Boston's Hidden Restaurants

Best Restaurants in the Boston Area, 2019

It is that time once again, as we look back at all of the lesser-known restaurants, bars, and food places that we've tried over the past year and feature what we consider the best of the best. As was the case last year, honorable mentions are included among some of the picks, and as always, not every category is looked at, with this being more of a sampling of what are truly considered the cream of the crop. A number of repeat winners have been picked this year, along with some that have been picked for the very first time. (Note: Last year's picks can be found at the following link: 2018 Best Boston Restaurants List)

Best American Restaurant (New), 2019
Silvertone, Boston, MA
An industry haunt of sorts, this subterranean dining and drinking spot in the heart of the downtown area is a place where you'll see restaurant owners and workers go on their off-hours, be it for grabbing some of the best mac and cheese or steak tips in the city and/or a terrific cocktail or two. Silvertone is well-known among people in the biz as well as food nerds everywhere, but it remains a bit under the radar (literally) to many.
Honorable Mention: Ashmont Grill, Dorchester

Best American Restaurant (Classic), 2019
Midway Restaurant, Dedham, MA
Old-school roadside joints tend to be front and center on this site, and this local fave near the Boston line is one of the better ones out there. Comfort food is big here, with burgers, pork chops, chicken parm, and that most "Boston" of dishes--prime rib--being popular dishes, while beers, wines, and basic cocktails are offered as well. Midway has been around for a long, long time, and for good reason, as the nearby residents can tell you.
Honorable Mention: Winthrop Arms, Winthrop

Best Bakery/Pastry Shop, 2019
Parziale's Bakery, Boston, MA
A North End bakery that has been around forever, Parziale's doesn't have the name recognition of a Mike's or Modern or even a Bova's (which is on the same block), but residents come here day in and day out because they know just how good the food items are. Here you will find one of the best bakery pizzas in the Greater Boston area, and their breads are wonderful (get the scali) as are their cookies and biscotti.
Honorable Mention: La Cascia's Bakery, Medford

Best Bar, 2019
Cagney's, Quincy, MA
A place that looks like a dive bar from the outside, this Quincy spot is in some ways the ultimate neighborhood watering hole where regulars park themselves up at the bar and dine on some excellent pub grub and American classics while hoisting a few beers--including some of the best craft brews the region has to offer. Folks can also order whiskey flights at Cagney's and they certainly have some good ones, including some outstanding scotch options.
Honorable Mention: Atwood's Tavern, Cambridge

Best Breakfast Place, 2019
The Grill and Eye, Weymouth, MA
A two-time winner now, this nearly completely unknown South Shore greasy spoon is about as friendly a place as you'll find, and if you like big portions of hearty "soul food" of the breakfast kind, The Grill and Eye is a must. Some unusual items dot the menu here, including a breakfast "pouch" with cheese, eggs, and bacon, and if you like biscuits and gravy, a very good version is offered.
Honorable Mention: McKenna's Cafe, Dorchester

Best Chinese Restaurant, 2019
Sichuan Garden/Blossom Bar, Brookline, MA
Always a tough category since there are so many different type of Chinese food, but what puts this Brookline Village spot over the top is what puts its sister restaurant in Woburn up there as well--excellent (and often red-hot) Sichuan dishes that can be paired with award-winning cocktails. And while the drinks at The Baldwin in Woburn tend to lean toward Polynesian, the drinks here have a decidedly Latin influence--and are equally as impressive.
Honorable Mention: Qingdao Garden, Cambridge

Best Greek Restaurant, 2019
Greek Corner, Cambridge, MA
It's almost a cliche to pick this homey North Cambridge eatery which is a fave to so many locals, but the dishes at Greek Corner continue to be tremendous, including some great takes on moussaka, pastitsio, gyros, kebabs, and even the burgers. It's not a fancy place and don't expect inventive takes on any of the food items, but this dining spot--which was once featured on the Food Network--remains a top choice for sure.
Honorable Mention: Desfina, Cambridge

Best Hamburgers, 2019
Flat Patties, Cambridge, MA
This is a bittersweet pick, because as we speak, the clock is ticking for Flat Patties and it could close at any time since its lease is up and is not being renewed. It's a shame, as the West Coast-style burgers at this Harvard Square spot have been among our faves for years, and there are few places that do this type of burger well in the local area. It is definitely an understatement to say that Flat Patties will be missed.
Honorable Mention: Costello's Tavern, Jamaica Plain

Best Indian Restaurant, 2019
Royal India Bistro, Lexington, MA
Hidden from view by the historic Lexington Green, Royal India Bistro isn't exactly a household name, but food geeks and folks in the restaurant industry alike know all about this place and how good the dishes are. If you like dosas, the ones here are about as good as you'll find, while such standards as chicken tikka masala are wonderful--and don't miss the lamb and chicken biryani, which is about as good a dish as you'll find in Lexington.

Best Irish Pub, 2019
Dunn Gaherin's, Newton, MA
There are lots of great Irish pubs in the suburbs of Boston, and few are as great as this neighborhood spot hidden away in a residential area just east of Route 128. Dunn's is a family-friendly place with the type of atmosphere that you might see at a pub in Dublin or Galway, and unlike at some pubs, the food (including meatloaf, beef stew, and fish and chips) is the star of the show here, especially if you're into freshly-prepared comfort food at decent prices.
Honorable Mention: The Druid, Cambridge

Best Italian Restaurant, 2019
Jeveli's, East Boston, MA
When you're one of the oldest--if not THE oldest--Italian restaurants in Boston, you probably have to be doing something right, and so it goes with this Day Square institution, which has been serving up heaping portions of pasta and more for a long, long time now. Some faves at this family-friendly spot include a classic antipasto, a mountainous portion of lasagna, and some of the best eggplant parm you'll try in the local area..
Honorable Mention: Maria's, Braintree

Best Japanese Restaurant (Not Including Sushi), 2019
Cafe Mami, Cambridge, MA
The food court in the Porter Exchange building is home to a number of great Japanese restaurants, and this corner spot by the entrance (or exit, depending on which way you're walking) has some extraordinary dishes, including "sets," or meals that are served with all the food items together including soups, salads, and so on. Some of the better sets here include a chicken cutlet set, a pork curry set, and a hamburg set, which is perhaps its signature dish.
Honorable Mention: Tampopo, Cambridge

Best Mexican Restaurant, 2019
Villa Mexico, Boston, MA
Now firmly settled into its "new" home, this friendly little eatery in downtown Boston had once been in the back of a gas station in the Beacon Hill area of the city, but those days are long gone and while the Water Street space is much different in feel, the food and the hospitality at Villa Mexico remain top notch. If you like burritos, some of the best in the city are found here, and the smoky salsa remains a mind-blowingly good item that goes great with tortilla chips.
Honorable Mention: La Victoria Taqueria, Arlington

Best Middle Eastern/Mediterranean Restaurant, 2019
Fairouz, West Roxbury, MA
There are some really good Middle Eastern restaurants in the Greater Boston area, some of which are nearly completely unknown, including this gem near the Dedham line. And Fairouz focuses in part on Lebanese fare, which is a bit underrepresented in the region which is too bad because Lebanese cuisine can really be something special. Highlights are many here, with the shawarma options and the baked kibbee being two great places to start.

Best Pizza, 2019
Pleasant Cafe, Roslindale, MA
If you ask 100 people what their favorite place for pizza is in the region, you might just get 100 answers, but this totally old-school neighborhood spot (with a great neon sign out front, by the way) is a favorite of many, many pizza lovers. It can be tough to get past the steak, chicken, veal, and pasta dishes at the Pleasant Cafe, but if you're a fan of thin-crust pizza, this place might just make you forget about the likes of Regina's and Santarpio's.
Honorable Mention: Braintree Brewhouse, Brewhouse

Best Sandwiches, 2019
New Deal Fruit, Revere, MA
While more of an Italian market than a restaurant, this beloved Revere store has a deli off to the left, and some of the sandwiches and subs they create here are so good that they might make you weep. A good starting point at New Deal would be the special Italian which is very special indeed, though the meatball, chicken parm, and eggplant subs are also sublime--and the Grand Slam, which basically includes everything but the kitchen sink, is a must if you're into decked-out roast beef sandwiches.
Honorable Mention: Bob's Italian Foods, Medford

Best Seafood Restaurant, 2019
Out of the Blue, Somerville, MA
Now that the nearby Pescatore is gone, it is that much tougher to find an Italian seafood restaurant in the Boston area, but fortunately, this Davis Square dining spot remains in operation and seems to continue to do well even though it's another one of those under-the-radar spots. Nearly everything is worth getting here, including the fried calamari, grilled swordfish, pan-roasted salmon, haddock stew, and pan-roasted scallops in red, white, or pesto cream sauce.
Honorable Mention: Tony's Clam Shop, Quincy

Best Sushi, 2019
Ocean Sushi, Melrose, MA
A rare three-time winner over consecutive years, this hidden (literally and figuratively) spot near the Malden line has changed its setup so it is no longer full-service and you instead need to order at the counter, but the sushi is still exquisite here. A mix of standard and more inventive sushi options can be found at this quiet little eatery, with options using striped bass, salmon, tuna, crab, sea scallops, and caviar being out of this world in their taste and freshness.
Honorable Mention: Kakkoii Sushi and Ramen, Malden

Best Thai Restaurant, 2019
Thai Moon, Arlington, MA
This tiny Mass. Ave. storefront has been around for quite awhile now and it seems to get better with age. While some Thai restaurants are too Americanized for some tastes and others aren't Americanized enough for some, Thai Moon has a bit of something for everyone, featuring a marvelous Pad Thai and an even better country-style noodle dish along with their version of drunken noodles whose heat tends to sneak up on you.