The Top 50 Restaurants in Boston

Zagat readers choose their favorites across the city
June 16, 2015
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by Zagat Staff

The reviews are in, the ratings are calculated — and now, the list is revealed. Say hello to Boston's 50 Best Restaurants as determined by thousands of Zagat voters. From established greats to newcomers bringing a fresh perspective to the Hub's dining scene, these Top Food winners are the hot spots you need to know about — and return to, again and again. For a whirlwind trip through seven of the city's top restaurants in a single day, check out our Boston dining binge video here

L'Espalier
French · Back Bay · $$$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.7 · Service 4.7

This “elegant” , decades-spanning Back Bay “grande dame” spread across four “airy” dining rooms is the “ultimate occasion restaurant” , presenting “food as theater” in the form of chef-owner Frank McClelland’s “extravagant” , “consistently exquisite” New England–New French prix fixe meals; “you may have to arrange financing” to foot the bill, but the “classic” experience, complete with “pampering service” “from the greeting through the farewell” , is “worth every penny” ; P.S. à la carte options are available at lunch.
IL Capriccio
Italian · $$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.6

Even Boston’s pasta-heavy “North End has a thing or two to learn” from this “quaint” , decades-old Waltham “gem” , where “creative” , “consistently excellent” Northern Italian cuisine is complemented by a “well-chosen, fairly priced” wine list; an “extraordinarily welcoming” atmosphere and “on-the-mark” service “add to the pleasure” – plus it’s “less expensive than having to travel to Italy.”
Sarma Restaurant
Small Plates · $$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.4

Every mouthful of chef Ana Sortun’s “rewarding adventure” through Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, from the small plates that “pack a punch” to the “dim sum–style specials” delivered tableside, “pops” and “bursts with unusual tastes” at this Somerville destination; a “young, energetic vibe” pervades the “hip and crowded” space, where an “attentive” staff mans the “excellent” craft cocktail program at the three-sided bar and the electric-blue dining room is dotted with Turkish lamps.
Toro
Spanish · South End · $$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.2

“Amazing” tapas “bring Barcelona to Boston” at this South End Spaniard from chefs Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer that’s arguably “one of the best” for small plates in the city; the rustic-chic space can get “overwhelmingly crowded” (especially at dinner, when the no-reservations policy makes seating “a challenge” ), but it’s “worth the wait” to “see and be seen” in such a “fun atmosphere.”
Giulia
Italian · $
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.6

“Fabulous" homemade pasta steals the show at this Porter Square Italian, where fans praise the “great care” evident in “exquisite” , “thoughtfully prepared” plates with “precise flavors” and seasonings that work in “symphonic harmony” ; “unpretentious, attentive” service enhances the “comfortable, stylish” oak and brick–filled space – that is, “if you can get in” ; P.S. the pasta prep space is repurposed as a chef’s table at night.
Galleria Umberto
Pizza · North End · $
Food 4.7 · Decor 3.4 · Service 4.2

“To-die-for” Italian eats taste “like grandma made them” at this “old-school” , cash-only “institution” , where Sicilian pizza and arancini are among the “inexpensive” attractions served “until they run out” ; “fancy it’s not, but it’s the real thing” say fans who brave “long lines” and assure it’s “worth the wait” to “experience the North End like locals do.”
Cafe Mangal
Turkish · $$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.6

“A taste of Turkey in the heart of Wellesley” comes via this “exceptional” Mediterranean, which transforms from a salad and sandwich–focused lunch choice to a “cozy” , “charming” dinner destination offering “exotic, delicate” dishes “made with great care” ; everything is “beautifully served” by “attentive” staffers, and the BYOB policy helps keep prices down.
Sorellina
Italian · Back Bay · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.7 · Service 4.5

“Definitely dress up” to blend with the “chic crowd” frequenting this “outstanding” contemporary Italian in Back Bay, where chef Jamie Mammano offers “beautiful, mouthwatering dishes” in a “subdued, elegant” black-and-white setting; though “a little pricey” , it’s a “real class act” with “top-of-the-line” service sealing the deal.
Neptune Oyster
Seafood · North End · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.2

Fans say the “superior, innovative takes on New England seafood classics” “live up to the hype” at this “spendy” North End legend known for its “sensational” oysters and a “justifiably famous” lobster roll; the no-reservations policy ensures “long lines” , and the “small” space gets “noisy” and crowded “as a sardine tin” , but a “well-informed” staff helps make it “worth the wait.”
O Ya
Japanese · Leather District · $$$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.6

Each “utterly amazing” plate is presented as “a work of art” at chef Tim Cushman’s “exceptional” Leather District izakaya, a sushi lover’s “dream come true” (especially if splurging on a grand omakase tasting that feels like “a dining experience of a lifetime” ); dinner will “definitely cost you an arm and a fin” , but “attentive” service and a “discreet, relaxing” ambiance ensure that “if you can afford it” , it’s “worth every cent.”
Menton
French · Seaport District · $$$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.7 · Service 4.7

“The theater of a perfectly crafted restaurant unfolds” at Barbara Lynch’s “fabulous” French-Italian in the Seaport District’s Fort Point, thanks to an “impeccable” team that “accommodates individual preferences” and provides an “educational experience” throughout each course; the “over-the-top” experience in the “romantic” , “formal” space is a “wallet emptier” , but it’s “worth the obscene amount” to be treated like “an oligarch for the night.”
The Capital Grille
Bar · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.6

This “consistent” steakhouse chain “lives up to high standards” with “juicy” , “epic” steaks and “attentive” , “understated but friendly” service offered amid “elegant decor” that suggests “a men’s club on steroids” ; true, it’s “big meat for big wallets” , but also one of the “best spots in town for an expense account.”
Oleana
Mediterranean · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.6

Chef Ana Sortun’s way with “exciting spices” yields “insanely good” Turkish and Eastern Mediterranean–inflected cuisine at this “legendary” Inman Square institution, where you really “can’t go wrong” choosing from the “spectacularly creative dishes” , though “knowledgeable” servers can always “steer you in the right direction” ; when the “weather cooperates” you can steer yourself to the “lovely patio” that, unlike the warmly decorated main dining room, doesn’t accept reservations.
La Campania
Neapolitan · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

“It all comes together” at this family-owned Waltham “diamond in the rough” , where the “exquisite Italian comfort food” is “prepared with love and care” , then served with an “interesting, well-priced” wine list by “professional” yet “warm” staffers; it’s “not cheap” , but it’s “worth the trip” “if you can get in” , complete with a “charming” space reminiscent of “the Italian countryside."
Ostra
Seafood · Park Square · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.4

Chef Jamie Mammano “continues to excel at his craft” , “blessing” each “lovely” , “imaginative” Mediterranean-inspired seafood dish that comes out of the kitchen of this Back Bay “special-occasion” place; the “sleek, modern” setting features aquatic flourishes and a live pianist in the lounge, enhancing an already “elegant” “dining experience” that is unmistakably “high end” – yet “worth every penny.”
Rino's Place
Italian · East Boston · $$
Food 4.7 · Decor 3.5 · Service 4.4

“Generous” portions of “delicious, old world–style” Italian dishes (notably “homemade pastas” ) doled out by an “attentive” team make this “affordable” East Boston “destination” a “consistent” go-to; with reservations only taken for parties of six or more and “lines out the door” , it’s “a beast to get into” , but it’s “worth the wait” as long as you expect a “cozy” joint that’s all about “the food and atmosphere – not the decor.”
Mistral
Mediterranean · Back Bay · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.6

This “fail-safe” Back Bay bistro helped “start a modern era” of high-end dining in Boston and continues to “wow taste buds” with its “diverse” menu of “beautiful” French-Mediterranean creations and “deep” wine list; add in “elegant surroundings” , a “busy” bar and “gracious” , “refined” service that strives to treat each guest “like a king” , and it’s an “enchanting” “evening to savor” (just bring the “corporate card” ).
Deuxave
American · Back Bay · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.6

Chef Chris Coombs (dbar, Boston Chops) appeals to “sophisticated palates” at this Back Bay pick “with panache” , focusing “unsurpassed attention to detail” on a “seasonally changing” menu of “exquisite” , “stylized” Nouveau French–American dishes; “exceptionally attentive” service and an “elegant” , “romantic” space with “windows exposed to brownstones all around” enhance the “rarified” air for those “willing to open their wallets.”
Ruth's Chris Steak House
Steakhouse · Downtown · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.6

“Sizzling” steaks “so tender you could cut them with a fork” are delivered by an “impeccable” staff at this “classy” Downtown Crossing steakhouse chain branch where “expense accounts” rule; the “beautiful” space inhabits the old Boston city hall and is divided into multiple “intimate” dining rooms (including one in an old bank vault), which makes for a “charming” experience.
Mooo Restaurant
Steakhouse · Beacon Hill · $$$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.6

Chef Jamie Mammano’s Beacon Hill offering is “a cut above the ordinary steakhouse” , with “to-die-for” beef and “superb cocktails” served by a “wonderful” staff that “knows the menu” in a “beautiful” contemporary space inside the “cool” XV Hotel; you’ll need to carve out some funds for the “special-occasion” dinner prices, but guests find lunch a “great way” to experience things “without breaking the bank.”
Evoo Restaurant
Bar · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.5

“Everything tastes fresh” at this “casual-upscale” East Cambridge “jewel” , offering “value” for the “upper-echelon” quality of “inventively prepared” but “still approachable” New American dishes comprised of “locally sourced” ingredients, some plucked from the rooftop garden; the “inviting” space likewise feels “high class” but “without pretense” , and “you’re treated as a friend” by “exceptional” servers who “cater to every whim.”
Byblos
Lebanese · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.3

Norwood natives who “crave” “melt-in-your-mouth” Middle Eastern meze and entrees at “reasonable prices” head to this Lebanese outfit where the live music and belly dancing on select nights are as “off-the-charts” as the menu; sure, the decor may be a bit “sterile” for some, but the “welcoming” staff – including an owner who “circulates” to offer “personal service” – is anything but.
B&G Oysters
Seafood · South End · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.3

“You can’t go wrong” at restaurateur Barbara Lynch’s “haven for seafood lovers” , a “fabulous” South End option where “fun, on-the-ball” staffers serve up “pristine” oysters, the “freshest, crispiest” fish and “refreshing twists” on other “classics” ; it’s “not inexpensive” , but it’s still “sought after” , so expect a “scene” with “good buzz” in “casual” , “tight-fitting” digs; P.S. the outdoor patio is an “added bonus” in summer.
Coppa
Italian · South End · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.3

From “must-have, made-in-house” pastas to “fabulous” signature charcuterie, everything on the “creative” “tapas-style” menu at chefs Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer’s corner Italian is “delicious” – and “doesn’t break the bank” ; run by a “professional” staff, the “super-cozy” dining room gets “crowded” , so those in the know “get there early” for “date night” or to snag a seat on a sidewalk patio that's “ideal for people-watching.”
Island Creek Oyster Bar
Seafood · Fenway/Kenmore · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

“The freshness is evident” at this “smart” seafood “must-visit” with an “ideal location” near Fenway Park and a Burlington branch, which offers “imaginative creations” and a “diverse” assortment of “impeccable” shellfish, including selections harvested from a sibling South Shore oyster farm; the “modern” , “open and airy” interior has a “busy, fast-paced” energy, particularly around the “active bar” , though service remains “gracious and at a comfortable pace.”
80 Thoreau
American · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.4

Ex-Rialto chef Carolyn Johnson brings “big city” –caliber cuisine to historic suburban Concord via this “best-kept secret” , a New American “gem” where an “inventive farm-to-table” spirit yields “fabulous” , “hearty” plates that “change with the seasons” ; “pricey” tabs reflect a “sophisticated” vibe, though the decor is more “rustic country” and the attitude among the “diligent” servers “welcoming.”
Mamma Maria
Italian · North End · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.4

Longtimers have been sopping “delicious sauces” and sipping from the “nice wine list” at this “genuine” -feeling North End Italian for decades, while those who’ve “recently discovered” it “can't wait to go back” (despite what a few say are “expensive” tabs); the “quiet” dining room “tucked away” in a historic townhouse offers “romantic” ambiance, leading to an “upscale but not pretentious” experience.
No.9 Park
French · Beacon Hill · $$$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.6

Barbara Lynch “deserves sainthood” for her “consistently great” Beacon Hill “classic” , a “stellar” French-Italian “destination” where each “elegant” dish is “beautifully presented” and “served with style and grace” in “fancy but comfortable” surrounds; though tabs are “expensive” , “you get what you pay for” “all substance, not flash.”
Abe & Louie's
Steakhouse · Back Bay · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.6

“Get in touch with your inner carnivore” by carving into “tender and flavorful” “Flintstone-sized” cuts at this “classic” Back Bay steakhouse, a long-standing “workhorse of beef and brown liquor” ; the “on-point” service and “clubby, comfortable” environs speak of “old money” , and you’ll need plenty to meet the “high-end prices” , which are ultimately “so worth it.”
Scampo
Italian · West End · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

“Classy chef” Lydia Shire “is a queen” of Boston’s dining scene, and “you will pay homage” at her “wonderful” West End “favorite” , where “creative” and “exciting” Italian-inspired cuisine is delivered by a “talented” staff; the “big” , “beautiful” dining room in the Liberty Hotel, a historic former jail, can get “noisy” , but that’s all part of the “fun” , “celebratory” mood.
Asta
New American · Back Bay · $
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.5

“Exciting” stuff is happening at this “different” , tasting menu–only “experience” in the Back Bay, where L’Espalier alum Alex Crabb crafts “memorable” New American surprises that are a “good mix” between “tried-and-true” and “experimental” but “not too esoteric” ; though the “upscale” yet “unpretentious” space is “very small” , “cheery” staffers and “cute decor” like silverware stowed in dining-table drawers make it feel “full of personality.”
Meritage Restaurant
American · Waterfront · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.6

Chef Daniel Bruce's upscale New American destination at the Boston Harbor Hotel has undergone an extensive renovation, retaining the awe-inspiring harbor views but updating the waterfront environs with a more modern, stylish decor and a centerpiece wine bar where flights are poured from a 750-label collection. A tweaked menu concept stresses 'vineyard-to-table' dishes designed for pairing, and even features a monthly rotating olive oil used to prepare the fresh, delicate cuisine.
Craigie On Main
French · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.4

Guests find “food nirvana” at this “memorable” “must-try” in Cambridge, where chef Tony Maws’ “masterful technique” and locavore sensibility produce “sublime” , seasonal French-American fare, including tasting menus that deserve a spot on every diner’s “bucket list” ; a “well-trained” staff mans the “cool” dining room and bar, the latter of which serves a famous (if “pricey” ) burger in limited quantities alongside its “inventive” cocktails.
Carlos Cucina Italiana
Italian · Allston · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.4

Locals “often recommend” this longtime eatery in Allston where “fun” staffers deliver “large portions” of “simple” but “delicious” “red-sauce Italian” eats at “reasonable prices” ; the “space is a bit cramped” , but “knocking elbows” with your neighbors is all part of the “friendly” experience.
Sweet Basil
Italian · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.3

Chef Dave Becker, “a gem and great schmoozer” , helms this “funky” “casual-gourmet” bistro in Needham, where he uses “very, very fresh” ingredients to produce “large portions” of “flavorful, superior” Italian comfort food like housemade pastas; it’s an “excellent value for the money” (the “crowning touch” is the BYO policy), but a no-reservations rule means you’ll “have to wait during prime time” for a spot in the “crowded” , “cozy” dining room.
Bergamot
New American · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.5

“Nobody knows about” but “everyone should eat at” this “innovative” if “tricky-to-find” New American “gem” in Somerville, where the “artful” dishes can be discovered à la carte or through prix fixe menus that are “a special treat for the senses” (especially when paired with the “excellent” wines); it’s “not inexpensive” but “not stuffy” either, thanks to a “truly attentive” and “well-trained” staff “dedicated” to providing a “gourmet-hipster” experience in a “lovely” bistro-style setting.
Lumiere Restaurant
French · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.6

West Newton has a “claim to dining fame” in this “lovely” French “favorite” , where chef Jordan Bailey (following in former owner Michael Leviton's footsteps) is “committed to sustainable practices” and “outstanding” “seasonal” cuisine with “spot-on presentations” ; it’s “expensive” but otherwise “unpretentious” , with “warm” service from a “long-term staff” adding to the “comfortable” dining room’s “neighborhood” vibe.
Massimino's Cucina Italiana
Italian · North End · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.8 · Service 4.4

This “North End hideaway” has “been around for ages” , supplying “outstanding” “hearty” Italian plates and “welcoming attitudes” to regulars who “always return” ; the “small” quarters can get “a bit overcrowded” , but the “boisterous setting” (which includes a private wine cellar) is dribbling distance from TD Garden, so basketball fans may find it a “good spot for pre-game meals.”
Uni
Sushi · Back Bay · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.3

Ken Oringer offers a "magical" experience at the Back Bay's Eliot Hotel, crafting “curated, thoughtful” omakase menus and “crazy innovative” dishes with “flow and story” , including Asian street food inspired by Shanghai, Bangladesh and beyond; expanding into the former Clio space upstairs, the sexy bi-level digs boast bars for sashimi, sushi and cocktails, wood accents and tattoo-inspired art, and remain staffed by servers who are “more than knowledgeable” (especially when making suggestions from the “wonderful” sake list).
L'Andana
Italian · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.5

“Elegant” decor recalling a rustic-chic European farmhouse sets the stage for “fabulous” Tuscan fare, including “sensational homemade” pastas, at this “high-end” Burlington “go-to” from chef Jamie Mammano (of Sorellina and Mistral, among others); a few groan that it’s “expensive for the suburbs” , but the “downtown prices” reflect a place that, with help from the “impeccable” staff, is “always on its A-game.”
Erbaluce
Italian · Bay Village · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.5

“Secreted away” amid Bay Village brownstones is this “fine-dining gem” run by “master of innovation” Charles Draghi, who punctuates his “outstanding” contemporary Italian plates with “fresh herbs and fruits” in an “interesting” , “creative way” ; he still has time to circulate the “packed” , “intimate” dining room, though, “visiting tables to chat” and lending to the “impeccable” service; P.S. it’s a “favorite” among “theatergoers in the know” for pre- and post-show dining.
Casa B Tapas and Cocktail & Rum Bar
Tapas · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.4

A “stunning array of tasty treats” awaits at this Union Square “favorite” specializing in “exciting” Spanish-Caribbean–style tapas, “highly recommended” tablas (wooden platters of small bites) and “interesting” cocktails; a “responsive staff” is “on top of the service” in the “tasteful” and “intimate” split-level space, which offers views of the kitchen from a downstairs seating area.
Chiara Bistro
Bar · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.5

“High standards” prevail at this “established” Mediterranean “favorite” in Westwood, from the “well-prepared” plates that are “pricey” but “always excellent” to the “gracious” , “informative” service; suburbanites also “love having” a “reliable” place to go for “warm, convivial atmosphere.”
Vinny's Ristorante
Italian · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.6 · Service 4.3

Fans call this Somerville Sicilian a “must-try” for its “delicious” fare – from lunchtime subs to dinners of seafood, veal and other classic dishes – that’s “simply prepared and presented” by “terrific servers” ; though some patrons feel “jammed into” the cozy dining space, on the upside it’s conveniently tucked behind an Italian food market where the house red sauce is available to buy and bring home.
Sportello
Italian · Seaport District · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.3

Restaurateur Barbara Lynch offers a “unique” , trattoria-inspired experience at this “sleek” Fort Point destination, which “never fails to satisfy” with its “creative pasta dishes” and “great wine selection” ; some find the distinctive “diner-like setting” with most seats around two U-shaped counters a little “awkward” , while others consider it a “fun way to watch” the “hip” , “friendly” staff at work in the open kitchen.
Turner's Seafood Grill & Market
Seafood · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.3

“Other than catching it yourself” , you’d be hard-pressed to find seafood as “fresh” as the “responsibly sourced” fish, “amazing” bisques and “excellent” raw bar eats at these easygoing outfits; both the Melrose “must-stop” and its newer Salem sib have a “friendly, entertaining” crew running the show, but “call them ahead” of time, because the “warm” “ship” -like digs are usually “jammed” with “crowds.”
Picco
Pizza · South End · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.1

This “go-to” in the trendy South End draws fans with its “awesome, wood-fired” pizzas and “homemade” ice cream, while there’s also “always something new and delicious” in its comfort-food lineup; “if you can get in” , the modest-sized space offers “accommodating” service, and there’s also a “superb draft-beer selection” , plus a patio where “eating outside on a summer’s night is one of the greatest pleasures.”