Where to Eat, Right Now: The List
Here, in list form, our compendium of where you should be eating right this very moment: a carefully vetted mix of the forward-leaning restaurants that have emerged on the scene during the past couple of years and the stalwarts reinventing themselves in fresh ways (eligibility deadline: end of September). For more highlights and details about our selection process, check out the complete 2013 dining guide.
The craft cocktails are excellent here, as is the upscale tavern fare, featuring thoughtful extras like the apricot mustard served with grilled sausage, and the crispy chickpeas alongside fried octopus.
$$$ | Great for: Vegetarians, Cocktails, Date | 567 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-491-5599, enormous.tv/central.
Ken Oringer’s modern-French flagship remains as relevant as Uni, its sashimi-centric younger sibling. For an enticing mix of both, snag a seat at Clio’s bar.
$$–$$$$ | Great for: Cocktails, Wine, Date, Bar Dining | 370 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-536-7200, cliorestaurant.com, unisashimibar.com.
With beef-heart pastrami, bone-marrow pizza, and lamb pasta taking star turns on the menu, there’s something for every kind of carnivore at this enoteca by Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette.
$$ | Great for: Vegetarians, Cocktails, Wine | 253 Shawmut Ave., Boston, 617-391-0902, coppaboston.com.
CRAIGIE ON MAIN
Tony Maws’s flagship fine-dining spot offers six- and eight-course tasting menus of his inventive locavore fare, but you’ll find less-precious options as well, such as whole roast chicken, or pig’s head, for two.
$$$$ | Great for: Cocktails, Wine, Date | 853 Main St., Cambridge, 617-497-5511, craigieonmain.com.
EAST BY NORTHEAST
Traditional Chinese fare (dumplings, noodles, stuffed mantou) is reimagined around local ingredients, to excellent results.
$$ | Great for: Vegetarians, Date | 1128 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-876-0286, exnecambridge.com.
This rustic Bay Village hideaway serves delicate northern Italian fare with an emphasis on fresh vegetables and herbs—plus a stellar bar menu of gently priced meatballs, composed salads, and house-made cordials.
$$$ | Great for: Vegetarians, Cocktails, Wine, Date, Bar Dining | 69 Church St., Boston, 617-426-6969, erbaluce-boston.com.
New England–inspired fare gets the whimsical gastropub treatment, yielding doctored-up poutine, cured-seafood boards, and deluxe wedge salads. A creative cocktail menu, meanwhile, ensures the drinks are fun, too.
$$–$$$ | Great for: Cocktails | 1395 Washington St., Boston, 617-425-0200, thegallowsboston.com.
The house-made pastas at this cozy Italian spot are the main draw, but Michael Pagliarini’s other simple, elegant preparations—semolina cakes topped with lardo, tender scallops with corn risotto—shine just as bright.
$$$ | Great for: Date | 1682 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-441-2800, giuliarestaurant.com.
Six years later, there’s still a 45-minute weeknight wait for the spicy goat stew and buffalo-fried Brussels sprouts at this buzzy oasis in a relative Somerville food desert.
$$ | Great for: Vegetarians, Cocktails | 150 Highland Ave., Somerville, 617-625-1131, highlandkitchen.com.
Barry Maiden melds serious French chops with the southern standards he grew up with, resulting in appealing hybrids like Burgundy snails with black-garlic butter and buttermilk biscuits.
$$$ | Great for: Cocktails, Wine, Date | 233 Cardinal Medeiros Ave., Cambridge, 617-499-0090, hungrymothercambridge.com.