KEY TO TYPICAL ENTREE PRICES
$ — $10 OR LESS
$$ — $11 TO $15
$$$ — $16 TO $25
$$$$ — $26 AND UP
Myers + Chang / $$$ This restaurant puts the flavors of Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and beyond onto shareable plates and delivers them fast and hot. A standout on the menu is the tiger’s tears — bites of grilled steak, tossed with plenty of herbs, sliced bell peppers, and a bright, fierce dressing, then showered with khao koor, a toasted rice powder. The green papaya salad and crispy spring rolls are among other fan favorites. The place has a comfortable vibe and is always crowded. Menus free of meat, gluten, shellfish, and nuts ensure that everyone will find something at Myers + Chang. 1145 Washington Street, Boston, 617-542-5200, myersandchang.com — Devra First
Tatte Bakery & Cafe / $$ Shakshuka, a North African egg dish, has taken the town by storm. You can find it at this bakery and cafe in Harvard Square, or at the chain’s other locations in the Boston area. Tatte’s traditional shakshuka, with a bell pepper, onion, and San Marzano tomato sauce, is joined by a succulent lamb meatball version, in which spicy little rounds in the sauce are cooked with sweet and hot pickled cherry peppers called peppadews, and spoonfuls of spicy labne, strained Middle Eastern yogurt. 1288 Massachusetts Avenue, Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-441-4011, tattebakery.com — Sheryl Julian
Redd’s in Rozzie / $$ A neighborhood cornerstone run by chef Charlie Redd, this is the kind of place that has staffers who are really great to kids. Everything is made in-house, but brunch is the forte. The menu draws on brunch tradition, Redd’s North Carolina upbringing, Latin American cooking, and in-your-face whimsy. It’s tough to decide between the Farm House omelet with bacon, caramelized onions, and cheddar; a breakfast empanada; and Redd’s fried chicken with waffles and chili-infused maple syrup, topped with an egg. 4257 Washington Street, Roslindale, 617-325-1000, reddsinrozzie.com — D.F.
D’Guru / $$ Chicken tikka masala is the most popular dish at D’Guru restaurant (also known as Guru the Caterer) in Somerville and downtown Boston, takeout spots with a few small tables. It’s simmered in a sweet, mildly hot, tomato-based sauce that is just-right creamy rich. A full dinner comes with rice seasoned with cumin and cardamom seeds, chapati — tender whole-wheat flatbread with soft folds — and a vegetable. There’s a long list of vegetable options; if sambhar is on the menu, get that. 1295 Broadway, Somerville, 617-718-0078, guruthecaterer.com — S.J.
Sabur / $$$ Exotic Mediterranean cuisine is Sabur’s specialty. For an appetizer, try thick fresh-ground hummus and pita bread or the Balkan specialty cevapcici, a deliciously seasoned ground-lamb kebab with red onion and yogurt sauce. An entree of roasted lamb was rich and hearty, served in a thick, tangy sauce with chewy chunks of potato. An order of charred beef sirloin comes with crispy garlic potatoes, sauteed spinach, and an unusual walnut sauce made with Gorgonzola cheese. 212 Holland Street, Somerville. 617-776-7890, saburrestaurant.com — Coco McCabe and Doug Stewart
NORTH OF THE CITY
Cafe Azteca / $$ This family-run business serves authentic Mexican food. The extensive menu features dishes from each Mexican state. The guacamole is an exceptional version with onion, tomato, jalapeno, and lime. In the taquitos, the marinated steak is tender against the crispy fried corn tortillas. The puerco jalapeno is made with thinly sliced pork smothered in a spicy tomato jalapeno salsa with onions and potatoes, rice and beans. 180 Common Street, Lawrence, 978-689-7393, cafe-azteca.com — Naomi Kooker
Calibasil Vietnamese Eatery /$ Ba Pho, owner of Calibasil, is big on hospitality, so it’s no surprise that the counter staff is friendly and efficient. Orders appear within a few minutes, making this spot especially popular with the weekday lunch crowd. Sandwiches, such as the banh mi, hit the spot. It’s made with Vietnamese ham and savory house-made pate, served with cilantro, carrots, and daikon. 55 Dodge Street, Beverly, 978-969-3255, calibasilbev.com — Ellen Bhang
SOUTH OF THE CITY
Captain Fishbones / $$$ Water views don’t get much more watery than at this place, smack on the Marina Bay boardwalk. Captain Fishbones is known for baked stuffed lobster and New England-style clam chowder. Other popular dishes include the Captain’s Burger; the pan-roasted haddock served with local clams, fingerling potatoes, and greens; and anything from the expansive raw bar. 332 Victory Road, Quincy, 617-471-3511, captainfishbones.com — Paul E. Kandarian
Simply Smith’s / $$$ Simply Smith’s restaurant has a homey feel. The salmon is a good grilled filet served over lemon aioli with beans and potatoes. The lunch menu is big, with sandwiches, burgers, steak tips, sliders, and house-smoked pastrami and corned beef. There’s even a vegetarian burger. For dessert are pies from a local baker that are out of this world. 1 Pleasant Street, Cohasset, 781-923-1872, simplysmithscatering.com — Joan Wilder
WEST OF THE CITY
Branch Line / $$$ Branch Line has perfected succulent rotisserie chickens. The rotisserie, which you can see from most tables, has eight long spits, on which five or six trussed chickens are threaded. If the combination of juicy roast chicken with smoky, fat-drenched cabbage doesn’t give you enough of a boost, order a side of drippings with crushed garlic and Iggy’s bread for dipping. 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, 617-420-1900, branchlinearsenal.com — S.J.
Il Capriccio / $$$$ The small dining room at Il Capriccio is warm and welcoming. Head chef Pastor Avelar packs a lot of flavor into the lasagna Bolognese. It tastes sweet, smoky, and porky. House pasta forms the layers with the meat sauce, good domestic cow mozzarella, and Parmigiano, all topped with an Alfredo tinted with tomatoes. It’s so tender you can cut it with a spoon. 888 Main Street, Waltham, 781-894-2234, ilcapricciowaltham.com — S.J.
LeDu Thai Eatery / $$ LeDu’s compact space lends itself to a back-to-basics menu. The menu contains the typical appetizer-entree-dessert construct, but LeDu also specifically gears “lunch set” offerings to Newton North High School students. The fall set is probably the most popular, with pad thai and pad see ew as options. Traditional northern Thailand standouts include khao soi egg noodles strewn with pickled mustard greens, red onions, scallions, and cilantro; and larb, ground chicken or pork doused with lime juice and dotted with shallots, red peppers, and bright mint leaves. 313 Walnut Street, Newtonville, 617-916-1660, leduthaieatery.com — Rachel Lebeaux