The Top 50 Restaurants in Boston

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

IL Capriccio
Italian · $$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

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
Middle Eastern · $$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.1 · 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.
Spanish · South End · $$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.1

"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."
Italian · $
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.5

"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.
Cafe Mangal
Middle Eastern · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

"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.
Italian · Back Bay · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.6 · 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.
French · Seaport District · $$$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.6

"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
Seafood · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

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."
Seafood · Park Square · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · 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 4.6 · 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.
French · Back Bay · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

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" ).
Ruth's Chris Steak House
Steakhouse · Downtown · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

"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
Breakfast · Beacon Hill · $$$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.5

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
American · $$$
Food 4.5 · 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."
Middle Eastern · $$
Food 4.5 · 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 4.5 · Decor 4.0 · 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.
Italian · South End · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.0 · 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 4.5 · 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 4.5 · 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 4.5 · Decor 4.1 · 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.
Abe & Louie's
Steakhouse · Back Bay · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.5

"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."
Italian · West End · $$$
Food 4.5 · 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.
American · Back Bay · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.1 · 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."
Carlos Cucina Italiana
Italian · Allston · $$
Food 4.5 · 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.
American · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.0 · 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 4.5 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.5

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 4.5 · Decor 3.7 · 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."
Japanese · Back Bay · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.0 · 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).
Casa B Tapas and Cocktail & Rum Bar
Caribbean · $$$
Food 4.5 · 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
French · $$
Food 4.5 · 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 4.5 · Decor 3.5 · 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.
Italian · Seaport District · $$
Food 4.5 · 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.
Italian · South End · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.0

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."