Fact: Boston is more than Beantown. A lot more. Home to some of the top universities in the world and chock-full of American history, Boston has established itself as one of the most exciting food cities in the nation. From longtime stalwarts and casual joints to James Beard Award-winning hot spots, here are the 40 most popular restaurants in Boston on Caviar. Read. Order. Repeat.
1. Area Four
They’re getting back to basics at Area Four, where they serve their popular wood-fired pizzas which come in small and large and have gained acclaim locally and nationally. Owners Michael Krupp and Jeff Pond are all about fresh ingredients and from-scratch fare. Choose from one of more than a dozen pizzas, but be sure to go beyond the pie with their creative salads, bowls, and gyros.
Picco is a pizzeria that happens to make some of the best ice cream in town. Along with their sorbets, they’re all made in-house with locally sourced milk and housemade toppings. Bonus: They don’t use high-fructose corn syrup or artificial colors or flavors. Choose a pint from an array of flavors — and don’t forget the chocolate sauce.
3. Douzo Sushi
This Back Bay gem’s name means “please come in” or “kindly go ahead” in Japanese. Known for their winning hospitality and healthy, fresh cuisine, Douzo has a delicious, extensive menu featuring cutting-edge rolls alongside Japanese favorites from the kitchen, like miso yaki or black cod with miso. Owner Jack Huang hails from Japan, so expect an authentic experience.
Myers + Chang, from husband and wife team Christopher Myers and Joanne Chang, is a beloved neighborhood restaurant in the South End. The food is “Asian-ish,” as they like to call it, and since 2007, it has been delighting locals and travelers alike. They’re renowned for their dumplings — and so much more. The vegetable dishes here, like the sweet and sour Brussels sprouts, are a revelation.
The acclaimed Coppa from James Beard Award-winning chefs (and Boston legends) Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette is an enoteca serving Italian small plates. Twelve years young and as excellent as ever, the restaurant features made-in-house pastas, pizzas, and salads. The celery Caesar salad is destined to be your new favorite. .
You can realize all your dumpling dreams at Dumpling House in Cambridge. The sister restaurant of Gourmet Dumpling House in Chinatown, this spot opened in 2014 and chef-owner Xuehua Gong’s creations quickly developed a cult following — and rightly so. Start with the tangy, spicy hot and sour soup, and then order a smattering of dumplings, which are great for sharing.
Eataly in the Back Bay is the place for all your Italian cravings. The mecca for Italian cuisine, Eataly has all the cheeses, pastas, and pizzas you could want. Create a feast with your order, kicking things off with a salumi plate. Don’t skip the pizza; our go-to is the quattro formaggi (although we can’t skip the calzone either). And the Lasagna Emiliana is the real deal.
8. Cafe Sushi
Since 1984, this unassuming sushi restaurant has been seducing diners with its super-fresh fish. If you’re a Bostonian who loves spicy tuna rolls, Cafe Sushi may deserve the credit. Aside from that popular staple, Cafe Sushi has classic rolls as well as chef-driven creations, such as the spicy citrus roll with baked salmon. The sushi dinner and sampler are a feast for the eye as well as the belly.
Like to sleep in but also love what is arguably the most important meal of your day? Then we thought you’d like to know they serve breakfast all day at Tatte Bakery & Café. Israeli influences abound thanks to founder Tzurit Or’s heritage. You’ll find three kinds of shakshuka and a halloumi-egg sandwich alongside a decadent croque madame and an assortment of pastries. Order now from Back Bay, Brookline, Charlestown, Harvard, Seaport, South End, or Third Street.
This South Boston spot opened in 2020, but the owners are far from neophytes. Anthony Allen and Mike Keon have been running OTTO locations since 2009. They believe pizza is serious food — and in their very capable hands, it is. The pepperoni pie is hard to beat, but try some of their dare-to-be-different offerings, too, like the mashed potato, bacon, and scallion pizza.
This Arlington darling stands out from the crowd with its farm-fresh ingredients and unique pizzas and salads. Choose from one of six truly resplendent salads, like the beet, apple, red onion, and parsley. You can build your own personal pan pizza, or you can trust the creators and get one of the specialty pies, such as the chorizo and dill pickle. (Yes, you read that correctly!)
12. Shy Bird
Opened in late 2019, Shy Bird in Cambridge specializes in crispy, juicy rotisserie chicken. Get a half or whole bird, and add a salad and rosemary-black pepper fries for a complete meal. Don’t forget to pick your sauce; we recommend the pecorino ranch. Feeling less peckish? The ranch fried chicken sandwich beckons with crunchy chicken, cheddar, and pepper relish.
At Life Alive, they strive to renew your energy and connection to life by soulfully serving you the most fantastic, vibrant, organic, therapeutic whole food you could ever imagine. This is plant-based fare that you can feel good about ordering. They’ve got broths, salads, bowls, wraps, juices, and smoothies. The Elvis Alive smoothie, with peanut butter and bananas, is worthy of the King.
Chef Andy Husbands takes a modern approach to slow-cooked, competition-style barbecue, which he calls “City ’Q.” The result is award-winning barbecue, and you’ve come to the right place to build yourself a plate that would make any Southerner pea-green with envy. Pick your protein (ribs, chicken, brisket, and so on) and select your sides. Whatever you choose, make sure corn bread is one of them.
This fast-casual restaurant is beloved for its stir-fry dishes, salads, and Honeybar confections made with yogurt, honey, fruit, and toppings. You can create your own version of any of these, which is always fun, but we can’t seem to quit the red coconut curry stir-fry and the kale chicken Caesar salad. Order now from the Seaport or Fenway locations.
Any restaurant that goes out of its way to serve Southern staple Duke’s mayo has us at hello. Chef Jason Santos offers an innovative American menu featuring Southern influences at this New Orleans-inspired spot. Opened in 2017, Buttermilk & Bourbon has a legion of loyal fans who rave about everything from the fried chicken and New Orleans BBQ shrimp to the hushpuppies and beignets.
Mamaleh's opened in 2016 to lines out the door serving homemade bagels, lox, pastrami, corned beef, blintzes, black and white cookies, babka, egg creams, and dozens of other dishes that would make any homesick New Yorker swoon. Have the authentic deli experience at home with any of their offerings.
18. Anna’s Taqueria
Burrito lovers, step right this way. Anna’s Taqueria has got you covered with a slew of burrito options. And even better, they come in customizable sizes so you can order according to your appetite. There are chicken, pork, steak, bean and rice, and grilled veggie options for filling in sizes regular, super, or super super (which is really just two super burritos).
19. Naco Taco
Naco Taco serves tacos and tortas made with care. They bake their own bread and grind fresh masa in-house daily to make their tortillas. Tacos are available with eight protein options, and we love that they can accommodate a host of food allergies or sensitivities for a safe eating experience. Be sure to check out the bowls, salads, and sides, too.
20. Saloniki Greek
Two-time James Beard Award-winning chef Jody Adams is the chef-partner at Saloniki Greek, a tribute to the humble Greek sandwich shop. Saloniki brings the flavor and quality of the Greek kitchen to the U.S. and uses locally sourced ingredients. This is delicious, budget-friendly fare that satisfies every time.
Mela Modern Indian Cuisine has been ranked as one of Boston’s best Indian restaurants several times over. Located in Boston’s South End, Mela has a menu of Indian cuisine’s greatest hits, from butter chicken and chicken tikka masala to lamb vindaloo and goat korma. Add some garlic naan and cooling raita to accompany your entree. And the creamy rice puddling-like kheer is downright dreamy.
This Lebanese restaurant’s name means “may it be sweet;” it is an expression of owners Nina and Raffi Festekjian’s love, pride, and enjoyment of creating food from the heart. This is Eastern Mediterranean street food. Think falafel, kofta, chicken za’atar, Armenian salad, tabbouleh, and more — all seasoned and spiced to perfection.
DIG helped ignite the greens- and grain-bowl craze by using carefully sourced ingredients and creating combinations that deliver an ideal marriage of delicious and nutritious food. The spicy lime-leaf salmon bowl gets us every time, but we still stan for the classic DIG bowl with charred chicken, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. The seasonal offerings keep things exciting as well.
James Beard Award nominee for Outstanding Chef Douglass Williams is the visionary behind this Italian trattoria in the South End. Also a Food & Wine Best New Chef, Williams opened MIDA in 2016; its name means “he gives me.” Thus, every meal is meant to be a gift just for you. The bucatini all’amatriciana and the eggplant Parmesan always win a place in our carts.
The Buttery was born in 2005 and has been beloved ever since for its carefully curated coffee and tea programs, featuring Equator beans and Kilogram teas along with morning pastries. This is where we head on Caviar when we need a delicious way to perk up our day, be it an early breakfast treat or a midday pick-me-up.
At Milkweed, they serve a diverse, globetrotting menu fit for a monarch. Opened in 2017, Milkweed has racked up accolades from the likes of The Infatuation, The Boston Globe, and Boston Magazine. This is the way to start the day — a menu chock-full of breakfast and brunch faves. Try the Lucky Charm pancakes and shakshuka — they are superb.
27. Sugar & Spice
Chef Penjan Janburiwong opened Sugar & Spice restaurant in Cambridge nearly two decades ago. Bringing over the flavors of her childhood and family cooking secrets from Thailand, she serves authentic Thai, or as she calls it, “Thai Thai.” The extensive menu of classic and contemporary preparations means that you will absolutely be able to find the perfect dish for everyone joining your order.
Lone Star is the collaboration of the shared and individual experiences of owners Aaron Sanders and Max Toste, who spent much of their early years in Texas and Southern California, respectively. The focus here is Mexican street fare. The beef barbacoa taco with smoked brisket and the Baja fried fish taco are just two of their outstanding dishes. The DIY kits are especially fun for groups.
29. The Paramount
One of Boston’s best spots for comfort food, The Paramount offers casual classics like burgers, paninis, grilled cheese, tuna melts, and more. (Don’t worry; there are salads and smoothies for the healthfully minded as well.) The Paramount burger with caramelized onions, mushrooms, bacon, and cheddar pairs perfectly with one of their epic milkshakes.
The crust on the Neapolitan-style pizza at Stoked is soft and light on the inside with a crisp outer shell and features toppings inspired by pizzerias in New Haven and New York. The Honey Bacon Bianca features bacon, ricotta, garlic, green peppers, mozzarella, and Mike's Hot Honey, but you can’t go wrong with a simple cheese pie either.
31. The Halal Guys
If you love Halal (and who doesn’t?), you may have the founders of The Halal Guys to thank. The concept was born in the early ’90s on the streets of New York, and its popularity has spread like wildfire. Pick a platter, such as beef gyro, chicken, or falafel, and customize it to your liking. Be sure to get all the sauces, and enjoy a glorious brick of flavorful food.
Posto’s Italian wood-burning oven allows the pizzaiolos to cook pizza at temperatures in excess of 850 degrees. Posto imports the finest 00 pizzeria flour and most flavorful San Marzano tomatoes from Italy, and they use their own Fiore di Latte mozzarella cheese. The Somerville spot also serves antipasti, pastas, and salad, and they have a respectable selection of wine and craft cocktails.
Established in 2015, this restaurant group is all about Mexican street food. You’ll find all your favorites here and then some: tacos, burritos, enchiladas, three kinds of tamales, and a special kids’ menu for the littles. Make sure you add a horchata to your cart for a real street-style experience.
34. Punjab Palace
This Allston mainstay serves Northern Indian specialties on its well-rounded menu that explains its ongoing popularity. You’ll find chicken curry, vegetable pakora, saag paneer, and chicken biryani. There are vegetarian dishes as well as goat and lamb entrees. They say the Chocolate Midnight Delight is heaven for chocolate lovers, and we would have to firmly agree.
Opened in the fall of 2017, this is the sister to the original Back Bay location. Lolita serves Mexican fare with luxe and inventive touches, like spicy artichoke empanadas and corn and lobster hushpuppies. There is an impressive lineup of tacos, enchiladas, and quesadillas, along with three kinds of guacamole. The margaritas and sangrias will make your meal complete.
Born from the culinary genius of chefs Jimmy Liang and Ming Cao, this restaurant’s menu is designed to take the taste buds of sushi connoisseurs and novices alike on a deeply satisfying journey. They serve a variety of dining options from à la carte makimonos and appetizers to shareable wok-tossed combinations like spicy dry stir-fried beef. The lobster rangoon is a must here.
Sweetgreen may be a popular nationwide chain, but the preparation here is highly personal. The fare is locavore-friendly with organic salads, soups, and warm bowls. The fish taco bowl with roasted steelhead trout, avocado, shredded cabbage, cilantro, tortilla chips, warm quinoa, arugula, Sweetgreen hot sauce, and lime-cilantro-jalapeño vinaigrette is a work of culinary art.
In April 2004, Tom Brush and Felipe Herrera founded Felipe’s Taqueria. Felipe’s philosophy for good food is simple: Ingredients should always be fresh and the recipes authentic. Bowls, burritos, quesadillas, and tacos anchor the menu. The party packs of tacos, nachos, and more serve anywhere from two to ten people and make hosting friends and family a snap.
39. Thai Basil
A cornerstone of the Boston dining community, Thai Basil is our go-to for all the Thai dishes we have come to know and love. From pad thai and drunken noodles to tom yum soup and all the curries, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a Thai offering they’ve overlooked. There’s an emphasis on seafood here, so be sure to select something from the ocean.
Opened in the summer of 2017 by owner Sumiao Chen (a scientist as well as a trained chef), this Kendall Square restaurant specializes in spicy Hunan cuisine. If you can stand the heat, you’ll love Sumiao — but if you can’t, you’ll still love it. Dishes like General Tso’s chicken and the Sumiao tofu pot are available in heat levels of non-spicy, mild spicy, regular spicy, and authentic spicy. Choose wisely.