinary number of excellent Vietnamese restaurants in Field’s Corner in Dorchester. Everyone has their spot, and ours is Pho Le. They have some incredible soups, and the best is the house special with rare-eye round, well-done flank, brisket, tendon, tripe, and a super savory bone broth. Add on plates of roasted quail and tapioca dumplings filled with caramelized shrimp, and don’t plan on eating for the rest of the day. Even though it’s always busy, you can usually get a table, and the service is consistently speedy.

Some of the best Asian food around Boston is actually in Quincy. One of the newest and best places that should be on your radar is Rubato, a Hong Kong-style daytime cafe that inspires us to constantly brave I-93 traffic at lunchtime. It’s counter service with a few bar seats, and the menu has crispy fried chicken sandwiched on a bolo bao that we haven’t stopped thinking about since we first tried it. Get that, and a savory bowl of ji cheung fun with beef brisket and curry fishballs for the kind of lunch that will make your next three meals disappointing.

Chase Sapphire Card Ad

Suggested Reading

The Best Pizza Places In Boston image

The Best Pizza Places In Boston

The best bar pies and North End slices, because you need more pizza in your life.

The Best Italian Restaurants In Boston image

Our guide to the best Italian restaurants in a city that has a lot of Italian restaurants.

The Best Lobster Rolls In Boston, Ranked image

High-end options, loaded hot dog buns from seafood shacks, and more of the best lobster rolls in Boston, ranked.

The Best Restaurants In Cambridge image


Eat your way through 15 stellar restaurants serving deeply flavorful ramen, Jewish deli classics, and New England’s freshest seafood.

Infatuation Logo


2024 © The Infatuation Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Get it on Google PlayDownload on the App Store