Chef Ming Tsai's Favorite Boston Restaurants

The celebrity chef reveals his local haunts
September 7, 2016
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by Zagat Staff

Chef Ming Tsai is one of Boston's most esteemed chefs, thanks to his iconic Asian restaurant Blue Ginger and its funky, gastropub-style younger sib Blue Dragon. But where will you find the master toque enjoying a meal on his rare downtime? Here are his favorite dining rooms in Boston. 

Toro
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.”
Summer Shack
Back Bay · $$
Food 4.0 · Decor 3.5 · Service 3.9

“Stealing its surroundings from a seafood shack on the shore” , this long-standing local mini-chain from “class act” Jasper White provides a “smorgasbord” of “tasty” fish “classics” “cooked almost any style” and served up “quick” in “folksy” , “picnic ground” –style surrounds; some carp that it’s “a little on the pricey side” “for what you get” – namely an “inviting” , “family-friendly” experience.
Uni
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).
Sportello
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.
Doretta Taverna & Raw Bar
Greek · Park Square · $$

Star chef Michael Schlow delivers this "modern" Greek concept near Boston Common, offering "delightful" , "upscale" dishes including olive oil–drizzled whole fish and "incredible" Mediterranean-inflected meze, complemented by an international wine program and "worthwhile" cocktails; service is "accommodating" in the casually elegant space, adorned with funky light fixtures and original art by the chef's wife, and a "beautiful" patio completes the picture.
Row 34
Seafood · Seaport District · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.1

This “sleek” Fort Point sibling to Island Creek Oyster Bar “hits all the right notes” with “fresh” , “crisp” , “beautifully prepared” seafood – including an “incredible selection” of “excellent bivalve delicacies” – plus a “thoughtfully put together” craft-beer lineup; the “hip, Brooklyn-like” space (think “industrial vibes” ) can get “noisy” and “packed” , but servers nevertheless “make you feel right at home.”