The 30 Best Places To Eat & Drink In Boston This Year
Boston’s prime waterfront location and bustling young professional crowd has allowed the city to embrace fine-dining and worldly cuisine concepts, alongside some great street food and casual dining. Check out the 30 Best Restaurants in Boston to try in 2021.
Opened back in 1993, Terramiaria Ristorante is a well-loved authentic Italian neighborhood restaurant in Boston’s North End. Offering only 12-tables, you’ll find an intimate atmosphere where waiters encourage you to try out new takes on old Italian classics. Nowhere else in Boston can you find pan-seared scallops topped with veal truffle reduction, giant open-faced ravioli served with sea scallops, shrimp, and lobster mascarpone reduction, or pan-seared salmon with a mustard crab meat crust. Each plate is served beautifully, and with an ever-changing menu, it’s easy to see why the restaurant is always packed out with locals.
Fox & the Knife
Chef Karen Akunowicz and her year of Italian travels is the passion behind Fox & the Knife. Having spent a year living in and learning the secrets of Modena, Karen knew one day she’d bring the bold flavors home. Slightly touche, but in the best kind of way, you’ll find a menu filled with Italian classics and specialties – including Tagliatelle Bolognese, Zafferano Spaghetti Con Vongole, and Gelato for dessert. With prices set right in between fine-dining and casual, it’s equally a go-to place for a quick weeknight meal and a romantic evening filled with wine and good chats.
Every detail and every ingredient are accounted for at Ostra, a high-end seafood restaurant in Boston's Back Bay. With a focus on Mediterranean fare, there's no hiding behind strong flavors and rich ingredients. Instead, Chef and owner Jamie Mammano relies only on the fresh fish's natural flavors to impress his guests. Don't expect a cheap date night as the prices reflect the high-quality seafood and unique atmosphere at Ostra. However, if you have reason to treat yourself, their 3lb Broiled Maine Lobster or their Roasted Local Monkfish served with locally foraged mushrooms will be a meal you'll remember for ages.
Voted Boston’s best Greek restaurant in 2013, 2014 and 2016, there is no better place to get your fill of Greek cuisine in the city than Esperia Grill. Traditionally prepared gyros is probably the highlight of the menu, though you can also indulge in staples such as Greek salad and pastichio. Generous portions and affordable prices open up this restaurant to all, with the modern, airy décor another drawcard for this fine establishment in the centre of Boston. It recently featured in Boston Magazine’s list of the best Greek restaurants in the city, proving its popularity with the locals, as well as with visitors to the city.
With only 12 tables filling the cozy Talulla restaurant, it’s best to book a table in advance to ensure you’ll be enjoying their intimate atmosphere. Opened recently in 2018, Talulla is quickly gaining recognition for their elegant food and perfectly matched wines. Husband and wife team focus on local ingredients and craft their menu daily on what’s in season along with inspiration from their worldly travels. Dishes range from perfected mushroom risotto made with wild mushrooms, pecorino, and chives to their elegant Miso Glazed Cod served with mustard green, Vidalia onion, and Gilfeather turnip. If you prefer to let the chef choose, opt for their tasting menu with an optional wine pairing.
Table Boston is at the upper-end in terms of exclusivity in Boston dining. The Italian restaurant is best known for its eight (yes, eight) course dinners, served Thursday – Saturday at $95 per head. Dishes include everything from warm focaccia to seared octopus, with fruit sorbet and Italian donut as desserts. They also do a seven course Sunday dinner for $68, washed down with a shot of refreshing limoncello. An extensive cocktail and wine menu is also available, and the restaurant itself is spacious and glamorous. Table Boston won’t be for everyone, but if fine dining is your kind of thing, then it doesn’t get much better in the city.
Chilacates Amory St
Boasting a 5-star rating on TripAdvisor, Chilacates Amory Street is one of a number of this Mexican street food chain, serving delicious Mexican cuisine throughout Massachusetts. One of the first things you notice with this restaurant are the beautiful menus, nicely illustrated with the mouthwatering dishes on offer – enchiladas, burritos, quesadillas, tacos and more. Each item can be customized as you wish, with toppings, sauces, and all sorts of extras, such as guacamole and nachos. As well as its restaurant outlets, the company also offers a catering service, bringing Mexican street food to the heart of your party or event.
Stephanie’s on Newbury
A Boston establishment that opened all the way back in 1994, Stephanie’s specializes in comfort food done properly, served in a bright restaurant complete with multiple television screens showing all the latest sports action. Along with its menu of daily specials and weekend brunch, popular menu items at Stephanie’s include mac & cheese, plank salmon and Stephanie’s pot pie, though there is also an extensive list of burgers, sandwiches salads and more to choose from. Like many of the eateries on this list, Stephanie’s can also cater to your private event or party.
A contemporary restaurant in the heart of Boston, Brewer’s Fork is located just a short walk away from the Bunker Hill Monument in the Charlestown area of the city. Offering indoor or outdoor patio dining, the restaurant has a variety of menus for different times of the day. Lunch is served until 2, with a variety of sandwiches and pizzas on offer, whilst a more expansive dinner menu includes a range of meat and poultry, seafood and oysters – all freshly caught nearby. The restaurant uses woodfired ovens to cook much of its food, explaining the great smoky flavours.
Grill 23 & Bar
Grill 23 is a top-rated independent steakhouse, serving some of the finest food you’ll find anywhere in Boston. Prices are high, but you get what you pay for, with exquisite wagyu, dry aged prime New York and 100 day aged prime rib eye just some of the options on the steak menu. There’s plenty else on the menu too, including seafood, oysters and salad, but it would almost be rude not to have a steak! Grill 23 has won a host of awards for its food and service, including Best Steakhouse awards in Boston Magazine and The Boston Globe for multiple years running.
Deuxave, on the corner of Commonwealth and Massachusetts Avenues, encompasses all things elegant and sophisticated. Entrees feature 9 Hour French Onion Soup, Lobster Tagliolini, and Bulgarian Golden Osetra Caviar. Then as you head onto your mains, you’ll find Cast-Iron Seared Prime New York Strip, Spiced Long Island Duck Breast, and house-made Tagliatelle ‘Bolognaise’ pasta – each overflowing with French flavors and hints of American influence. Chef and co-owner Chris Coombs leaves no detail untouched, and we promise you’ll leave the charming chandelier-lit restaurant in awe of the masterpieces you’ve consumed, especially if you save room for one of their decadent desserts.
Advertising itself as a “neighbourhood gem”, Brownstone is a bistro popular with the locals, which is how you know it’s a good restaurant. Executive Chef Kelly Snogles has curated a diverse menu, serving brunch, lunch, and dinner. Salmon roti, crab cakes and steak frites are some of the most popular dinner items, whilst the restaurant is also known for its home-crafted cocktails, such as the Corpse River – a beautifully balanced drink designed to shake off last nights hangover. Perfect for dinner or just drinks, the restaurant also has a nearby sister pub – Clerys, which is also extremely popular.
If you find yourself hungry on a warm summer's day near Fort Point, Boston – Pastoral is the place to be. The entire restaurant seems to open up as floor-to-ceiling garage doors rise, and a sea breeze mixed with smells of wood-fired pizza greets your arrival. Their food menu is relatively straightforward, with classic Neapolitan pizzas the perfect sidekick to one of their 20 hand-picked beers on tap. As there are more than enough tables to feed the neighborhood, you'll find young professionals, couples, and families alike enjoying the buzzing atmosphere.
Opened in 2008 in Boston’s South End, owner and operator Nikki Christo Leo has created a delightful neighbourhood eatery, selling a variety of sandwiches, fresh salads, and sweet treats, such as muffins and cookies. Toasties and bagels packed with fresh ingredients make the perfect lunch on the move, although you can sit and dine in with a coffee if you’d prefer. You can even get a catering service to provide food for your event. Prices are a tad on the high side, but the quality makes it all worth it, Blunch making sure it uses only the very best ingredients.
You don’t often hear of Spanish and Japanese influences coming together. However, Chef Tracy Chang has delighted patrons of Pagu with unique yet satisfying dishes. Nothing is off the table as Chef Chang is happy to serve high-end squid ink Oyster Bao Buns alongside Childhood Fried Rice. As Pagu offers a high-ceiling, open kitchen and spacious atmosphere, diners can enjoy the range of small dishes and unique drinks without the price tag or feeling rushed out the door. There’s certainly something to this worldly yet homely restaurant that keeps you coming back for more.
South Street Diner
South Street Diner is something of a famous landmark in Boston, having starred as a setting in films including The Equalizer, Hiding Out and Second Sight. Its food has also won it many accolades, the diner specializing in late night grub for after the bars and clubs have shut. A winner of the TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Awards in 2020, this really is THE late night dining establishment in Boston. Being open 24/7, seven days per week means the menu needs to be diverse, and it is. A range of breakfast options, burgers, sandwiches and anytime dinners mean that it doesn’t matter when you’re hungry, there’s always somewhere to go in this part of Boston.
Styled on a classic American tavern, Stockyard Restaurant has been selling quality food and drink in Boston since the 1980s. Located just outside the city, it draws urban residents out for its delicious menu, featuring seafood, burgers and more. The crowning glory of the menu is Stockyard’s range of steaks and chops, all cooked to order. The restaurant itself is finely decorated, with a traditional bar serving up a range of drinks in a saloon style setting. Perfect for a family meal, the restaurant can cater for up to 200 guests, making it one of the larger eateries in the Boston area.
Thinking Cup coffee shop first opened its doors in Boston in 2010, and the company has now grown into a small empire, with three cafes located across the city. It specializes in “Stumptown” coffee, from Oregon, which has been voted as the Best Coffee in the World by the New York Times, USA Today and many other publications and networks. Expert baristas create the smoothest, richest beverages possible, served in cozy cafes with a peaceful ambience, perfect for a catch up with friends or a great setting to bury your head in a laptop and crack on with some work.
Fool’s Errand was once an “adult snack bar” (no, we don’t know what that means either) before the owners took a change in direction and transformed the venue into a new exclusive hub for private dining. Crystal chandeliers and piercing blue light offer an elegant atmosphere to enjoy a meal. A range of dishes are available alongside an extensive drinks menu – the venue has a pop-up wine shop at the weekends, so it certainly knows its way around a bar menu. Reservations are essential if you want to experience Fool’s Errand for yourself – they don’t take walk ins, so you’ll have to get in touch with them in advance if you’d like to book.
Larry J’s BBQ Café
One for the carnivores, Larry J’s specializes in wood-smoked meats – essentially, they’ll do a better BBQ than your dad. This old American favourite is popular with locals and visitors to Boston alike, just be prepared to get messy! Ribs, wings, burgers and more all drizzled in BBQ sauce and served with a range of sides, from fries to onion rings and mac & cheese. It may be comfort food, but it is of the highest standard, sure to have you coming back for more. As well as dine in, Larry J’s can also cater for your private event.
Dudley Café is way more than your average neighborhood café; it’s a community hub, creative space, youth empowerment hub, and supporter of local businesses – plus, it has excellent food at an even better price. It’s hard to find anything on their menu over $10, which is likely why you’ll constantly find the Roxbury café buzzing with families, couples, young professionals, and teens. Open for breakfast and lunch, their menu is based around seasonal produce from the Urban Farming Institute of Boston and keeps things simple with a range of sandwiches, rice bowls, tacos, burritos, and quesadillas.
Styled on the Maori and their Polynesian island homes, Tiki Rock is a restaurant and bar serving a range of Polynesian-inspired dishes – think sushi, crab Rangoon and barbecue skewers. Happy Hour from Thursday – Sunday at 4 – 7pm sees the restaurant offering $1 oysters, as well as a range of other deals, whilst there is also an extensive cocktail menu, with typical island flavours. The highlight of Tiki Rock is probably its interior, with imaginative styling and comfortable booth style seating. Maori statues form the tables, and the lights are dimmed, creating a more intimate feeling.
Worden Hall sounds more like somewhere your grandma would drag you to look at old paintings on a dreary afternoon. In fact, this is a delightful American restaurant in the heart of the bustling West Broadway area of Boston. Named after a 19th century manor house in New York, the name doesn’t represent the modernity and delicious food on offer here. Selling classic pub dishes such as pies, mac & cheese and burgers, Worden Hall also has an extensive rotating drinks menu. 40 draft beers are served on rotation, along with more than 100 whiskeys and freshly made cocktails.
Harry’s Bar & Grill
Harry’s is primarily a destination for drinkers, a popular spot to enjoy a few craft beers or handmade cocktails with friends and family. The drinks menu is constantly on rotation, so you’re sure to enjoy a few different drinks if you visit more than once – which you’ll be sure to do given the great prices and wonderful atmosphere. The bar also serves lunch, dinner, and a late night menu for hungry guests. Options include staple dishes such as tacos, burgers, and pizzas, whilst they also serve brunch, with a range of breakfast sandwiches and plates.
A new age restaurant with sleek lines, vibrant accents, and an industrial yet hip atmosphere, The Dial takes a new approach to feeding the masses. With various dishes and fresh drinks from around the world on their menu, it’s an ideal place to start the night or enjoy a long dinner catching up with friends. Chef Justin Urso is the creator behind The Dial, located in a boutique hotel in Cambridge, and aims to bring inspiration from every corner of the globe to one location. Mains include a good old American burger, Brazillian shellfish stew, and Korean beef stir fry. Or, if you prefer to keep your meal lighter, you’ll find a superb selection of small plates and snacks.
You’ll find hints of fine dining along with an abundance of casual homely cooking at Serafina. At both of Boston’s locations, one in Downtown and one in Back Bay, the atmosphere is relaxed, yet there’s a distinct classiness that turns Serafina’s from your standard Italian restaurants into a delicious culinary experience. Chef Chris Cahill ensures all ingredients are high quality and all meals are presented beautifully, to turn your traditional ravioli or rigatoni into a mouth-watering concoction. Unlike your typical fine dining, the portions are large and reasonably priced, making it a lovely place for your casual weeknight dinner.
A Spanish restaurant with a touch of love from local produce, Toro has found a way to perfectly combine worldly charm with the comforts of a warm and energetic bar. Their main focus is on tapas, and with a menu overflowing with new things to try, you’ll certainly want to bring a group of friends to test out as many as possible. Toro was created by Ken Origner and Jamie Bissonnette, award-winning chefs, who handcrafted the menu to feature a range of Barcelona-inspired small plates – from crispy octopus served with guandilla peppers and old bay aioli to braised beef empanadas served with potatoes and horseradish aioli.
A romantic whitewashed interior with touches of wood, greenery, and a wood-burning fireplace sets the mood at Pammy’s. While it’s undoubtedly an Italian restaurant, owners and husband and wife, Pam & Chris Willis, are happy to toss out the traditional Italian cooking rules to bring a new age of American/Italian dishes to their menu. Take, for example, their Bluefin Tartar which tops raw tuna with potato chips. An unusual combo that chefs may cringe at; however, the salty chip is the perfect vessel to scoop up the fish. Pammy’s menu is constantly changing, so don’t get too attached to your favorite dish!
‘Mei mei’ means little sister in Chinese, which is precisely what Mei Mei’s restaurant is named after. Founder Andrew Li choose the name as he and his two younger sisters have always had a strong passion for food and how it can bring a community together. While Mei Mei started as a modest food truck, in 2013 they expanded to Mei Mei Street Kitchen to share their unique Chinese-American creations with the people of Boston. Must-tries include their variety of dumplings, Pork Rosso, and their rather interesting (in a good way!) Scallion Pancake Sandwiches.
Peregrine at The Whitney Hotel
Peregrine at The Whitney Hotel is one of those incredible restaurants that transport you to a different time and another place. In this case, you’ll find yourself in the romantic islands of Sardinia and Sicily. High windows and clean colors add a sense of airiness to the restaurant, and if you find yourself at Peregrine during the daylight, be sure to enjoy a glass of wine on their tiny back patio. Their menu brings alive the Italian islands, with dishes such as Black Pasta served with brown butter-oyster sauce, squid ink pasta, and paddlefish caviar. However, you’ll also find a simple Grilled Cheese served with a choice of chips or salad for the less adventurous.
Clover Food Lab
While Clover Food Lab isn’t a stand-alone restaurant, the dedication and passion for all things sustainable is at the forefront of all 12 restaurants across Boston. Creator Ayr Muir aims to bring healthy, delicious, and must-come-back-for-more vegetarian meals to locals and visitors to the region. Each restaurant has its own menu, based on what’s available and what’s in season, but at each, you’ll find an array of fritters, platters, soups, baked goods, and a surprisingly large selection of hot and cold drinks. If you find your go-to meal, you can even ‘favorite’ it on their app and get notified when it’s on their menu!
If Southern comfort food is calling your name, look no further than Southern Proper. Everything from Chef and Owner Jason Cheek himself to the restaurant's walls hail from North Carolina, bringing you an authentic grandmother's dining room experience. It's nearly impossible to pass up their juicy Fried Chicken featured on their menu. But then again, once you spot the Fried Catfish, Shrimp & Grits, and Smoked Pulled Pork Shoulder, your decision will only get harder. Pair any meal with a side of Buttermilk Biscuits and a local draft beer, and you'll be tempted to stay at grandmas awhile longer!
As you sip on margaritas and bite into perfected Tequeños, it’s easy to embrace the energetic, colorful, and lively Latin culture at Orinoco Kitchen. Located on the corner of Sawmut Avenue, you might just think you’ve landed yourself in Venezuela as you walk into the aroma of freshly baked empanadas and Venezuelan music setting the atmosphere to enjoy a casual lunch or dinner. Nearly all menu items are influenced by traditional Latin cooking, and with a bar stocked full of authentic South American wines and beers, it’s an ideal place to escape the daily grind and enjoy Venezuelan hospitality.
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