The 50 Best Restaurants 2009

It's a simple question: "Where should we go for dinner?" Yet ask it and brace for a cacophony of opinions, as every magazine, newspaper, and user-generated-review website vies to serve as your gastronomic guru. Wouldn't it be nice if there were a way to pull it all together, to herd that surfeit of recommendations into one single, convenient, yet statistically meaningful index? To have a Metacritic, of sorts, for local grub? We thought so, too. Presenting the ultimate ranking of Hub dining, as determined by every major dining expert and amateur critic out there.

14. Oishii

Score: 71.06
High: Phoenix **** Low: Boston 3.75

Like salmon toro? Here you’ll find it draped over perfectly seasoned rice, or drizzled with chives, truffle oil, yuzu wasabi, tempura oba, and a flash of gold leaf. We find the variety to be a bit excessive, but there’s one thing we never question: the consistently high quality of the raw materials.

ORDER THIS: Sashimi in ponzu sauce.

15. Ten Tables

Score: 70.34
High: Chowhound ***** Low: Globe ** 1/2
Our score: 4.25

The neighborhood eatery that every neighborhood craves, with entrées like swordfish and chorizo “cassoulet” all for $25 or less.

ORDER THIS: The four-course vegetarian tasting menu, which is satisfying even for avowed carnivores.

neptune oyster

Hot, buttery lobster piled onto a hot, buttery roll beckons seafood lovers at Neptune Oyster. (Photograph by Bob O’Connor)

16. Neptune Oyster

Score: 68.01
High: Phoenix **** Low: Globe ***; Herald ***
Our score: 4

Would that every North Ender reached these heights: the freshest fish, with just enough zingy touches (caramelized eggplant, cucumber crème fraîche) to keep things interesting.

ORDER THIS: The oysters, of course.

17. Icarus

Score: 66.35
High: Phantom 91 Low: Chowhound ***
Our score: 3.5

Icarus was South End before South End was cool, and 30 years on, it’s still serving fine New American fare.

ORDER THIS: The appetizer of simple polenta with braised mushrooms.

18. Persephone

Score: 66.33
High: Phoenix **** Low: Globe ** 1/2
Our score: 4

Thanks to his stint in San Francisco, Michael Leviton’s food reflects the best of California cuisine: immaculately sourced ingredients, cooked with a light hand to let them shine.

ORDER THIS: Fried egg with leeks, bacon, and sauce ravigote.

19. Mistral

Score: 66.25
High: Phantom 91 Low: Globe ** 1/2
Our score: 3.75

Mistral has been a standard-bearer for fine dining in Boston since 1997, boasting classy French favorites like roasted cod with lobster and artichoke risotto in chic surroundings.

ORDER THIS: Beef tenderloin pizza with mashed potato and white truffle oil.

20. Sorellina

Score: 65.94
High: Phantom 92 Low: Phoenix **
Our score: 3.75

Hailing from the same family as Mistral and L’Andana (which placed #36), Sorellina serves highly polished Italian food for the power-broker set, plus some of the tastiest desserts around.

ORDER THIS: Lemon ricotta gnocchi with rabbit ragu.