Boston best restaurants range from oyster bars to high-end dining to family-run Italian eateries. Go for the fresh seafood, the heartwarming pastries, the pizza, and the ice cream.

Here’s our favorites:

1. Neptune Oyster

Neptune Oyster

 

Neptune Oyster is the king of the Boston oyster restaurants. The menu is not extensive, but everything on it is awesome. Besides the oysters, Neptune does a great job with the other New England seafood specialties: lobster rolls, fried clams, and clam chowder. The Raw Bar menu includes oysters, clams, shrimp, and crab at market prices. The wine list is succinct and excellent, plus there’s a good selection of beers. The place is small – there’s only 18 seats at the raw bar and 26 banquette seats – but it’s the perfect place for authentic Boston seafood – read more here (Photo by Jules Morgan)

2. Island Creek Oyster Bar

Island Creek Oyster Bar

Island Creek Oyster Bar specializes in local, sustainably-sourced, seafood such as oysters, lobster rolls, and clams in a casual, modern space in the Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore Square. An inventive cocktail menu and a good wine and beer list accompany the food. Island Creek Oyster Bar is way ahead of the curve on the farm-to-table movement – not only do they know who grew and harvested their oysters and caught their fish and lobsters, they also make it a point to know who made their wine and brewed their beer. The menu is more about small bites than large entrees, and it changes daily according to availability. Non-seafood items such as burgers are also offered – read more here (Photo by Jun Seita)

3. The Beehive

The Beehive

The Beehive is a bistro and jazz club located in Boston’s South End neighborhood that perfect for just about any occasion. There’s a dining room upstairs, a jazz club downstairs, and a patio for enjoying brunch during the summer. The place is eclectic, dark and bohemian, with exposed brick walls and local art on the walls. Chef Marc Orfaly’s menu consists of creative New American fare with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences. Come for wine and cocktails, or a full meal, or to enjoy the music – read more here (Photo by Bing)

4. Eastern Seafood

Eastern Standard

Eastern Standard restaurant exudes Boston bonhomie and sophistication. Not only is it located in the landmark Hotel Commonwealth in the heart of Kenmore Square, it’s also near Fenway Park, making it a pre-game hotspot for Red Sox home stands. The expansive French Brasserie boasts a lengthy beer list and a sophisticated cocktails while the kitchen serves elevated comfort food with game-day specials and great burgers. The bar features a long marble bar, while the awning-covered patio is perfect for enjoying a weekend brunch while people-watching – read more here (Photo by Nathan Forget)

5. Pizzeria Regina

Pizzeria Regina

Pizzeria Regina in Boston’s North End serves classic East Coast pizza – it’s sloppy with thin crust, gooey cheese, zesty sauce, and generous toppings. The key to the good pizza, however, may be the brick oven that was built in 1888 and has been used for cooking pizzas since 1926. The pizzeria is the oldest in the city and one of the oldest in the country. The sausages and meatballs are housemade, they age their own cheese, and the dough recipe is over 80 years old – read more here (Photo by H. Michael Karshis)

6. Toro

Toro

Toro is a popular tapas bar in Boston’s South End that is consistently recognized as one of the city’s best restaurants. With brick walls, large mirrors, a fireplace, a long wooden bar, and a long communal table, the atmosphere is festive and casual. There’s patio seating when the weather permits. Beverage choices include classic cocktails and an enticing mix of Spanish wines – read more here (Photo by Bing)

7. O Ya

O Ya

O Ya was named “#1 New Restaurant in United States” by Frank Bruni of the New York Times in 2008. The small eatery offers Japanese takes on New England foods, with Chef Tim Cushman (the James Beard Award Winner for “Best Chef Northeast” in 2012) running the kitchen and and his wife, Nancy Cushman, running the front of the house. The decor is modern and classy, and the dining area is intimate. There are only 37 seats, with 17 of them at the sushi counter. Meals are either Omakase tasting menu or ordered off of the menu – read more here (Photo by Jan Mark Holzer)

8. Mike’s Pastry

Mike's Pastry

Mike’s Pastry is a legendary bakery, cafe, and coffee shop located in the North End neighborhood of Boston. The cannolis at Mike’s Pastry are the best around because the fillings and shells are handmade. The 17 flavors displayed in the glass cases range from the traditional plain ricotta to chocolate to Oreo and cheesecake varieties. Add chocolate chips for extra decadence. Other items include Biscotti, Italian Cookies, Boston Creme Pie, Fruit Squares, Torrone, Mazipan, and Gelati (ice cream). It authentic Italian fashion, all of the coffee names and varieties in Italian – read more here (Photo by Kimberly Vardeman)

9. No. 9 Park

No. 9 Park

No. 9 Park can be found in a grand townhouse in Boston’s historic Beacon Hill neighborhood and is consistently named one of the city’s favorite dining destinations. The flagship of noted Boston restaurateur features contemporary fare made using Italian and French techniques that’s paired with a celebrated wine list and cocktails hand-crafted by true mixologists. With candlelight, white-clothed tables, chandeliers, dark woods, and comfortable booths, No. 9 Park is perfect for a romantic date or a special occasion. Fare can be ordered from the menu or as a three-course prix fixe and a six-course chef’s-tasting menu with optional wine pairings. Start things off with their locally famous vodka-lime Palmyra cocktail – read more here (Photo by Charles Haynes)

10. Top of the Hub

Top of the Hub

Top of the Hub offers visitors a 360-degree view of the Boston skyline from the 52nd floor of the Back Bay’s Prudential Center. Enjoy an upscale meal from award-winning Executive Chef Mark Porcaro’s ever-changing menu, or start the night out while enjoying a drink in the lounge. The dining room is the perfect place for a romantic meal, with white tablecloths, superb service, and floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing the city below. The menu highlights many New England regional specialties such as clam chowder and lobster, and many dishes reveal a slight Asian influence. Go for a drink at the bar if you want the view without paying for the food. It’s a great place to enjoy a cocktail while watching the sunset, or for listening or dancing to the live jazz ensemble while capping off an evening out – read more here (Photo by May Wong)

11. Oleana Restaurant

Oleana

Oleana Restaurant Chef Ana Sortun creates fresh and inventive farm-to-table Mediterranean fare in a cozy restaurant with a fireplace and an open kitchen. The restaurant opened in 2001 and brought Boston an unprecedented fusion North African, Turkish, and the Middle Eastern flavors. Oleana’s dining room features warm lighting and Turkish rooms and is centered around an open kitchen. Outside dining is available in a wonderful courtyard with a fountain, herb garden and fig tree – read more here (Photo by Aaron “tango” Tang)

12. Craigie On Main

Craigie On Main

Craigie On Main is a high-end brasserie serving innovative, French-inspired, nose-to-tail, sustainable and seasonal fare. The menu is created daily based on the freshest and best ingredients available. The Ultimate Craigie Experience, as the Eight Course Tasting Menu is called, includes eight generously-sized courses of the chef€™s daily creations and takes about four hours to experience. Get there early and try one of their famous burgers – they only have enough of their locally-sourced beef to produce about 20 burgers a night – read more here (Photo by Bing)

13. Hungry Mother

Hungry Mother

Hungry Mother serves modern, upscale Southern cuisine in a warm, rustic setting near One Kendall Square in Cambridge. Chef Barry Maiden sources many of the ingredients, such as the Anson Mills Grits, in the South, while others are sourced fresh locally. The restaurant was named one of the “50 Best New U.S. Restaurants” by Travel + Leisure when it opened in 2009. In addition to the inspired dishes, there’s also an enticing list of cocktails and wines, and a very good dessert menu – read more here (Photo by Bing)

14. Myers + Chang

Myers + Chang

Myers + Chang is a hip diner in Boston’s South end that serves fresh and inventive pan-Asian dishes and fun cocktails with warm, friendly service. Chef/Owner Joanne Chang is of Flour Bakery fame. Christopher Myers is a co-founder and co-owner of numerous Boston restaurants. Myers + Chang was inspired by their mutual love of Taiwanese soul food and Southeast Asian street food – read more here (Photo by Bing)

15. Drink

Drink

True to its name, Drink is about expertly-prepared cocktails and select wines (and a few beers), plus some pretty good food for accompaniment – especially the Grilled Cheese. The place often gets named as one of the best cocktail bars in the world, if not the best. There’s no cocktail menu, but there is a list of recently-popular drinks written on a board on the wall. The bartenders will consult with you on a cocktail –  name your desired flavor profile and the bartender will create a libation just for you. This is not the place to go for a regular drink like a gin and tonic – read more here (Photo by Tim Sackton)

16. L’Espalier

L'Espalier

L’Espalier offers seasonally inspired modern cuisine based on French and New England classics accompanied by impeccable service. Meals can be ordered as Three Course Prix Fixe, Four Course Seasonal Degustation, or a Chef’s Tasting Journey. For a truly special dining experience, L’Espalier has a private chef’s table in the kitchen. Be sure to save room for the cheese board – it is consistently named one of the best cheese boards in America. The restaurant has been open since 1978, but it was revitalized when it moved into its new, contemporary space at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in 2008 – read more here (Photo by Jarrod Trainque)

17. Atlantic Fish Company

Atlantic Fish Company

Atlantic Fish Company has been a destination for some of the best seafood Boston has to offer since 1978, attracting both tourists and locals to this Back Bay institution. Seafood classics on the menu include the Award-winning New England Clam Chowder, the Maine Lobster Pot Pie, and the San Francisco Cioppino. Other items on the extensive menu change regularly according to the fresh catches available. Guests can dine on the outdoor patio and watch the bustling street scenes, or dine in the wood paneled interior designed like a classic cruising ship – read more here (Photo by Bing)

18. Silvertone

Silvertone

Silvertone is a cozy and friendly subterranean bar serving classic cocktails and solid comfort food. When Josh Childs opened Silvertone in 1997 it was a shot-and-a-beer place that was popular with other chefs and bartenders – partly because it was open late, and partly because it was a friendly place where conversation came easily. Over the years it has evolved with the times and now serves great classic cocktails along with beer and reasonably-priced comfort food. Dark woods, deep booths, and wall hangings of vintage pin-up girls and black-and-white family photos provide the decor. A juke box playing an eclectic mix of music provides a good vibe – read more here (Photo by David Bergin)

19. Toscanini’s

Toscanini's

There should always be room on a restaurant list for some good ice cream. Toscanini’s is known for two things: incredibly awesome ice cream in sometimes-unusual flavors, and lines of people waiting to buy the awesome ice cream. Everything at Toscanini’s starts with high quality ingredients, and they’ve mostly worked with the same suppliers since they opened back in the early 1980’s, including only buying their milk and dairy products from H.P.Hood. Half the fun is in trying the unusual flavors. Forty flavors are in regular rotation; Burnt Caramel is still a perennial favorite. In 2008, Toscanini’s was declared “The Best Ice Cream in the World” by none other than the New York Times read more here (Photo by Yusuke Kawasaki)

20. Giacomo’s Ristorante

Giacomos Ristorante

Giacomo’s Ristorante is quite possibly the quintessential Boston Italian food experience. It’s a small and family-run establishment serving unbelievable portions of southern Italian fare in the heart of the North End. The place is bustling and cramped, but homey. The service is friendly but a bit rushed. The prices are reasonable. Start with the complimentary garlic bread and order the fried calamari as an appetizer. Don’t dawdle after your meal – there’s other people waiting for your table – read more here (Photo by Rebuildingsince92)

21. Highland Kitchen

Highland Kitchen

Highland Kitchen serves Southern comfort food in addition to more innovative options such as Spicy Coconut Curried Goat Stew in a place popular with families and hipster-type looking for a good meal. The food is dependable and innovative, and the service is friendly and solid. For those wanting a libation – or waiting for a table, there’s a bar with a great selection of beer, wine, and cocktails. Be sure to check Highland’s web site for special events such as Fried Chicken and Tiki Mondays, Spelling Bee Tuesdays, Karaoke Wednesdays, and Sunday brunch with live country and bluegrass – read more here (Photo by Susanna Bolle)

22. Salts Restaurant

Salts Restaurant

Salts Restaurant is an intimate, romantic and unassuming restaurant that excels with fresh, French-inspired, chef-driven food. Gabriel Bremer works the stove and his wife Analia Verolo runs the front of the house. Much of the produce in the Cambridge restaurant is grown on their own farm in New Hampshire. The 40-seat dining space is decorated simply with neutral colors, hardwood floors, accent lighting, and small fruit and flower arrangements – read more here (Photo by Jan Mark Holzer)

23. Flour Bakery + Cafe

Flour Bakery Cafe

Flour Bakery + Cafe is a small chain of bakeries in the Boston area specializing in mouthwatering croissants, homemade cookies, exquisite tarts, and beautiful cakes. In addition to the breakfast pastries and baked goods, they also serve sandwiches, soups, and salads for lunch and early evening meals. Owner Joanne Chang is known as one of the most-renowned bakers in the country – her Pot Tarts and her Breakfast Pizza have both been featured on the Today Showread more here (Photo by Jason Riedy)

Featured photo by lgh75. All photos CC-BY-2.0.

See our list of the 49 best things to do in Boston here.

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