10 Best Restaurants in Boston
April 9, 2015
There’s great food everywhere you turn in Beantown
10) Hungry Mother
Combine a menu of seasonally-driven dishes made with locally sourced ingredients with chef Barry Maiden’s classical French culinary training, add in his love of Southern comfort foods, and you have Hungry Mother. Husband and wife team Alon Munzer and Rachel Miller Munzer run the wine and liquor programs and front of the house, respectively, and they do it very well.
A recently retooled menu hasn’t diminished chef Tim Maslow from carrying on his father Paul’s classic American casual mainstay, in business since 1986. The romaine with oxtail is still there, along with lighthearted fare like “Wings, Moxie, chives, wetnaps” and Cubano fries topped with ham, pulled pork, pickles, and Swiss. Don’t miss the weekly themes menu, either.
Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette are packing them in every night at Toro, one of the town’s toughest reservations to secure. It’s a self-described “Barcelona-style tapas restaurant,” serving everything from traditional pan con tomate and patatas bravas to crispy veal sweetbreads, ham-wrapped pork paté, and a pressed uni sandwich with miso butter, but it’s much more than that. It’s an experience.
7) Craigie on Main
Owner Tony Maws has a knack for not being afraid to bust out some modern technology to make simple dishes spectacular, and at Craigie on Main he’s turning out some of the best roast chicken and burgers you’ll ever have. They’re not all simple, though: confit and roasted milk-fed pig’s head with spicy pumpkin sambal and boudin noir-hoisin sauce, anyone?
Nobody writes menus like Lydia Shire does. She loves big flavors and embraces any cuisine that she believes will excite diners' taste buds, and she brings it all together in this nominally Italian but really more “Shirean” restaurant. Tandoor-cooked scallops with whipped white eggplant, ground lamb pizza, spaghetti with pork cracklings and chiles, char-grilled duck with celery root and fresh cherry gastrique, roast suckling pig every Friday night — no wonder tout Boston flocks here (sports celebrities above all).
Asta is less than three years old, but it’s already established a reputation for being one of the country’s most mysterious restaurants, with a tasting menu that’s constantly changing, a tiny website, and very little social media presence. That hasn’t stopped devoted followers from flocking to it, though; it’s astoundingly delicious.
4) No. 9 Park
Now in its fifteenth year, chef Barbara Lynch’s flagship is still one of downtown’s best destinations for fine dining. Drawing on French and Italian influences and a dedication to the freshest and highest-quality ingredients, the weekly-changing Chef’s Tasting Menu, which can include everything from sweetbreads with Australian black truffle and rabbit to Berkshire pork belly with heirloom tomato, gem lettuce, and buttermilk, isn’t to be missed.
One of the pioneers of modern haute cuisine in Boston, chef-owner Frank McClelland has received a host of awards at L’Espalier. (Among other things, it was the first New England restaurant to receive four stars from The Boston Globe, back in 1996.) The food served at L’Espalier is focused around local and seasonal ingredients, with particularly good seafood, and the seasonal tasting menus, at $105 and $185, are well worth trying.
Chef Ken Oringer’s consistently impressive fare lands Clio on Boston Magazine’s lists of the best restaurants year after year. Oringer, one of the city’s most notable and respected chefs, serves up wildly inventive dishes including monkfish osso bucco and black licorice roasted Muscovy duck, while nodding to his forebears with items like truffle soup à la Paul Bocuse. Since its opening in 1997, Clio’s reputation has only continued to improve, and a 2012 makeover, which expanded the bar but kept the leopard-print carpet, assured its success for years to come.
1) O Ya
Chef Tim Cushman brings innovative sushi and related new-Japanese fare (hamachi belly with yuzu soy marinated sea urchin, foie gras gyoza with pink peppercorns) to his menu with imagination and flair, serving these and other truly wonderful dishes, accompanied by a large choice of excellent sake and wine, in an understated dining room whose simplicity belies the complexity of flavors on the plate. It’s a treat (of course) to sit at the sushi bar, a vantage point for watching the chefs prepare what are often otherworldly-looking treats; the omakase here is one of life’s true pleasures. Cushman won the 2012 James Beard Award for Best Chef Northeast.