The 50 Best Restaurants in Boston 2012: By the Numbers

A data-driven look at how the 50 best restaurants stack up. Check out all of our 50 Best Restaurants 2012 coverage.


of restaurants have separate bar-food menus.

Why develop a distinct menu for the bar?

“With a lot of things we do on the bar menu, we can be more chef-driven. Sometimes people who come to the bar are a bit more adventurous.”

—Will Kovel, chef-owner, Catalyst


Cuisine Type 

stats cuisine

40% New American
22% Italian
10% French
10% Other
6% Japanese
4% Chinese
4% Middle Eastern
4% Spanish

What’s with all the Italian? 

“I think it’s the approachable nature of it. Upscale [Italian] means a perfect ravioli. It doesn’t mean four different iterations of a particular kind of sauce. New Englanders are not fussy people.”

—Jody Adams, Rialto



of restaurants have been open for more than 15 years.

How do you keep it interesting?

“It’s a fine line of remaining consistent to your concept but reinventing yourself in certain ways. Every five to six years, we reassess where we are.”

—Chris Himmel, Grill 23 (open nearly 30 years)



stats neighborhoods

52% in Boston
26% in Cambridge
16% in the suburbs
4% in Somerville
2% in Brookline

The Cambridge restaurant scene is hot, but Boston is still on top. Why?

“Boston [is] more densely populated, having more business, government, and financial workers, and is easier to get to for tourists and the like. It’s cool to ‘venture out’ to Cambridge if your a savvy tourist, the same way it’s cool to go to Brooklyn to eat pizza in Bushwick, or [have] a sick tasting menu in a grocery store in downtown Brooklyn. That doesn’t mean you can’t get really good food in Manhattan. I am not really in either camp, I love it all no matter where it is. As long as people there are passionate about what they do, deliver a good product, and try hard, I’m all for it.” *

—Michael Serpa, Neptune Oyster



of restaurants have executive chefs age 30 or younger.

Has your age affected how you run your restaurant?

“The environment is less about mentor and student, and more about coworkers and collaborators. I may be the head chef, but we all still have a lot to learn.”

—Phillip Tang, 30, East by Northeast



of restaurants do not use table linens.

Why the bare tables?

“You can generally put a couple of dollars on every plate you serve to cover linen costs. Changing them every time also slows things down. It’s just a lot of work, and a lot of expense.”

—Chris Coombs, Deuxave



Average price of an entrée

How does that compare with your restaurant?

“I don’t know if everyone is paying the same that I pay for certain things, but it sounds about right. That’s what it costs to thoughtfully put a plate together and spend time sourcing the ingredients.”

—Ana Sortun, Oleana



of restaurants have hour-plus waits on Friday evenings.

What’s the best time to get in without a reservation?

“Sunday through Wednesday, it’s always a little bit quieter. And Sunday nights around 8 or 9 p.m., it’s almost prime picking for walk-ins.”

—Mary Edes, general manager, Coppa


* Quote from Michael Serpa of Neptune Oyster was expanded for the web; the full quote did not appear in print.

Check out all of our coverage for 50 Best Restaurants 2012.