The way we see it, nobody knows food better than chefs. And while we all love to eat what they cook, we’re also fascinated by what they're into when they actually do the eating. You know, when they're not working and are dining out. That's why we asked 12 of Boston’s best to dish on their favorite meal around the Hub. Here’s what they said:
”I was part of the opening team at Mistral, and what makes this dish unique is how it's been executed flawlessly for almost 20 years. It's so well balanced: smoky, sweet, acidic, and briny, all at once. Soaking up all the leftover stuff with the bread is amazing.”
Juan PedrosaExecutive Chef at Yvonne’s
“These lived on the menu back when the space was Franklin Southie; at the time Asia [Mei] was chef. It’s thin slices of salty crisp pork topped with lightly spiced kimchee and fresh Asian pear, all wrapped in a grilled flour tortilla and served with a what is most likely a house-made Sriracha. Give me a few orders and some High Life, and life is grand.”
Patrick GilmartinExecutive Chef at River Bar
“The ‘small’ size is the key because it comes on tremendous Scali bread. It's everything I like in great food: made with care and without any pretense. Because it’s also a butcher shop, their veal cutlets are superior to most sub shops. It’s my go-to meal in the Somerville/Medford area; they pump out a ton of killer sandwiches, pastas, and pizzas. There’s no seating, so I often grab a sub and take it down to the river and share with my dog. It's my vote for best sandwich in Greater Boston.”
Lydia ShireChef and Owner at Scampo
Or “anything with crisp pork fat” at Craigie on Main.
“I love everything there, and whatever Chef Ting Yen makes -- I’ll eat. But my favorite dish is what I usually order for dessert, which is not really a dessert at all. It’s a cucumber cone stuffed with spicy tuna and topped with tempura flakes. It's great to watch Yen and his sushi masters show off their knife skills by hand carving a paper thin sheet of cucumber, which they then fold into the shape of an ice cream cone. Then they fill it with barely warm sushi rice and spicy tuna tartar, and top it off with a shower of crispy tempura bits. The combination of the cool cucumber, spicy tuna, and crunchy tempura may just be my favorite bit of food I've had in Boston.”
Frank McClellandExecutive Chef at L’Espalier
“It is the best I have ever had. It warms my soul every time!"
David VerdoChef at Outlook Kitchen and Bar
“I love going after a Saturday night service with my team, and we usually order a veal meatball pizza, a short rib pizza, and a funghi pizza. My personal favorite is the veal meatball, because the meatball is delicious, and the dough is the best in the city. There’s something special about sitting around the table and sharing a pizza with the team after a long day.”
Brian PoeChef and Owner at Bukowski Tavern Cambridge, Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake, and The Tip Tap Room
“Scampo always is spot-on perfect and fun every time I go (which is often). Recently, I had a nice, simple lobster ravioli; it was cooked in pasta water, tossed in clarified butter, and topped with a beautiful Parmigiano-Reggiano. It was perfection.”
Nick CaliasChef at Brasserie JO
“I love pork and especially ribs. But what I love about these ribs is that they're next level: tender, sweet, [and have] that nice bite from the whiskey & the crispy chickpeas. The texture in your mouth is awesome. And who doesn't love messy finger food! “
“It is utterly addictive... Cassie is such a talented chef and her fried chicken -- perfectly seasoned and flawlessly fried -- is everything you want the dish to be. The finish of a sprinkling of dried green harissa is just awesome.”
Matt JenningsChef at Townsman
"It never goes off the menu, and it epitomizes New England. Order the bun toasted, with light mayonnaise."
“It's last meal worthy.”
Kim Prosise is a Boston-based travel and lifestyle writer who likes to write about food almost as much as she likes to eat it.
1. Giulia1682 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge
2. Neptune Oyster63 Salem St, Boston
3. Sarma249 Pearl St, Somerville
4. Brasserie Jo120 Huntington Ave, Boston
5. Pastoral345 Congress St, Boston
6. Willow Rest1 Holly St, Gloucester
7. Oishii Sushi Bar612 Hammond St, Chestnut Hill
8. Craigie on Main853 Main St, Cambridge
9. Scampo215 Charles St, Boston
10. Bob's Italian Foods324 Main St, Medford
11. Mistral223 Columbus Ave, Boston
12. Moonshine 152152 Dorchester Ave, Boston
Exceptional Italian cuisine is served up at this cozy Cambridge spot.
Bivalves are king at Neptune Oyster, a popular seafood counter in the North End. The menu is classically New England but a variety of seafood-based recipes come out of the kitchen, from cioppino and fried Ipswich clams to fish & chips and Basque-peppered Spanish octopus. Served two ways, the lobster roll is an award-winning signature, and though it's prepared the typical way with mayonnaise, the hot butter option is the way to go. Neptune draws hoards of seafood-craving hopefuls to its Salem St. storefront on weekend afternoons and evenings, so be prepared to traverse the neighborhood while you wait for your coveted seat at the marble bar.
Sarma is a local Mediterranean restaurant and bar that is modeled after the traditional meyhanes of Turkey. It's menu is designed to be shared, featuring small seasonal plates that are full of spices and herbs, as well as a variety of cocktails, wines, and craft beers to choose from. The atmosphere is cozy and inviting, making Sarma a great place to catch up with friends or entertain a date over some meze.
Brasserie Jo brings traditional French fare to Back Bay, with classics like coq au vin, Tarte Flambée, and steak au poivre. And every brasserie worth its weight in butter must have excellent pommes frites. It’s a law or something. Brasserie Jo delivers with no-nonsense, simply-executed fries that complement every dish.
Pastoral's got rustic pizzas, like duck sausage and clam topped with house-made mozzarella, as well as the option for you to grab their pastas, sauces, and cheeses to make your own treats at home.
Fresh produce, homemade coffee, artisanal cheeses, and breakfast food.
Artisanal Japanese food served up daily at Oishii Sushi Bar.
Chef and owner Tony Maws' Craigie on Main serves French-accented bistro food in Central Square. The à la carte and tasting menus are constantly changing with exciting new dishes, but one signature remains: The Burger. The half-pound patty blends brisket, short rib, bone marrow, and suet into one unforgettable burger that reached peak food fame when it graced the cover of Bon Appétit.
Located in the Liberty Hotel, Scampo is an upscale Italian restaurant with Mediterranean influences.
Bob's Italian Foods has superior quality, fresh foods, imported provisions, homemade pasta, buffet catering and more.
Everything from the upscale French Mediterranean dishes to the soft, elegant decor is executed with careful attention to detail at Mistral. Expect dishes like escargot with red wine and garlic butter, heirloom squash bisque served in a flaky pastry square, and half-roasted duck with wild mushroom risotto. The best-known dish is the roast rack of Colorado lamb, whose juices will implore you to suck the meat right off the bone. A special late-night menu on weekends offers a variety of thin-crust pizza and small plates, including the aforementioned escargot and squash bisque.
Chef Asia Mei's joint is complete with Asian influences and creative crossovers. Standouts Tamago (smoky Shishito peppers) and Hurricane popcorn with pork fat are two excellent examples. For dinner, try the Char-Sui roasted half chicken jazzed by ginger jade sauce, and the boar shoulder Stroganoff with herbed spaetzle. It also does Sunday brunch with a weekly “Ron Swanson Special” so you can eat all the bacon and eggs it has.