A lot can change in 10 years—and at this tried-and-true Cambridge favorite, it’s all been for the better. Chef Tony Maws has confidently marched Craigie into a new decade by moving the dining room to a prix-fixe-only format and rebranding the adjacent bar as COMB, featuring a second, monthly-rotating iteration of his coveted burger and funky Sunday specials such as Buffalo-sauced sweetbreads. What hasn’t changed? Maws’s commitment to thoughtful local sourcing, French-inflected technique, and the main thing: hospitality. 853 Main St., Cambridge, MA craigieonmain.com.
Expectations were high for the self-owned debut from Top Chef contestant (and James Beard Award winner) Karen Akunowicz. And yet somehow the Myers + Chang alum has exceeded them at her buzzy Southie enoteca. Though the place hums like she’s been at it for years, her Modena, Italy–inspired cuisine—from supple, Gorgonzola-dolce-filled tortelli to a grilled-broccoli riff on Caesar salad, all washed down with aperitif-invoking cocktails—is fresh and frisky. 28 W. Broadway, Boston, MA foxandtheknife.com.
For a port city, Boston is surprisingly lean on fantastic waterfront dining. Thankfully, Legal Sea Foods’ Titanic-size flagship offers prime views from lower-level patios and a swinging third-floor rooftop lounge that kisses the space where sky and ocean meet. (A retractable roof and glass walls assist in iffy weather.) Head here to soak up the sun, slurp down oysters, and smell that salty air. 270 Northern Ave. , Boston, MA legalseafoods.com.
In a transforming city, this old-school icon employs the same formula that’s kept it a top chop shop for 30-plus years: Take expertly cooked steaks, such as the legendary 100-day-aged rib-eye; add an exceptional wine list of ruby cabs and celebration-worthy bubbles; and wrap everything in such handsome, Brahmin-era trappings as dark wood, white tablecloths, and even tableside cigar service—ideal for puffing outside after inhaling a brûléed banana split. 161 Berkeley St., Boston, MA grill23.com.
Financial District power brokers have a new favorite spot to flex their expense accounts—and their foodie cred. Tuesdays through Fridays, Kamakura chef-owner Youji Iwakura distills his dinner menu’s haute Japanese cuisine into more-accessible yet still-sophisticated lunch fare—think bento boxes filled with sashimi, salmon caviar, robata-grilled chicken, and more. A sparkling three-floor space and swift midday service, meanwhile, make it easier than ever to seal the deal. 150 State St., Boston, MA kamakuraboston.com.
Save your airline miles: This new Davis Square destination offers all the pleasures of Thai street food, minus the daylong flight. The killer khao soi (“cut rice”) is a study in richness and fiery depth, sharpened with fixings such as pork belly and pickled mustard. Classic pad thai, meanwhile, is mercifully more savory than sweet. And the rice porridge and satiny egg custards at the weekend-only breakfast pop-up (dubbed Egg E Egg Egg) consistently dazzle. 195 Elm St., Somerville, MA dakzen.com.
Tucked among brownstones on a South End street corner, this neighborhood Greek restaurant embraces certain Platonic truths. One, that there’s never too much salty char on a whole grilled lavraki with lemon and olive oil. Two, that frosty ouzo is a perfect palate cleanser for moving between garlicky mezzes. And three, that unpretentious food and a familiar vibe will always make a restaurant feel like home. 315 Shawmut Ave., Boston, MA kavaneotaverna.com.
Like the city’s options for Sichuan fare, this repeat winner just keeps getting better—and bigger. Last winter, the Chinatown original spawned a sibling kitchen in Central Square that instantly warmed the Scoville-loving hearts (and mouths) of Cantabrigians with its palate-igniting cauldron of “Scalding Fish Fillet” and thin-skinned dumplings drenched in beguiling hot sauce. (The puckery, vinegary stuff—like pork with pickled cabbage soup—is tempting, too.) Here’s hoping the fire continues to spread. 58 Beach St. , Boston, MA 5spiceshouse.com .
When former Cambridge vice mayor Dennis Benzan teamed up in 2017 with restaurateurs Nivia and Hector Piña, longtime leaders of Boston’s Caribbean dining scene, they upped the ante by teaming with celeb chef Giovanna Huyke, previously dubbed the Julia Child of Puerto Rico. Now Huyke is covering Cuban-, Dominican-, and Puerto Rican–inspired flavors in Cambridge, from marvelous mofongo and garlicky tostones to a whole fried snapper that arrives, still grinning, over coconut sauce. Don’t miss the superlative list of fine rums, perfect for sipping over live reggae and rumba. 450 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA lafabricacentral.com.
When it comes to Vietnamese cuisine, Dorchester has an embarrassment of riches—and the greatest treasure trove is found at Anh Hong. The seven-course beef tasting—covering salad, sausage, soup, and fondue—is justifiably famous. But the expansive à la carte menu hits every craving: Communal hot pots, super-fresh spring rolls, and steaming bowls of pho are all big winners, especially when polished off with condensed-milk-sweetened Vietnamese coffee. 291 Adams St., Dorchester, MA anhhongboston.com.
Signature seollongtang beef soup is the heavenly house special that keeps this Allston eatery humming. The dish is presented with Dickensian austerity—chalk-white broth hiding slices of boiled brisket and slippery vermicelli—but once you season your bowl with the supplied sea salt, scallions, properly fermented banchan, and exceptionally good (tender, chewy, clumpy) steamed rice, it’s one of the most soul-satisfying meals around. As for the bulgogi and bibimbap? Things of beauty, both. 1245 Commonwealth Ave., Allston, MA seoulsoulongtang.com.
Our beef-boiling Yankee town has come a long way with its southern cuisine. But North Carolina native Jason Cheek goes beyond the conventional canon, rattling off the sort of nuanced, modern riffs they’re rocking right this second in Charleston and Atlanta. Think: whole grilled trout nestled in stewed fregula. Short-rib meatloaf dolled up with bone marrow and bracing piperade. And a tea-brined, thyme-scented fried chicken—craggy and orange-rust in color—we can’t stop clucking about. 600 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA southernproperboston.com.
Powder House Square’s traditional Mexican kitchen is well known for its regally stuffed and sauced chile relleno en nogada and, yes, crispy grasshopper tacos. But what you absolutely can’t miss here are the produce-forward dishes: nopales (cactus) that tastes like tangy green beans; dense, tender chunks of chayote (Mexican squash) smothered in verdant pumpkin-seed mole; and slate-gray blooms of cuitlacoche (corn smut, an edible fungus), which cook into soot-colored mush but charm with an earthy, mushroomy depth of flavor. 858 Broadway, Somerville, MA tuyyorestaurant.com.
French cuisine is back, bébé, and who’d have guessed that Jamie Mammano, king of client-wowing wallet lighteners like Mistral and Ostra, would be the one to nail its kicked-back neo-bistro form. In such an unassuming South End storefront, no less, with dreamy apps that include mahogany-burnished duck confit on melted-onion-studded potatoes Lyonnaise, dragged through “broken garlic butter” puddles; reasonably priced entrées, like a magnifique bavette steak; and nary a wobble in his restaurant empire’s trademark perfectionism. 1750 Washington St., Boston, MA barlyon.com.
Boston’s not short on spots offering humdrum takes on tandoori chicken, but for a truly superlative representation of the Indian subcontinent—and then some—make the jaunt to Medford Square. Zam Zam stands apart by spotlighting standards such as tikka masala alongside hard-to-find Pakistani specials—particularly lush, long-cooked stews like haleem (a spicy, savory meat-and-lentil porridge) and nehari brimming with spoon-tender lamb shank. 42 Riverside Ave., Medford, MA zamzammedford.com.
Three years after it transformed from a small but stellar sashimi bar into a fully realized, bi-level izakaya, this slick spot is still turning out funky riffs on Japanese-inspired plates. Sukiyaki-gravy-covered poutine, a katsu maki roll with Peruvian aji panko, and hamachi with banana and black truffle are among the riffs that just earned executive chef Tony Messina a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northeast. 370A Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA uni-boston.com.
Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette have since added Toros in New York City, Bangkok, and Dubai, but a night out where it all began is as fun as ever. That’s thanks to Spanish wines that flow like water, sizzling garlic shrimp and crisp patatas bravas that grace nearly every table, and nostalgic tunes from the likes of the Beastie Boys and Lil’ Kim that keep spirits high (and conversations interesting) all night long. Please allow the requested 30 minutes for the top-notch paella Valenciana, packed with shellfish, sausage, and chicken—it’s worth the wait. 1704 Washington St., Boston, MA toro-restaurant.com.
Don’t blink—this tiny, unassuming eatery is easily missed among the crowded storefronts of Jamaica Plain’s Centre Street. But what a shame it would be to overlook the vibrant bebere-threaded misir wot (lentil stew), sunshine-hued yekik alicha (turmeric-spiced split yellow peas), and silky-tender yebeg tibs (sautéed lamb), all scooped up by springy injera bread. The restaurant is BYOB, so swing by a local wine shop (like nearby Streetcar), or simply pair your meal with a refreshing glass of mango juice. 377 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, MA ethiopiancafe.business.site.
The ceviche is always stellar at this pint-size Peruvian spot, thanks to a vibrant marinade of leche de tigre (“tiger’s milk”) that’s a whole different animal from the limey bell-pepper water everyone else plies. Temper the punishing bursts of ají-chili fire with bites of cold sweet potato and an egg-white-velveted pisco sour before moving on to the kitchen’s creamy shredded-hen stew. “Celeste” means “heavenly,” and after sampling the menu here, we’d hardly disagree. 21 Bow St., Somerville, MA celesteunionsquare.com.
Nineteenth-century urban planning may have transformed an ocean inlet into the Back Bay neighborhood, but about 150 years later, inspired chef Michael Serpa is still filling it with (fabulous) Mediterranean-inspired fish: sea bream, whole-roasted and sauced with parsley, mint, and oregano; swordfish with champagne mango and rose harissa; and salmon crudo augmenting towers of oysters and crab salad. A whip-smart wine list—including a nice pool of reds—pays equal attention to terroir. 50 Gloucester St., Boston, MA selectboston.com.
In Boston’s sea of rowdy, singles-filled Irish bars, this rare Scottish gastropub stands out as unique, friendly, and approachable—just like the ideal date. As its name suggests, the restaurant is an intimate place to get cozy by candlelight with your Tinder match over an extensive, icebreaker-friendly scotch list organized by region, as well as hard-to-find specialties like haggis and Scotland-born deep-fried Mars bars. With so much to talk about, conversation will flow as easily as the Belhaven beer on draft 2 Perkins St., Jamaica Plain, MA thehavenjp.com.
Dapper restaurateur Nick Varano is incredibly adept in his role as the table-hopping, handshaking host with the most. So it’s no surprise that his original Strega restaurant has been a hub for celebs making a Beantown cameo since it opened in the North End 15-plus years ago. The star-studded list of guests—Kylie Jenner! Rihanna! Shaq!—grows even longer when you add in the spot’s subsequent offshoots, including Strip by Strega steakhouse, which scored Jamie Foxx and Mary J. Blige as opening-party entertainment. 379 Hanover St., Boston, MA stregaristorante.com.
Guest seating may be scarce, but this self-dubbed “corned-beef king” owns the throne when it comes to juicy brisket and other deli delights. That much is obvious when you scarf down signature sandwiches like the Big Lebowski (hot turkey and pastrami) or the so-called dirty selections, which come topped with crunchy potato chips. Round it off with Auntie Bev’s noodle kugel for a blast from family dinners past. 256 Harvard St., Brookline, MA michaelsdelibrookline.com.
Part of the first fleet of food trucks to hit Boston streets in 2011, Pennypacker’s has grown to include a small Somerville restaurant, a selection of online-ordered prepared meals, and a forthcoming stall at High Street Place food hall, opening this fall. But its signature porchetta sandwich—slow-roasted pork marinated in garlic and rosemary, and tarted up with a zippy mostarda—remains a must-try, as do detours like fried-chicken sammies topped with slaw and herb vin. 514C Medford St., Somerville, MA pennypackersfinefoods.com.
Briny oysters are just the tip of the ice-packed platters here. Sure, restaurateur Kathy Sidell provides an intimate Back Bay port of call for passersby to stop and slurp expertly shucked bivalves—buttery, Duxbury-raised Merry Oysters, sweet South Bay Blondes from a multi-generation Onset farm. But there’s also super-fresh shrimp and crab cocktail, sea urchin spruced up with ponzu sauce from medicine droppers, and a list of bottles for washing them down in crisp waves of wine. 281 Dartmouth St., Boston, MA saltiegirl.com.
We’d schlep to the moon for Rachel Miller’s Viet-American cooking—luckily, we only have to make it to Somerville’s vendor-stuffed Bow Market, where her long-running pop-up now appears at the Buenas storefront every Monday. The former Clio chef de cuisine brings a mélange of aromatics and textures to each and every bowl of her signature “Hot Noods”: steaming noodle bowls such as bánh canh with confit quail, and vermicelli with curried beef and tamarind-pebre raisins. They’re an early taste of Miller’s fixed noodle bar, opening in Lynn later this year. nightshadens.com.
Unsurprisingly, this 20-seat setup tucked inside a Somerville warehouse excels at the format for which it’s named. Chef Peter Ungár continually catches us off-guard with ingenious touches prepared inches away—think: pads of mackerel brined in fermented daikon broth and crowned with turnip kimchi and herbs from the restaurant’s living wall. Also unexpected: the recent launch of TC Market (a line of house-made condiments), not to mention news that an à la carte Counter will land at a local food hall this year. 14 Tyler St. , Somerville, MA tastingcounter.com.
A haze of Turkish spices lures regulars seeking carrot-feta pogaca and seedy simit bread at this a.m.-to-p.m. purveyor of Middle Eastern–inspired bites. Acclaimed pastry guru Maura Kilpatrick—who oversees similarly striking programs at sibling spots Oleana and Sarma—also excels at sweeter stuff, such as walnut-studded baklava and a show-stopping oatmeal raisin cookie (yes, really!) pumped up with tahini. Oh, and her halvah? Heavenly. One Belmont St., Cambridge, MA sofrabakery.com.
No surprise that chef Barbara Lynch’s restaurants continue to compile stunning lists, thanks to renowned grape-juice expert Cat Silirie. What is surprising? The fact that the best wine lists can be found at Lynch’s most accessible property, an intimate homage to European boucheries where the glass pours showcase classics and Old World gems alongside small producers and innovative newbies. Fancy sherry with your salumi? Something pink with your pâté? This spot has you covered. 552 Tremont St. , Boston, MA thebutchershopboston.com.
The selection of coveted craft brews has long been the main attraction here. But it’s a good thing that dry, fruity Belgian-style ales—the backbone of owner David Ciccolo’s beer list—also pair so well with food: New chef Joe Cooke has upped the ante on the Publick House’s culinary program big time, sourcing whole pigs and sustainable seafood for menu upgrades such as house-cured bacon and frequently changing crudo. 1648 Beacon St., Brookline, MA publickhousebrookline.com.
Blackbird has a big new nest—a massive Brighton production facility/storefront to supply its growing flock of doughnut shops—but thankfully, the expansion hasn’t compromised the quality of its fresh-daily delights. We still get wide-eyed when we spot the baker’s simple yet luscious vanilla-glazed variety, as well as more-inventive iterations amped up with cold-brew coffee, sprinkled with chili-lime salt, or laden with tart cranberries. 100 Holton St., Bay #4, Brighton, MA blackbirddoughnuts.com.
More than 24 hours of slow fermentation and a decades-old sourdough starter yield handmade rounds so chewy, crackly-crusted, and flavorful that they’ve helped spark a better-bagels movement in Boston. Bonus: spreads we’d eat with a spoon. 1796 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA bagelsaurus.com.
Cheers to the stalwarts. It’s easy to brush off this baker given its ubiquity—you can find the sesame-studded ficelle and craggy country sourdough at local markets—but there’s a good reason top restaurants still fill bread baskets with these expert loaves. 130 Fawcett St., Cambridge, MA iggysbread.com.
Three generations of Merola women have commandeered the shop since 1982, churning out delicate, Old World–inspired cannolis with freshly fried shells and creamy, barely sweetened ricotta. They’re the lodestars against which we’d judge any baked outside the Boot. 46 Cross St., Boston, MA mariaspastry.com.
For Ethel’s Lobster Roll, named for his beloved grandmother, chef Jeremy Sewall sources delicate, ultra-fresh meat from his Maine fisherman cousin, then classes it up with a rosemary-imbued bun, crème fraîche, and the perfectly calibrated blend of celery salt and pickle. Your favorite seafood shack can’t compare. 500 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA islandcreekoysterbar.com.
Chef Michael Bergin certainly whips up a mean pâté en croute and beautifully brined ham, but it’s not just Salty’s eponymous porkers that elevate the almost entirely house-made charcuterie. Bergin knows his way around other animals, including chicken (don’t miss the liver terrine with Madeira gelée!). The meats are perfect for pairing with a top-notch selection of funky cheeses. 130 Dartmouth St., Boston, MA thesaltypig.com.
This seafood restaurant helped hatch the trend of democratizing caviar, once solely served on special occasions. Its caviar pairings—Belgian with Siberian, or Israeli with Royal Osetra—come with doughnut holes, blini pancakes made with white corn and Maine-sourced phytoplankton, or (during late-night service) one-bite “bumps” topped with buttermilk cream. 1030 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA waypointharvard.com.
In a town with no shortage of gussied-up patties, we keep returning to the workday-only Wheelhouse burger. The griddle sizzles coffee-crusted breakfast burgers and other beef patties loaded with lunch fixings like jalapeño-beer cheese and bourbon-glazed onions. Wax-paper sleeves barely contain such marvelous hot messes, gobbled at window stools or back in the cubicle. 63 Broad St., Boston, MA wheelhouseboston.com.
This revelatory restaurant treats ramen-making as autobiographical performance art: Self-taught chef Masuo Onishi will operate Tsurumen for only 1,000 days, and reveals a new bowl of springy noodles inspired by a chapter of life every 200 days—such as the Formula 1995, a richly glistening miso ramen with wrinkly wontons that represents early adulthood. Savor every precious slurp. 420 Highland Ave., Somerville, MA .
The ingredient combos here are a bit, shall we say, extra: On one recent visit, campechano tacos, a street-food staple, featured Tecate-beer-marinated steak; chorizo, red corn, and bacon hash; cranberry-onion jam; herb goat cheese; and toasted pepitas. Yet the flavors don’t fight, they play—and how!—when loaded onto delicately doughy, house-made tortillas. 2297 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester, MA yellowdoortaqueria.com.
Linguine, paccheri, bucatini—chef-owner Douglass Williams has mastered the fine art of pasta-making, churning out noodles with just the right amount of bite and just the right amount of sauce (that is to say, enough to sop up a little extra with bread). The best part for carb lovers? It’s all you can eat every “Mangia Pasta Monday.” 782 Tremont St., Boston, MA midaboston.com.
Made from premium hormone- and antibiotic-free milk, the generous scoops at 50-plus-year-old Crescent Ridge are as thick and luscious as ever. And now that the Sharon-based ice cream maker has an operation in Boston Public Market, we can get our fix of cake batter, orange-pineapple, and salted-caramel chocolate-pretzel without leaving the city. 100 Hanover St., Boston, MA crescentridgedairybar.com.
These pies clearly show a passion for the art of pizza-making without being too precious for a Tuesday-night snack. Toppings are top-notch and cover every craving: There’s the ruddy spice of house-made red-wine-and-garlic sausage. The sweet-and-salty dialogue between bacon and drizzles of chili-spiked maple syrup sourced from a sugar shack in the Adirondacks. Even citrus accents to balance the richness in Dragon’s lemon-chicken pizza, a nod to the signature dish at the late, great Hamersley’s Bistro. Read more 233 Elm St., Somerville, MA .
Twelve years after owners Tim and Nancy Cushman proved that Boston was ready to pay $20 a pop for sushi served by jeans-wearing waiters, their restaurant empire has expanded to Manhattan and Mexico City, where a third O Ya location opened in April. That hasn’t stopped the original Leather District location from continuing to crank out the kind of dazzlingly avant-garde raw fish that put them on the map—including umami-bomb nigiri like torched hamachi with banana-pepper mousse. 9 East St. , Boston, MA o-ya.restaurant.
Hot take: A spoon should be able to stand straight up in a proper bowl of New England clam chowder. Layered with tender clams and peppered with chopped dill, the creamy concoction at this old-school North End institution allows for exactly that. Belly up to the harbor-side bar for the fullest experience, and relish a bowl or overflowing mug that passes the taste and thickness tests. 80 Atlantic Ave., Boston, MA thebostonsailloft.com.
There’s a roast-beef renaissance afoot at hipster sandwich joints around town, but to rediscover the simple glories of the noble beast, ride the Blue Line north to a place that never forgot them. At Beachmont Roast Beef, steps from the eponymous subway station in Revere, humble surroundings and an everyman’s price tag belie the quality and care that go into each spectacularly tender slice, served rare on an onion roll. 629 Winthrop Ave., Revere, MA .
Chef Tim Maslow casually explodes the crudo genre at his innovative South End izakaya, playing at a level few others can match. The brilliance is in the deft balancing of bold contrasts. Charred-skin mackerel with pungent truffle ponzu cries out for a palate-resetting respite—then gets it, from feathery radish sprouts. Velvety scallops with sweet blood orange are nudged back to savory by fiery-citrus yuzu kosho. Norm-core tuna tartare this is (definitely) not. 647 Tremont St. , Boston, MA whalinginoklahoma.com.
Let the rest of New England have their boiled lobster, clams, and corn; here in Boston, we’ve become increasingly enamored with the Cajun-style seafood boils favored in the Deep South. Among them, Bootleg Special shines. Here, guests crack apart bowls of spicy crab legs, crawfish, and other crustaceans in fashionably distressed, Bourbon Street–style environs that put appealing polish on this hot-but-messy communal experience. 400 Tremont St., Boston, MA bootlegspecial.com.
At this sweet slice of heaven on Observatory Hill, apothecary jars of blood-orange caramels gleam beside a case filled with fine bonbons, brown-butter toffee, and craft riffs on candy-bar classics courtesy of Elaine Hsieh and Catharine Sweeney. The chocolate makers are known for infusing their handmade, artisanal confections with fancy teas, spices, and fruit purées, resulting in uniquely decadent treats. The one thing they all have in common? An air of whimsy and dedication to sky-high-quality. 145 Huron Ave., Cambridge, MA ehchocolatier.com.
Overflowing with the region’s best aged and fresh curds, Formaggio is a bona fide turophile’s haven. But even those without extensive cheese knowledge will enjoy popping into one of the three Hub-area outposts, where sample-dispensing staffers serve as ace guides for navigating cases stocked with bloomy hills of chèvre and Camembert; nutty, crystalline hunks of aged Parmesan; and fat wedges of blue cheese. 244 Huron Ave., Cambridge, MA formaggiokitchen.com.
This neighborhood meat market specializes in ethically sourced, hormone-free meats—all raised on pasture within 250 miles of Somerville—and nose-to-tail butchery. That means you’ll see hard-to-find proteins such as livers and blushing lamb’s hearts, along with house-made sausages, pork cutlets, chicken, and slabs of brisket. Want to try them all? Subscribe to M.F. Dulock’s meat club and take home new cuts every month. 201A Highland Ave., Somerville, MA mfdulock.com.
For almost a century, this family-run market has been culling ultra-fresh catch from its generations-deep relationships with suppliers at Boston Fish Pier. It shows in the shop’s unrivaled variety of rosy salmon fillets, fresh-caught sea bass, still-live sea urchin, and lusciously fatty fish collars. Unsure how to cook that head-on ocean perch? Let New Deal’s seasoned pros show you. 622 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA newdealfishmarket.com.
Hadley and TJ Douglas, Urban Grape’s married co-owners, developed an innovative method of organizing wine—and then wrote the (literal) book on it. Dubbed the “Progressive Scale,” their novice-accessible, demystifying approach organizes the shop’s myriad bottles by body (light to heavy) rather than region or variety, making it easy to find a favorite robust, biodynamic rosé; or rich, regal red. 303 Columbus Ave., Boston, MA theurbangrape.com.
Before he sold it to Starbucks in the 1990s, George Howell’s local-born Coffee Connection chain helped pioneer the gourmet-coffee movement. Two decades later, the java guru’s eponymous flagship in Boston remains a bar-setter for its robust selection of espressos and pour-overs using full-flavored, single-origin brews—from chocolatey Costa Rican beans to jammy-tasting Yemen selections—that Howell now roasts in Acton. Oh, and Frappuccino fans? Allow us to direct you to a seasonally available creamy, sweet frozen drink–aptly named the Original. 505 Washington St., Boston, MA georgehowellcoffee.com/the-godfrey-hotel.
Sadly, we can’t eat pastry legend Joanne Chang’s sticky buns every morning (unless we want to buy new jeans every week). So it’s a good thing Flour makes equally excellent savory sandwiches, from roast beef topped with horseradish mayo and crispy onions to grilled cauliflower with poblano relish and Oaxaca cheese—all served with the expeditiousness of an incredibly well-oiled machine. 1595 Washington St., Boston, MA flourbakery.com.
This plant-based restaurant trio is meat-free—but that’s beside the point. With toppings like pickled cauliflower and miso-barbecue tofu, its green-and-grain bowls are light, bright, and soul-satisfying, even for carnivores. 487 Cambridge St., Allston, MA wholeheartprovisions.com.
Opened in the Back Bay in 2017, GreCo has since expanded to the Seaport and, very shortly, downtown. Given the super-fresh pitas; tender marinated lamb and pork sliced from vertical rotisseries; and fixings such as spicy whipped feta and crispy fries, we’d put one on every corner if we could. 225 Newbury St., Boston, MA grecoboston.com.
This cheery Chinese-American favorite recently released a cookbook, but there’s no re-creating the restaurant’s palpable passion, which permeates gobble-worthy bites such as lemongrass pork dumplings, smoked haddock fritters, and an aptly dubbed Magical Kale Salad. 506 Park Dr., Boston, MA meimeiboston.com.
DJ appearances add to the buzz at this slick Seaport spot, where hip weekend crowds sip adult slushies, fun cocktails—like the vodka-based “Whip It Real Good,” topped with creamsicle foam—and champagne trays with juices and nips of liquor. 50 Northern Ave. , Boston, MA committeeboston.com.
Many moons after this café started earning long lines, we still love to start our mornings with hits like double-thick Belgian waffles with berry compote, and wondrous “surf and turf” Benedict with lobster and steak. 612 Main St., Cambridge, MA cafeluna-centralsq.com.
We hesitate to draw more attention to this morning-to-midday sandwich shop, given the competition for seats. But we must evangelize the epic “eggwiches,” frittata-style patties with choose-your-own toppings such as fire-roasted peppers and fried shallots. 59 E. Springfield St., Boston, MA eatblunch.com.
Cash in a sick day (cough!) to hit Friday’s “Brunch Test Kitchen,” where awesome experiments—like “birthday cake” sticky buns or bananas stuffed with jerk-spice-rubbed pork—are tested before graduating to an already-inventive weekend lineup. 425 W. Broadway, Boston, MA lincolnsouthboston.com.
Come for rotating Jell-O shots; stay for the funky food, served until 1:30 a.m. nightly. Peckish? Nosh “party tots” smothered in a mélange of sweet-and-spicy sauces. Ravenous? Crush a personal-size meatloaf topped with loaded baked-potato “aioli.” 152 Dorchester Ave., Boston, MA moonshine152.com.
In a city that sleeps early, this 24/7 spot is a beacon of light in the middle of a sweets-hankering night. That said, the crunchy, Florentine cannoli and huge, flaky lobster tails are among the best reasons to visit the North End, no matter the hour. 134 Salem St., Boston, MA bovabakeryboston.net.
Got more than the midnight munchies? Visit this hopping American brasserie for substantive plates until 1:30 a.m. You’ll find staples that include a Gruyère-soaked burger, plus night-owl specials such as tuna crudo with Osetra caviar. 528 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA easternstandardboston.com.
Every night is a party at this Fenway-side izakaya, thanks to the kawaii-punk décor and occasional slam of sake bombs. From the poolside patio to a new vinyl-record lounge, it’s packed until last call with revelers sipping frozen piña coladas and scarfing Wagyu cheeseburgers. 1271 Boylston St., Boston, MA hojokoboston.com.
The best sommeliers are storytellers, curating distinct points of view. Enter Friel, whose buzzy bar pairs exclusively natural-made wines with a social-justice sensibility. One Bow Market Way, Somerville, MA rebelrebelsomerville.com.
Lynch recently launched two new hits while keeping Bar Mezzana, his coastal-Italian gem, sparkling like an Aperol spritz. Up next: Black Lamb, an American brasserie. 360 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA shoreleaveboston.com.
As sweets guru for Tiffani Faison’s restaurant empire, Steffen Chinn’s versatility stuns—from down-home desserts to elaborate, whimsical platings. bighearthospitality.com.
This illuminating chef assembles pre-ticketed guests at a 10-seat table for elegant, multicourse explorations of Filipino cuisine, plus kamayan-style feasts eaten with the hands. One Bow Market Way, Somerville, MA tanam.co.
In only the past few years the beer makers have opened a Fort Point brewpub and draft-filled Canton headquarters, kick-started Boston’s beer-garden revolution, and announced a forthcoming Fenway taproom. Through it all, Team Trillium continues to create genre-defining New England IPAs and boundary-pushing pastry stouts. They’re also innovating with less-trendy styles, including European-style lagers and wild ales made with fruits they’ll eventually grow themselves at a Connecticut farm/brewery. 50 Thomson Place, Boston, MA trilliumbrewing.com/fortpoint.
This character-filled institution checks all the dive-bar boxes, from trivia nights to live music to legendary karaoke. 144 South St., Jamaica Plain, MA jeaniejohnstonpub.com.
It lures lively crowds with a 50-strong draft list bursting with smart selections, buzz-friendly fare (ranch-dusted tater tots!), a raucous soundtrack, and a patio bar with bocce lanes. 421 Cambridge St., Allston, MA lulusallston.com.
Chef Michael Scelfo’s bi-level bar has a standout list of tipples, including low-proof options like the amaro-mint “Harlow Smash,” plus posh finger foods to share. 40 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA longfellowharvard.com.