The 50 Best Restaurants

The Bananas Foster Fluffernutter Brûlée at the Gallows

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.

Grill 23

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.

Hamersley’s

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

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.

Hungry Mother

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.

  • Rebecca

    Find it hard to believe you did not include La Campania in your top 50. It consistently is ranked in the top 10 in the Boston area by Zagat and others. The quality of the food and the exceptional wine list are hard to beat.

  • Jennifer

    You forgot to mention STELLA in the south end, this is an amazing restaurant one of the best in the city ( top 5). It is open until 1:30am with an amazing menu and one of the best brunchs on sundays!!

  • Michael

    Where’s Journeyman?

  • Barbara

    Andy Husbands of 647 Tremont and Sister Sorel is an amazing chef. This is a place not to be missed.

  • Jerry

    You missed 75 Chestnut St.
    Not only GREAT food, but very very reasonable. You should not have to be the most expensive to be on the list.

  • Mannie

    I went there for my birthday and I specifically ordered this dish that included jumbo shrimp. They gave these tiny little shrimp in replacement for the jumbo shrimp. The rice was way under cooked. The waitress was rude. I e-mailed the head chef and complained about the food and service. No reply. She sucks too. Snobby people would probably think this place was good. I would rather go to Chinatown and eat, cheap or expansive. You always get great food.

  • Leoni

    Nice list!

    I just heard of this great site that’s launching soon called TableZest. They let you browse and discover the best restaurants in Boston and also offer personalized restaurant recommendations. It’s great because looks like you can make reservations directly from their site, even for the same day at popular spots.

    Curious to see which restaurants from this list make it on their site!

    They’re at http://www.tablezest.com if you want to check it out.

  • Alex

    I’ve been to Sonsie many times and absolutely love it. Think it should be on this list!