Little Black Book

The Cream of Boston's Culinary Crop

by Chris Himmel
The A Boston classic. Photo courtesy of Eastern Standard Kitchen and Drinks.

Where should you wine, dine, and walk it all off in Boston? We asked chef Chris Himmel, who operates three restaurants in the Boston area — Grill 23 & Bar, Harvest, and Post 390. When he isn't snacking on a conveyer belt of his own well-sourced seasonal ingredients, he's chowing down on sustainable plates, fresh seafood, and time-tested pub grub at old and new joints across the city. He would know.

BOSTON – I was born and raised in the seaside town of Marblehead, Massachusetts, but grew up in the kitchen and dining room of Grill 23 & Bar in Boston, one of the best American steak and seafood grills in the country. I left the familiar bustle for Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and later worked under Danny Meyer in New York City and Thomas Keller at The French Laundry in Napa Valley. In 2002, I came home to help run the family business. I've lived in Boston ever since.

Bostonians are tough in many ways (often a point of pride, and yes, occasionally a point of frustration). We are who we are and we wear our hearts on our sleeves. Respect is earned through honesty, hard work, and commitment to making the community better. I experience this first-hand every day at my restaurants. And it's why I love the food (and people) in Boston.

High-Brow Dining

No. 9 Park
9 Park St.; +1-617-742-9991
Chef and owner Barbara Lynch's original Boston restaurant is still one of the city's very best. My favorite French and Italian flavor fusion is the prune-stuffed gnocchi with foie gras, almond, and vin santo.

O Ya
9 East St.; +1-617-654-9900
Some of the most inventive cuisine in Boston. Sushi, Japanese small plates, and omakase are not to be missed.

Bistro du Midi
272 Boylston St.; +1-617-426-7878
Robert Sisca (alum of New York's famed Le Bernardin under chef Eric Ripert) is doing amazing things, specifically with seafood, at this Provençal-style bistro overlooking the Boston Public Garden.

Casual Joints

Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks
528 Commonwealth Ave.; +1-617-532-9100
Excellent food and drinks and my go-to for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The addictive fried frogs' legs with lime and roasted chile remoulade, the Sazerac quality of the Remember the Maine cocktail (rye whiskey, vermouth, cherry heering, and absinthe), and the expert bar team have transported me to New Orleans on more than a few chilly evenings.

JM Curley's
21 Temple Pl.; +1-617-338-5333
An instant Boston classic. The jmC 9 oz. natural angus burger with cheddar, grilled onions, pickles, Pop's Russian dressing, and fries is my pick for best burger in the city.

Sweet Cheeks BBQ
1381 Boylston St.; +1-617-266-1300
Tiffani Faison uses Berkshire pigs, locally sourced when possible, to produce some of the best barbecue I've had north of Lockhart, Texas. My go-to is the pork ribs with biscuits and honey butter and black-eyed peas.

Mistral Lounge

The lounge at Mistral. Photo courtesy of Mistral.

Steak at Mistral

Steak au poivre with mushrooms, kale, and yukon potatoes. Photo courtesy of Mistral.

Boston Classics

1525 Washington St.; +1-617-247-7747
Chef Evan Deluty has been turning out Italian dishes like tagliatelle bolognese and swordfish with capers, roasted potatoes, and asparagus (personal favorites) for over ten years at this South End institution.

223 Columbus Ave.; +1-617-867-9300
French Mediterranean dishes like seared foie gras with duck confit and Wisconsin dried cherry gastrique or sushi-grade tuna tartare with crispy wontons, ginger, and soy has been consistently considered some of Boston's best for over eighteen years.

J.J. Foley's Cafe
117 E. Berkeley St.; +1-617-728-9101
As Boston as it gets. J.J.'s is a great spot to escape and enjoy a few drinks and some old-school pub grub.

Alden and Harrow

Homey creations. Photo courtesy of Alden & Harlow.


The charcuterie plate at Townsman. Photo courtesy of Townsman.

The New Kids

Alden & Harlow
40 Brattle St., Cambridge; +1-617-864-2100
Some of the most creative dishes in Boston and Cambridge are coming out of Michael Scelfo's kitchen. His home-style cooking makes you feel like you're dining at the personal table of a chef who just returned from the farmer's market.

120 Kingston St.; +1-617-993-0750
In my opinion, Matt Jennings is one of the most talented chefs in Boston. His menu is loaded with sustainable versions of classic American dishes.

Select Oyster Bar
50 Gloucester St.; +1-857-239-8064
The bar has been open for a few months and has already garnered a reputation for offering top-quality, New England seafood.

Shop the Food Markets

Wulf's Fish Market
409 Harvard St., Brookline; +1-617-277-2506
By far, the best fish market in the Boston area. They sell local seafood that's hand-picked and cleaned in front of customers by best-in-the-business fish cutters Peter Ryan and Richard Taylor. Worth the trip alone to see them cutting your fish to order!

160 Charles St.; +1-617-723-6328
Excellent market selling some of finest, best-cut meats you can get in the city.

Hawthorne Silver Room

The silver room at The Hawthorne. Photo courtesy of The Hawthorne.

Row 34

The interior at Row 34. Photo courtesy of Row 34.

Grab a Drink

69 Bromfield St.; +1-617-338-7887
An industry favorite for late-night cocktails and food.

The Hawthorne
500A Commonwealth Ave.; +1-617-532-9150
The bar program, led by Jackson Cannon, makes a mean Manhattan. Ask the bartender for his/her choice of rye whiskey.

Row 34
383 Congress St.; +1-617-553-5900
Landbier, Jack's Abbey, Tannenzapfle Pils, and Rothaus are a few favorites from the beer list at this bar in Fort Port Channel, one of the more up-and-coming areas in Boston.

Behold the Bostonian

Fenway Park
4 Yawkey Way; +1-877-733-7699
The place to be for baseball season people-watching in Boston. Grab a Fenway frank and a beer and keep an ear out for the "Yankees suck!" chant — fans love it even when the Yankees aren't playing.

Stephanie's on Newbury
190 Newbury St.; +1-617-236-0990
There's no better spot to view passerby than at a patio table at Stephanie's on Newbury. Pair food and drink and watch life go by on one of the city's most iconic streets.

Tour the City

Sightsee by Duck
It's touristy but a Duck Boat Tour is an unbelievably fun way to see this city from both land and sea.

Get on the Green Monster
Take a Fenway Park Tour (offered year-round whether or not the Red Sox are in season) for a behind-the-scenes take on one of America's most iconic ball parks.

Walk the Gardens
A stroll through Boston Public Garden or down the Charles River Esplanade is a great way to get a feel for the area.

Stay the Night

Lenox Hotel
61 Exeter St.; +1-844-913-7776

Loews Boston Hotel
154 Berkeley St.; +1-617-266-7200

Four Seasons Hotel Boston
200 Boylston St.; +1-617-338-4400

We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.