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.

21. Rialto

Score: 65.89
High: Globe ****
Low: Boston 3.5; Yelp *** 1/2

Jody Adams’s affinity for Italian ingredients (caciotta cheese, figs) makes Rialto’s menu sing.

ORDER THIS: Duck with braised escarole, roasted fingerlings, and Sicilian olives.

22. B&G Oysters

Score: 65.14
High: Phoenix **** Low: Herald ** 1/2
Our score: 4.25

Creative takes on seafood standards, including skate wing in brown butter sauce and a lobster roll lined with bacon, shore up this Barbara Lynch venture as our go-to for fine, if pricey, finned fare.

ORDER THIS: The lobster roll.

23. Troquet

Score: 64.55
High: Yelp **** 1/2
Low: Globe ***; Boston 3.75

Prime views of the Common make this classic French outpost an inviting, often-overlooked retreat; the 40-plus wines by the glass make it an oenophile’s paradise.

ORDER THIS: Roast suckling pig.

24. Lumière

Score: 64.24
High: Yelp **** 1/2 Low: Chowhound ***1/2
Our score: 4

Some of the most personal, well-imagined restaurants thrive in left-of-center locations. So it is with West Newton’s most esteemed eatery, where Michael Leviton (see Persephone, #18) expresses his love of hearty French cooking.

ORDER THIS: Seared sea scallops.

25. Pigalle

Score: 63.53
High: Phantom 85 Low: Chowhound *** 1/2
Our score: 4

At Marc Orfaly’s French hideaway in the Theater District, standards like cassoulet, coq au vin, and crème brûlée are worth lingering over. (The chef’s experimental, Asian-tinged stuff is less reliable.)

ORDER THIS: Pheasant and foie gras tortellini.

26. Toro

Score: 62.96
High: Yelp **** 1/2 Low: Globe ** 1/2
Our score: 4.25

If it were only up to us, we’d have nudged this a little higher on the list, given the genre-busting tapas, hip fiesta vibe, and hidden gem of a weekday lunch service.

ORDER THIS: Grilled corn con alioli.

27. Blue Ginger

Score: 62.90
High: Phantom 93 Low: Chowhound ***
Our score: 3.5

With Blue Ginger’s new lounge and Asian tapas menu, celebrity chef Ming Tsai has again proved his business acumen—even as he continues to pull off an impressively coherent fusion of Asian and Mediterranean cuisines.

ORDER THIS: Garlic–black pepper lobster with lemongrass fried rice.

28. UpStairs on the Square

Score: 62.63
High: Phantom 88 Low: Boston 3.5

The décor, evoking a bohemian princess’s private chambers, draws us in; the solid, imaginative food, like the crackling duck confit with toasted gingerbread and quince and the handmade ricotta cavatelli with short ribs, puts this place over the top.

ORDER THIS: Butterscotch pudding.