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Overhead view of three dishes of food on a wooden table. One blue dish has thin slices of pork jowl, cucumber, and a dipping sauce; another blue dish has hunks of crispy chicken skin; and a black dish has a salad featuring shrimp and pieces of rambutan.
Kor moo yang (grilled pork jowl), nang kai tod (crispy chicken skin), and yum ngoh (rambutan salad) at Mahaniyom in Brookline.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

The 38 Essential Restaurants in Boston

Where to find the ultimate Thai food, perfect pasta, and spiciest jerk chicken

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Kor moo yang (grilled pork jowl), nang kai tod (crispy chicken skin), and yum ngoh (rambutan salad) at Mahaniyom in Brookline.
| Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Presenting Boston’s updated Eater 38, your answer to any question that begins, “Can you recommend a restaurant?”

This elite group of 38 must-try restaurants is meant to cover the city of Boston and a little bit beyond while spanning multiple cuisines, costs, and neighborhoods, collectively satisfying every restaurant need.

Every quarter, Eater Boston adds a few pertinent restaurants that were omitted, have newly become eligible (restaurants must be open at least six months), or have stepped up their game. As such, a few restaurants are retired from the map each quarter — not necessarily forever — to make room. Restaurants are listed geographically from north to south, not ranked.

This quarter, we welcome back 38 veteran Bar Lyon to the map, along with newcomer Mahaniyom, serving French food in Boston’s South End and Thai food in Brookline, respectively. They have replaced now-closed East Boston gem KO Pies at the Shipyard and Cambridge mainstay Craigie on Main, which is currently on hiatus. For details on these and other past 38 entries, consult the Eater 38 archive. And do check out the Eater Boston Heatmap to find the hottest new restaurants in town right this very second.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Dakzen

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195 Elm St
Somerville, MA 02144
(617) 718-1759
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Find Thai restaurant Dakzen, an Eater Boston Fast-Casual Restaurant of the Year, in Somerville’s Davis Square. The busy, well-lit restaurant has an aura of happy chaos, with a service model that falls somewhere between counter-service and full-service and a menu that doesn’t shy away from heat and funk. Those already familiar with Thai flavors — beyond Thai-American takeout staples — will be delighted to find them here, and newbies will quickly learn what they’ve been missing. Highlights include the khao soi, the tom yum noodle soup, and the ba mee moo dang.

Overhead shot of khao soi on a bright yellow surface. The bowl has a traditional Thai pattern on it, including a rooster. The khao soi includes pickled mustard greens, an egg, lime wedges, a nest of crispy noodles, and more.
Khao soi at Dakzen.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

2. Yume Wo Katare

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1923 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140
(617) 714-4008
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This tiny Porter Square ramen destination isn't just a restaurant — it's a place where founder Tsuyoshi Nishioka wants to make everyone's dreams come true, starting by encouraging diners to literally stand up and share those dreams out loud (after successfully finishing a giant bowl of ramen, of course). Aside from occasional seasonal specials or COVID-era takeout kits, the simple menu typically only includes one type of ramen — “Jiro-style,” heavy on pork and garlic — with a choice of adding extra noodles and/or extra pork to an already hearty portion.

Ramen noodles and slices of pork are stacked impossibly high in a white bowl, topped with ample garlic.
Ramen at Yume Wo Katare.
Yume Wo Katare

3. Giulia

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1682 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 441-2800
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While there are many Italian standbys in the Boston area, Giulia is an especially beloved destination near Cambridge’s Porter and Harvard squares thanks to its impressive pasta and warm staff. If the pappardelle with wild boar is available, get it, but a diner can’t go wrong with anything at Giulia. Chef and owner Michael Pagliarini previously worked as executive chef at the now-defunct Via Matta, an Italian mainstay in Back Bay, and has also worked under renowned Chicago chef Grant Achatz. Plan ahead; Giulia is in high demand, and reservations can be tough. 

Closeup shot of thick pasta noodles covered in red sauce and grated parmesan cheese on a green ceramic plate.
Pasta at Giulia.
Giulia

4. Tasting Counter

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14 Tyler St
Somerville, MA 02143
(617) 299-6362
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The ultimate special occasion destination, Tasting Counter — tucked away inside Aeronaut Brewing — offers an elaborate, multi-course adventure of high-technique plates that highlight as many Massachusetts products as possible. As the name suggests, diners sit at a counter, watching everything prepared right in front of them. Like a show, it's a ticketed event; diners pay in advance online ($275 for dinner, $95 for lunch) and don't have to think about money at all at the restaurant.

A restaurant interior features a sleek bar, white and light wood accents, shelves of wine, and small planters of herbs.
Tasting Counter.
John Skibbee

5. Celeste

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21 Bow St
Somerville, MA 02143
(617) 616-5319
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Celeste, an Eater Boston Restaurant of the Year, is a dreamy little spot in Somerville’s Union Square, serving flavorful Peruvian in a neighborhood that — to be fair — already has its fair share of Peruvian options. All are worthy destinations, but Celeste is the spot for bright ceviche, fragrant lomo saltado, and the feeling of sipping pisco as the honored guest at the joyfully crowded dinner party of co-founders JuanMa Calderon and Maria Rondeau.

A vibrantly colored portion of ceviche is presented on a white plate on a white table, with a glass of beer on the side.
Ceviche and a beer at Celeste.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

6. Tanám

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1 Bow Market Way Suite 17
Somerville, MA 02143
(617) 669-2144
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Tanám is a tiny, worker-owned restaurant located in a hip food and retail development in Somerville (and an Eater Boston Restaurant of the Year). Its story is told through multi-course meals; hands-on, kamayan-style feasts; or snacks and cocktails; depending on the night. While the restaurant began with a focus on Filipinx American offerings, as of mid-2021 it is shifting to a wider interpretation of its genre of “narrative cuisine,” featuring other POC chefs and their stories through seasonal residencies.

Cut mango, sliced cucumbers, sausages, and other meats form a spread atop banana leaves in a kamayan-style Filipino dinner.
A kamayan feast at Tanám.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

7. Juliet

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21 Union Square
Somerville, MA 02143
(617) 718-0958
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Juliet, another Eater Boston Restaurant of the Year, is simply doing lots of things right — and with a lot of heart. Since its 2016 opening, diners could find anything from a takeout breakfast taco and a cup of coffee to a fancy multi-course dinner (and many things in between), all in one cozy space. Juliet tries to be a lot of things, and somehow manages to succeed at being all of them, but stay tuned for a more refined focus with an upcoming move to a larger space next door, where Juliet will more openly dial into the Niçoise bistro inspiration that has been quietly underlying the menu all this time. Juliet is a neighborhood favorite, and other neighborhoods should be a little jealous.

French onion soup on a white background with a plastic cup of iced coffee nearby.
French onion soup at Juliet.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

8. Brewer's Fork

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7 Moulton St
Charlestown, MA 02129
(617) 337-5703
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Since opening in early 2015 in a section of Charlestown mostly devoid of restaurants, Brewer’s Fork has brought a bustling, pizza-loving crowd to the quiet block. The specialty is wood-fired pizza (the “killer B” pizza is a must-try), but there are also hearty brunch sandwiches, oysters, and one of the best beer lists around. The patio is the place to be.

A casual bar at a restaurant with gray bricks along the wall, a polished cement floor, and wooden bar chairs.
The bar at Brewer’s Fork.
Katie Chudy/Eater

9. Puritan & Company

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1166 Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 615-6195
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An homage to New England, Inman Square’s Puritan & Co. dresses up local classics beautifully — this isn’t your grandmother’s baked cod, unless she serves it with lobster stew, salt cod fritters, and wax beans. It’s the place to go for spot-on scallops or roast chicken, but it’s also the place one might find a kimchi hot dog, bar burger, or wings.

A white dish is topped with an upscale-looking mix of asparagus and other ingredients.
An asparagus dish at Puritan & Co.
Caitlin Cunningham

10. Cafe Sushi

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1105 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 492-0434
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Cafe Sushi has been serving up amazing and affordable sushi for more than 30 years, a favorite of industry folks and general sushi lovers alike. The real treat is chef Seizi Imura’s omakase, a selection of seemingly endless courses that bounce joyfully between traditional preparations and funkier combinations; it is currently on hold due to COVID, with the restaurant only offering takeout and delivery for the time being. Try one of the chef’s samplers for a bit of an omakase vibe at home.

Overhead view of six unique pieces of sashimi sitting on an asymmetrical decorative blue plate.
Sashimi at Cafe Sushi.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

11. Oleana

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134 Hampshire St
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 661-0505
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This gem of Greater Boston’s restaurant world goes hand in hand with its Somerville sibling, Sarma, in serving quality, memorable meals night after night, drawing inspiration from Turkey and elsewhere around the Middle East. The cozy restaurant has one of the most romantic patios around, and its seasonally rotating menu delivers a different experience with the same hospitality time after time. Operating with a cordials license, the restaurant has an inventive cocktail menu, with a wide array of sherry and aperitifs, and it’s famous for its baked Alaska dessert.

A dramatic baked Alaska dessert full of toasted meringue sits on a brown plate, the background of the photo obscured in shadows.
Baked Alaska at Oleana.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

12. Pammy's

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928 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 945-1761
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Chris and Pam Willis call their hospitable Cambridge restaurant Pammy’s a “new American trattoria,” but the Italian influences are strong, from the not-to-be-missed pasta dishes made with flour milled in the restaurant to the aperitivi. The space is charming, as is the staff, and the lumache with a gochujang-spiked Bolognese sauce belongs in every pasta enthusiast’s regular rotation.

A big white bowl on a white tiled surface, filled with lumache in a red sauce and garnished with a thinly sliced green herb.
Lumache at Pammy’s.
Natasha Moustache

13. Tawakal Halal Cafe

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389 Maverick St
Boston, MA 02128
(617) 418-5890
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Tawakal Halal Cafe is a story of rebirth: The Somali restaurant used to operate in a different part of East Boston, with a slightly different name, and had quite a popular following before closing in 2011. After a seven-year hiatus, it made a comeback at a new address, and it’s better than ever. Tawakal’s ambiance is casual and homey, and its menu highlights not just Somali cuisine but draws influence from elsewhere around East Africa and the Middle East as well. The sambusas — embellished with the house-made, mango-based hot sauce — are a must, as is the beef hilib tawakal plate, in which chapati strips cooked in a spiced tomato sauce take on a satisfying texture similar to Thai drunken noodles.

Overhead view of two Somali dishes on a pale peach tablecloth with white accents. One dish is chapati strips cooked in a tomato sauce with chunks of beef; the other is a beef biryani with multi-colored rice in shades of yellow and orange.
Tawakal plate (left) and beef biryani at Tawakal Halal Cafe.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

14. Regina Pizzeria

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11 1/2 Thacher St
Boston, MA 02113
(617) 227-0765
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This North End mainstay has been in operation since 1926; it’s one of the city’s best pizzerias. (Go to this particular location — the original — rather than one of many offshoots.) The secret to Regina’s success is a combination between the oven — it was built in 1888, and its cooking surface remains intact to this day — and the dough, which is left to proof for up to six days. The crust on a pizza from Regina is simultaneously chewy and crispy, and there are ample bubbles on the exterior ring. There will most likely be a wait outside, but it will be worth it. Sit at the bar if you can, order a pepperoni and mushroom, and drink a pitcher of Peroni. It’s the most North End of North End experiences.

The exterior window of the original Regina Pizzeria location in Boston’s North End includes red and green neon signage that says “Regina,” as well as printed red, green, and white signage reading “Pizza to Go,” “Pizzeria Regina,” and “Beer & Wine.”
The original North End location of Regina.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

15. Neptune Oyster

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63 Salem St # 1
Boston, MA 02113
(617) 742-3474
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One of the few non-Italian restaurants in the North End, this busy, noisy seafood spot consistently generates long lines at all hours, but the wait is worth it for one of the best lobster rolls in town. Also necessary: oysters and fried clams. Even the burger (topped with fried clams, of course) is great.

Overhead view of a round metal ice-filled dish holding oysters on the half-shell, crab claws, lemon wedges, and sauces.
Oysters and Jonah crab claws at Neptune Oyster.
Bill Addison/Eater

16. Pagu

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310 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 945-9290
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Pagu brings together Spanish and Japanese cuisines, and this isn’t some gimmicky early-2000s “fusion.” Ramen and chicken katsu sit seamlessly next to jamón ibérico and pintxos on the menu, all reflecting chef and owner Tracy Chang’s culinary experiences around the globe, from working at a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in San Sebastian to spending time at Boston’s own high-end Japanese destination O Ya.

Overhead shot of a bowl of ramen with a creamy pale yellow broth, chile oil, soft boiled egg, seaweed, scallions, and crispy pork
Guchi’s Midnight Ramen at Pagu.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

17. haley.henry

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45 Province St
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 208-6000
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Haley Fortier’s teeny-tiny industry haunt in Downtown Crossing doesn’t have much kitchen space, but it more than makes up for that with its selection of fancy tinned seafoods from Spain, Portugal, and the United States; a spectacular wine list; a ship-like ambiance; and its sense of humor. This is the place to go for those who want to eat Portuguese tinned smoked eels, perfectly paired with a funky, hard-to-find wine. Also on the compact menu: “biggie small plates,” such as brisket sliders; “bone thugs & charcuterie,” such as lamb tartare; and more.

The interior of an intimate wine bar that has a bit of a nautical vibe
The intimate bar at Haley Henry.
Brian Samuels

18. Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe

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86 Bedford St
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 482-1888
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Gene's offers Xi'an-style Chinese cuisine, a little bit difficult to find elsewhere in Boston, and while the restaurant's name refers to the flatbread sandwiches stuffed with beef or pork, the real highlight of the menu is the chewy, garlicky hand-pulled noodles. Add a skewer of cumin lamb and a tea egg or two on the side. Counter-service, no-frills, and only open for lunch and early dinner.

A black plastic bowl of thick hand-pulled noodles, heavily dusted with chile powder and topped with greens and a generous dollop of garlic. A wooden skewer of lamb pieces sits across the rim of the bowl, which is on a Chinese Zodiac placemat on a red tray
Hand-pulled noodles with a lamb skewer at Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Cafe.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

19. O Ya

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9 East St
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 654-9900
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Sushi lovers who have not yet embarked on O Ya's iconic 20-course grand omakase have not yet lived. And it's not just the seafood — the tender wagyu beef strip loin is stunning (with a price tag to match). Hidden in the Leather District, this tiny spot has accumulated numerous awards, including a James Beard for chef and co-owner Tim Cushman.

Five square slices of rare steak are lined up on a white plate, on a bed of thinly sliced potatoes.
Seared petit strip loin at O Ya.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

20. Dumpling Cafe

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695 Washington St
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 338-8859
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Chinatown is one of Boston’s great food neighborhoods, and there are so many restaurants from the neighborhood that are good enough to be on this list. Dumpling Cafe’s Taiwan-style pan-fried dumplings and sweet, gooey, slightly spicy Taiwan-style eggplant help this Washington Street eatery edge its neighbors, however. Also compulsory: pork soup dumplings and garlicky sauteed string beans.

A wooden steamer at Dumpling Cafe holds half a dozen plump soup dumplings.
Soup dumplings at Dumpling Cafe in Chinatown.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

21. Saltie Girl

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279 Dartmouth St
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 267-0691
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Saltie Girl boasts a large selection of seafood dishes that touch on so many different genres. A table might have everything from a raw bar tower to whole fried black bass for two to fried lobster and waffles, and there are plenty of imported tins of seafood as well. This Back Bay restaurant is a seafood lover’s paradise.

Slices of torched salmon sit atop slices of charred avocado on a rectangular white plate. It’s all topped with microgreens.
Torched salmon at Saltie Girl.
Saltie Girl

22. Shōjō

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9 Tyler St
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 423-7888
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The loud, energy-packed Shōjō brings a new spin to Asian fusion, upping the ante with dishes like the “Shojonator” burger (complete with kimchi velveeta), fried eggplant bao, and a killer cocktail list. It’s a bit of modern flashiness in a neighborhood of old-school classics, and it somehow simultaneously stands out and fits right into Boston’s Chinatown.

A burger topped with a mountain of vegetables and skewered with a toothpick
The “Shojonator” burger.
Danh Nguyen and Andrew Kubica/Shōjō

23. Sportello

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348 Congress St
Boston, MA 02210
(617) 737-1234
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Of all the Barbara Lynch restaurants, Sportello, located in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood, is perhaps the most approachable in terms of prices and vibe while still showing off that Lynch magic. Minimalist diner meets trattoria with a small open kitchen, counter seating, and a menu of pleasing pastas and more. And oh, that spicy tomato soup.

A spread of Italian dishes — including salumi, olives, and more — on a bright white surface
A spread of dishes at Sportello.
Pat Piasecki

24. Row 34

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383 Congress St
Boston, MA 02210
(617) 553-5900
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This lively "workingman's oyster bar" is the embodiment of Boston's current New England dining scene. Row 34 is one of several key players in the Fort Point restaurant boom, drawing massive crowds to a once-quiet section of town. With a creative beer list, ultra-fresh seafood, and some of the best lobster rolls in town, Row 34 is one of the trickiest reservations to snag.

A whole cooked fish — small and silver, with dark stripes running across — sits on a round white plate with some greens on top.
A whole fish at Row 34.
Row 34

25. Chickadee

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21 Drydock Ave
Boston, MA 02210
(617) 531-5591
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Chickadee resides in the intersection between seasonal New England ingredients and Mediterranean influences, with a touch of Portugal, too. Highlights include the squid ink fusilli, the sea scallops, and the roasted porchetta. Worth the trek to the far end of the fast-developing Seaport District, Chickadee already feels like it’s been running smoothly for years, an impressive feat for first-time owners John daSilva and his fellow No. 9 Park alum Ted Kilpatrick, who opened the restaurant in 2018.

Seared scallops sit in a bowl on circles of orange and yellow purees, topped with herbs.
Sea scallops at Chickadee.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

26. Sweet Cheeks

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1381 Boylston St
Boston, MA 02215
(617) 266-1300
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The first of chef and restaurateur Tiffani Faison’s Fenway businesses, Sweet Cheeks has been a reliable barbecue destination for a decade, serving high-quality meats and can’t-miss biscuits. Now part of Faison’s growing Big Heart Hospitality empire, Sweet Cheeks has several siblings (and Fenway neighbors): Tiger Mama (Southeast Asian-inspired cuisine), Fool’s Errand (snacks and cocktails in a standing-room-only space), and Orfano (Italian-American), with more spots to come at a forthcoming downtown Boston food hall.

A sidewalk patio full of patrons outside of a restaurant with “BBQ” signage.
The sidewalk patio at Sweet Cheeks.
Sweet Cheeks

27. Fox & the Knife

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28 W Broadway
Boston, MA 02127
(617) 766-8630
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The first solo restaurant from James Beard award winner chef Karen Akunowicz, Fox & the Knife was named one of the best new restaurants in the country when it opened in 2019, and it’s Akunowicz’s love letter to Italian cooking, particularly the Emilia-Romagna region. Her stacked team consists of master bakers, pasta makers, and chefs who turn out beautiful dishes, cocktails, and desserts. The cheesy focaccia is a must.

Overhead view of a round white plate filled with bright green twists of pasta.
Campanelle al pesto di pistacchio at Fox & the Knife.
Sarah Storrer/Eater

28. Kava Neo-Taverna

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2112, 315 Shawmut Ave
Boston, MA 02118
(617) 356-1100
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Boston’s seen some major growth in its Greek food scene over the last few years, and one of the new-ish arrivals, Kava Neo-Taverna, has really made a niche for itself in the South End with dishes like loukaniko, keftedes, and oktapodi. In-the-know diners will save room for the honey-drizzled Greek yogurt dessert.

A giant scoop of Greek yogurt sits on a plate, looking like ice cream and drizzled with honey and chopped nuts.
Greek yogurt at Kava Neo-Taverna.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

29. Toro

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1704 Washington St
Boston, MA 02118
(617) 536-4300
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Chefs and owners Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette team up for one of the city's most popular restaurants. Toro, open for over a decade in the South End, serves modern and traditional tapas ranging from simple grilled corn to elaborate dishes pairing seafood and charcuterie with rich, bold flavors that keep the crowds lining up at the energetic spot.

Mussels, shrimp, and clams sit atop a skillet of rice and vegetables
Paella at Toro.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

30. Bar Lyon

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1750 Washington St
Boston, MA 02118
(617) 904-4020
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Bar Lyon’s parent company, the Columbus Hospitality Group, knows how to build an upscale mainstay: Restaurants like Mooo and Mistral have been holding down the Boston fine-dining fort for years. But the team went a little more casual, a little more affordable, with the newest addition, and it seems to be paying off. Bar Lyon has only been open since fall 2018 and was on hiatus for much of the pandemic but already seems poised to inhabit the neighborhood forever, serving French classics, from escargots to steak frites, not to mention one of the best French onion soups in town (when in season).

A variety of French dishes sit on a restaurant table in front of a mauve leather booth.
A spread of food at Bar Lyon.
Bar Lyon

31. Mahaniyom

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236 Washington St
Brookline, MA 02445
(617) 487-5986
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Mahaniyom isn’t the type of Thai restaurant where diners will find a giant list of choose-your-protein curries and noodles. The concise menu at this quirky, boozy spot features dishes you won’t readily find elsewhere in the Boston-area Thai scene — many of them small plates that pair particularly well with one of the restaurant’s tasty cocktails or a mild Thai lager. Fill up on crispy chicken skins; sausage made of rice and pork; a seasonal fruit salad (currently rambutan with fried shrimp and toasted coconut); and salt-and-pepper pork cheek.

A Thai pomelo salad with shrimp, betel leaves, thinly sliced red chile, and a variety of crispy condiments sits in a black bowl on a wooden table in front of a brick background
Yum som-o (pomelo salad), which appeared on Mahaniyom’s opening menu. The current salad features rambutan.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

32. Jamaica Mi Hungry

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225 Centre St
Boston, MA 02130
(617) 708-0465
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If it’s jerk chicken and beef patties you’re after, look no further than Jamaica Mi Hungry, which is situated adjacent to the Jackson Square T stop in Jamaica Plain. Jamaica Mi Hungry, which began life as a food truck before opening its permanent location, is also currently popping up on Western Avenue in Allston in the space formerly occupied by Rabottini’s Pizza and Café Beatrice. Oxtail, curry goat, coconut shrimp, beans and rice, and mac and cheese are all must-tries. 

Overhead view of two takeout containers. One has jerk chicken, fries, and slaw; the other has fried coconut-coated shrimp with plantains and mac and cheese.
Jerk chicken and coconut shrimp from Jamaica Mi Hungry.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

33. The Haven

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2 Perkins St
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
(617) 524-2836
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Boston's "Scottish headquarters" features great beer, a cheerful ambiance, and the hospitality of owner Jason Waddleton. The Haven offers up a solid menu of Scottish foods and beers, as well as a packed events calendar (in non-COVID times). It's probably the only place where one can eat haggis in the Boston area. The burger is also exceptional. Keep an eye out for the Haven’s forthcoming sibling, set to open in 2022.

A portion of haggis sits on a bed of mashed rutabaga, garnished with Drambuie butter
Haggis at the Haven.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

34. El Oriental de Cuba

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416 Centre St
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
(617) 524-6464
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There are a number of excellent Cuban restaurants in and around Boston, and Jamaica Plain’s Centre Street is a feast in and of itself. The Cuban sandwich at El Oriental de Cuba is one of the best bites in the entire city. The exterior is crispy, and the interior is filled with savory pork and pickles, dressed with a gooey amalgamation of Swiss cheese and mustard. Its tropical shakes are refreshing; its coffee (especially its Cuban iced coffee, mixed with tooth-achingly sweet milk) is perfect. 

Exterior shot of a casual corner restaurant with brick walls, large windows decorated with flower boxes, and mint green signage with bright red and yellow lettering
The exterior of El Oriental de Cuba in Jamaica Plain.
El Oriental de Cuba

35. Singh's Roti Shop

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692 Columbia Rd
Dorchester, MA 02125
(617) 282-7977
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Dorchester and Roxbury are where Bostonians go to eat roti, a dish that originated in the West Indies (specifically in Trinidad). This curried stew is served with or wrapped by a flatbread that is similar in constitution and taste to the kind you’d find on the Indian subcontinent. (There is a long and complicated history of Indian immigration to Trinidad and Tobago, as well as to the greater Caribbean.) While there are several fine roti shops in Boston, the house-made hot sauce at Singh’s pushes this Dorchester Avenue spot ahead of the competition. Order the goat roti, and get doubles, too, a dish that consists of two delicately fried pieces of dough packed with sweet and spicy chickpeas. Singh’s is primarily a takeout spot, but you’ll find a few counter seats within.

A serving of doubles — spicy and sweet chickpeas sandwiched between two pieces of fried dough — sits on white paper on a counter, illuminated by a glowing blue light
Doubles at Singh’s Roti Shop.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

36. Merengue Restaurant

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156 Blue Hill Avenue
Boston, MA 02125
(617) 445-5403
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This restaurant has been dishing out Dominican food on Blue Hill Avenue for a quarter of a century. Merengue’s excellent cocktail list includes a number of frozen daiquiris (get the passionfruit), as well as a variety of margaritas and mojitos. The grilled chicken with chimichurri sauce and the stuffed shrimp tostones are must-orders, as are the fried pork chops and grilled steak with peppers and onions. Oh, and the mofongo is among the best in the city.

A whole fried fish sits on a white plate with a lime wedge and aother accompaniments
Whole fried fish from Merengue.
Merengue

37. Banh Mi Ba Le

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1052 Dorchester Ave
Dorchester, MA 02125
(617) 265-7171
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This is the crown jewel of Dorchester’s noteworthy Vietnamese dining scene. Banh Mi Ba Le is a combination market and takeout restaurant — there are a few seats in non-COVID times, but it’s best to get your food to go and eat it elsewhere, such as at the nearby Robert E. Ryan playground, weather permitting — and it’s best known for its grilled beef banh mi. The bread, which is baked in-house, is both shockingly crispy and pillowy, packed with fresh vegetables and sweet, charred strips of beef. There are few better sandwiches in the city, or anywhere. Wash it down with some passionfruit juice, and get some Vietnamese pantry staples from the market.

Hands hold two banh mi over pavement
Banh mi (one with beef, one with tofu) from Banh Mi Ba Le.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

38. Brassica Kitchen + Cafe

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3710 Washington St
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
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Brassica was an early example of Boston’s growing trend of successful pop-ups putting down roots. This casual JP gem — which is a cafe by day — turns up the intensity at dinner, serving creative tasting menus (and a la carte options) that highlight local ingredients in playful ways and draw inspiration from around the globe. The fried chicken is one of the best in town, and there’s a healthy dose of fermented and funky ingredients on the menu.

A light purple-tinted macaron leans up against a round chocolate dessert on a colorful plate
A dessert at Brassica Kitchen.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

1. Dakzen

195 Elm St, Somerville, MA 02144
Overhead shot of khao soi on a bright yellow surface. The bowl has a traditional Thai pattern on it, including a rooster. The khao soi includes pickled mustard greens, an egg, lime wedges, a nest of crispy noodles, and more.
Khao soi at Dakzen.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Find Thai restaurant Dakzen, an Eater Boston Fast-Casual Restaurant of the Year, in Somerville’s Davis Square. The busy, well-lit restaurant has an aura of happy chaos, with a service model that falls somewhere between counter-service and full-service and a menu that doesn’t shy away from heat and funk. Those already familiar with Thai flavors — beyond Thai-American takeout staples — will be delighted to find them here, and newbies will quickly learn what they’ve been missing. Highlights include the khao soi, the tom yum noodle soup, and the ba mee moo dang.

195 Elm St
Somerville, MA 02144

2. Yume Wo Katare

1923 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140
Ramen noodles and slices of pork are stacked impossibly high in a white bowl, topped with ample garlic.
Ramen at Yume Wo Katare.
Yume Wo Katare

This tiny Porter Square ramen destination isn't just a restaurant — it's a place where founder Tsuyoshi Nishioka wants to make everyone's dreams come true, starting by encouraging diners to literally stand up and share those dreams out loud (after successfully finishing a giant bowl of ramen, of course). Aside from occasional seasonal specials or COVID-era takeout kits, the simple menu typically only includes one type of ramen — “Jiro-style,” heavy on pork and garlic — with a choice of adding extra noodles and/or extra pork to an already hearty portion.

1923 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140

3. Giulia

1682 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138