Union Oyster House
Karen Kasmauski  /  Corbis file
Clam chowder and other seafood dishes fill the bars and tables of popular eateries like the Union Oyster House, established in 1826.
updated 9/6/2006 8:35:45 PM ET 2006-09-07T00:35:45

Best Investment (of Time & Money): Dinner at L'Espalier, 30 Gloucester St. (tel. 617/262-3023), is an event. For your event, whatever the occasion, the grand cuisine and solicitous service will make it unforgettable.

Best Seafood: Legal Sea Foods, 800 Boylston St., in the Prudential Center (tel. 617/266-6800) and other locations, does one thing and does it exceptionally well. It's a chain for a great reason: People can't get enough of the freshest seafood around.

Best Place for a Classic Boston Experience: Durgin-Park, 340 Faneuil Hall Marketplace (tel. 617/227-2038), has packed 'em in since 1827. From tycoon to out-of-towner, everyone is happy here except the famously crotchety waitresses. It's a classic, not a relic.

Best Spot for Romance: Soaring ceilings, colorful decor, and (seasonally) a roaring fire make the atmosphere in the Monday Club Bar at Upstairs on the Square, 91 Winthrop St., Cambridge (tel. 617/864-1933), perfect for a rendezvous.

Best Spot for a Celebration: Cool your heels at the bar at Dalí, 415 Washington St., Somerville (tel. 617/661-3254), and toast your good news with sangria while you wait for a table. (Finally, a restaurant that makes you glad it doesn't take reservations.) The dishes on the tapas menu are perfect for sharing, and the atmosphere is lively and festive.

Best Spot for a Business Lunch: Plenty of deals go down at private clubs and formal restaurants, but that can take hours. Leave an impression with your no-nonsense approach and a quick but delicious meal at Cosí Sandwich Bar, 53 State St. (tel. 617/723-4447), 14 Milk St. (tel. 617/426-7565), or 133 Federal St. (tel. 617/292-2674).

Best Wine List: Organized by characteristics (from light to rich) rather than by vintage or provenance, the excellent offerings at the Blue Room, 1 Kendall Sq., Cambridge (tel. 617/494-9034), are arranged in the most user-friendly way imaginable.

Best Value: At the Midwest Grill, 1124 Cambridge St., Cambridge (tel. 617/354-7536), the hits just keep on coming. The sword-wielding waiters bring succulent grilled meats until you ask (or beg) them to stop. Arrive hungry and you'll definitely get your money's worth.

Best for Kids: The wood-fired brick ovens of the Bertucci's chain are magnets for little eyes, and the pizza that comes out of them is equally enthralling. Picky parents will be happy here, too. Try the locations at Faneuil Hall Marketplace (tel. 617/227-7889); 43 Stanhope St., Back Bay (tel. 617/247-6161); 533 Commonwealth Ave., Kenmore Square (tel. 617/236-1030); 21 Brattle St., Harvard Square, Cambridge (tel. 617/864-4748); and 799 Main St., Cambridge (tel. 617/661-8356).

Best Raw Bar: The raw bar at Ye Olde Union Oyster House, 41 Union St. (tel. 617/227-2750), is a tasty blend of new and old: The shellfish is ultrafresh, and the restaurant has been a Boston institution for the better part of 2 centuries.

Best American Cuisine: Maybe it's not "cuisine," but what's more American than a burger? Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage, 1246 Mass. Ave., Cambridge (tel. 617/354-6559), is famous for its burgers, its onion rings, and a down-to-earth atmosphere that's increasingly rare in Harvard Square.

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Best French Cuisine: Sel de la Terre, 255 State St. (tel. 617/720-1300). Technically, it's Provençal. Not so technically, it's delicious. Fresh New England ingredients go into the thoroughly French end product. Try as many different breads as you can without ruining your meal.

Best Italian Cuisine: By far the best restaurant in the North End, Mamma Maria, 3 North Sq. (tel. 617/523-0077), is one of the best in town. In a lovely setting, it offers remarkable regional Italian fare in a spaghetti-and-meatballs neighborhood.

Best Brunch: The insane displays at many top hotels are well worth the monetary and caloric compromises. If you're looking for a delicious meal that won't destroy your budget and waistline, join the throng at the S&S Restaurant, 1334 Cambridge St., Cambridge (tel. 617/354-0777).

The Most Unforgettable Dining Experiences

Durgin-Park, 340 Faneuil Hall Marketplace (tel. 617/227-2038). This Boston institution has packed 'em in since 1827. It serves classic New England fare in abundant portions at communal tables, delighting everyone from local tycoons to visiting toddlers. Well, almost everyone. The famously crotchety staff is so much a part of the legend that some people are disappointed when the waitresses are nice (as they often are).

Pizzeria Regina, 11 1/2 Thacher Street (tel. 617/227-0765). My friend Matt kept looking around, insisting that a film crew had to be hiding somewhere. And with its red-and-white-checked tablecloths and fiery oven, Regina's does look like Hollywood's idea of a pizza joint. After one bite of that slightly smoky crust, you'll be sending Martin Scorsese to the back of the line.

Ye Olde Union Oyster House, 41 Union Street (tel. 617/227-2750). Wise guys sneer about all the tourists, but the Union Oyster House is a local favorite for a reason -- the locals eat there, too. The unbeatable combination of historic atmosphere and traditional food has drawn crowds since 1826. After just a few minutes of gobbling fresh seafood and being hypnotized by the shuckers, you might feel sorry for the people who wound up with the pearls instead of the oysters.

For a complete listing of Frommer's-reviewed restaurants, visit our online dining index.

Frommer’s is America’s bestselling travel guide series. Visit Frommers.com to find great deals, get information on over 3,500 destinations, and book your trip. © 2006 Wiley Publishing, Inc. Republication or redistribution of Frommer's content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Wiley.


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