The 50 Best Restaurants 2012

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

By Leah Mennies | Boston Magazine |

O Ya boston 50 best restaurants 2012The $175-Per-Person Omasake at O Ya (Photo by Bruce Peterson / Styling by Kara Butterfield)

 

MENTON
Fort Point

WHY IT’S GREAT:
Barbara Lynch and her meticulously trained staff make you and your guests the stars of the show. The breathtaking dishes—from amuse-bouches of buttery croissants and savory macarons to entrées like spiced lamb with beads of soft eggplant “caviar”—are delivered with service so seamless that your food seems to simply appear on the table.

WHAT TO ORDER:
Faroe Islands salmon; seasonal velouté.

INSIDER TIP:
Tours can be arranged of the stunning 3,500-square-foot kitchen.

Menton, 354 Congress St., Boston, 617-737-0099, mentonboston.com.

 

MEYERS + CHANG
South End

WHY IT’S GREAT:
Joanne Chang and Christopher Myers’s Washington Street mainstay has the attitude of a comfort-food diner—one that just happens to serve dishes inspired by Thai, Chinese, and Korean favorites. That means that instead of chicken noodle, you’re in for delicious meatball-enhanced hot-and-sour soup, and rather than a sloppy joe, you get Korean bulgogi sandwiches.

WHAT TO ORDER:
Pork-and-chive dumplings; papaya slaw; Genmai fried rice; tea-smoked ribs; Tiger’s Tears salad.

INSIDER TIP:
Mondays and Tuesdays are date nights, with a set menu of five dishes for $40 per couple.

Myers + Chang, 1145 Washington St., Boston, 617-542-5200, myersandchang.com.

 

NEPTUNE OYSTER
North End

WHY IT’S GREAT:
The lines always seem to last longer than the meal at this tiny seafood destination, but patience yields rewards, in the form of expertly selected bivalves and crispy johnnycakes topped with smoked trout and caviar.

WHAT TO ORDER:
Oysters on the half shell; grilled whole bronzini; “Neptunes on Piggyback.”

INSIDER TIP:
The weekly lobster spaghettini special is reason enough to eat here on Mondays.

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

 

NO. 9 PARK
Beacon Hill

WHY IT’S GREAT:
Barbara Lynch’s flagship restaurant may not project the kind of over-the-top excess you’ll find at its extravagant sibling Menton, but her original has its own opulent charms, including an elegant list of apéritifs and luxe pastas: tender prune-stuffed gnocchi with minuscule seared foie-gras slices, and lemony disks of corzetti with toasted bread crumbs.

WHAT TO ORDER:
Lamb saddle with Medjool dates; chocolate pain de Gênes; the cheese cart.

INSIDER TIP:
The bar offers a more gently priced menu, with the same “let us dote on you” service.

No. 9 Park, 9 Park St., Boston, 617-742-9991, no9park.com.

 

O YA
Chinatown

WHY IT’S GREAT:
Each bite from Tim Cushman’s elaborate contemporary-Japanese menu—every painstakingly calibrated micro sea bean or watermelon pearl that garnishes the fresh slices of sashimi and nigiri—warrants a moment of silent appreciation. So, then: Shhhh.

WHAT TO ORDER:
Hamachi with banana pepper mousse; Onsen egg wtih dashi; shiso tempura with grilled lobster.

INSIDER TIP:
Get a lesson in sake along with your meal with a flight of hand-chosen varieties for $60.

Take a closer look at the $175-per-person omasake at O Ya.

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

  • 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).