The 50 Best Restaurants 2012

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

Eastern Standard boston 50 best restaurants 2012Eastern Standard: By the Numbers (Photo by Bruce Peterson / Styling by Kara Butterfield)


COPPA South End

WHY IT’S GREAT: This South End enoteca is both rollicking and intimate, offering some of the city’s best pastas (crafted with ingredients like smoked pancetta or briny squid ink), pizzas (topped with fried calamari rings and spicy house-made sausage), and two-bite seasonal antipasti. WHAT TO ORDER: Salt cod baccalà; linguine nero; bone-marrow pizza. INSIDER TIP: Try a few different half portions of pasta for a sampler effect. Coppa, 253 Shawmut Ave., Boston, 617-391-0902,

CRAIGIE ON MAIN Central Square

WHY IT’S GREAT: Way before snout-to-tail cooking became de rigueur, Tony Maws was working everything from pig brains to trotters into his haute yet homey dishes. Arrays of glacéed vegetables and texture-rich pastas welcome non-carnivores, too. WHAT TO ORDER: Grilled Spanish octopus; crispy fried pig tails. INSIDER TIP: The legendary bar-only burger is available in the dining room during brunch. Craigie on Main, 853 Main St., Cambridge, 617-497-5511,


WHY IT’S GREAT: With a dark-wood-and-glass interior, technique-driven plates like the crackly-skinned duck with foie-stuffed prunes, and playful desserts (see: deconstructed PB?&?J), an evening here is the ultimate in Back Bay swank. WHAT TO ORDER: Spiced duck breast; crispy wild mushrooms; gnocchi with lobster. INSIDER TIP: On a cold night, try the nine-hour French onion soup, which, despite its name, actually takes three days to make. Deuxave, 371 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-517-5915,


WHY IT’S GREAT: Chef Phillip Tang’s New England-meets-modern-Chinese concept translates to an abundance of bold, bright dishes infused with the best of the seasons. WHAT TO ORDER: Kohlrabi-and-carrot salad; pork buns; scallion pancakes; the day’s specials. INSIDER TIP: The flavorful house sodas will excite non-imbibers, and act as great mixers for the rest of us. East by Northeast, 1128 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-876-0286,


WHY IT’S GREAT: This brasserie simply excels at everything, from expert charcuterie to porky mac ’n’ cheese to, best of all, agenda-setting cocktails produced in astonishing consistency and volume. WHAT TO ORDER: Moules provencal; grilled flatbread with camembert; frisee aux lardon salad. INSIDER TIP: The late night menu is packed with snack-friendly bites like salt cod arancini, shrimp tacos, and brisket hash. Learn more about Eastern Standard: By the Numbers. Eastern Standard, 528 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-532-9100,


  • 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).