The 50 Best Restaurants

The salad of heirloom beans, carrots, radishes and beets from Salts.

Salts

Salts has an atmosphere of such genuine warmth that it’s the destination for special-occasion dinners. (Seriously: On our most recent trip, every table in the room was toasting something.) A commitment to local food means everything tastes just-picked fresh, and an experimental spirit — the platings are ultracool — makes for dishes that delight you even before they hit your lips. >> Order This:  Any fish dish; the chocolate crémeux with peanut ice cream. >> Great For: Date night.

798 Main St., Cambridge, 617-876-8444, saltsrestaurant.com.

Scampo

The menu is all over the place: It’s heavily Italian, with plenty of pasta and pizza. But then there’s roti with curried chicken. And lamb rump steak with Persian ravioli. And shrimp étouffée. In short, there’s no theme to Lydia Shire’s Liberty Hotel restaurant, other than “tasty.” The creamy, fresh mozzarella is the perfect vehicle for toppings like prosciutto and fennel pollen. Any house-made bread is done just right. And the entrées? They’re about as far from delicate as can be. And that’s just the way Shire (and we) like them. >> Order This:  Kurobuta pork chop; mozzarella. >> Great For: Business engagement, group gathering.

215 Charles St., Boston, 617-536-2100, scampoboston.com.

Sorellina

When a restaurant’s culinary substance matches its style, that’s a beautiful thing. Jamie Mammano’s Back Bay eatery is no doubt one for the see-and-be-seen set, but the kitchen’s swankified takes on Italian standards like spaghetti and meatballs — here reimagined with tubular maccheroncelli pasta, Kobe beef meatballs, and a butter-heavy Barolo sauce — stand up to the soaring ceilings, elegant flatware, and impeccable service. >> Order This:  Maccheroncelli with Kobe meatballs; any seafood appetizer. >> Great For: Business engagement, group gathering, standout wine list.

One Huntington Ave., Boston, 617-412-4600, sorellinaboston.com.

Sportello

It isn’t for everyone. If you’re weird about personal space, steer clear; the counter seating means you’ll be dining next to strangers. If you want intimacy, you’re out of luck; it’s bright and noisy. And if you’re in the market for something formal, you’re better off elsewhere; this is a diner-style joint with a bakery inside. That said, those are the reasons we luuuuurrve Sportello. It’s quirky, and we appreciate that dishes like strozzapreti with rabbit and picholine olives are so casually yet successfully presented.  >> Order This:  Anything from the pasta and polenta menu. >> Great For: Vegetarian dining.

348 Congress St., Boston, 617-737-1234, sportelloboston.com.

T. W. Food

A collaboration between chef Tim Weichmann and his wife, Bronwyn, this Huron Village gem overflows with care. The chef’s impeccable technique turns simple dishes like a soft-scrambled egg with trumpet mushrooms into something you’ll dream about for days. And with Bronwyn making recommendations and ensuring tables are vanquished of crumbs, a dinner here feels like being coddled and spoiled. >> Order This:  The grand tasting menu; the soft-scrambled egg. >> Great For: Date night, vegetarian dining, standout wine list.

377 Walden St., Cambridge, 617-864-4745, twfoodrestaurant.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!