Feature

The 12 Coziest Restaurants in Boston

By Scott Kearnan  |  December 1, 2015

Temperatures are falling, but that's not a bad thing. (Really.) Cooler climes means a chance to nestle inside one of Boston's many cozy restaurants, where flickering fireplaces, hearty portions and romantic atmospheres seem to give you big bear hug. 

AnchoviesCozy doesn't have to mean "quiet," which Anchovies typically isn't. Garrulous locals make quite a din in this small, tchotchke-strewn South End dining room, especially as they sit huddled by the big wood bar, dishing over a televised Pats game or the Grammys. But that's why we love it. A retro neon sign beckons above the window's flower box, inviting diners to slide inside for a warm booth, moderately priced Italian plates and a cozy sense of community. 

433 Columbus Ave.; 617-266-5088

Bondir
Chef Jason Bond puts contemporary spins on his constantly changing selection of New England–inspired recipes. Both the Cambridge and Concord locations have slightly different, equally quaint vibes. The 26-seat original near Central Square has an adorable brick fireplace alcove (pictured), 19th-century oak pews as banquettes and plates that look plucked from a dollhouse. Surprisingly, it's the larger suburban location that feels ever-so-slightly more modern.

279A Broadway, Cambridge;  617-661-0009  

Carmen
This cozy, but contemporary, North End eatery stands out amid the many red-sauce-slinging joints. This intimate hideaway is in charming North Square, lined with cobblestone and tucked between the busier main streets of this tourist-heavy neighborhood. 

33 N Square; 617-742-6421

Chalet at Bastille Kitchen
"Cozy" is not how we would describe the sparkling, 200-plus seat dining room of Bastille Kitchen, with its high ceilings and air-kissing clientele. But the subterranean cocktail bar Chalet (pictured at page top) is a totally different design: dim lights, dark woods and tartan upholstery that suggests a (still rich) alpine ski lodge. It's perfect for cozy post-dinner canoodling, although you can order food down here too. 

49 Melcher St.; 617-556-8000

Fairsted Kitchen
This Brookline American joint, which also garners buzz for its draft-cocktail program, is named for the local onetime estate of Frederick Law Olmsted (landscape architect behind Boston's "Green Necklace"). Eating here feels like dining in the living room of a 19th-century manse, especially when you're tucked in a corner table looking out to snowy Beacon Street. It's great to get toasty at the bar with spirits guru Will Isaza, one of our most recent 30 Under 30 honorees.

1704 Beacon St., Brookline;  617-396-8752

Harvest
30 Under 30 honoree Tyler Kinnett is the latest to join the long line of talented toques who have re-envisioned New England–inspired cuisine at this Harvard Square mainstay. Bask in the elegant glow shed by the fireplace, and save room for shareable desserts by Brian Mercury — last year's winner for The People's Best New Pastry Chef from Food & Wine magazine. 

44 Brattle St., Cambridge; 617-868-2255

The Hungry I
In warmer weather, the cloistered, romantic secret garden is a big draw at this Beacon Hill. But the inside is an equally nice escape during colder months, with a small, classically romantic dining room where you'll sit elbow to elbow — and under the table, knee to knee. 

71 Charles St.; 617-227-3524

La Motta's Italian Specialties
If you like dark woods, warm service and rib-sticking Italian-American food, tuck into a booth at this new South End entry. The just-opened joint (pictured) harks back to the kind of nonna-approved Bronx restaurants of the 1950s, where Goodfellas spent hours over glasses of red wine and plates heaped with red sauce. But chef Justin Winters puts his own spin on standards like meatball platters and lasagna, imbuing just enough innovation to make the familiar fresh again. 

1357 Washington St.; 617-338-5300

Ma Maison
This somewhat under-the-radar recent opening reunites Boston's dining scene with chef Jacky Robert, one of the region's most celebrated French chefs and founder of the Petit Robert restaurants (though he's no longer involved with those). This quaint corner spot in the brick-lain streets of Beacon Hill is a stellar pick for a romantic dinner. It's a Gallic charmer with a handful of white-cloth-covered tables, dark-wood wainscoting and antique silverware adorning the walls.   

272 Cambridge St.; 617-725-8855

Metropolis
A lot of South End restaurants are all about the sheen. But this bistro, the first entry in the now established Aquitaine Restaurant Group, retains the same sense of intimacy that made it a hit 19 years ago. Close, curtain-draped quarters smack on bustling Tremont Street; affordable, simple and superbly prepared plates; and wine. Lots of wine helps too. 

584 Tremont St.; 617-247-2931

Sophia's Grotto
Tucked down a brick alley in Roslindale awaits this Italian hideaway, a particularly adorable enclave for patio dining. But it's worth seeking out even in these colder climes, when the brick nook of a dining room becomes a warm, convivial hangout for neighborhood types and snuggling couples sharing spaghetti "Lady and the Tramp"–style. 

22 Birch St., Roslindale; 617-323-4595

Ten Tables
Guess how many tables you'll find in the original Jamaica Plain location, where European-meets-New American cuisine has kept diners coming back for years. (Answer: 10.) The Cambridge sequel is slightly larger, but both afford the kind of flickering tea lights and white tablecloths that spell romance — at much more reasonable price points than expected. (Bonus points for embracing the locavore philosophy before it became ubiquitous.) 

597 Centre St., Jamaica Plain; 617-524-8810