The 50 Best Restaurants 2012

Our annual list of Boston’s top restaurants. Check out all of our 50 Best Restaurants 2012 coverage.

Uni boston 50 best restaurants 2012Uni in Back Bay. (Photo by Anthony Tieuli)


TRADE Financial District

WHY IT’S GREAT: Jody Adams’s long-awaited second restaurant has become a hip, forever-bustling fixture of the downtown scene. The crowds aren’t there just to be seen, though—there’s also the allure of the shareable flatbreads, bold vegetable dishes, and hearty plates like rigatoni with spicy lamb-sausage ragu. WHAT TO ORDER: Pomegranate-glazed eggplant; whole roast trout. INSIDER TIP: Request a seat by the kitchen bar for a front-row view of the roaring wood-fired oven. Trade, 540 Atlantic Ave., Boston, 617-451-1234,

TRES GATOS Jamaica Plain

WHY IT’S GREAT: A tapas place can only be as good as its tortilla española, and here the egg-and-potato frittata becomes a creamy masterpiece after a dunk in garlicky pimentón aioli. So yes, Tres Gatos is skilled with the classics, but it also shines with less-conventional plates like lamb bocadillo with shallots, and bavette steak with smoked eggplant. WHAT TO ORDER: Confit chicken thighs; tortilla española; patatas bravas; gambas all i pebre.  INSIDER TIP: The restaurant recently began serving weekend brunch. Tres Gatos, 470 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617-477-4851,

T.W. FOOD Huron Village

WHY IT’S GREAT: While Tim Wiechmann’s seasonally driven dishes make for fantastic plates à la carte, the nightly prix-fixe menus—which feature duck-liver mousse, hearty homemade pasta, and a great sundae for under $50—are also a delicious (and value-driven) option. WHAT TO ORDER: Any of the pastas; soft-scrambled farm egg;“scotch and cigars” beignets with tobacco ice cream. INSIDER TIP: On Tuesdays, Wiechmann’s prix fixes are an even better value, offering themed four-course meals (with wine) for $55. T.W. Food, 377 Walden St., Cambridge, 617-864-4745,

UNI Back Bay

WHY IT’S GREAT: Ken Oringer’s sushi temple has always been the place for an exotic piece of fish or feather-light tempura. But thanks to the space’s recent redesign—wood paneling, leather banquettes, and sleek flooring—it’s become an all-hours hangout that oh, by the way, serves some of the best sashimi around. WHAT TO ORDER: Shishito peppers with bonito; the sashimi sampler. INSIDER TIP: After 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, there’s a special menu available featuring ramen noodle bowls and petite ice cream sandwiches. Uni, 370 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-536-7200,


WHY IT’S GREAT: The defining dish on Michael Schlow’s Italian menu is the thick, savory pasta Bolognese. Don’t agree? Okay, perhaps it’s the buttery chocolate-shortbread “Mascarporeos” cookie sandwiches. Why argue? Go ahead and order both, along with a few glasses of wine from a magnificent list that spans Italy. WHAT TO ORDER: The crispy meatballs; veal with asparagus, morels, and a fried egg; Mascarporeos. INSIDER TIP: Pizza, sandwiches, and other small bites are served in the café until 1 a.m. Via Matta, 79 Park Plaza, Boston, 617-422-0008,     Check out all of our coverage for 50 Best Restaurants 2012.   Correction 10/30/2012, 11 p.m.:  In the original version (and in print), the story states that Area Four now delivers. This has been corrected to state that the restaurant now delivers via the website DiningIn.


  • RJ Berryman

    You left off one of the best restaurants in Watertown – The Red Lentil. Absolutely some of the best food you’ll ever eat!!

  • Jenny

    So glad to see that Tres Gatos made the list- such a great spot in JP! The one restaurant missing: Tupelo in Inman Square. At this point, we get it…. Hungry Mother is the king of southern food in Boston. However, Tupelo gives them a run for their money!

  • Janice

    Someone really ought to check out Phat Cats Bistro in Amesbury. I’ve eaten at several of the places on this list, since I lived in the South End for several years. Paul Eastman & Christina Johnson, owners of Phat Cats, chef and baker respectively, are really right up there!

  • Jake Johnson

    This looks like some good food. I will have to come try some of this one day. I have been looking for some good restaurants ma. Thanks for sharing.

  • Alvin Payne

    Good to catch a glimpse of the best restaurants newburyport ma. Happy eating!

  • Recipe Girl

    Hi! Whoa these restos are definitely an inspiration. Hope one day mine would land in this list too! Anyway, I’m actually a chef in our local community, and our restaurant just recently branched out. Problem is, I’m having a hard time managing inventories and recipes! Can you guys give me an advice on this? Thank you in advance!

  • Ian

    Having eaten at Journeyman I can recommend it to any adventurous eater. Their food engages, the eye first, then the mind through palate making it an exceptionally engaging experience. The only place I’ll try things I know I don’t like and be surprised that by some miraculous preparation, I do.

  • Michael Richards

    The clam chowder at Neptune Oyster is THE worst I’ve had in the U.S. period, never mind New England. It tasted like it came out of a can. It’s really watery (which chowder by definition should never be), herby (yuck), and barely even white. It doesn’t really even taste like chowder at all to be honest. They really need to learn the basics of New England chowder regardless of the price (which by the way is ridiculously expensive as are most things at this incredibly over-rated restaurant).