As a Boston, Massachusetts local, I love trying out Boston restaurants and exploring the city’s vibrant foodie scene. You’ll find everything from incredible seafood to ramen, flavorful Mediterranean dishes, and more. But this can make deciding where to make reservations hard.
In this guide, I’ll take you through my favorite restaurants in Boston. These restaurants span a variety of cuisines, costs, and areas throughout Boston.
Table of Contents
- 23 Best Boston Restaurants
- FAQs About Places to Eat in Boston
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23 Best Boston Restaurants
Neptune Oyster is a small, cozy restaurant located in North End, a charming neighborhood in Boston. Tourists and locals alike line up and wait outside of this Italian-inspired oyster bar.
I recommend trying the oysters, little neck clams, or New England clam chowder at Neptune Oyster. I also like the calamari on brioche bread with fries. The staff here is friendly, personable, and knowledgeable. And they suggest good wine and beer pairings, too.
Note that the dining room is elegant yet narrow. Personal space doesn’t really exist in this fresh oyster bar. You might end up chatting with the person seated next to you (especially at the bar) like I did! I ended up talking to a friendly and chatty tourist from Idaho who was excited to experience one of Boston’s best-known restaurants.
KAVA Neo-Taverna is a popular date night spot in the South End. This small restaurant specializes in authentic Greek cuisine. The tables are tight, the energy is vibrant, and there is a large mural on the main wall of the owner’s grandfather.
KAVA serves homestyle dishes with high-quality ingredients. The feta cheese, fish, and octopus are all imported from the Mediterranean. KAVA also serves crisp Greek wine that’s hard to find elsewhere in the U.S.
There’s a large list of shareable meze plates at KAVA. My favorites are the charred and spiced lamb meatballs. And of course, the grilled oktapodi with olive oil, herbs, and lemon.
Seating is limited and reservations can be tough. KAVA opens up the books for reservations at 7 am daily. Set your alarm early and book your table on Resy. It’s worth the early wake-up call.
MIDA is a contemporary Italian eatery with quaint and cozy vibes. Seasonal ingredients are sourced from local farms and the curated menu is made up of homestyle Italian cuisine.
Pasta and pizza as well as other Italian dishes are served at MIDA. But the star of the show for me, was the tiramisu. The tiramisu is topped with mascarpone mousse and then a server pours a shot of fresh espresso over top. I enjoyed the crunchy ground espresso. It was a pleasant surprise that gave the tiramisu a lot of texture.
A fun fact about the restaurant: MIDA comes from the Italian phrase “he gives.” This culture of generosity is felt, as the service is excellent. Staff members are super attentive.
Celeste is a tiny and modern Peruvian restaurant in Somerville’s Union Square. The menu here frequently changes. However, you can expect things like ceviche, shrimp pasta, causas, and lomo-saltado (a famous Peruvian dish with beef, onion, and tomatoes).
I suggest you start with the ceviche (all of them). There’s even a vegetarian ceviche on the menu! They swap out the ahi-tuna for hearts of palm and artichoke.
Celeste provides a cozy atmosphere. The dining room only seats 24 people and music and art are a big part of the memorable ambiance. Celeste can feel more like a pop-up than a permanent restaurant, but this is because the restaurant can be packed and busy. I suggest you book a reservation a week or two in advance!
Little Big Diner
Little Big Diner is a playful ramen and East Asian street food spot in Newton Centre. The atmosphere is pleasant with an energetic staff.
Little Big Diner is walk-in only, so there could be a wait. Trust me, it is worth it. I am guilty of traveling all the way to Newton, despite traffic, just to get my ramen fix!
The menu features small plates at the top and big plates at the bottom. I specifically go for the piping hot ramen bowls. The broth is boiled for six hours and topped with your choice of chashu pork, chicken thighs, or chili ground pork. The Japanese-style fried chicken with house-made spicy mayo is delicious, too.
While you wait for your bowl of ramen, order a craft cocktail. My go-to is the Cold Tea. The cocktail features tequila, mezcal, yuzu sake, and green tea. And it’s so refreshing.
Union Square Donuts
Union Square Donuts is a locally famous donut shop originally from Somerville. It now has several locations throughout Boston and Cambridge.
Here, you can get massive donuts with toppings, glazings, and fillings. The donuts are fluffy, airy, and soft on the inside, similar to fried dough. There are stable donuts on the menu along with seasonal flavors.
I recommend the brown butter hazelnut crunch donut. It’s sweet, buttery, and topped with crushed hazelnut. The maple bacon donut is delicious, too. It features real Vermont maple syrup and sliced bacon on top—the perfect combination of savory and sweet!
Aside from donuts, you can find other bakery items and craft coffee beverages. Union Square Donuts offers latte options, matcha, and a creamy cortado.
Contessa is an Italian restaurant located in the Back Bay luxury hotel, The Newbury. This rooftop spot offers a spin on Northern Italy classics as well as views of the Public Garden.
Contessa is not one of those red-sauce Italian joints. Instead, there’s an emphasis on butter, cheese, cream, and fresh herbs. The menu has a variety of pizzas, pasta, and heavy meats.
Start with their fresh bread, parmesan cheese, and marinated olives. Then, try the spicy lobster capellini. It’s worth mentioning that their gelato game is strong.
Contessa is popular year-round in Boston. Reservations open 30 days out. The crowd tends to be a blend of stylish locals, city socialites, and trendy singles.
The Union Oyster House
The Union Oyster House is a little slice of history. It is the oldest restaurant in Boston and the U.S., as it’s been continuously operating since 1826.
“The Union Oyster” as locals call it, is located in an old brick building outside of Faneuil Hall Marketplace. This restaurant represents historic Boston in a genuine way. The food here is all about preserving iconic New England dishes, not about innovative cuisine.
Stick to the classic dishes at The Union Oyster. Enjoy shucked oysters, clam chowder, and boiled lobster paired with local beer and wine.
Krasi is a chic Greek meze (small dishes) spot in the Back Bay area. The interior is decked out in portraits of modernized Greek figures.
You can enjoy an unhurried meal and a few glasses of Greek wine at Krasi. The word “Krasi” actually means “wine” in Greek!
The menu at Krasi is a cultural immersion with 36 sharable meze offerings and a spectacular wine list. The specially curated Greek wine menu is the largest Greek wine list in Boston.
Yvonne’s is a modern speakeasy located in Downtown Crossing. The entrance is through a faux salon—a hint that there’s bound to be something cool happening inside.
Yvonne’s has an Instagramable menu. There is lots of variety here. From fun late-night cocktails to small plates meant for sharing. The dining rooms are extravagant and there is a dim and moody library with a fireplace.
The staff at Yvonne’s offers some of the best service. My girl’s night experience was made even better when our server suggested some amazing plates and drink pairings.
Do note that Yvonne’s is one of Boston’s most popular restaurants. Getting a reservation is very hard and I suggest booking a few weeks in advance.
👉 Pro Tip: I recommend calling an Uber or rideshare if you dine in the Downtown Crossing area late at night, just for extra safety in Boston.
Quattro offers some seriously good pizza in the North End. You can find a mix of fancy-fired pizzas and old-school classics.
The pizza comes out fast and hot. The crust is perfectly charred and the tomato sauce is slightly sweet. Give the white pizza with figs and arugula a try. There’s a variety of rich and filling handmade pasta, too.
Quattro has huge doors that open out onto the cobblestone streets for outdoor dining, perfect for warmer months. Quattro also has a wine list that’s served by the glass. Rumor has it they give out a generous pour!
Blossom Bar at Sichuan Garden
Blossom Bar is located in the Brookline neighborhood of Boston. It is a great restaurant for homestyle Chinese cooking and exotic cocktails.
Blossom Bar specializes in authentic Sichuan cuisine. The plates leave your mouth filled with flavor and heat. We always order freshly-folded pork dumplings and housemade chili sauce for the table. My pro-tip? Keep the sauce when you’re done and pour it over your rice!
The drinks are refreshing and have a Latin flair that compliments the tingly Sichuan dishes. The Broken Spanish Cocktail is my go-to drink. It is made with tequila, avocado, lime, coconut, and Thai basil. It’s a classic.
Sofra Bakery & Cafe
Sofra is a Middle Eastern Bakery in Cambridge. This tiny shop has made a name for itself when it comes to breakfast and lunch.
Enjoy shakshuka with thick Turkish coffee poured from a hammered copper pot. Try their chai tea and an orange blossom morning bun made of croissant dough and cardamom for something lighter.
This counter-service spot gets very crowded, especially on the weekends. If you can’t find a spot, order the tahini hummus and flatbreads to go for a picnic.
Citrus & Salt
Citrus & Salt is an upbeat restaurant at the border of Back Bay and South End. This restaurant serves up coastal Mexican dishes and a fun vibe.
The interior at Citrus & Salt is full of vibrant colors with eye-catching art. The tasteful decor and cool ambiance are just a bonus to their tasty plates. The small plates on the menu are designed for sharing. Try the grilled street corn with a twist. It’s bright red and prepared with Flam’n Hot Cheeto crumbs, smoked mayonnaise, and cotija cheese.
Save room for dessert! The Dole Whip is a hit. It is a pineapple sorbet with vanilla bean-infused pineapple and you can even add some rum to it. Lastly, I never leave Citrus & Salt without having the mouth-watering made-to-order churros. It’s served with vanilla dulce and mezcal chocolate for dipping.
Belle Isle Seafood
Patrons from all over the world come to Belle Isle Seafood. Even the late traveler extraordinaire, Anthony Bourdain. This restaurant is a classic New England seafood shack.
The cafeteria-like restaurant overlooks the harbor in Winthrop and specializes in well-made, classic New England Seafood. The service is excellent and friendly.
The most popular items on the menu include fried clams and lobster rolls with a perfectly toasted bun. I always enjoy the buttery, battered haddock plate served with rice pilaf and cole slaw.
Belle Isle Seafood is also a fish market. You can buy fresh cod filets, fresh halibut, and more, to cook at home. Everything offered in the market is fresh. This restaurant is cash-only or Venmo.
Tatte Bakery & Cafe
Tatte Bakery & Cafe is a local Boston favorite. The best way to remember how to pronounce the name is to know that “Tatte” rhymes with latte.
The upscale bakery and cafe has 22 locations in the Boston area. Each location has a signature look, yet each one is light-filled with tiles and wooden furnishings.
The Parisian-style cafe offers baked goods, elegant pastries, and heartwarming drinks with an Israeli twist—an homage to the owner’s heritage.
Tatte Bakery & Cafe has a breakfast, lunch, and brunch menu. You can order anything from breakfast sandwiches to salad bowls. The coffee drinks are fantastic. My favorite is the house latte. This latte is slightly sweetened with cardamom and honey.
Mariel’s is a restaurant inspired by Cuban nightlife located in Post Office Square in the downtown Boston area. This cool, yet elegant eatery has a unique social atmosphere.
Mariel’s is a curated restaurant with a nightclub downstairs. It’s the perfect place for a dinner party. There’s an innovative food menu with staples and shareable small plates. The yuca cheese puffs are great! Try the congri rice and beans, too. It’s topped with spicy pineapple salsa, queso fresco, and cilantro.
Overall, Mariel’s has a fun vibe with bold murals in the dining room that depict scenes from Cuba. Even the bathroom is cool, with drunken monkeys on the wallpaper.
Ivory Pearl is a seafood restaurant and oyster bar that’s perfect for a date night. This contemporary restaurant is a sibling restaurant to Blossom Bar opened by Ran Duan.
Ivory Pearl has a modern and nautical vibe with porthole mirrors and wooden slates. The raw bar includes oysters, littleneck clams, shrimp cocktails, crab claws, and caviar. I enjoy the shrimp and sausage gnocchi which is simmered in a rich shellfish sauce.
It is no secret that seafood and wine go well together. And so, all of Ivory Pearl’s specialty cocktails are inspired by wine. I recommend ordering the Champagne Papi. It’s a mix of koji rice and honeydew lemon.
Yellow Door Taqueria
Yellow Door Taqueria is a Mexican eatery with a bright and energetic atmosphere. A yellow door greets you at each of the locations.
The menu offers vibrant flavors and unconventional tacos. The chili duck tacos and jackfruit carnitas are fan favorites. My personal favorite is the seasonal yellow squash tacos topped with pepitas.
Yellow Door Taqueria has over 90 varieties of tequila and mezcal at the bar. The drinks here are fun and creative. One of the craft margaritas is Waking Up in Tijuana, a spin on an espresso martini.
VESTER Cafe is a women-owned, Scandinavian-inspired coffee shop with sleek and modern decor. The Nordic aesthetic sets this cafe apart from others in the area.
VESTER Cafe has a menu that offers a variety of breakfast and lunch items. You can order different breakfast sandwiches, avocado toast, and flaky croissants. They have a great menu of coffee options as well as matcha, and chai lattes. The South Boston location offers a great co-working space.
Santorpio’s is one of two iconic pizza spots in Boston. This local icon has been operating in East Boston since 1903. The restaurant has decorated walls with old photos of boxers. The crowd tends to be local, so there can be long waits, especially during the weekends.
Santorpio’s is known for toppings that are baked under the sauce and cheese. You can also get sausage and steak tips, BBQ-style. Santorpio’s does not offer delivery, but takeout is an option. I suggest you eat your pizza in the restaurant, as it’s tastiest when it’s fresh.
Borrachito is a speakeasy secret that everyone in town seems to know about. It is a taqueria and cocktail bar with a retro vibe. It’s located in the newly developed Seaport area.
You can order your food from a wide-curving window at the entrance. The menu offers a variety of tacos, burritos, and salads. Some include a jerk chicken rendition, chicken al pastor, and vegan options.
Hidden behind the freezer door is a surprise. The walk-in freezer takes you straight to the cocktail bar! The bar is designed to look like a vintage gas station on Route 66. Grab a bar seat and try their horchata espresso martini.
Head to Sportello to enjoy house-made pasta. This Seaport spot is a casual fine dining restaurant with a modern spin on classic Italian flavors. The menu is a variety of rustic and hearty Italian dishes.
The food at Sportello is not heavy on the red sauce. Rather, the salads, antipasti, and entrees all include poultry, seafood, and fresh vegetables. Regardless, we ordered lamb meatballs with tomato sauce during our visit. Delicious. It was perfect for dipping our bread in.
We also shared a lobster gnocchi prepared with cream, peas, and truffle. The broccolini with chili, lemon, and oregano was the perfect compliment. The spicy tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich is good, too.
Sportello is open for lunch and dinner. The interior has an intimate lunch counter design with an open kitchen. Most of the seating is on stools at a long winding counter.
FAQs About Places to Eat in Boston
What are the most famous restaurants in Boston?
What are some good affordable restaurants in Boston?
A good affordable restaurant in Boston is Santorpio’s. The prices are just as old-school as the pizzas.
What is famous to eat in Boston?
A lobster roll is the most famous thing to eat in Boston. The city is known for having an incredible seafood restaurant scene.
What is the oldest restaurant in the US in Boston?
The oldest restaurant in the United States and in Boston is the Union Oyster House. It has been continuously operating since 1826 and dining here feels like stepping into history.
I hope you enjoyed this list of my top Boston restaurants! Whether you are looking for classic cocktails or Eastern Mediterranean dishes, now you know exactly where to book in Boston. Next, check out our guide to Boston day trips for more helpful travel information!
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