Best Restaurants in Boston 2014

Our thoroughly researched, call-it-like-we-see-it ranking of the restaurants that make Boston a true dining destination.

— 31 —
Myers + Chang

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

The perfect party size for visiting this South End eatery is four: Any less, and it’s too difficult to choose among addictive, Asian-inspired small plates like kalbi-style short ribs with apple kimchi, or duck with Chinese sausage and farro. Any more, and you won’t want to share. Updated by Belly wine bar’s Liz Vilardi, the new wine list is better than ever.

Can’t-miss dish: Twice-cooked lamb-belly stir-fry.

— 32 —
Bistro du Midi

272 Boylston St., Boston, 617-426-7878,

Even with the new wave of French restaurants invading Boston (Bastille Kitchen, Bar Boulud), this five-year-old Provençal bistro is still the perfect place to dazzle out-of-town guests, thanks to doting service, world-class wines, a plush but unfussy dining room, and prime Public Garden frontage. From-the-land proteins—such as seared duck breast accompanied by almonds, Mission figs, and duck jus and served with bite-size lavender-corn croquettes—are stellar, though the real draw is the seafood dishes (inventive crudo, black-pepper tagliatelle with lobster and uni) from executive chef and Le Bernardin alum Robert Sisca.

Can’t-miss dish: Grilled octopus with compressed melon, frisée, and squid-ink vinaigrette.

— 33 —
Puritan & Company

1166 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-615-6195,

When chef Will Gilson first opened his farmhouse-chic ­Inman Square restaurant, with its blue patterned banquettes, wood-paneled walls, and vintage furniture as décor, he introduced the Boston area to a thoroughly modern interpretation of traditional New England cookery. This means plates like lamb belly glazed with old-school Moxie, pan-seared local catch, and one of the most elegant bowls of clam chowder in town. Fun cocktails, a petite oyster-and-charcuterie bar, and a recently added selection of bar snacks make Puritan equal parts destination and neighborhood hang.

Can’t-miss dish: Swordfish pastrami with pumpernickel, mustard, and pickles.

— 34 —
Café Sushi

1105 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-492-0434,

At first glance, this sushi restaurant within a Cambridge strip mall looks like your ­standard-issue maki quick stop. But grab a counter seat in front of sushi chef Seizi Imura and order his omakase (or the more-­affordable $20 “chef’s sampler”), and indulge in creatively prepared seasonal seafood both from Japan and local shores (cured scallop mantle, uni three ways). The secret may be out at this point, but you’ll still get the feeling that you’ve stumbled upon a hidden treasure.

Can’t-miss dish: The omakase tasting.

— 35 —
Row 34

1383 Congress St., Boston, 617-553-5900,

Photograph by David Salafia

Photograph by David Salafia

When the crack team behind Island Creek Oyster Bar showed up in a part of town dominated largely by fish shacks and various outposts of the Legal Sea Foods empire, it was nothing short of a relief for discerning seafood fans. For their second outing, they’ve gone more casual, trading in a carefully calibrated ­cocktail list for a vast, world-class beer selection chock-full of obscure sours and bivalve-friendly pale ales. In short: It’s the area’s new seafood destination, whether you’re after a post-work pint and smoked-and-cured fish board or a pitch-perfect bottle of Riesling to pair with the whole-roasted, impeccably fresh fish of the day in the dynamic dining room.

Can’t-miss dish: Crispy oyster lettuce cups.

— 36 —
The Market Restaurant

3 River Rd., Gloucester, 978-282-0700,

As far as views go, you can’t top this spot: a window (or, if you’re lucky, front deck) seat facing the serene waters of Gloucester’s Lobster Cove. The dreamlike vista is only enhanced by the innovative wines on offer and the daily-changing menu of fresh crudo, beautifully cooked meats, and house-made ice creams prepped by husband-and-wife team Nico and Amelia Monday, who met while working at the legendary Bay Area restaurant Chez Panisse. Unfortunately, Market closed in October for the season, but you can bide your time until it opens its doors again in May at their nearby (and year-round!) pizza-and-oyster bar, Short & Main.

Can’t-miss dish: Local seafood crudo.

— 37 —

255 Washington St., Somerville, 617-776-9900,

Using his international upbringing as inspiration, chef Tim Wiechmann churns out both authentic and novel German fare, augmented by the one bar program that actually has a shot at making Jäger-meister cool again. The only thing more substantial than the many styles of German brews available on draft and by the bottle is the food itself, though the kitchen does a good job keeping things balanced: Crunchy fried potato pancakes are brightened with apple sauce and tart crème fraîche, while a variety of ­house-made sausages are ­offset by a zingy, Riesling-laced sauer­kraut.

Can’t-miss dish: The house-made wurst trio platter (coriander kielbasa, cotechino, and bratwurst).

— 38 —

371 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-517-5915,

We fully endorse the proliferation of rowdy, upscale-casual spots in Boston, but that also means it’s getting harder to find a proper, grownup date-night venue, one where you can converse at normal speaking levels, in an elegant room, over prettily plated appetizers followed by proper entrées. Christopher Coombs’s Back Bay restaurant is just that—all dark wood and glass, with polished service, well-made classic cocktails, and dishes that showcase careful attention to French technique (to wit: a perfectly scored and seared duck breast with foie-gras-stuffed prunes to go with that Boulevardier).

Can’t-miss dish: Spiced Long Island duck breast.

— 39 —
Sweet Cheeks

1381 Boylston St., Boston, 617-266-1300,

best restaurants in boston

Inside Sweet Cheeks’ massive J & R Oyler smoker, which sees upward of 500 pounds of brisket, ribs, chicken, and more each day. Photograph by Adam Detour.

Tiffani Faison’s Fenway barbecue den is proof that fall-off-the-bone ribs, crisp-skinned sausages, heaven-sent biscuits, and smoky pulled-chicken sandwiches can be found, in very fine form, this far north of the Mason-Dixon line. Though it first appears that the joint is all about the smoked and slow-cooked proteins, don’t ignore the sleeper hits on the menu, which include Faison’s excellent salads (roasted and raw Brussels sprouts tossed with farro, hazelnuts, Parmesan cheese, and grapes; refreshing watermelon chunks topped with cilantro, chili peanuts, and crumbled queso fresco during summertime), stiff whiskey-­based­ ­cocktails, and dangerously rich broccoli casserole.

Can’t-miss dish: The fried-chicken tray with sides of farm salad and broccoli casserole.

— 40 —
Tres Gatos

470 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617-477-4851,

Since taking the reins from Marcos Sanchez earlier this summer, executive chef Nevin Taylor (who has spent time in the kitchens of Toro and Asta) has maintained the Jamaica Plain tapas bar’s distinctively bohemian attitude—marked by old-school R & B tunes spinning on the turntable (for more on those, see our Inside the 50 guide) and a comprehensive selection of sherry—while bringing a succinct confidence to the menu. Must-order ­additions include charred carrots paired with smoky pork belly and a rich buttermilk vinaigrette, and a substantial kale-and-sausage bowl.

Can’t-miss dish: Kale-and-sausage bowl with yellow-eyed peas.

For more on Tres Gatos, see Inside the 50.