What to Order at Boston's 15 Best Restaurants

The must-try dishes at Zagat's top-rated spots
October 15, 2014
by Scott Kearnan

Zagat is always turning to our surveyors to help us determine the top-rated restaurants in Boston. (Want to contribute to our next round of results? You can!) But what to order when you get there? Fear not. We've eliminated some of the guesswork by reviewing the restaurants with the top-rated food in our most recent survey, and choosing a must-try dish from each. 

Neptune Oyster

Zagat Food Rating: 28

Must-Order Dish: Soon chef and 30 Under 30 honoree Michael Serpa will step out on his own to open SELECT Oyster Bar, but you can still catch him at Boston's top-rated restaurant, serving a famous lobster roll ($27) that is assuredly one of the city's best — even if its price tag has caused some readers to deem it a bit overrated

Island Creek Oyster Bar

Zagat Food Rating: 28

Must-Order Dish: Obviously the eponymous oysters from ICOB's farm in Duxbury are a must-try, but we also consider this Kenmore Square standout's clam chowder ($11) to be among Boston's best, using crouton-size hunks of buttermilk biscuit in a stew generously loaded with local clams and house-smoked bacon. 


Zagat Food Rating: 28

Must-Order Dish: Chef Ana Sortun's Eastern Mediterranean gem is on our just-released taste tour of local restaurants related to Top Chef alums. And while you're there, check out the signature lemon chicken ($25) with za'atar on a Turkish cheese pancake. 

Craigie on Main

Zagat Food Rating: 28

Must-Order Dish: There's a lot to love about chef Tony Maws' Cambridge stalwart, but even with all its more refined fare we can't help but point out that its famous grass-fed beef burger ($17) topped our recent survey of the Best Burgers in Boston


Zagat Food Rating: 28

Must-Order Dish: Chef Michael Leviton's menu changes regularly, reflecting his commitment to keeping things fresh, in-season and local. He also shows a deft hand with seafood, so right now we're especially loving his bluefish ($28) caught off the shores of Chatham, mustard crusted and served with a root-veggie soffrito, celery root purée and salsa verde. 

Life Alive

Zagat Food Rating: 28

Must-Order Dish: Eating healthy often means eating expensively, but this duo of vegan-friendly eaters (with one location in Cambridge and another a top draw in Salem) was rated as the "Best Buy" in our most recent Boston Restaurants Survey. Among the highlights, fresh and filling bowls (starting at $8.55) heaped with tofu, beets, quinoa, raisins, sweet corn and more.  


Zagat Food Rating: 28

Must-Order Dish: This fancy Fort Point destination from star chef and restaurateur Barbara Lynch serves constantly changing four-course prix fixe ($95) and chef's tasting ($155) menus only. Some of the recent elegantly plated highlights have included pork and quail with chestnut, apple and farro and rib-eye with truffle and artichoke. 

No. 9 Park

Zagat Food Rating: 28

Must-Order Dish: Lynch's 16-year old flagship is still going strong, and though it offers à la carte dining, we recommend the three-course prix fixe ($69) or six-course chef's tasting ($112) that has recently spotlighted selections like prune-stuffed gnocchi and lamb loin with smoked pumpkin.

Hamersley's Bistro

Zagat Food Rating: 28

Must-Order Dish: Sadly, this South End landmark is slated to close by the end of October, so hurry over to get one of the 11 Dishes to Eat to Call Yourself a Bostonian: a roast chicken with garlic and lemon that had a famous fan in none other than Julia Child. 

Il Capriccio

Zagat Food Rating: 28

Must-Order Dish: It's actually found in the nearby suburb of Waltham, but long-running high survey scores show that distance hasn't done anything to dampen Bostonians' enthusiasm for this Northern Italian restaurant, where one current favorite is chicken schnitzel ($27) with sage, fried egg and herbed spaetzle.


Zagat Food Rating: 28

Must-Order Dish: Pasta is a standout at this modern Italian, where we're loving the garganelli ($18 half; $34 full) with a lamb neck ragout Bolognese and minted cloumage (cow's milk curd). But the place is also a feast for the eyes, given the "Top Decor" honors in our most recent Boston Restaurants Survey


Zagat Food Rating: 28

Must-Order Dish: Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette's South End hit has spawned a buzzed-about sequel in NYC thanks to its clever tapas menu. But if we may suggest something simply but equally delicious: the mini hamburguesas topped with a special sauce (aïoli, mustard, tobacco, fish sauce, miso and ketchup). Order it "messy" to add the aïoli and cotija cheese blend that is typically served on Toro's grilled corn. 


Zagat Food Rating: 28

Must-Order Dish: An iconic French that is part of the larger Columbus Hospitality Group (which also includes Teatro, Mooo... and more), Mistral prepares a refined Dover sole meunière with lemon and capers, served with a sauté of spinach, onions and fingerling potatoes.


Zagat Food Rating: 28

Must-Order Dish: Jamie Bissonnette's nose-to-tail know-how has made Coppa a South End favorite, and helped him compile a newly released charcuterie cookbook. But we can't help but love some of the late-night bites that satisfy post-10 PM cravings, including the Hangover 'Za: a pizza topped with bacon, prosciutto, mozzarella, rutabaga and two over-easy farm eggs. 


Zagat Food Rating: 28

Must-Order Dish: Though its best known for its stellar sushi, Oishii is also home to a Wagyu steak that is pricey but worth every penny. It's $80, but becomes $250 if you add shaved truffles. (Which you should, if you can swing it.) 

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