Best Restaurants in Boston 2012

Our annual list of Boston's top restaurants. Check out all of our 50 Best Restaurants 2012 coverage.

Grill 23 boston 50 best restaurants 2012The soaring dining room at the Back Bay steakhouse Grill 23. (Photo by Bob O’Connor)


ERBALUCE Bay Village

WHY IT’S GREAT: Thoughtful details set Charles Draghi’s preparations apart in a city overrun with upscale Italian: the crisped skin on the bluefish (“potato chips from the sea,” says the server); the cinnamon dust on an amuse-bouche of white-bean purée; the violet extract in the meringue atop a chocolate-and-cherry mousse. WHAT TO ORDER: Razor clams with fennel and leeks; pappardelle with wild-boar ragu. INSIDER TIP: On the first Sunday of each month, Draghi leads an Italian-themed wine class. Erbaluce, 69 Church St., Boston, 617-426-6969,


WHY IT’S GREAT: A restaurant with “Le Boones Farm” spelled out on the wine list obviously doesn’t take itself too seriously. Then again, this buzzing gastropub doesn’t have to—its fun, thoughtful dishes (locavore bacon-ranch wedge salad, anyone?) and informed service speak volumes about the quality here. WHAT TO ORDER: Classic poutine; the “Longshoreman” platter. INSIDER TIP: For dessert, try a cone of off-menu soft-serve—all you have to do is ask for it. The Gallows, 1395 Washington St., Boston, 617-425-0200,

GRILL 23 Back Bay

WHY IT’S GREAT: When the occasion calls for a top-notch steak, there’s no place better to celebrate than at this sophisticated spot, where you’ll find a superior 100-day-aged rib-eye—among other well-marbled cuts—and stiff, icy martinis perfect for toasting the evening. WHAT TO ORDER: Tuna tartare; skirt-steak frites; dry-aged New York strip; mashed potatoes. INSIDER TIP: On Sundays and Mondays, the restaurant offers a list of popular wines for $23 a bottle. Grill 23, 161 Berkeley St., Boston, 617-542-2255,

Hamersleys boston 50 best restaurants 2012Grilled quail with roasted figs at Hamersley’s in South End. (Photo by Anthony Tieuli)


WHY IT’S GREAT: In this era of small plates, Gordon Hamersley continues to celebrate the singular entrée, such as beautifully balanced grilled quail with roasted figs (pictured above), expertly seared fish, and, of course, his iconic roast chicken. WHAT TO ORDER: Duck confit; spicy halibut with bacon-braised greens; chocolate-hazelnut cheesecake. INSIDER TIP: An impressive selection of wines by the half bottle offers more flexibility for smaller parties. Hamersley’s Bistro, 553 Tremont St., Boston, 617-423-2700,

HARVEST Harvard Square

WHY IT’S GREAT: It would be easy for this institution to rest on its laurels. After all, it helped launch the careers of culinary bigwigs like Barbara Lynch and Lydia Shire. But nearly 40 years on, tucking into a tenderloin with black truffle–farro risotto on the linden-shaded patio remains a singular thrill. WHAT TO ORDER: Tagliatelle with roasted cauliflower and piquillo-pepper coulis; Taza chocolate crémeux with salted caramel. INSIDER TIP: Executive pastry chef Brian Mercury collects his own sea salt from Ogunquit, Maine—find it sprinkled on the crémeux. Harvest, 44 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-868-2255,