Best Restaurants in Boston

Photograph by Anthony Tieuli for “Restaurant Review: The Kirkland Tap & Trotter”

— 22. —

Kirkland Tap & Trotter

For the more-casual follow-up to his fine-dining stalwart Craigie on Main, chef Tony Maws employs a deluxe custom wood-fired grill to churn out smoky plates of grilled chicken, succulent pork ribs in an ancho chili glaze, and one epic kimchi-Russian-dressing-slathered cheeseburger. Order a farm-fresh salad and a plate or two of grill-charred vegetables to balance out all of that protein.

425 Washington St., Somerville, 857-259-6585, kirklandtapandtrotter.com.

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La Brasa

When he first opened his East Somerville restaurant, Daniel Bojorquez was like a culinary Icarus, drawn to the flames of his elaborate, custom-designed Blue Barn wood-fired oven, overwhelming his menu with misplaced ambition. He’s since refined the menu and drawn on La Brasa’s greatest strength, namely the piquant flavors of his Mexican homeland. Beets are now destination-worthy, thanks to crunchy quinoa and a sauce made from maple syrup and chile de árbol. Pork loin is dressed up with ancho chimichurri and an incendiary au jus. Even the humble chicken wing gets the royal Mexican treatment, with a nuanced, 12-ingredient Oaxacan mole. Most restaurants need a little time to get their bearings, but it’s almost unheard of for one to quickly reassess and reinvent itself, and immediately become one of the city’s best.

124 Broadway, Somerville, 617-764-1412, labrasasomerville.com.

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L’Espalier

Whole platters of amuse-bouches; a robust cheese program and a tea sommelier; and a burnished whole duck carved tableside with great pomp and ceremony are just some of the rare extravagances that have made L’Espalier a destination for no-holds-barred dining. Modern flourishes like Matsutake mushrooms and ginger beignets on an appetizer of Hudson Valley foie gras; hay-roasted cauliflower paired with roast chicken; and foie gras jus plated with roasted guinea hen and truffle pommes purée, meanwhile, keep things fresh.

774 Boylston St., Boston, 617-262-3023, lespalier.com.

— 25. —

Mei Mei

It’s hard to resist the singular farm-to-table fusion proffered by chef Irene Li. Scallion pancake sandwiches filled with runny eggs and pesto made with local greens, or pasture-raised pulled pork, shiitake, and the house cranberry hoisin; crackly, hand-crimped dumplings; and healthy-ish small plates, like parsnip fries with seaweed “confetti,” are craveable any time of day. So it’s great, then, that this Audubon Circle spot recently changed to all-day counter service. It’s easy and comfortable, but the move also subtly highlights Li’s commitment to sustainability—not just for the ingredients she uses, but also the economic realities of the business she’s in.

506 Park Dr., Boston, 857-250-4959, meimeiboston.com.

best restaurants in boston 2017

Photograph by Keller + Keller for ‘Restaurant Review: Menton’

— 26. —

Menton

We may no longer require white tablecloths and doting, formal service for a celebratory meal, but there are times when such unsubtle signifiers of luxury are welcome—and it’s on these occasions that we book a table at Barbara Lynch’s ambitious temple to extravagance. Chef de cuisine Lucas Sousa’s dishes are refined yet gutsy—think: pan-seared halibut accessorized with swiss chard caviar and beurre blanc, tajarin with black truffles and parmesan.

354 Congress St., Boston, 617-737-0099, mentonboston.com.

backroom-at-moodys-best-restaurants-in-boston-2015

Smoked wagyu brisket served with broccoli gratin and chimichurri. / Photograph by Nina Gallant for ‘Restaurant Review: The Backroom at Moody’s’

— 27. —

The Backroom at Moody’s

At charcuterie master Josh Smith’s dim and dapper wine-bar refuge next door to the original Moody’s Delicatessen, Smith explores the full spectrum of his talents, which he polished in the posh kitchens of the Four Seasons. A 2018 expansion made room for a raw bar with well-dressed crudo. Flatbreads—like his deconstructed Reuben loaded with pastrami, Swiss, and sauerkraut—are cranked out of a wood-fired copper oven. A red-sauce-soaked iron skillet delivers “Never the Same” Wagyu meatballs, hefty and hand-built from a blend of high-quality scraps. And whole, slow-smoked rotisserie chicken, served with spaetzle and a pour-over of balsamic, bears finely crisped skin that gives way to a meltingly tender bird. Fancy? No, just awesome artisanship.

468 Moody St., Waltham, 781-216-8732, moodyswaltham.com.

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Myers & Chang

The perfect party size for visiting this South End eatery is four: Any less, and it’s too difficult to choose among executive chef Karen Akunowicz’s addictive, Asian-inspired small plates like kalbi-style short ribs with apple kimchi, or twice-cooked lamb belly stir-fried with hot mustard and Chinese long beans. Any more, and you won’t want to share.

1145 Washington St., Boston, 617-542-5200, myersandchang.com.

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Neptune Oyster

Good things come to those who wait, so don’t let the queue for a table discourage you. Serving sensationally fresh seafood, this North End institution is known for its long lines and legendary raw-bar selection featuring more than 20 varieties of oysters. Raw bar isn’t for you? Worry not; order the buttery lobster roll, or take in the (cooked) flavors del mare courtesy of chefs Daniel Karg and John Ross with inventive dishes like the whole roasted mackerel Veracruz in tomato-olive brodetto with bright chimichurri and a refreshing orange-fennel salad, or seared Georges Bank scallops served with Brussels sprouts and a D’Anjou pear butter.

63 Salem St., Boston, 617-742-3474, neptuneoyster.com.

best restaurants in boston 2017

Crisp-skinned branzino with romesco, grilled scallions, and ‘jambon royale.’ / Photograph by Angela Coppola for ‘Dining Out: No. 9 Park’

— 30. —

No. 9 Park

Barbara Lynch’s empire has spread far and wide since she opened her first restaurant. Nostalgia keeps us returning to the original, with its rarified aura; its signature cocktails, like the crisp, mint-laced “Palmyra”; and that legendary prune-stuffed gnocchi with foie gras, which deserves every single speck of fawning praise it’s earned over the years.

9 Park St., Boston, 617-742-9991, no9park.com.

— 31. —

Oleana

Chef Ana Sortun’s Cambridge landmark has long been a default answer to the question, “Where should I eat in Boston? The Middle Eastern-Mediterranean restaurant is in beautiful form, with alluringly spiced dishes like moussaka with tahini and crisp Brussels sprouts; and kohlrabi pancakes topped with peppery labne. Such dishes are best enjoyed, when the weather allows, in an outdoor garden that is as enchanting as the food.

134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, 617-661-0505, oleanarestaurant.com.

This list is updated periodically to reflect closures and other prominent developments. Please send updates to food editor Jenna Pelletier at jpelletier@bostonmagazine.com.