In the four years since Michael Schlow moved to Boston, he has become not just a major figure on the local culinary scene, but on the national ones as well. So when he left Cafe Louis to plan his own place, foodies eagerly awaited his next move. The impeccably designed Radius more than survived the attendant hype to become the restaurant sensation of the year. Offering a distinctive counterpoint to Boston's culinary old guard, Schlow's strength is his understanding of flavors and texture. To that end, he finds the finest ingredients and uses his mastery of technique to treat them with the utmost respect. His pork confit is memorable, meltingly soft and sweet, made in a classic confit technique of cooking the meat in its own fat, which, paradoxically, heightens the flavors without making the confit fatty. As for his striped bass, Corby Kummer wrote that "the impeccable conception, execution, and presentation would be hard to find in any arrondissement [in Paris.]" With food like that, he added, "I'll fight for a table wherever [he's] cooking." 8 High St., Boston, MA .
These not-too-sweet muffins are the most satisfying around. 344 Huron Ave., Cambridge, MA .
Sweet, but neat, with more bubbles than Lawrence Welk. 15 Arlington St., Boston, MA .
He could sweep even Mary Poppins off her feet. 16 Roosevelt St., Newton, MA .
We excuse his overly sweet barbecue sauce. 285 Harvard St., Brookline, MA .
The Ironside serves the Chuck's finest fries (mmm ... sweet potato) and boasts carryout standouts in its Monte Cristo sandwich and burgers. 25 Park St., Charlestown, MA 2129, ironsidegrill.net.
John Lincoln Wright and the Sour Mash Boys are still sweet. MA
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.
You don't need reservations to snag a seat at this local favorite, where the fritto misto and steak tartare are best chased with a pickleback. What to Order: The fried catfish; crispy-pork lettuce wraps. 152 Dorchester Ave., Boston, MA franklincafe.com.
We mourned the loss of a local gem with the closing of Scup's in the Harbour, but when it was replaced by this Australian spot—which offers meat pies, salads, and down-under treats like potato wedges with sweet chili sauce—we breathed a heavy sigh of relief. What to Order: The chicken pita; chickpea salad; meat pie. 256 Marginal St., East Boston, MA kocateringandpies.com.
The fried Brussels sprouts smothered in chipotle-lime sauce justify a trip to this one-and-a-half-year-old hot spot all by themselves. But as long as we're here, we'll also take the tater tots poutine and the pressed-duck club sandwich, and follow it all with a Delirium Tremens, just one great selection from the vast tap list. Chef Leah Dubois's playful dishes taste even better against Local 149's backdrop of rainbow-hued vintage seltzer bottles, chalkboard tables, and reclaimed wood floors. 149 P Street, South Boston, MA 2127, local149.com.
This national-caliber Somali kitchen makes and bottles its own luxuriously supple-textured mango-habanero hot sauce, which adds just the right zhoosh of incendiary complexity to coconut-milk grits with slow-cooked chickpeas; unctuous braised goat (hilib ari) bursting with turmeric and cardamom; and, honestly, any leftover taking up space in your fridge right now. 389 Maverick St., East Boston, MA 02128, tawakalfoods.co.
In the gap between Southie's working-class past and emerging condo-class future, St. Alphonzo's stands as a small marvel of a bridge: authentic but not staid, polished but not pretentious. Owned by Silvertone alums Natasha and Peter Irving, who live nearby and obviously pride themselves on feeding their neighbors well, it plates up top-notch sandwiches (the Cuban's a standout) and affordable pastas, meat, and fish that embody home cooking in the best sense. The pocket-sized space is rarely packed, which means patrons can relax and actually hear themselves think—probably, about how soon they can come back. 87 A St., Boston, MA 2127, stalphonzoskitchen.com.