A regular haunt of practically everyone who has ever lived in Somerville’s Spring Hill or Union Square in the last few years, Highland Kitchen specializes in comfort food, a lively ambiance, and strong cocktails. Try the spicy goat stew and the house-made ginger beer (also spicy), or swing by on a Monday for fried chicken and tiki drink specials.
150 HIGHLAND AVE., SOMERVILLE, MA 02143
Now open for just over a year, Giulia has racked up a number of highly positive reviews for its house-made pasta and warm staff. The pappardelle with wild boar is a popular choice.[Photo: Rachel Leah Blumenthal
1682 MASSACHUSETTS AVE, CAMBRIDGE, MA 02138
Hidden off an alley in Somerville’s Union Square, Journeyman recently did away with its menu, which used to simply offer a few different sizes of tastings with dishes that changed weekly. Now, there’s no menu at all — pay $75; eat what is served. The focus is on delicate, artful preparations of local ingredients.
9 SANBORN CT, SOMERVILLE, MA 02143
One of the hottest openings of 2013, Bronwyn is the second project from Tim and Bronywn Wiechmann of the acclaimed T.W. Food. The Union Square restaurant features German and Central European food, and the biergarten is always packed in pleasant weather.[Photo: Chris Coe
255 WASHINGTON STREET, SOMERVILLE, MA 02143
This romantic “Spanish Caribbean tapas” spot comes from a couple of architects, so the space is as beautiful as the menu items. You’ll feel like you’re dining in someone’s living room, which makes sense, since owners Alberto Cabré and Angelina Jockovich got their culinary start by throwing elaborate “underground” dinner parties.
253 WASHINGTON ST, SOMMERVILLE, MA 02143
One of the most beautiful restaurants in town, Dali is always the right choice for a romantic night out. It’s lively, the tapas are delicious and meant to be shared, and it’ll make you think you’re in Barcelona. It’s such a landmark that many Somerville residents call the Washington/Beacon/Kirkland intersection the “Dali Corner.”
415 WASHINGTON ST, SOMERVILLE, MA 02143
This 69-seat restaurant opened in 2010 and has helped pave the way for a new era of Somerville dining. The critics have praised Bergamot’s synthesis of relaxed attitude and serious skill. The team behind it reportedly has a new restaurant, Angel’s Share, slated for Inman Square.
118 BEACON ST., SOMERVILLE, MA 02143
Yes, there’s amazing Italian food outside of the North End. This Eastie gem has recently received a huge amount of attention thanks to a Food Network appearance, but locals have always known that it’s the place to go for huge ravioli and excellent homemade pasta.
257 SARATOGA ST, BOSTON, MA 02128
This cozy Somerville watering hole pairs hot dogs with classy cocktails in a retro lounge. The Monday “industry brunch” leaves diners happily full of chicken and waffles, homemade pop tarts, and Kool Aid du jour.
3 BEACON ST, SOMERVILLE, MA 02143
James Beard winner Jody Adams’ Harvard Square flagship has been drawing crowds since opening nearly a decade ago, focusing on regional Italian cuisine and locally sourced ingredients. More recently, Adams opened up a new restaurant, TRADE, near South Station.
1 BENNETT ST, CAMBRIDGE, MA 02138
An intimate, Chinese-inspired small plates restaurant presided over by chef Phillip Tang, ExNE was named one of the “The Top 6 Places to Taste the New Asian Fusion” by Bon Appetit. In-house noodles, dumplings, and bao blow away the competition, of which there is little.
1128 CAMBRIDGE ST, CAMBRIDGE, MA 02139
Santarpio’s in Eastie is the place to go to shut up your obnoxious New York friends when they claim there’s no good pizza in Boston. This classic joint is unassuming and rough around the edges, just the way it should be. Pizzeria Regina may win the classic duel for sheer expansion, but Santarpio’s pizza is unmatched.
111 CHELSEA ST, BOSTON, MA 02128
One of the city’s few restaurants with a vegetarian tasting menu, let alone one that diners regularly rave about. Oleana serves omnivores as well, with chef Ana Sortun imparting her well-known Mediterranean accents in dishes like octopus with crispy Brussels sprouts. Sortun and Oleana chef de cuisine Cassie Piuma are days away from opening a new restaurant, Sarma, in Somerville.
134 HAMPSHIRE ST., CAMBRIDGE, MA 02139
Bondir has just blown everyone away, most notably by being named one of the ten Best New Restaurants in America in 2011 by Bon Appetit in addition to racking up about as many local accolades as you can get. It took what a lot of restaurants were already doing – the classed-up, local, rootsy thing – and managed to tighten the screws, add some flourishes, and still make it distinct and feel fresh. A Concord outpost opened up in fall 2013.
279A BROADWAY, CAMBRIDGE, MA 02139
There are other restaurants that do local ingredients, French technique, or Southern recipes, but not under one roof. It’s amazing that shrimp and grits can taste this good so far north.
233 CARDINAL MEDEIROS AVE, CAMBRIDGE, MA 02141
Since opening in late spring 2012, West Bridge quickly became the darling of Kendall Square, among many existing darlings. The French-inspired menu comes from Aquitaine Bistro alumni chef Matthew Gaudet. Don’t miss the egg in a jar.
1 KENDALL SQUARE, CAMBRIDGE, MA 02139
A local legend of the prodigal son and former chef de cuisine at Momofuku Ssam Bar, who came home to run dad’s diner and put lots of octopus on the menu. The junior Maslow now owns his own spot as well — Ribelle in Brookline.
93 SCHOOL ST, WATERTOWN, MA 02472
Western Mediterranean accents appear on chef-owner Steve Johnson’s menu, which is enhanced by a rooftop herb garden (in season). Sit at the bar for the full cocktail experience.
502 MASSACHUSETTS AVE, CAMBRIDGE, MA 02139
Craigie is known for making simple dishes like roasted chicken extraordinary by using advanced techniques and technology — and for serving dishes that are just plain extraordinary, like a shareable confit and roasted milk-fed pig’s head with spicy pumpkin sambal and boudin noir-hoisin sauce. Owner Tony Maws recently opened up a new, more casual restaurant, The Kirkland Tap & Trotter, on the edge of Somerville and Cambridge.
853 MAIN ST, CAMBRIDGE, MA 02139
The North End is generally known for Italian, which makes it all the more impressive that a seafood restaurant has made its name as one of the neighborhood’s best places to eat. The lines are long, but the lobster rolls are beloved. Choose cold with mayo or hot with butter.
63 SALEM ST., BOSTON, MA 02113
This instant industry-approved classic has helped revitalize Downtown Crossing dining with its small, meaty menu, adult milkshakes, late-night dining and blunt rules for patrons. Opening executive chef Sam Monsour put a creative twist on junk food until leaving in the end of 2013, and his sous chef Chris Bauers has stepped up to take his place, continuing the tradition. Diners who want something more upscale can sidle into Bogie’s Place, the tiny steakhouse hidden inside.
21 TEMPLE PLACE, BOSTON, MA 02111
Lovely views of the common and proximity to a variety of theaters give Troquet an advantage location-wise, but the food is outstanding as well, and the wine list is deservedly award-winning. Plus, it’s probably the only place you’ll see servers scooping butter out of a giant basket that is completely full of butter.
140 BOYLSTON ST, BOSTON, MA 02116
A favorite of food nerds ’round the city, Taiwan Cafe is an easy answer when a Chinatown first-timer is wondering where to go. The soup dumplings rival other options in the neighborhood, and the Szechuan fish is another must-try.[Photo: Official Site
34 OXFORD ST, BOSTON, MA 02111
Sushi lovers who have not yet embarked on O Ya’s grand omakase have not yet lived. And it’s not just the seafood — the wagyu beef is so tender that it may bring a tear to your eye. Hidden in the Leather District, this tiny spot has accumulated numerous awards, including a James Beard for chef Tim Cushman.
9 EAST ST, BOSTON, MA 02111
Superbly executed Shanghai-style dishes like lion’s head meatball and xiao long bao manage to be just as flavorful as their Sichuan counterparts, minus the heat. Considered by many to be the city’s best Chinese — and it’s nowhere near Chinatown.
204 HARVARD AVE, ALLSTON, MA 02134
Island Creek Oyster bar looks more slick than the restaurant you would expect an oyster farm to operate, but it’s no less legit. The seafood-centric menu straddles straightforward and fun. The team is opening up a new restaurant, Row 34, in Fort Point later this fall.
500 COMMONWEALTH AVE, BOSTON, MA 02215
Since opening in January 2013, Asta has quietly built up a devoted following for its tasting menu-only format. The mysterious restaurant has a minimal website, little to no marketing or social media presence, and an amazing Zeus painted on the wall, salvaged from the restaurant formerly in the space.
47 MASSACHUSETTS AVE, BOSTON, MA 02115
Going strong since 1978, with a few location moves over the years, L’Espalier is revered for chef/owner Frank McClelland’s hybrid of French and New England cuisine, which makes extensive use of local, seasonal ingredients. If money’s no object, let him take you on his Tasting Journey, “a unique menu inspired by the seasons of New England crafted for your table.” Or stop by for a Cheese Tuesday to eat cheese and sing along to classic hits like “Don’t Stop Blue Cheesing.”
774 BOYLSTON ST, BOSTON, MA 02199
Perhaps the only Boston restaurant to serve elaborately prepared sunflower buds, Erbaluce is no stranger to the title of the city’s “best Italian restaurant.” Chef/owner Charles Draghi changes the menu nightly.
69 CHURCH ST, BOSTON, MA 02116
Open just over a year, Shōjō has managed to create a wildly successful Asian fusion menu — in Chinatown, no less — in a time when “Asian fusion” is not always enthusiastically received. Diners will find dishes like a “pot o’kimchi” alongside a charcuterie board. And then there’s the duck fat fries with Sriracha aioli.
9 TYLER ST, BOSTON, MA 02111
The most approachable of Barbara Lynch’s local empire, where tagliatelle with bolognese rubs elbows with dishes like strozzapreti with braised rabbit. Lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch are served on a diner-like counter. Doubles as a bakery with early-morning hours, offering delicacies like cronuts and apple cider donuts as weekly specials, depending on the season.
348 CONGRESS ST, BOSTON, MA 02210
One of the priciest seats in town, Menton is Barbara Lynch’s crown jewel, boasting Relais & Châteaux status. After Kristen Kish, chef de cuisine at Lynch’s demo kitchen Stir, won Top Chef, she was swiftly promoted to chef de cuisine at Menton.[Photo: Official Site
354 CONGRESS ST, BOSTON, MA 02210
A veteran of the dining scene for over 20 years, this restaurant stakes its reputation partly on its infamous roasted chicken. Over the years it has changed exactly as much as it should. President Obama has been known to eat here.
553 TREMONT ST, BOSTON, MA 02116
What’s not to like? Some dishes are Chinese, some Thai, some Vietnamese, and some a fantasy amalgam of various nationalities, but no one would dare call Myers+Chang Pan-Asian. One of the city’s most vibrant restaurants, it has an atmosphere that seems buoyed by a sense of chef Joanne Chang’s other successes with Flour Bakery. The badass dragon on the window doesn’t hurt either.
1145 WASHINGTON ST., BOSTON, MA 02118
Scotch egg, suckling pig tacos, and at least three kinds of poutine. The dark humor in the name and decor continues through the menu, where heirloom vegetables appear alongside oysters “Rockafella.”
1395 WASHINGTON ST, BOSTON, MA 02118
Chef-owner Ken Oringer and chef Jamie Bissonnette team up for one of the city’s hardest-to-get-into restaurants. Toro serves modern and traditional tapas ranging from simple grilled corn to elaborate dishes pairing seafood and charcuterie with rich, bold flavors that keep the crowds lining up. And now they’re lining up in New York City as well — Oringer and Bissonnette recently opened a new location in Chelsea.
1704 WASHINGTON ST, BOSTON, MA 02118
Helmed by David Punch of Ten Tables, Sycamore has been turning heads in Newton since opening a year ago thanks to its refined contemporary American cuisine and solid beverage program.[Photo: Facebook
755 BEACON ST, NEWTON, MA 02459
The flagship of an expanding mini-empire now in Cambridge, P-town, and the burger biz, this tiny space is where it all began. The $48 tasting menu rivals ones that cost at least twice as much.
597 CENTRE ST, JAMAICA PLAIN, MA 02130