The Best Steakhouse in Boston Is . . . Grill 23 & Bar (Again!)

For more than 40 years, the stately Back Bay establishment has been a blueprint for consistency, excellence—and the perfect meat.

Himmel Hospitality Group president Chris Himmel has worked at Grill 23 since he was a kid. / Photograph by Ken Richardson.


Grill 23 & Bar

Chris Himmel’s earliest memories involve running around the dining room at Grill 23 & Bar, the stately Back Bay steakhouse that celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. The second generation owner was five when the restaurant opened; 20 years later, he assumed control of the day-to-day operations, and nowadays is president of the entire Himmel Hospitality Group, which also includes Harvest, Bistro du Midi, and the Banks Fish House.

Along the way, he bartended (at around eight years old—don’t tell the licensing board), scrubbed broilers, cleaned the grout in the bathroom floors, and did just about every other front-of-house and back-of-house task imaginable at the restaurant. “I think the staff was trying to show me that restaurants are more than just putting on a suit or your chef coat,” Himmel says. “There’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that goes into the day-today.” Clearly, the hard work has paid off: While in 2020s Boston it seems like there’s a steakhouse on every block, Grill 23 hasn’t relinquished its standing as the best around. (In fact, it’s won this award two dozen times.)

The restaurant’s success can be attributed to a delicate balance of adapting to the modern dining scene but not changing too much. In the early days, Grill 23 inhabited the same sort of fine-dining space as restaurants like Jasper’s, the upscale waterfront seafood destination from the late Jasper White, and Seasons at the Bostonian Hotel, under executive chef Lydia Shire, explains Himmel. “But I think where we veered from those was the energy [of Grill 23],” he says. “It was the space, the high ceilings, the steakhouse vibe itself that lent a higher energy than most of the restaurants in Boston had at the time.”


Over four decades, the physical space has expanded with a whole new floor, lots of room for private dining, and a sparkling new kitchen. The menu, which started out as classic meat-and-potatoes, is now broader, with extensive raw-bar options and other seafood dishes. The wine list, meanwhile—a winner of Wine Spectator’s Grand Award since 2017—is nearly 100 pages long, with a table of contents alone that takes up a whole page.

Still, some things never change. The crispy hash browns, with duck fat ladled luxuriously over them, have been the same since day one, Himmel says. Other dishes from the early days reappear as specials occasionally. And even though the team has been approached about opportunities to become a chain, they’ve always passed. “We felt as though the blueprint [for Grill 23] means enough to the city that how could you do another? What we feel is overwhelming loyalty.” 

161 Berkeley St., Boston,

First published in the print edition of the July 2024 issue as part of the Best of Boston 50:Dining package.