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.

O YA 

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: VegetariansWine, Date | 9 East St., Boston, 617-654-9900, oyarestaurantboston.com

OLEANA

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: VegetariansGroupsWine, 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.

RENDEZVOUS

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: GroupsCocktailsWine, Date | 502 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-576-1900, rendezvouscentralsquare.com.

RIBELLE

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: CocktailsWine, Date | 1665 Beacon St., Brookline, 617-232-2322.

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Roti: Malaysian-style curried chicken, cilantro, scallions, and microgreens, from Scampo.

SCAMPO

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: GroupsWine | 215 Charles St., Boston, 617-536-2100, scampoboston.com.

SHOJO

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.

SPOKE

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: VegetariansCocktailsWine, Date | 89 Holland St., Somerville, 617-718-9463, spokewinebar.com.

SPORTELLO

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: VegetariansWine | 348 Congress St., Boston, 617-737-1234, sportelloboston.com.

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Gemelli, confit chicken, pancetta, arugula, sundered tomato, mascarpone, oyster mushrooms, and grana Padana cheese, from Steel & Rye.

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.

  • diggit

    “50 overpriced restaurants that advertise with us or we wish would.”

    • Barakobammy

      Aren’t you being just too much of a “snot-liberal” with those comments.

  • andythebouncer

    Lots of these places could be *easily* displaced by Catalyst.

    • June Haggar

      AGREE!

  • Rick Berryman

    You missed Red Lentil in Watertown!!! Extraordinary food at very reasonable prices!

  • Kaitlin

    I wish there was a map to go along with this list…

  • David

    Agree, pretty daft Catalyst not in this list.

  • janiceevedale

    Dont forget the new BelAri on South Street! Asta is just fabulous!