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Food & Drink

  • Cinquecento

    Alfresco Dining

    Cinquecento

    Diners have their pick of see-and-be-seen patio settings in the trendy South End, but this trattoria’s rear courtyard, tucked out of street view, has the most attention-grabbing centerpiece: a bright red shipping container repurposed as a bar (because why not?) where happy clams can sip rosé all day—and slurp fresh-shucked oysters during weekday happy hours.

    500 Harrison Ave., Boston (617-338-9500) cinquecentoboston.com
  • Better Bagels

    Bagels

    Better Bagels

    Even as Bostonians defend our sports teams to competitive NYC pals, we must capitulate when it comes to who has the better bagels.

  • SRV
    Nicole Popma

    Bar Snack

    SRV

    In the lofty tradition of the Venetian bacaro, sexy South End newcomer SRV offers a sweet selection of cicchetti, inexpensive bar snacks that pair fittingly with a glass of Soave or nebbiolo.

    569 Columbus Ave., Boston (617-536-9500) srvboston.com
  • Barbecue

    SoulFire

    Barbecue is smoking hot right now, and we’re pumped for polished newcomers on the scene.

    182 Harvard Ave., Boston (617-787-3003); 737 Huntington Ave., Boston (617-232-8000); soulfirebbq.com
  • Jason Kilgore of UNI
    Melissa Ostrow

    Bartender

    Jason Kilgore of UNI

    The new UNI is a fantastic reimaging of Ken Oringer’s flagship restaurant, ditching Clio’s costly French/Japanese fusion for sushi and affordable izakaya snacks like pork-belly buns, skewers, dumplings and ramen while preserving the old Uni’s extravagant imported sashimi.

    370 Comm. Ave., Boston (617-536-7200) uni-boston.com
  • Bánh Mì

    Bánh Mì Ba Le

    Dorchester is immoderately blessed with purveyors of the Vietnamese sub sandwich, one of the world’s great street foods.

    1052 Dorchester Ave., Boston (617-265-7171) banhmibaleboston.com
  • Loyal Nine

    Bread

    Loyal Nine

    At Loyal Nine, chef Marc Sheehan’s Colonial-inspired restaurant in East Cambridge, the phenomenal baked goods play a starring role.

    660 Cambridge St., Cambridge (617-945-2576) loyalninecambridge.com
  • Juliet
    Nicole Popma

    Breakfast

    Juliet

    Union Square’s new French-inspired cafe/restaurant wowed us with its accomplished yet unpretentious cooking at lunch and dinner.

    257 Washington St., Somerville (617-718-0958) julietsomerville.com
  • Mystic Brewery

    Brewery

    Mystic Brewery

    Mad fermentation scientist Bryan Greenhagen creates his highly regarded array of craft beers in Mystic Brewery’s home in a hulking Chelsea warehouse.

    174 Williams St., Chelsea (617-466-2079) mystic-brewery.com
  • Banyan Bar + Refuge
    Holly Rike

    Brunch

    Banyan Bar + Refuge

    Banyan occupies one of the most austerely beautiful dining rooms in the city; it looks even better with weekend daylight streaming through its tall windows.

    553 Tremont St., Boston (617-556-4211) banyanboston.com
  • Little Big Diner
    Holly Rike

    Burger

    Little Big Diner

    Newton Centre’s beloved Sycamore got a bratty, talented kid sister this year in Little Big Diner, with its tight menu of noodle soups and rice bowls with pristine slabs of proteins.

    1247 Centre St., Newton (857-404-0068) littlebigdiner.com
  • Chilacates
    Nicole Popma

    Calorie Bomb

    Chilacates

    Jamaica Plain’s sensational new taquería serves tacos, burritos and quesadillas with spectacular fillings, like tacos al pastor carved off a traditional trompo, adding thoughtful details like housemade tortillas and salsas.

    224 Amory St., Boston (617-522-6000) chilacates.mx
  • Townsman
    Galdones Photography, LLC

    Charcuterie

    Townsman

    When he closed his esteemed Providence restaurant Farmstead Inc. to launch Townsman in his native Boston, Matt Jennings brought with him a well-earned rep for nose-to-tail know-how.

    120 Kingston St., Boston (617-993-0750) townsmanboston.com
  • The Maiden

    Cheese Plate

    The Maiden

    Last year we mourned the closing of Sam’s at Louis, the best reason to dine in the Seaport.

    28 W. Broadway, Boston (617-315-7829) themaidenboston.com
  • Chinese

    Shanghai Fresh

    For all our regional Chinese restaurant diversity, Boston hasn’t enjoyed nearly enough of the subtle, fragrant, sophisticated cuisine of Shanghai.

    735 Mass. Ave., Cambridge (617-868-8877) theshanghaifresh.com
  • Jaho Coffee and Tea
    Meghan Marin

    Coffee Shop

    Jaho Coffee and Tea

    You can’t rush a good cup of joe, and Jaho owner Anil Mezini has been slow-brewing his business for a decade. 

    665 Washington St., Boston (857-233-4094; additional locations in Boston and Salem; jaho.com
  • Comeback

    Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe

    A legendary icon of Boston dining, Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe opened in 1927, winning fame for slinging tasty turkey hash and welcoming blacks in the era of segregation.

    429 Columbus Ave., Boston (617-539-7669)
  • Dudley Dough

    Concept

    Dudley Dough

    In a divisive political season, scarfing pizza for social justice is a call to action everyone can get behind.

    2302 Washington St., Boston (857-308-3058) haleyhouse.org
  • Cuban

    Gustazo Cuban Restaurant and Cafe

    While you’re waiting for airfares and red tape to relax enough to make your own trip to Cuba, you can visit Gustazo, a cozy, attractive outpost of the island’s lusty cuisine, perched on Waltham’s town common.

    663 Main St., Waltham (855-487-8296) gustazo-cubancafe.com
  • Café ArtScience
    Diego Navarro

    Dessert

    Café ArtScience

    Pastry chefs often get short shrift. But it’s impossible to ignore the innovation displayed by Renae Connolly at this Harvard engineer-owned outfit.

    650 E Kendall St., Cambridge (857-999-2193) cafeartscience.com
  • Diner

    Galley Diner

    Though locals lament the loss of Southie chahm to gentrification (read: trendy new gastropubs), some years-spanning favorites, like this Anthony Bourdain-approved hole-in-the-wall hash-slinger, hold up better than ever.

    11 P St., Boston (617-464-1024) thegalleydiner.com
  • Boston Harbor Distillery
    Bluerock Design Co

    Distillery

    Boston Harbor Distillery

    Turning to the spirits business after co-founding the Boston Beer Company, Rhonda Kallman joined the rapidly growing ranks of Boston-based craft distillers.

    12R Ericsson St., Boston (617-533-7001) bostonharbordistillery.com
  • Dumplings

    Dumpling Palace

    To the delight of the food-nerd crowd, Chinese restaurants with a traditional bent are increasingly easy to find outside of Boston’s Chinatown.

    179 Mass. Ave., Boston (617-266-8888) dumplingpalaceboston.com
  • Ethiopian

    Blue Nile

    Jamaica Plain’s small but thriving dining scene supports an impressive diversity of global cuisines, and this cozy, unassuming joint delivers the Ethiopian goods better than any.

    389 Centre St., Boston (617-522-6453) bluenilejp.com
  • Tenoch
    Tenoch

    Food Truck

    Tenoch

    This Medford-born Mexican outfit has made serious moves over the past few years, adding North End and Davis Square restaurants, plus two food trucks that rove around doling signature torta sandwiches to the hungry masses gathered for curbside lunch.

  • Bistro du Midi
    Sheila Marand

    French

    Bistro du Midi

    Dining at dusk on this Provençal bistro’s patio, with the Public Garden in view and fine French wine at the lips, you’d almost think you were in a park-filled Paris arrondissement.

    272 Boylston St., Boston (617-426-7878) bistrodumidi.com
  • Fries

    Neptune Oyster

    It’s with good reason that brilliant New England seafood restaurant Neptune Oyster is never not-mobbed.

    63 Salem St., Boston (617-742-3474) neptuneoyster.com
  • Shojo
    Debra Li

    Fusion

    Shojo

    Cousins and owners Brian and Brendan Moy have built Shojo with wicked cool decor, a witty craft cocktail bar and an inventive fusion menu.

    9A Tyler St., Boston (617-423-7888) shojoboston.com
  • Bao Nation
    Sarah Silbiger

    Hidden Gem

    Bao Nation

    Once upon a time, Tic Tacs and Slim Jims were the extent of “liquor store cuisine.”

    571 Mass. Ave., Cambridge (617-633-5975) baonation.com
  • WuBurger
    WuBurger

    Hot Dog

    WuBurger

    For years, Bostonians had to travel to Worcester or the South Coast to enjoy the working-class bliss of the Coney Island dog.

    880 Main St., Woburn (781-281-0277); 1128 Cambridge St., Cambridge (617-945-1703); wuburger.com
  • Picco

    Ice Cream

    Picco

    This upscale South End pizzeria is always packed, and not just for its great pies with lightly charred, bubbly thin crusts.

    513 Tremont St., Boston (617-927-0066) piccorestaurant.com
  • Indian

    Shanti

    “Shanti” means “peace,” and nirvana feels within fork’s reach at these restaurants bringing subcontinent cuisine to three corners of town, including a recently opened location by Kendall Square.

    7 Broad Canal Way, Cambridge (617-714-5051); additional locations in Dorchester and Roslindale; shantiboston.com
  • Erbaluce

    Italian

    Erbaluce

    Chef/owner Charles Draghi and partner Joan Johnson serve extraordinary traditional Piemontese cuisine with rare Northern Italian wines at their hidden Bay Village indie, elevated by meticulous sourcing (notably of sustainable local seafood), abundant fresh fruit and herbs, and exacting Old World technique.

    69 Church St., Boston (617-426-6969) erbaluce-boston.com
  • Japanese

    Izakaya Ittoku

    Some sleek, high-priced sushi palaces serve gold-flaked rolls and omakase feasts fit for an emperor, but this unassuming Allston eatery on the outer limb of the B Line is a real standout for both cuisine and cost.

    1414 Comm. Ave., Boston (617-608-3630) 
  • The Friendly Toast

    Late-Night Grub

    The Friendly Toast

    This kitsch-happy diner’s Cambridge location was known for brunch lines out the door; the just-opened Back Bay iteration, though, lures us on the other side of the clock.

    35 Stanhope St., Boston (617-456-7849); additional locations in Cambridge and elsewhere; thefriendlytoast.com
  • Chef’s Table

    L’Espalier

    Chef’s Table

    Any table at chef Frank McClelland’s house of haute cuisine is fit for a special occasion, but this one is a singular experience.

    774 Boylston St., Boston (617-262-3023) lespalier.com
  • Luke’s Lobster
    Sarah Silbiger

    Lobster Roll

    Luke’s Lobster

    Notoriously insular Bostonians greeted the Back Bay outpost of the Manhattan-based Luke’s Lobster chain with the kind of squint reserved for Yankees fans.

    75 Exeter St., Boston (857-350-4626) lukeslobster.com/boston
  • Praliné Artisanal Confections
    Holly Rike

    Macarons

    Praliné Artisanal Confections

    This tiny Belmont shop specializes in the macaron, France’s ethereal, melt-in-the-mouth sandwich cookie of baked meringue in a rainbow of pastel colors and fantastical flavors of candies, fruits, nuts and flowers.

    203 Belmont St., Belmont (617-932-1131) pralineconfection.com
  • Meatballs

    Prezza

    Throw a rock in the North End and you’ll hit a restaurant serving that most American of Italian-American dishes, spaghetti and meatballs.

    24 Fleet St., Boston (617-227-1577) prezza.com
  • Amuleto Mexican Table
    The Amuleto Team

    Mexican

    Amuleto Mexican Table

    With its gorgeous velvet-upholstered banquettes and trippy wall art, Amuleto offers an unusually swank setting for traditional Mexican fare

    484 Moody St., Waltham (781-893-1389) amuletorestaurant.com
  • Sarma
    Susie Cushner

    Middle Eastern

    Sarma

    Somerville has become a magnet for talented indie chef/owners like Cassie Piuma.

    249 Pearl St., Somerville (617-764-4464) sarmarestaurant.com
  • Yvonne's
    Diego Navarro

    New Restaurant

    Yvonne's

    For jaded Bostonians, a restaurant with nightclub-chic good looks engenders a sinking feeling: “Here be mediocre food and drink.”

    2 Winter Place, Boston (617-267-0047) yvonnesboston.com
  • Nigerian

    Suya Joint

    Born and raised in Nigeria, chef/owner Cecelia Lizotte brings authenticity to Suya Joint, which started as a catering business

    185 Dudley St., Boston (617-708-0245) suyajoint.com
  • Giulia

    Pasta

    Giulia

    When out-of-town guests insist on a night in the North End, politely redirect them to this impeccable Porter Square spot that outshines tourist-trafficked wannabes.

    1682 Mass. Ave., Cambridge (617-441-2800) giuliarestaurant.com
  • Pho

    Pho So 1

    Few foods endow a sense of well-being quite like pho.

    223 Adams St., Boston (617-436-8888)
  • Stoked Wood Fired Pizza Co.
    Sarah Silbiger

    Pizza

    Stoked Wood Fired Pizza Co.

    The Stoked folks did the harder thing first, somehow shoehorning a wood-fired pizza oven into a food truck, then opening a brick-and-mortar space.

    1632 Beacon St., Brookline (617-879-0707) stokedpizzaco.com 
  • Pop-Up Kaki Lima
    Kaki Lima Boston

    Pop-Up Kaki Lima

    Pop-Up Kaki Lima

    Boston hasn’t seen the vibrant, multicultural cuisine of Indonesia for decades.

  • Sorellina
    Courtesy of Sorellina

    Power Dining

    Sorellina

    Unimaginative businesspeople and pols celebrate freshly cemented deals over the dull cliches of the high-end steakhouse.

    1 Huntington Ave., Boston (617-412-4600) sorellinaboston.com
  • Teatro

    Pre-/Post-Theater Dining

    Teatro

    In the hype-happy restaurant world, newness is an instant seat-filler.

    177 Tremont St., Boston (617-778-6841) teatroboston.com
  • Puerto Rican Vejigantes
    Nicole Popma

    Puerto Rican Vejigantes

    Puerto Rican Vejigantes

    Some South End arrivistes may criminally overlook Vejigantes, a lively, colorful outpost of Puerto Rican cuisine.

    57 W. Dedham St., Boston (617-247-9249) vejigantesrestaurant.com
  • Ganko Ittetsu Ramen
    Nicole Popma

    Ramen

    Ganko Ittetsu Ramen

    Boston went from widespread ramen indifference to underserved ramen mania to a plethora of ramen options in a few years.

    318 Harvard St., Brookline (617-730-8100) gankoramen.com 
  • Raw Bar

    Island Creek Oyster Bar

    Duxbury-harvested Island Creek oysters are ubiquitous on menus across Boston, but somehow, they still taste best on their home turf.

    500 Comm. Ave., Boston (617-532-5300) islandcreekoysterbar.com
  • Rising Star Brendan Pelley of Pelekasis
    Holly Rike

    Rising Star Brendan Pelley of Pelekasis

    Rising Star Brendan Pelley of Pelekasis

    This star chef-in-the-making is coming into fame the old-fashioned way: through his craft.

  • Catalyst
    Courtesy of Catalyst Restaurant

    Roast Chicken

    Catalyst

    Chef/owner William Kovel’s honeymoon in France, and run-ins with rotisserie-equipped food trucks, sparked the idea for this spit-roasted chicken

    300 Technology Square, Cambridge (617-576-3000) catalystrestaurant.com
  • Select Oyster Bar
    James Rose

    Seafood

    Select Oyster Bar

    When former Neptune Oyster chef Michael Serpa struck out on his own to open Select Oyster Bar, he extended a recent string of overdue improvements to our New England seafood restaurant scene

    50 Gloucester St., Boston (857-239-8064) selectboston.com 
  • Secret

    The Hungry Traveler

    Our put-upon Government Center drones, police officers and firefighters have long sought lunchtime solace at the Hungry Traveler

    29 Court Square, Boston (617-742-1894) facebook.com/hungrytravelerboston
  • Jason Irving of Deuxave

    Sommelier

    Jason Irving of Deuxave

    Chef/owner Chris Coombs enthralls discriminating diners with his luxurious French cuisine in Deuxave’s lovely, understated dining room in the Back Bay.

    371 Comm. Ave., Boston (617-517-5915) deuxave.com
  • The Frogmore Low Country Kitchen & Bar

    Southern

    The Frogmore Low Country Kitchen & Bar

    Taking a page from sibling Fairsted Kitchen, this idiosyncratically pretty Hyde Square restaurant offers laid-back hospitality and an excellent beverage program.

    365 Centre St., Boston (857-203-9462) thefrogmore.com
  • Toro

    Spanish

    Toro

    Kudos to culinary dream team Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette.

    1704 Washington St., Boston (617-536-4300) toro-restaurant.com
  • Grill 23 & Bar

    Steakhouse

    Grill 23 & Bar

    Boston’s respect for tradition is sometimes dismissed as slavish devotion.

    161 Berkeley St., Boston (617-542-2255) grill23.com
  • Sushi

    Cafe Sushi

    A feast of ravishing sushi and sashimi isn’t hard to find for people willing to drop a few hundred bucks a head.

    1105 Mass. Ave., Cambridge (617-492-0434) cafesushicambridge.com
  • McCrea’s Candies
    Nicole Popma

    Sweet

    McCrea’s Candies

    Finally, “artisanal foodstuff” that’ll make your eyes roll back for the right reasons.

  • Tacos

    Taqueria Jalisco

    Discerning food geeks seeking traditional Mexican fare know to wend their way to Eastie, where the chefs don’t dumb it down for Anglos.

    291 Bennington St., Boston (617-567-6367)
  • Tasting Counter
    Peter Ungár

    Tasting Menu

    Tasting Counter

    In an age when everything from music playlists to newsfeeds is hyper-curated to our known tastes, there’s giddy excitement in letting a chef steer us to unexplored epicurean territory.

    14 Tyler St., Somerville (617-299-6362) tastingcounter.com
  • Thai

    Thana Thai Kitchen

    The old saw that customers conversing in Thai in a Thai restaurant is a good sign holds true at this Arlington Center storefront.

    882A Mass. Ave., Arlington (781-648-8888) thanathaikitchen.com
  • Trend

    The Greek Revival

    Like a prayer answered by Poseidon, a wave of Greek cuisine has crested in Boston, where options were once lean.

  • Upgrade

    Tiger Mama

    Tiger Mama went into a tricky Fenway location that had hosted a couple of regrettable flops.

    1363 Boylston St., Boston (617-425-6262) tigermamaboston.com
  • Branch Line
    Fawn Deviney

    Vegetable Dish

    Branch Line

    Back in January, we raved about Branch Line, the Garrett Harker empire’s Watertown outpost: its soaring ceilings, the great beer-and-wine roster, the amazing rotisserie chicken, the amiable hospitality, the free parking.

    321 Arsenal St., Watertown (617-420-1900) branchlinearsenal.com 
  • Vegetarian/Vegan Whole Heart Provisions
    Zac Wolf Photography

    Vegetarian/Vegan Whole Heart Provisions

    Vegetarian/Vegan Whole Heart Provisions

    Youthful Allston has enough dedicated vegetarians and vegans to sustain a growing cluster of restaurants that limit or altogether avoid meat and dairy.

    487 Cambridge St., Boston (617-202-5041) wholeheartprovisions.com
  • JM Curley
    Holly Rike

    Veggie Burger

    JM Curley

    This irreverent Downtown Crossing gastropub got plenty of notice early on for its sloppy beef burger, but don’t neglect the just-as-strong veggie spin.

    21 Temple Place, Boston (617-338-5333) jmcurleyboston.com 
  • Venezuelan

    Viva Mi Arepa

    Near the Dedham line in West Roxbury, this family-run restaurant offers an affordable entry point to the hearty joys of Venezuelan cuisine.

    5197 Washington St., Boston (617-323-7844) vivamiarepa.com

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