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Boston Restaurants

Hotel Photo
B&G Oysters Ltd.
550 Tremont Street
Boston , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 423 0550

Chef/owner Barbara Lynch's South End hot spot attracts le tout Boston for excellent lobster rolls and, of course, bivalves, shucked to order and washed down with Prosecco. The room is gorgeous and sexy with its ocean-hued mosaics, mother-of-pearl colors, and flattering spotlights, and the joint is always jumping—so much so that you should be prepared to wait up to two hours for a spot at the bar, and without reservations, it's unlikely you'll get a table. Also check out No. 9 Park, Lynch's first restaurant, on Boston Common (9 Park St.; 617-742-9991), or Menton, her French–Italian hot spot in the Fort Point Channel neighborhood, which was a James Beard Award nominee for best new restaurant in 2011 (354 Congress St.; 617-737-0099).—updated by Jon Marcus

Bina Osteria
581 Washington Street
Massachusetts 02111
Tel: 617 956 0888

The smarty-pants Italophile would say Bina's sophisticated food and flash make it a ristorante, not an osteria (literally, a bar or tavern), and il bastardo would be right. Never mind the language, though: This downtown newcomer serves some of Boston's most exceptional food. Veteran restaurateurs, siblings Babak Bina and Azita Bina-Seibel, infuse Bina's grand, mostly white, angular dining room with an osteria's casual hospitality, but it's the food that warms up the elegantly modern setting. Pastas—like the gnocchi (squid, clams, chorizo chips, and Meyer lemon confit) and an interpretation of spaghetti carbonara (served with a slow-cooked egg, housemade pancetta, pecorino foam, and chitarra-cut fresh pasta)—are refined and skillfully composed. And, while quail roasted on a bed of smoldering hay and herbs might sound gimmicky, it is, in fact, rustic and damn good.—Charles Kelsey, first published on

Open Mondays through Wednesdays 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5 to 10 pm, Thursdays and Fridays 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5 to 10:30 pm, Saturdays 5 to 10:30 pm, and Sundays 10:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5 to 10 pm.

Blue Inc.
131 Broad Street
Boston , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 261 5353

In a town that doesn't usually go for flashy, Blue Inc. is an ostentatious exception to the rule. Chef Jason Santos is a Hell's Kitchen regular who doesn't so much cook food as invent it: smoldering salsa, a gel that transforms into noodles when it's dipped in broth, "hot" ice cream. The honey-and-hoisin-glazed duck confit and pork loin with spicy chipotle cornbread pudding are standouts on the dinner menu. Even the bar mixes up concoctions that seem less cocktail than chemistry. (The bar manager's title is "mad scientist.") The space was designed by Taniya Nayak, host of some—and frequent guest on other—HGTV shows. A meal here is not only fun and entertaining, it's good, with enthusiastic service and constant surprises, including milk shakes that come with a "crust" to poke your straw through.—Jon Marcus

Open Mondays through Thursdays 11:30 am to 3 pm and 5 to 10 pm, Fridays 11:30 am to 3 pm and 5 pm to midnight, Saturdays 5 pm to midnight. Bar open Mondays through Saturdays from 4 pm.

Chez Henri
1 Shepard Street
Porter Square
Cambridge , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 354 8980

Chez Henri, located between Harvard and Porter squares, looked to Cuba to spice up its traditional bistro fare, so prepare to enjoy a Mojito with your steak frites. But skip the formal dining room, which can feel like an extension of the Harvard faculty dining hall—stuffed with tweed jackets, outdated sweater sets, and theoretical conversation. Instead, settle in at one of the few tables in the more relaxed, sometimes boisterous bar area, where the separate, wallet-friendly menu includes a perfectly pressed Cubano and warm spinach salad with duck tamale.—updated by Jon Marcus

Mondays through Thursdays 5:30 to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5:30 to 10:30 pm, Sundays 5:30 to 9:30 pm.

Eliot Hotel
370 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 536 7200

Put simply, Clio chef Ken Oringer is one of the best in America. His French–Asian hybrids (heavy on the French) astonish everyone, however jaded. Reading the menu clues you in: cassolette of lobster and sea urchin with yuzu and Japanese pepper; lacquered foie gras with sweet-and-sour lemon and bee pollen; roast suckling pig with fresh bacon-and-endive confit. The setting is elegant, the service, flawless. Consequently, Clio, in the Eliot Hotel can be one tough table to score, especially on a weekend. Book ahead, or try Oringer's other spots—all very different from this and one another—including Uni a sashimi bar, just a few steps away, in a corner of the Eliot; Toro a Spanish-style tapas restaurant in the South End (1704 Washington St., 617-536-4300) Coppa a South End enoteca (253 Shawmut Ave., 617-391-0902), KO Prime a steakhouse inside the Nine Zero Hotel (90 Tremont St., 617-772-0202,), or La Verdad a Mexican taqueria near Fenway Park (1 Lansdowne St., 617-351-2580).—updated by Jon Marcus

Open Mondays through Saturdays 5:30 to 10:30 pm.

Hamersley's Bistro
553 Tremont Street
Boston , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 423 2700

A mainstay since 1987, Hamersley's Bistro has been serving up unpretentious, seasonal French cuisine since before most of the other restaurants on this list existed. In a wood-beamed dining room in a South End neighborhood that has gradually become one of Boston's hippest, chef Gordon Hamersley serves up the requisite pâtés, cassoulets, and soufflés, and his roasted garlic chicken has achieved cult status. All dishes use ingredients from local farms and fishermen—even mushrooms foraged in the fields of western Massachusetts. While Hamersley has won awards from James Beard, Food & Wine, and countless others, perhaps the biggest tribute to him is the success of the chefs he trained in his kitchen: Jody Adams, now the chef–owner of the equally renowned Rialto, and Steve Johnson, who took over as sous chef when Adams left and now owns and runs the Mediterranean-influenced Rendezvous in Cambridge's Central Square (502 Massachusetts Ave.; 617-576-1900).—updated by Jon Marcus

Open Mondays through Fridays from 5:30 to 9:30 pm, Saturdays 5:30 to 10 pm, Sundays 11 am to 2 pm and 5:30 to 9:30 pm. Closed first week of January.

Island Creek Oyster Bar
500 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 532 5300

Boston has gone nutty for oysters, and among the many local favorites are the ones harvested by Island Creek Oysters in the South Shore seaside town of Duxbury. In addition to the spread from a top-flight raw bar, the Island Creek Oyster Bar at the Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore Square serves chef Jeremy Sewall's distinctive New England–style comfort dishes. Sewall's cousin in Maine supplies the lobster, the owner's mother provided the seafood stew recipe, and the chef brings creativity to dishes such as seared Scituate scallops in a roasted mushroom ragù with lentil and lobster cream. All of this plus a buzzing bar scene means there can sometimes be a wait for a table. Sewall's other fine-dining restaurant, Lineage, is just a few blocks away (242 Harvard St., Brookline; 617-232-0065).—Jon Marcus

Open Mondays through Saturdays 4 pm to 1 am, Sundays 10:30 am to 1 am.

Legal Harborside
Liberty Wharf
270 Northern Avenue
Boston , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 477 2900

The flagship of the Boston-based Legal Sea Foods empire, Legal Harborside is notable for two things in addition to its praiseworthy seafood: its size (at 20,000 square feet, it's the biggest restaurant in Boston) and its location (in the hopping Seaport District, which sprang up seemingly overnight out of what were previously gravel parking lots and freight yards). Most seats in the three-level restaurant offer standout water views. The first floor is a casual all-day clam shack with a bar and fish market. The second is a fine-dining restaurant. The third is a (mostly covered) roof deck with a raw bar and a menu of sandwiches and salads. Legal Harborside is hugely popular, especially with the after-work crowd, but tables turn over fairly quickly. If you're feeling adventurous, stop by Legal Test Kitchen, right across the street: Better known to the locals as LTK, it's where Legal Sea Foods tests new dishes (225 Northern Ave.; 617-330-7430).—Jon Marcus

First floor open Sundays through Thursdays 11 am to 11 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 11 am to midnight. Second floor open Sundays through Thursdays 5:30 to 10 pm, Saturdays 5:30 to 11 pm. Third floor open Mondays through Thursdays 4 pm to 1 am, Fridays and Saturdays 2 pm to 1 am.

3 Winter Place
Boston , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 542 1340

While its neighborhood has seen better days (it's now blemished with lowbrow shops and vacant lots), arriving at the hidden-away Locke-Ober is like stepping into a time warp. This historic restaurant (it's the city's third-oldest, after Durgin Park and the Union Oyster House) has been serving hearty New England fare to the cream of Boston's crop since 1875. Not much has changed as far as the decor and the menu are concerned—an attentive bow-tied staff picks up dishes like clams casino, JFK lobster stew, Boston scrod, Dover sole, and flaming baked Alaska at a polished-wood bar. What has evolved is the quality of the food. Boston chef Lydia Shire took over the kitchen in 2003 and added artistic presentation to the traditional gentleman's-club cuisine. She slow-roasts duck with tarragon and garlic and pairs it with miso and pea tendrils, for example. Despite the hefty price tag, everyone from deal-making businessmen to couples celebrating special occasions swear by the classic Lobster Savannah—two pounds of lobster meat sautéed with red and green peppers, mushrooms, and a sherry sauce before being returned to its shell. True to its Brahmin roots, Locke-Ober is open only for dinner and closed (how could you even ask?) on Sundays.

Open Mondays through Fridays 5 to 10 pm, Saturdays 5 to 11 pm.

Marco Cucina Romano
253 Hanover Street, 2nd Floor
Boston , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 742 1276

In a small second-story storefront overlooking bustling Hanover Street, Marco Cucina Romano is a welcome retreat from the kitsch (hanging grapes, carafes of Chianti, murals of Neapolitan landscapes) prevalent in so many other North End Italian restaurants. In a more rustic approach, drippy candles illuminate a fireplace, large potted plants add a touch of country ambience, and brick walls up the charm—although they can also raise the noise level a few decibels. With his seasonal menus, Marc Orfaly, also the chef–owner of another Boston favorite, Pigalle (75 Charles St.; 617-423-4944), pays homage to the simplicity of Roman-style dishes with his clams oreganato, house-cured salumi, veal saltimbocca, and orecchiette with pancetta, peas, fava beans, and ramps. Portions tend toward the small side, but that just means more room for a cappuccino and the obligatory serving of homemade cannolis.

Open Tuesdays through Thursdays 5 to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5 to 11 pm, Sundays 4 to 9:30 pm (family-style dinner menu only).

Myers + Chang
1145 Washington Street
Boston , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 542 5200

Like any enfant terrible, chef Joanna Chang had her dessert first: At bakery and café Flour, she seduced Boston with sticky buns and homemade "Oreos." Her follow-up is this kitschy Asian diner she opened with husband Christopher Myers (they met when both worked at Rialto). Unlike the conventional restaurants of Chinatown, Myers + Chang is pure rock 'n' roll, from its location in the perennially cool South End to its blasting soundtrack to its vest-wearing waiters who are quick to recommend a house-made aloe-yuzu soda. Almost all of the dishes on the Chinese-Thai-Vietnamese menu are served family-style, including spicy dan dan noodles, wok-roasted lemongrass mussels, and tea-smoked pork spare ribs. And most ring in under $15, which makes this place a big draw for the area's last few starving artists and budget-conscious young professionals. Which means you'll have time to down a few sake bombs at the bar while you wait for a table. Like dim sum? There's a dim sum brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.

Open Sundays through Wednesdays 11:30 am to 10 pm, Thursdays through Saturdays 11:30 am to 11 pm.

Hotel Photo
Neptune Oyster
63 Salem Street
Boston , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 742 3474

You know a seafood restaurant means business when the menu includes a tower of as many oysters, clams, and shrimp as you and at least five friends can handle (that would be the Neptune Plateau, $95). And you can't go wrong ordering à la carte, either. Choose from 14 types of oysters, steaming New England clam chowder, delicate tuna crudo, and indulgently rich jumbo scallops. The tables and bar stools of this tiny, very popular North End seafood joint fill up between 6 and 6:30 pm, so arrive early or be prepared to wait. When seated, you'll be elbow to elbow with your neighbors, but the vibe is fun.

Open Sundays through Thursdays 11:30 am to 10:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 11:30 am to 11:30 pm.

134 Hampshire Street
Between Inman Square & Kendall Square
Cambridge , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 661 0505

To experience what farm-to-table really means, come to Oleana during the growing season. Between April and November, almost all the vegetables chef Ana Sortun immaculately prepares are grown on her husband's organic farm in Sudbury, some 20 miles outside the city. Sortun has also earned a devoted following among the artsy intelligentsia for a liberal use of exotic spices in the Eastern Mediterranean–influenced dishes that emerge from her surprisingly tiny open kitchen: A sculpted disc of smoky eggplant purée dotted with pine nuts complements impossibly tender tamarind-glazed beef, and three pieces of spinach falafel sit on top of a flatbread spread thinly with tahini and topped with yogurt, beets, and mâche (cut lengthwise between the fried balls to make individual roll-ups). Like the food, the restaurant blends natural elements, such as wood and stone, with Middle Eastern accents (woven rugs serve as wall hangings). Book ahead when the weather is nice, and ask for a table in the blooming garden. There's also a spin-off bakery and café, Sofra, across town in the Fresh Pond neighborhood of Cambridge (1 Belmont St.; 617-661-3161).

Open Sundays through Thursdays 5:30 to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5:30 to 11 pm.

Hotel Photo
O Ya
9 East Street
Boston , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 654 9900

On a side street in the gritty Leather District, O Ya's location is as unconventional as its tantalizingly novel sushi menu. Opt for a counter seat at this industrial-Zen Japanese joint to observe the sushi chefs as they pan-sear foie gras nigiri before topping it with a balsamic-chocolate kabayaki (grilled eel) sauce, or dress thin slices of wild Toyama Bay yellowtail with a mignonette of Thai basil and fried shallots. Dishes from the kitchen are equally inventive, such as crispy shiso (Japanese mint) tempura topped with a bite of succulent grilled lobster, charred tomato, and ponzu aïoli. Of course, such elevated cuisine comes at a lofty price, especially since one person could easily consume five to seven of the small plates (up to $20 apiece). The $140 tasting menu of 14 or 15 sample-size portions isn't necessarily a better value, but it is good for the uninitiated and indecisive. A recent spate of attention—including a Food & Wine Best New Chef award for O Ya's Tim Cushman—makes snagging one of the 37 seats a challenge. Book several weeks in advance for prime-time weekend slots, or inquire at your hotel—the concierge may have an in.

Open Tuesdays through Thursdays 5 to 9:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5 to 10 pm.

Charles Hotel
One Bennett Street
Harvard Square
Cambridge , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 661 5050

Talk about Boston chef success stories, and Jody Adams is bound to come up. With no formal training, she got a job working under the tutelage of Gordon Hamersley before making a name for herself at now-closed Michela's in 1990. Four years later, she became executive chef and co-owner at Rialto, a Mediterranean hot spot in the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square, but it wasn't until 2007 that her vision for the restaurant finally took form. She purchased the restaurant outright, shuttered it for six weeks to give the moody space a much-needed face-lift, and reworked the menu to focus on her bread and butter—intensely flavorful Italian cuisine. Now, single Gerber daisies adorn the tables, and flowing chiffon curtains lend some intimacy to the large dining room. The menu is equally uplifting: There might be a floppy lasagna dish (wide farro, semolina, and buckwheat noodles woven between ricotta and mascarpone cheese, oven-dried tomatoes, and a basil-spinach-arugula pesto purée) or quail stuffed with polenta, currants, and pine nuts.

Open daily 5 to 10 pm.

Sel de La Terre

When most of Boston's restaurants call it a night, Sel de la Terre's locations near the waterfront and beside the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on Boylston Street in the Back Bay are just getting started. They're open for lunch, brunch, and dinner, but from 10 pm to midnight, Wednesday through Saturday (Friday and Saturday until 1 am in the Back Bay), the warm Provençal kitchens churn out smaller, lighter versions of the restaurant's tried-and-true favorites (saffron butternut squash soup with lobster arancini, crisp rosemary pommes frites), as well as a few additions, such as one of Boston's best burgers, topped with smoked onions, blue cheese, spicy aïloli, and a secret ingredient: duck fat. The freshly baked breads—black olive, fig and anise, multigrain—are reason enough to go. Pick up a loaf, some house-made charcuterie, and a few classic French pastries at the Long Wharf location's boulangerie for an impromptu picnic in the park across the street.—updated by Jon Marcus

Long Wharf open daily 11 am to 10 pm, with a late-night menu Wednesdays through Saturdays until midnight.

Back Bay open daily 11 am to 11 pm, with a café and bar menu Sundays through Thursday until midnight, Fridays and Saturdays until 1 am.

Tasty Burger
1301 Boylston Street
Boston , Massachusetts
Tel: 617 425 4444

A retro burger shop in a former gas station, Tasty Burger is part of a new restaurant row that's transforming the city's Fenway section (home to Fenway Park) into a great place to restaurant- and bar-hop. Good old-fashioned dogs, Hereford beef burgers, shakes, lime Rickeys, root beer floats, and beer are on the menu. There is, of course, a jukebox, and the pool table is free.—Jon Marcus

Open daily 11 am to 2 am.

Ten Tables

Yes, Ten Tables's brick and polished wood–clad dining rooms are as tightly packed as the name suggests, even if the slightly more spacious Cambridge outpost actually has 17 tables. But the menu is mind-expanding—a fusion of cuisines that ranges from pastas and house-made sausages to Portuguese fish stew to chorizo-stuffed Giannone chicken, accompanied by local microbrews and wines from small family vineyards. Small as they are, and as popular with locals as they've become, these restaurants (there's now a third location, in Provincetown on Cape Cod) require reservations in advance.—updated by Jon Marcus

Open Mondays through Thursdays 5:30 to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5:30 to 10:30 pm, Sundays 5 to 9 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.