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.
This Japanese jewel box’s delicate beet sashimi, salmon nigiri with dashi caramel, and foie gras gyoza are best enjoyed at the counter, which offers a front-row seat to all of the intricate assemblage.
$$$$ | Great for: Vegetarians, Wine, Date | 9 East St., Boston, 617-654-9900, oyarestaurantboston.com.
Long before high-end street food became trendy, Ana Sortun was serving her enlightened takes on eastern Mediterranean staples like falafel, kebabs, and fried mussels in a welcoming Cambridge dining room (not to mention the stellar garden).
$$$ | Great for: Vegetarians, Groups, Wine, Date | 134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, 617-661-0505, oleanarestaurant.com.
Roasted Autumn Vegetables with Burrata from Puritan & Company. Hover/click for details.
PURITAN & COMPANY
Will Gilson honors his own regional heritage—he grew up on an area farm—by serving locally sourced, historical New England cuisine with a creative flair.
$$$ | Great for: Wine, Date | 1166 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-615-6195, puritancambridge.com.
Visit this Central Square mainstay on Mondays and you’ll find an inventive tapas menu with bites ranging from dukkah-crusted chicken drumsticks to slow-roasted lamb ribs.
$$–$$$ | Great for: Groups, Cocktails, Wine, Date | 502 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-576-1900, rendezvouscentralsquare.com.
Tim Maslow applies his outside-the-box sensibilities to Italian-influenced small plates and pastas at his Washington Square eatery, a follow-up to his groundbreaking menu at Strip-T’s.
$$–$$$ | Great for: Cocktails, Wine, Date | 1665 Beacon St., Brookline, 617-232-2322.
This high-style spot nestled inside the Liberty Hotel offers Lydia Shire’s international take on Italian cuisine, from plantain-and-bacon-topped pizza to grilled Vermont quail with beet gnocchi.
$$$$ | Great for: Groups, Wine | 215 Charles St., Boston, 617-536-2100, scampoboston.com.
Chinatown’s stylish gastropub features a terrific cocktail list, Asian-spiced charcuterie, and refreshed Chinese-restaurant standards like Peking ravioli.
$$ | Great for: Cocktails, Date | 9A Tyler St., Boston, 617-423-7888, shojoboston.com.
Flexible dining is the MO of this hip, cozy wine bar, where you can pair expertly selected pours with appetizers and creative dips, or heartier house-made risotto and roasted octopus.
$$ | Great for: Vegetarians, Cocktails, Wine, Date | 89 Holland St., Somerville, 617-718-9463, spokewinebar.com.
Grab a seat at the counter, order a few of Barbara Lynch’s top-notch pastas—chickpea agnolotti, fettuccine with white shrimp and hen-of-the-woods mushrooms—and watch the action in the open kitchen unfold.
$$$ | Great for: Vegetarians, Wine | 348 Congress St., Boston, 617-737-1234, sportelloboston.com.
STEEL & RYE
Chris Parsons’s Milton restaurant specializes in fresh takes on homey dishes such as roast chicken, meatloaf, and handmade pastas—don’t miss the bucatini with lobster and pork belly.
$$$ | Great for: Cocktails, Date | 95 Eliot St., Milton, 617-690-2787, steelandrye.com.