Boston's Hidden Restaurants

Best Restaurants in the Boston Area, 2017

2017 was a very good year for food, so good, in fact, that this year's "best of" list has been an awfully difficult one to put together. Because of this, the list of best spots in 2017 includes "honorable mentions" within each category because of the sheer number of top spots tried, and as always, the list focuses mainly on lesser-known restaurants and bars, and there are some newcomers along with some repeat favorites. Also, as is the case every year, not all categories have been covered but the list does include some of the most popular cuisines and foods. (Note: Last year's picks can be found at the following link: 2016 Best Boston Restaurants List)

Best American Restaurant (New), 2017
Ashmont Grill, Dorchester, MA
This place just continues to impress, and in a way, the Ashmont Grill could be considered the top place of them all this year (though Ganko [see below] would be up there as well). Between the modern takes on comfort food, decent beer and excellent cocktail list, and shaded back patio with a fire pit, there is definitely a lot to like about this spot.
Honorable Mention: 75 Chestnut, Boston

Best American Restaurant (Traditional), 2017
NewBridge Cafe, Chelsea, MA
Perhaps more Italian-American in a way than American, this neighborhood joint is the place to go for their legendary steak tips as well as their turkey, pork, and lamb tips, and their antipasto, house-made meatballs, and huge steak fries (potato wedges, really) are nothing to sneeze at, either. If you like local hangouts with excellent pub grub, this is a can't-miss spot.
Honorable Mention: Winthrop Arms, Winthrop

Best Bar, 2017
Cagney's, Quincy, MA
It is easy to mistake this place for a dive bar, but Cagney's is really more of a neighborhood dining and drinking spot than a down-and-dirty watering hole. And the menu tends to prove this, with excellent takes on burgers, pizza, macaroni and cheese, wings, tenders, and more, and the beer list is surprisingly great, with some of the best brews in New England offered here.
Honorable Mention: Four Winds, Lynn

Best Breakfast Place, 2017
McKenna's Cafe, Dorchester, MA
A longtime fave that has gone from being a real hidden gem to a spot that is being discovered more and more, this bustling Savin Hill eatery gets high marks for its basic breakfast plates, coffee, and efficient service which helps move the line along on busy weekends. There aren't too many surprises at McKenna's, but it's just a good, solid breakfast spot that also has some tasty lunch options as well.
Honorable Mention: The Grill and Eye, Weymouth

Best Chinese Restaurant, 2017
Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe, Woburn, MA
Picking best Chinese is so difficult because there are so many different types of Chinese cuisine--and there are also so many great options in the Boston area. But this little storefront in Woburn Center will make your knees weak with such options as hand-pulled noodles that are heavy on the garlic, hot and sour dumpling soup, and a weekend-only chilled noodle dish. [Note--another location can be found in downtown Boston.]
Honorable Mention: Bess's Cafe, Brookline

Best Hamburgers, 2017
Cagney's, Quincy, MA
Yes, Cagney's gets not one, but two "best ofs" this year, and it's well-deserved, as their huge, meaty burgers are one of the best of many options on their menu. And one of the best burger options here is a ghost chili burger that doesn't seem hot at first, but it'll creep up on you as you continue to eat it (without being so hot as to overwhelm the flavor of the meat).
Honorable Mention: O'Sullivan's, Somerville

Best Irish Pub, 2017
Dunn-Gaherin's Food and Spirits, Newton, MA
There are some great Irish pubs in the western suburbs of Boston, and this cozy spot in Newton Upper Falls sits at the top of the heap with its authentic-feeling atmosphere, solid Irish, Irish-American, and pub grub options, and well-poured pints. Dunn-Gaherin's has been around for a long time now and it continues to be a place that is welcoming to all, including families, large groups, softball teams, and couples on dates.
Honorable Mention: Hillside Pub, Canton

Best Italian Restaurant, 2017
Tavolo Ristorante, Dorchester, MA
Another category with many options this year, Tavolo narrowly beats out the wonderful Massimo's in Wakefield in part because of its house-made pasta, upscale takes on Italian classics (like the chicken parmigiana), well-made cocktails, and comfortable atmosphere. Tavolo and the Ashmont Grill are under the same ownership and are basically across the street from each other, which always makes for a difficult decision.
Honorable Mention: Massimo's Ristorante, Wakefield

Best Japanese Restaurant (Not Including Sushi), 2017
Ganko Ittetsu Ramen, Cambridge, MA
Another restaurant that could be seen as the top spot of them all this year (in addition to the Ashmont Grill), this tiny eatery within the historic Arcade Building in Coolidge Corner is head and shoulders above so many other ramen spots, with their miso, tan tan, and shoyu options all being almost otherworldly with their balance of flavors. But as mentioned last year, if you are more into fatty broths, Sapporo in Cambridge may be your place instead.
Honorable Mention: Tampopo, Cambridge

Best Mexican Restaurant, 2017
Lone Star Taco Bar, Cambridge, MA
Perhaps more Cal-Mex and/or Tex-Mex than purely Mexican, this little storefront between Inman Square and Lechmere can get crowded and for good reason--the street food here is tremendous, with such items as Sonoran dogs, beef barbacoa, guacamole, and refried bean tostadas all being delicious options, along with a nacho plate inspired by a restaurant in Mexico that reportedly invented nachos. [Note--another location can be found in Allston.]
Honorable Mention: Villa Mexico, Boston

Best Pizza, 2017
Poopsie's, Pembroke, MA
Can it be that a tired-looking place in a suburban shopping center gets the nod for pizza this year? Yup, and considering how much great bar pizza (and pizza in general) is out there is a testament as to just how good the bar pies at this South Shore watering hole are. Many debate whether Poopsie's, the Lynwood Cafe in Randolph, or Cape Cod Cafe in Brockton wins out for bar pizza, but this year, at least, it is this humble little spot with a funny name.
Honorable Mention: Brewer's Fork, Charlestown

Best Sandwiches, 2017
Bob's Italian Foods, Medford, MA
Unlike Nick's in Beverly, which won last year on the strength on one specific sandwich (its roast beef), this old-world Italian market offers so many terrific subs that it can be hard to choose from among them. A few highlights include their Italian subs, of course, along with eggplant parm, roast beef, steak and cheese, Italian sausage, and their truly sublime meatball subs.
Honorable Mention: Tasty on the Hill, Medford

Best Seafood Restaurant, 2017
Out of the Blue, Somerville, MA
A restaurant that doesn't get enough credit--especially considering it resides in the always-busy Davis Square--this Sicilian seafood restaurant may not be flashy, but some of their menu items are certainly not to be missed. If you're a fan of such items as mussels, cherrystone clams, pan-seared scallops, grilled swordfish, baked stuffed lobster, shrimp scampi, and calamari, chances are you will adore this spot.
Honorable Mention: CK Pearl, Essex

Best Sushi, 2017
Ocean Sushi, Melrose, MA
Last year, this out-of-the-way sushi bar came very close to winning the "best sushi" award, and this year, it makes the grade in part because of its beautifully-presented and fresh-tasting sushi options and its bright and cheery atmosphere. Buried away in a luxury apartment complex, Ocean Sushi is very easy to miss, but for sushi lovers who live in this development, they basically have it made.
Honorable Mention: Village Sushi and Grill, Roslindale

Best Thai Restaurant, 2017
Dok Bua, Brookline, MA
There is always talk of a "hall of fame" for best hidden restaurants that continue to impress over and over again, and if there ever were to be one, this casual cheap eats spot between Coolidge Corner and the Allston line would be one of the first to get in. The simple street food dishes at Dok Bua remain among the best in the region, with highlights including pad Thai with crispy chicken, pad se ew, drunken noodles, and curry puffs.
Honorable Mention: Thai Moon, Arlington