RESTAURANTS

TopTen

1. L’Espalier

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Adjoining the luxury Mandarin Oriental hotel, in the heart of fashionable Back Bay, this is one of Boston’s top restaurants (see L’Espalier). The award-winning, modern French cuisine emphasizes local ingredients in dishes such as butter-poached Maine lobster and cocoa-rubbed venison. Only expensive fixed-price and tasting menus are offered during dinner service.

TopTen

Elegant L’Espalier

2. Uni

Local culinary titan Ken Oringer and chef-partner Tony Messina operate this lively, upscale izakaya (see Uni) in the ground level of Back Bay’s Eliot Hotel. Small plates of global street foods dot the menu, along with fresh takes on makimoni, nigri, and sashimi. Cult ramen meals are served late on weekend nights.

TopTen

Uni’s tuna sashimi

3. Mamma Maria

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This upscale eatery (see Mamma Maria) is located in a 19th-century row house and is loaded with old-world charm. Its daily changing menu specializes in classic Italian comfort cuisine with a twist. For example, the clam pasta features not only famous Falmouth (Cape Cod) clams, but also toasted pine nuts, prosciutto, and sautéd green pea tendrils. Save room for the excellent dessert list, which features highlights such as Nonna’s chocolate torte with creamy espresso gelato.

4. Grill 23 & Bar

Easily Boston’s finest steakhouse, Grill 23 features one of the city’s best wine lists and a number of delicious alternatives to seared slabs of perfect beef. Swordfish, sea bass, salmon, and lobster satisfy the pescatarians. Sides include lobster mac and cheese with smoked Gouda, and fries with a house harissa ketchup.

5. Trade

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Trade is the fine-dining anchor to the Greenway Park that links Downtown and the waterfront. Set in the Atlantic Wharf building, it makes use of Mediterranean flavors while remaining true to its New England roots. Both ends of that historic trade route shine in dishes such as braised short rib with Jerusalem artichoke, olives and orange. The restaurant is popular for its light lunches, which feature freshly made sandwiches and salads.

6. Toro

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Chef-owners Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette team up for one of the city’s hardest-to-get-into restaurants (see Toro). This South End hot spot serves a mix of modern and traditional tapas, paella, refreshing cocktails, and Spanish wines. Head here for excellent Latin food served in stylish environs, from a menu filled with trendy imported items as well as a host of original dishes. The special Sunday brunch is popular.

7. Menton

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Superchef Barbara Lynch’s elegant Fort Point dining room (see Menton) regularly receives national-level rave reviews for its dishes. Diners can choose from one of two tasting menus, with offerings such as lobster and chamomile with fava, hazelnut, and Meyer lemon; or tart of foie gras enhanced with wild ramps, beetroot, and spring onion. All diners at a table are requested to choose the same menu.

TopTen

Menton’s exquisite cuisine

8. Craigie On Main

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Award-winning chef Tony Maws, acclaimed for his French-inspired nose-to-tail approach to fine dining, presides over a bustling open kitchen facing the dining area, filled with an eclectic mix of diners. The menu here (see Craigie On Main) changes daily, based on the locally sourced organic ingredients picked up at the market that morning. Head to the bar for the wildly popular gourmet burger, served with big, chunky fries, and great cocktails.

9. Meritage

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Chef Daniel Bruce showcases perfect pairings of food and wine at this elegant eatery in the Boston Harbor Hotel. Diners choose dishes from either a red/rosé wine menu or a white/sparkling wine menu, as part of his innovative vineyard-to-table philosophy. The restaurant (see Meritage) hosts the famous Boston Wine Festival in January.

10. Harvest

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Since the 1970s, this relaxed restaurant (see Harvest) has been a leader in setting the direction of American cuisine. Chef Tyler Kinnet brings a Mediterranean palate to New England cuisine, pairing lobster with favas and nasturtium blossoms or roasting pork with local fennel, garlic, and stone fruits. The outdoor garden terrace is lovely.

TopTen

Bar at Harvest

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