Best Restaurants in Boston
— 21. —
Kirkland Tap & Trotter
For the more-casual follow-up to his fine-dining stalwart Craigie on Main, chef Tony Maws employs a deluxe custom wood-fired grill to churn out smoky plates of grilled chicken, succulent pork ribs in an ancho chili glaze, and one epic kimchi-Russian-dressing-slathered cheeseburger. Order a farm-fresh salad and a plate or two of grill-charred vegetables to balance out all of that protein.
425 Washington St., Somerville, 857-259-6585, kirklandtapandtrotter.com.
— 22. —
When he first opened his East Somerville restaurant, Daniel Bojorquez was like a culinary Icarus, drawn to the flames of his elaborate, custom-designed Blue Barn wood-fired oven, overwhelming his menu with misplaced ambition. He’s since refined the menu and drawn on La Brasa’s greatest strength, namely the piquant flavors of his Mexican homeland. Beets are now destination-worthy, thanks to crunchy quinoa and a sauce made from maple syrup and chile de árbol. Pork loin is dressed up with ancho chimichurri and an incendiary au jus. Even the humble chicken wing gets the royal Mexican treatment, with a nuanced, 12-ingredient Oaxacan mole. Most restaurants need a little time to get their bearings, but it’s almost unheard of for one to quickly reassess and reinvent itself, and immediately become one of the city’s best.
124 Broadway, Somerville, 617-764-1412, labrasasomerville.com.
— 23. —
Whole platters of amuse-bouches; a robust cheese program and a tea sommelier; and a burnished whole duck carved tableside with great pomp and ceremony are just some of the rare extravagances that have made L’Espalier a destination for no-holds-barred dining. Modern flourishes like Matsutake mushrooms and ginger beignets on an appetizer of Hudson Valley foie gras; hay-roasted cauliflower paired with roast chicken; and foie gras jus plated with roasted guinea hen and truffle pommes purée, meanwhile, keep things fresh.
774 Boylston St., Boston, 617-262-3023, lespalier.com.
— 24. —
Any meal that begins with Josh Ziskin’s tried-and-true cicchetti—bite-size sage leaves dunked in tempura batter and fried with salty anchovies; crisp arancini filled with braised beef and cheese; Tuscan meatballs with porcini and prosciutto—is bound to be a success. Follow these up with a rosy, wood-grilled hanger steak and Ziskin’s signature tagliatelle Bolognese, and you’ll be as befuddled as we are that this Brookline Village hideaway continues to fly under the radar.
48 Boylston St., Brookline, 617-739-0007, lamorra.com.
— 25. —
With their Audubon Circle spot, the three siblings behind Mei Mei Street Kitchen have proven it’s possible to make the precarious leap from food truck to full-service restaurant. Brick-and-mortar Mei Mei expands on its original tongue-in-cheek approach to classic Chinese-American cuisine, bringing nuance to takeout staples like sweet-and-sour pork and fried rice while introducing wholly unique concoctions (corn fritters with sriracha aioli; scallion pancake-pesto sandwiches) to the local vernacular.
506 Park Dr., Boston, 857-250-4959, meimeiboston.com.
— 26. —
We may no longer require white tablecloths and doting, formal service for a celebratory meal, but there are times when such unsubtle signifiers of luxury are welcome—and it’s on these occasions that we book a table at Barbara Lynch’s ambitious temple to extravagance. Dishes are refined yet gutsy—think: pan-seared salmon accessorized with veal bacon, bone-marrow-soaked croutons, and baby-octopus tentacles; decadent butter soup with caviar and shellfish; and chef de cuisine Scott Jones’ range of foie gras frankfurters at Menton’s swanky new Gold Bar.
354 Congress St., Boston, 617-737-0099, mentonboston.com.
— 27. —
The Backroom at Moody’s
For years, Joshua Smith’s house-cured, smoked, and otherwise coddled meats at Moody’s Delicatessen have been landing on the charcuterie boards of top restaurants around town. With the opening of his dim and dapper wine-bar refuge next door, Smith is finally able to explore the full spectrum of his talents, which he polished in the posh kitchens of the Four Seasons. Flatbreads—like his deconstructed Reuben loaded with pastrami, Swiss, and sauerkraut—are cranked out of a wood-fired copper oven. A red-sauce-soaked iron skillet delivers “Never the Same” Wagyu meatballs, hefty and handbuilt from a blend of high-quality scraps. And whole, slow-smoked rotisserie chicken, served with spaetzle and a pour-over of balsamic, bears finely crisped skin that gives way to a meltingly tender bird. Fancy? No, just awesome artisanship.
468 Moody St., Waltham, 781-216-8732, moodyswaltham.com.
— 28. —
Myers & Chang
The perfect party size for visiting this South End eatery is four: Any less, and it’s too difficult to choose among addictive, Asian-inspired small plates like kalbi-style short ribs with apple kimchi, or twice-cooked lamb belly stir-fried with hot mustard and Chinese long beans. Any more, and you won’t want to share. Updated by Central Bottle’s Liz Vilardi, the wine list is better than ever.
1145 Washington St., Boston, 617-542-5200, myersandchang.com.
— 29. —
When chef Michael Serpa left Neptune Oyster to open his own restaurant, we wondered: What would happen to the overflowing lobster roll? Or the crisp “Piggyback” oysters, piled high on toast with shreds of tender Berkshire pork? Thankfully, they’re still here and as good as ever—only now, chefs Daniel Karg and John Ross have added their own stamp to the menu. Try inventive dishes like whole roasted mackerel Veracruz in tomato-olive brodetto with bright chimichurri and a refreshing orange-fennel salad, or seared Georges Bank scallops served with Brussels sprouts and a D’Anjou pear butter.
63 Salem St., Boston, 617-742-3474, neptuneoyster.com.
— 30. —
No. 9 Park
Barbara Lynch’s empire has spread far and wide since she opened her first restaurant. Nostalgia keeps us returning to the original, with its rarified aura; its signature cocktails, like the crisp, mint-laced “Palmyra”; and that legendary prune-stuffed gnocchi with foie gras, which deserves every single speck of fawning praise it’s earned over the years.
9 Park St., Boston, 617-742-9991.