KEY TO TYPICAL ENTREE PRICES
$ — $10 OR LESS
$$ — $11 TO $15
$$$ — $16 TO $25
$$$$ — $26 AND UP
La Pescheria Fishmonger’s Kitchen / $$$$ Eataly Boston’s newest restaurant is a stylish seafood counter with 23 seats. The menu offers food from a fish cart, oysters, and prix fixe options. For a supplemental price on the prix fixe, you can order something from the fish cart, like Amalfi-style grilled prawns, stacked high on the plate and well charred. The interesting all-Italian wine list is a combination of hip and button-down. Prudential Center, 800 Boylston Street, Boston, eataly.com — Sheryl Julian
Esperia Grill / $$$ I head to this family-run restaurant for avgolemono, the traditional egg-lemon soup with rice. The owners serve food from their homeland, Greece, including gyros, lemon potatoes with a little spice that you can’t stop eating, and spinach pies. All the classics are here — beef meatballs with yogurt-cucumber tzatziki sauce; baked lamb shank; moussaka; and pastichio, the mac and beef dish topped with cream sauce. 344 Washington Street, Brighton, 617-254-8337, esperiagrill.com — S.J.
Baraka Cafe / $$$$ In the ’90s, this North African restaurant was just outside Central Square. It moved in 2016 to a space between Harvard and Porter squares. Now with a liquor license, you can drink wine with your meal. But I recommend cherbet, a fresh-squeezed lemonade fragranced with rose petals and mint. The pace is leisurely, with plenty of time to talk over plates of bedenjal mechoui, a chunky, lustrous dip of smoked eggplant with roasted red peppers and labneh, or while fork-dueling over sweet-savory b’stilla, crisp phyllo wrapped with chicken, almonds, cinnamon, and ras el hanout. 1738 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, 617-868-3951, barakacuisine.com — Devra First
Gustazo Cuban Café / $$ This cheerful slice of Havana near Porter Square is the larger, livelier sibling of a cozy little Waltham location. It serves an array of tapas in the $10 range. You must order the warm tortilla Española, served like a slice of eggy birthday cake, woven with ribbons of caramelized onions and potato, topped with thinly sliced cherry tomatoes. Or beef empanadas, or octopus poached in olive oil. Make sure to get a tin cannister of truffled yuca fries. The kids in our party devoured guava-glazed baby back ribs. 2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, 617-714-5267, gustazo-cubancafe.com — Kara Baskin
Tony & Elaine’s / $$$ Tony & Elaine’s feels like a throwback, intentionally: red-checked tablecloths, raffia-wrapped Chianti bottles. Come for the lobster ravioli, stay for the adorable downstairs grotto strung in colored lights. Get the meatballs. Chef Eric Buonagurio won first place for them in a competition to determine the neighborhood’s best meatball, held at the Fisherman’s Feast festival. What could be more North End than that? Also try rigatoni alla vodka and orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe. 111 North Washington Street, Boston, 617-580-0321, tonyandelaines.com — D.F.
Tanám / $$$$ Filipino food has a growing presence in this country. Opened in January, this restaurant is a project from Olio Culinary Collective, a worker-owned, socially conscious group largely run by women of color. Meals are mainly ticketed, available in several formats. A prix fixe menu is available Friday through Sunday nights. Wednesday brings a kamayan feast — a lavish spread on banana leaves, eaten with the hands and shared communally by everyone at the table. 1 Bow Market Way, Somerville, 617-669-2144, tanam.co — D.F.
Fox & the Knife / $$$ A hopping, neighborhood-y Italian restaurant near the Broadway T. See what a James Beard award-winning chef does at her first solo restaurant. Karen Akunowicz left Myers + Chang to open her own place. Try the focaccia stuffed with taleggio, a grown-up’s grilled cheese, along with parsnip tortelli; campanelle with pistachio pesto, feta, and mint; ochre-hued saffron spaghetti with clams. Follow up with secondi such as pollo al mattone and harissa-braised lamb. 28 West Broadway, South Boston, 617-766-8630, foxandtheknife.com — D.F.
Anchovies / $$$ At this South End institution, the drinks are strong, the food is laced with garlic and ladled with marinara, and each main course comes with a house salad. There are always specials — a lasagna of the night, maybe made with ground beef and spinach; baked ziti with chicken, hot sausage, smoked mozzarella, and an array of vegetables. Let’s be honest: Your table will want the Italian nachos, corn chips topped with braised short-rib ragu, ricotta, and pepperoncini. 433 Columbus Avenue, Boston, 617-266-5088, anchoviesboston.com — D.F.
Night Shift Brewing at Lovejoy Wharf / $$ This is the larger restaurant version of the popular Everett brewery, with table service and a coffee bar. It’s the kind of place where you can get a burger and a beer for under $20. Lots of dishes are made with Night Shift beer, such as the Reuben flatbread with sauerkraut, black pastrami, mozzarella, red onions, and Morph IPA. There’s plenty here for lighter eaters, too. There’s nowhere to park easily. 1 Lovejoy Wharf, Boston, 617-456-7687, nightshiftfamily.com — K.B.
NORTH OF THE CITY
The Adventure Pub / $$ If you want to eat and drink while playing board games, this is the spot. The menu includes dishes with cute names like Frybo’s fries, pop-culture popcorn, Chocobo chicken fingers, and Veridian Forest vegetable medley. There are also sliders, skewers, mac and cheese, and poached pear hand pies, all in delicate portions. 190 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, 781-777-2623, theadventurepub.com — K.B.
Buttonwood / $$$ Opened in January 2018, Buttonwood was always busy. Then there was an electrical fire in the kitchen. It reopened almost a year after the blaze, and it’s just as good. Chef de cuisine Francisco Millan is back in the slightly retooled kitchen. The menu looks familiar. A version of the ribs, with a Thai-inspired glaze and charred pineapple, is here. So are the cheeseburger and the red lentils. There are also plump mussels with soppressata, white beans, and chile butter. From the grill come whole cauliflower with green sriracha and tahini remoulade; whole branzino with a sauce of lemon, garlic, and herbs; and smoked lamb sausage with tzatziki. 51 Lincoln Street, Newton Highlands, 617-928-5771, buttonwoodnewton.com — D.F.
Namaste Nepali and Indian Cuisine / $$ Forgive the hot-pot burners in the tables at the booths; they are a vestige of a past restaurant in the space. Nepali chef Bhim Lal Shrestha is nicknamed “Momo King.” We can see why. The handmade veggie momos were silky smooth wrappers stuffed with minced vegetables. The chicken Kashmiri held the wonders of a sauce made with shredded coconut, ground sesame, and fennel seeds, star anise, and javitri or mace. 58 Montvale Avenue, Stoneham, 781-438-9688, namasterestaurantstoneham.com — Naomi Kooker
The Paddle Inn / $$$ The Paddle Inn is an exercise of new American flair meets the seacoast. With only seven tables, the eatery’s obvious focus is the exposed-brick bar. Standout dishes on a recent visit included the Paddle Five-O burger with bacon, American cheese, a grilled pineapple ring, and misoyaki. The Brazilian seafood stew and galbi short rib entrees were delicious. 27 State Street, Newburyport, 978-572-1242, paddleinnsurf.com — Brion O’Connor
Town Tavern / $$$ You’ll find typical pub fare here, but the menu reaches beyond those standards. Mass. Ave. dumplings contain pork and roasted vegetables in bacon dashi or broth. The shrimp poppers nestle the oven-roasted crustaceans in shishito peppers drizzled with citrus-y aioli. Royal oyster mushrooms are lightly battered, deep-fried, and presented with chili-garlic mayonnaise. Favorites include the Town Tavern burger, which features royal oyster mushrooms. 201 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, 781-859-5413, towntavern.net — Rachel Lebeaux
SOUTH OF THE CITY
Passport Sips & Tapas / $$ In 2017, this Weymouth Landing spot shut its doors due to construction on the block. It reopened in November with new owners after renovations. It’s a good spot for when you want little plates to share. There are large plates, too. The gambas al ajillo is a tasty dish of medium sauteed shrimp with a sweet wine garlic flavor. Pair them with plantanos, delicious golden brown fried plantains served with an avocado dip. The seafood paella is good, too. 59 Washington Street, Weymouth, 781-660-4222, passportsipsandtapas.com — Joan Wilder
Sapa /$$$ Sushi rules at this fusion restaurant in the Hingham Shipyard. The menu runs for pages — everything from fatty tuna rolls to poached octopus to kamikaze rolls of eel, cucumber, shrimp, flying fish roe, spicy mayo, and sweet soy sauce. Walnut shrimp was a great choice on one visit . Equally yummy was the teriyaki panku tofu served sizzling with garlic buttered fried rice in a hot clay pot. 25 Shipyard Drive, Hingham, 781-749-1620, sapahingham.com — Johanna Seltz
Simcha / $$$ Simcha is a relaxed, convivial stop for mezze and more. Chef Avi Shemtov, who is behind the Chubby Chickpea food truck, opened this spot in March. The $20 chef’s tasting menu at the bar is a no-brainer. It might include hummus made from Maine bumblebee beans with wood-fired pita, charred carrots drizzled with tahini, beets with labneh and the spice blend dukkah, and “poutine” made with short rib, beef gravy, and feta over chickpea fries. 370 South Main Street, Sharon, 781-867-7997, simcharestaurant.com — D.F.
WEST OF THE CITY
Aries Noodle & Dumpling / $$ Settle in for a leisurely exploration of northern Chinese food — notably seaweed and cucumber salads awash in garlic shards, fiery mapo tofu, pork in wasabi sauce (a chef’s special), and shredded potatoes interlaced with hot chili peppers. You’ll want a savory Chinese crepe, which looks like a burrito in an omelet suit; and a bowl of refreshing cucumbers topped with smashed garlic. Szechuan-style pork with an oily hot sauce is just spicy enough. 617 Main Street, Waltham, 781-209-0008, ariesnoodledumpling.com — K.B.
House of Tandoor / $$ The Newton Centre restaurant’s offerings will be well known to diners familiar with wide-ranging Indian menus, such as flavorful kormas, curries, tikka masalas, and saags. Vegans are not given short shrift here: Try jeera saag, fresh pan-roasted spinach with cumin seeds and other spices, and jhanaeko daal, lentils tempered with jimbu, a Himalayan herb from the onion family. 81 Union Street, Newton, 617-916-2977, houseoftandoorusa.com — R.L.
Noodle City / $$ The kitchen is headed up by a native of Thailand. The doragon ramen’s fiery miso-based broth is accented with roasted Thai chilis, chili paste, and bright red chili threads. Yenta fo, a popular Thai street food, is full of fresh seafood and rice noodles. The soup arrived loaded with wide, fresh rice noodles, fish balls, jumbo tail-on shrimp, scallops, and mussels — and a briny broth. 1 West Union Street, Ashland, 508-309-3416, welovenoodles.com — R.L.