The 50 Best Restaurants

 Oleana’s falafel

Neptune Oyster

A funny thing often happens at Neptune. You’ll jump through all the requisite hoops to get seated — leaving your cell-phone number, checking your phone obsessively, then racing back from wherever you’ve been biding your time (ahem, drinking) to claim your spot — and then some jerk will inevitably try to slip onto a barstool unnoticed. Thank heaven the staffers are vigilant, and will politely boot him. Because you’ve waited patiently for those hot fried clams, that butter-drizzled lobster roll, that flaky grilled whole branzino. You deserve that scallop ceviche. So forget it, Mr. Sly: These glimmering oysters, crab claws, and littlenecks are ours. >> Order This:  Oysters; any fish special listed on the wall. >> Great For: Standout wine list.

63 Salem St., Boston, 617-742-3474, neptuneoyster.com.

No. 9 Park

Every now and then, grownups need to be romanced. They need to feel giddy, and special, and starry-eyed. And there’s no surer path to that feeling than a date at No. 9. A flight of mini martinis will set you in the right direction; seared foie gras with Seckel pears will help you stay the course. By the time you polish off dessert — chocolate pavé with pumpkin and chicory sound all right? — the two of you will be necking like teens after prom. >> Order This:  The three-course prix fixe, plus a few selections from the incredible cheese cart. >> Great For: Date night, business engagement, creative cocktails, standout wine list.

9 Park St., Boston, 617-742-9991, no9park.com.

O Ya

Sitting at the chef’s counter, you should be mesmerized by what they serve. Us? We’re fascinated by what they toss. As the prep cook shaves an exquisite black truffle, stray bits fly left and right. The door opens, there’s a gust, and flecks of gold leaf flutter off the nigiri and into the air. Corners of the prettiest toro we’ve seen are thrown aside as the chefs create uniform slices of fish. We’re seriously tempted to eat off the floor. But there’s no need: With discards that gorgeous, just imagine what’s coming on your plate. >> Order This:  Yuzu-cured arctic char; kanpachi baby hamachi sashimi; seared diver scallop and foie gras. >> Great For: Date night, business engagment.

9 East St., Boston, 617-654-9900, oyarestaurantboston.com.

Oishii Boston

The hard part is finding your way into this barely marked sushi destination. The rest is easy. We head straight for the specialty rolls. The star of this sea is the toro-truffle maki, made with shrimp tempura, fatty tuna, white truffle (!), and sturgeon caviar (!!). Landlubbers will delight in Kobe beef rolls with sweet pear, and quail eggs prepared on a robata grill. It’s not cheap, but attentive service and thoughtful freebies (an amuse-bouche of edamame mousse on a recent night) sweeten the deal. >> Order This:  Sakura-smoked hamachi sashimi. >> Great For: Business engagement, group gathering.

1166 Washington St., Boston, 617-482-8868, oishiiboston.com.

Oleana

If it were up to us, we’d craft our entire meal here out of the first courses; they’re just that satisfying. Chef-owner Ana Sortun’s elegant take on falafel is a must, as is the whipped feta with hot peppers, and the spoon-tender, tamarind-glazed beef with eggplant in the Sultan’s Delight. Also excellent are entrées such as the flattened chicken bursting with za’atar spice, and the clever trout “spanakopita” — especially when paired with uncommon selections from the noteworthy wine list (how about a Spanish Txakolina or a Cinsault blend from Lebanon?). >> Order This:  Sultan’s Delight, spinach falafel. >> Great For: Date night, vegetarian dining, standout wine list.

134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, 617-661-0505, oleanarestaurant.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!