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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

The 38 Essential Restaurants in Boston

Where to find the ultimate sushi spread, perfect pasta, and spiciest jerk chicken

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A kamayan feast at Tanám
| 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.

This quarter, we welcome 38 veterans Tanám in Somerville and Saltie Girl in Back Bay back to the map. With Massachusetts operating in a fairly normal capacity these days, the 38’s focus shifts back to restaurants with sit-down components, so Mei Mei and Sekali have been retired from the map this quarter. The former is no longer operating as a sit-down restaurant, focusing instead on wholesale dumpling distribution and a bit of prepared food pickup service, and the latter is a pop-up (one definitely worth watching). 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.

The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination sit 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 a bowl of khao soi on a bright yellow surface. The bowl itself has a traditional Thai pattern on it, including a rooster design. 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, the simple menu 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. As of July 2021, Yume Wo Katare hasn’t restarted dine-in service; order takeout online and watch Instagram for updates.

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 [Official Photo]

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. The pappardelle with wild boar is a favorite choice that doesn’t budge from the otherwise changing menu, 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. 

Thick pasta noodles covered in red sauce and grated parmesan cheese
Pasta at Giulia
Giulia/Official Site

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, and shelves of wine. There are also herbs growing on shelves in front of a window.
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, Filipinx American 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 and hands-on, kamayan-style feasts, depending on the night. (Kamayan meals are currently available only for full buyouts, which can accommodate groups up to 10.) Smaller meals and snacks are currently available for takeout and delivery.

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.

The bar at Brewer’s Fork
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 hotdog, bar burger, or wings.

An asparagus dish at Puritan & Co.
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. The omakase price varies and has crept up over the last few years, but it is generally around $110 per person. As of July 2021, Cafe Sushi hasn’t restarted indoor dining and is currently offering takeout and delivery only.

Sashimi at Cafe Sushi
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. KO Pies at the Shipyard

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256 Marginal St
Boston, MA 02128
(617) 418-5234
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Australian meat pies and beer sound good enough on their own, right? Now add the fact that this casual spot is hidden away in a shipyard in East Boston, which happens to be filled with cool art installations and glorious views of downtown. The Irish beef stew meat pie is one of Boston's most iconic dishes and should be eaten on the patio when weather allows. Note: KO is closing soon — although the meat pies will live on — so go there right now.

An Australian meat pie sits in a paper container on a red tray on a red and white picnic table
Meat pie at KO Pies
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

16. Craigie on Main

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853 Main St
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 497-5511
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Yes, Craigie on Main makes a downright iconic burger. It’s everything everyone says it is, and you should order it if you haven’t. But it’s definitely not all about burgers at Tony Maws’ upscale Cambridge stalwart, which is also known for its seasonal, local tasting menu. (Note that as of July 2021, Craigie hasn’t reopened for indoor dining; it’s currently exclusively offering family-style tasting menus on the patio.)

Closeup on a burger featuring a thick patty, bacon, lettuce, and cheese, with thick fries on the edge of the frame
The Craigie burger
Bill Addison/Eater

17. 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.

Oysters and Jonah crab claws at Neptune Oyster
Oysters and Jonah crab claws at Neptune Oyster
Bill Addison/Eater

18. 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. As of July 2021, Pagu hasn’t restarted indoor dining but is offering outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery.

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

19. 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; 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.

20. 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

21. 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.

Seared petit strip loin at O Ya
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

22. 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

23. Saltie Girl

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281 Dartmouth St
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 267-0691
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Saltie Girl may be small, but it 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 uni Benedict toast 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. (By the way, there’s the option to add lobster and/or caviar by the ounce to anything on the menu.)

four pieces of torched salmon belly garnished with scallions sit on a black plate
Torched salmon belly at Saltie Girl
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

24. 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), bulgogi beef 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 for Shōjō

25. 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 on a bright white surface
A spread of dishes at Sportello
Pat Piasecki

26. 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 fish at Row 34
A whole fish at Row 34
Row 34/Official Site

27. 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.

Sea scallops at Chickadee
Sea scallops at Chickadee
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

28. 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 the better part of 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
Sweet Cheeks
Sweet Cheeks [Official Photo]

29. 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. Stop in on the early side of dinner for aperitivo hour (snacks and cocktails) and stay for curly pasta, cheesy focaccia, and braised lamb.

A plate of bright green twists of campanelle al pesto di pistacchio at Fox and the Knife
Campanelle al pesto di pistacchio at Fox & the Knife
Sarah Storrer/Eater

30. 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.

Greek yogurt at Kava Neo-Taverna
Greek yogurt at Kava Neo-Taverna
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

31. 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

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, 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). Also, it's probably the only place where one can eat haggis in the Boston area. The burger is also exceptional.

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, and 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
El Oriental de Cuba
El Oriental de Cuba/Official Site

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/Official Site

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 passion fruit 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
(617) 477-4519
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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 a bowl of khao soi on a bright yellow surface. The bowl itself has a traditional Thai pattern on it, including a rooster design. 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 [Official Photo]

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, the simple menu 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. As of July 2021, Yume Wo Katare hasn’t restarted dine-in service; order takeout online and watch Instagram for updates.

1923 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140

3. Giulia

1682 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138