The 50 Best Restaurants
The Bananas Foster Fluffernutter Brûlée at the Gallows
Owner Rebecca Roth and chef Seth Morrison understand that people go out for fun, so they’ve loaded the Gallows’ menu with cheeky offerings like Bud Light Lime ponies, Jell-O shots, poutine, and jalapeño poppers. But when it comes time for more-serious eats, they don’t mess around. For proof, look to the signature wedge salad, stuffed roast chicken, and cowboy steaks. >> Order This: Poutine; wedge salad; the Fluffernutter dessert. >> Great For: Group gathering, vegetarian dining, creative cocktails.
1395 Washington St., Boston, 617-425-0200, thegallowsboston.com.
Like most steakhouses, Grill 23 is full of mahogany, martinis, and expensive suits. Unlike at most steakhouses, the food is actually worth the ridiculous prices. Those martinis arrive tooth-shockingly cold; the skinny pommes frites are crisp, salty, and fantastic. Jay Murray’s funky starters, like duck carpaccio with curried peanuts and Thai chimichurri, are the menu’s undersung heroes. And the dry-aged steaks? Beautifully marbled, deeply flavored, and always perfectly cooked. >> Order This: Duck carpaccio; dry-aged New York strip steak. >> Great For: Business engagement, group gathering, creative cocktails, standout wine list.
161 Berkeley St., Boston, 617-542-2255, grill23.com.
If newer spots are like overdyed designer denim, Hamersley’s is the classic pair of jeans you cannot do without. The bistro isn’t flashy; it’s just reliable, from the restrained but efficient service to the flawless food. The spicy halibut-and-clam roast with bacon-braised greens is a taste of New England; the coffee-marinated skirt steak riffs on Latin flavors. And the excellent selection of by-the-glass wines and half-bottles makes sampling several vintages a completely reasonable pursuit. >> Order This: Duck confit; the inimitable roast chicken. >> Great For: Date night, vegetarian dining, standout wine list.
553 Tremont St., Boston, 617-423-2700, hamersleysbistro.com.
Harvest has a problem. It’s not the food (ravioli so light you wonder if they’d float; duck breast marinated in rooibos tea and set over glossy black rice) or the service (friendly, unintrusive). No, the biggest issue with this Harvard Square hideaway is that we can never decide when to go. Should we head in for dinner and have the tender Giannone Farms chicken roulade? Or maybe wait for Sunday brunch, when they serve farm-eggs Benedict with tasso ham? If only every conundrum were this tasty…. >> Order This: House charcuterie; Giannone Farms chicken; whole roasted lobster. >> Great For: Business engagement, group gathering, vegetarian dining, standout wine list.
44 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-868-2255, harvestcambridge.com.
Shrimp and grits. Boiled peanuts. Pound cake. Chef Barry Maiden’s southern menu sounds like it’ll more warm your soul than blow your mind. But then the food arrives, and you taste, and suddenly your head is spinning because everything’s so incredibly flavorful. (Okay, maybe it’s spinning because of the killer cocktails, but still.) Maiden masterfully marries flavors and textures in every dish, from tangy green tomatoes in a cornmeal crust to that dense pound cake accompanied by creamy buttermilk ice cream. And it’s all so reasonably priced, you can afford to have your mind blown on a regular basis. >> Order This: Catfish meunière; fried green tomatoes; French gnocchi; the cocktails. >> Great For: Date night, creative cocktails.
233 Cardinal Medeiros Ave., Cambridge, 617-499-0090, hungrymothercambridge.com.