Boston's 16 Best Restaurants

Staff Writer
Fresh seafood, seasonal fare, and local ingredients make Boston a top dining destination
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L'Espalier

L'Espalier allows guests to mix and match from any of the daily menu offerings to create personalized dishes.

Alden and Harlow
Over in Harvard Square, Chef Michael Scelfo leads his first solo venture in the restaurant businesss. Based on home-style cooking, Alden and Harlow excels on all fronts — Sunday brunch and dinner, food, and drink. The interior is spacious, with walls lined with succulents and herbs and kitchen shelves loaded with pickled preserves. Scelfo and his team present a perfect experience, with the power to commemorate and create memories. Whether you are ordering a burger — and one of the best in the city at that — or something you have never even heard of, there is always something unique to bite into at Alden and Harlow. Keep an eye out for daily specials and if you are in the mood to experiment, this is the place to do it.

Bar Boulud
Famed Chef Daniel Boulud takes the world by storm with every one of his restaurants. Bar Boulud Boston, located on Boylston inside the Mandarin Oriental is no different. As any celebrated restaurant, Bar Boulud is blessed with the utmost talent in every position, from head sommelier David Bérubé, to inhouse Charcutir Tristan Crepin, chef de cuisine Jonathan Kilroy and Pastry Master Robert Differ, your experience is in the best of hands at every moment. Bar Boulud offers a chic dining experience, based in traditional French cuisine and an extensive wine list. Dining here is like dining in New York or Miami, take some time out of your busy life to fully enjoy the moment, and enjoy it at Bar Boulud Boston.

Bondir
Chef Jason Bond now operates two of his celebrated Bondir Restaurants, one in Cambridge and the other, in Concord. Both restaurants house the freshest, local ingredients, foraged in-season and with culinary innovation and respect. Dining at Bondir in Cambridge is like dining in someone’s own dining room — it is small, cozy and warm with fresh flowers doting the shelves and tables. Chef Bond focuses on a five course menu, rotating it daily and plays around with seafood, vegetables and meat.

Café Artscience
This much anticipated Kendall restaurant evolved from the melding of science, art and food. David Edwards, founder or Le Laboratoire, teamed up with master mixologist Todd Maul a few years ago to open their very first restaurant concept. Step inside this science experiment for a moment, experience the beauty of a cocktail that goes beyond traditional boundaries, toys with limits and abolishes prudence all the while honoring ingredients and their natural characteristics. Order a la carte or enjoy a prix fixe menu, curated start to finish by Patrick Campbell. Head in for a business lunch or cozy up at the bar for an after dinner drink, pastry chef Renae Connolley, Todd Maul, and his team will leave you speechless.

Café Sushi
Humble and understated, Chef Seizi presents the most honest and authentic sushi experience in the city. Guests are encouraged to indulge in his omakaze, a journey through that day’s freshest selections. Sushi and sashimi populate the menu with rolls available to order a la carte. The restaurant’s sake and wine list are curated to complement the food giving diners a well-rounded and balanced dining experience.

Craigie on Main
Chef/owner Tony Maws is perhaps best known for this classic restaurant in Cambridge. Craigie on Main is notoriously known for its dedication to whole animal preparations and enjoyment… and for one of the best burgers in the city. With flexibility in how to enjoy the restaurant, guests are welcome for an a la carte menu at the bar (and the option to order one of a limited number of burgers). Guests are also encouraged to enjoy a full service, prix fixe menu in the dining room. With the team trained in the art of a perfect meal, dishes arrive simultaneously for all guests and menus are created into 6 and 8 courses and feature all sorts of interesting ingredients, from unique vegetables to less popular, but very delicious cuts of meat and seafood.

Journeyman
Culinary team Tse Wie and Diana Kudajarova opened Journeyman in 2010 following a successful popup dinner project. Husband and Wife, they speak the same language in the kitchen, focusing on local ingredients. Their prix fixe menus range from 9 to 11 courses with items changing daily. Artistry and care is woven into each dish and beverage pairings are available to elevate the meal. As a bonus, Journeyman is also a façade behind which you will find backbar — Somerville’s best kept cocktail secret. Dip into this bar for a craft cocktail made by some of the city’s finest mixologists. Stay for a snack or a meal, before or after your dinner or as a stand alone experience.

L'espalier
Chef/Owner Frank McClelland stands by his Boston institution — L’Espalier has been, and continues to be Boston’s most renowned and well established fine dining restaurant. For the past 30 years, L’Espalier has been the go to spot for a fancy meal. Now comfortably located on Boylston street, guests are taken on an journey from the minute they walk in the door, escorted up the menu and seated in one of the dining areas. Early for your reservation? Take a seat in its lush lounge, enjoy a cocktail or sip a wine. Your dining experience will be a work of art, a production between all the moving pieces, seamlessly sewn together for your utmost comfort. Be sure to include a cheese course in your prix fixe menu as they have the only in-house Fromageur, or cheese expert in the country, Louis Risoli. For an extra special treat, reserve seats at the chef’s table, located inside the kitchen itself — and see where all of the magic happens!

Menton
One of Boston’s only Relais and Châteaux restaurants is led by Chef Barbara Lynch and her talented team at Menton restaurant. In the booming neighborhood of Fort Point, this restaurant forms a perfect trio with Drink and Sportello, also top picks for dining in the area. At Menton, diners can experience fine dining at its height with prix fixe dinners created with class. Open for a more casual business lunch and with the new addition of the Gold Bar, replete with an a la carte menu for the first time, diners can now enjoy Menton in a variety of forms.

Mistral
Since opening its doors in 1997, Mistral has been plating some of the finest French food in Boston. Focusing on straightforward French Mediterranean cuisine that highlights the best of each season's ingredients, Mistral has a large menu filled with items that range from its signature thin crust pizzas, to entrées that include the grilled beef tenderloin with vin rouge; the half “whole roasted” duck with wild mushroom risotto; and rock crab ravioli; to fresh seafood; and starters that offer tartares and foie gras. Chef/ owner Jamie Mammano has created an incredible dining experience from start to finish. With high ceilings, floor to ceiling windows, and its design which utilizes “traditional provincial” materials like aged-wood and stone, Mistral's décor is elegant, sophisticated, and comfortable. Whether looking for a place to celebrate or simply indulge in diverse, upscale French cuisine, this is your place.

Neptune Oyster
Tucked away in the North End, Neptune Oyster is a stronghold for quality seafood and has been for many years. The restaurant takes no reservations, but its close proximity to the winding streets of the North End provides diners with ample opportunity to wander as they wait for their reservation. Oysters, ceviche, lobster rolls, scallops, and whole fish are features of the menu and rotate based on the the daily catch. No matter the season, Neptune Oyster caters to the atmosphere, so stop by in the dead of winter to find life, or the middle of summer for a respite from the heat.

No. 9 Park
Chef Barbara Lynch is one of Boston’s most well-known female chefs. Her empire runs strong and deep across the city. No. 9 Park is one of the most iconic, located on Park Street looking out onto the Boston Common. Set up a reservation for a prix fixed dinner in their dining room, or saddle up to the bar. As with all of Lynch’s restaurants, the wine is hand-picked by lead sommelier, Cat Silirie and managed in-house by Melodie Reynolds. The kitchen is led by Ben Weisberger and features American cuisine with French technique. Whether you are celebrating an anniversary, a graduation, or are simply in the mood for a perfectly crafted cocktail and decadent snack, No. 9 Park excels in it all.

Row 34
Restaurant guru and mastermind Garrett Harker makes his mark in the Fort Point neighborhood with Row 34. Set in an industrial style first floor loft, the high ceilings, and open raw bar invite curious seafood diners to spread their palette. Start with the obvious — a crisp and refreshing wine or craft beer and a dozen oysters. They specialized in Island Creek and Row 34 (named after the individual row set in the farming process in Duxbury,) but offer other east coast options as well. The daily selection of cured seafood is a must order. Other must haves are its lobster roll, available buttered or with a hint of mayo, the tuna ceviche with avocado and any of its whole fish entreés. For a seafood restaurant, its also has one of the best burgers in town with meat so juicy and cooked to a delightful medium rare, topped with thick cut bacon and cheese, it is the perfect meaty option to an otherwise seafood centric menu.

SRV
The best Italian food is no longer to be found in Boston’s little Italy in the North End. Head instead to the South End where handmade pastas by chef Stephanie Cmar, are the stars of the menu and Italian wines range from red, white, rosé, and orange. Start at the bar with an aperol spritz or other aperitif and nibble on some cicchetti like their meatballs, octopus, or quail egg. The dining experience at SRV continues in the dining room or its outdoor patio in nice weather, where you can enjoy its small Italian plates featuring pork shoulder, seasonal vegetables, and unique seafood dishes — all available based on seasonal provisions. The restaurant offers a chef’s tasting menu or a la carte. Whichever one you do, save room for dessert, its Italian biscotti assortment or the tiramisu in particular.

Toro
When it comes to Spanish Tapas, duo team Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette are always on point. Its original South End location is a testament to its team work and brings diners authentic Spanish tapas in a tavern-like dining room. With a long bar and tightly-knit tables, the best way to dine here is to put your name in and enjoy a cocktail or wine at the bar, as Toro doesn't not accept reservations. Order a few tapas, perhaps the bacon wrapped dates or some prosciutto, sit back, and enjoy the scene. Paella’s make for perfect shareable plates, but a multitude of their tapas-sized dishes is always the best way to try a little bite of many things.

Townsman
Open for just over a year, this restaurant located in the Leather District welcomes chef/owner Matthew Jennings back to Boston. After a successful operation of Farmstead in Rhode Island, chef Jennings brings seasonal, New England cuisine to the area with an attention to balance, flavor and aesthetic plating. The restaurant places high priority on local relationships with food purveyors and is known for their charctuerie boards, raw bar and menu as well as their large format plates. Bar manager Silas Blake innovates his menu and his team, offering diners a seasonal bar menu and wine list that pairs perfectly with the food.


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