Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
Jun 6, 2012 05:00 PM

Super Foodie Boston Restaurant?

I'm new to the area and am wondering which Boston restaurants have tasting menus/wine pairings that would be on the level of Next, Alinea, or Tru restaurants in Chicago. I'd like to plan a special 'foodie' evening for my husband's birthday and I don't know where to start. Any advice is most appreciated.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. When this sort of question comes up, the frequent responses are places like Craigie On Main, Journeyman, and Clio.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Boston_Otter

      You forgot the inevitable hemming and hawing that the response then includes about how restaurants here don't measure up.

      Our most nationally touted restaurant is probably O Ya. Then Craigie on Main. Both have tasting menus.

      To my mind, our most unique restaurant is Strip-T's. There aren't a lot of restaurants like that in the country, but it's a wolf in sheep's clothing, not a wolf in a bespoke suit like Next, etc.

      1. re: hckybg

        O ya, Clio (had the tasting there recently and quite enjoyed it, there are several price points for different budgets), Craigie, Troquet all good suggestions. Personally I enjoy all of them more than I enjoyed Alinea or Moto (but don't expect the foofy theatrics of lavender air or edible menus etc). Don't take the Globe or Boston magazine reviews as gospel, as they may or may not match your tastes.

        1. re: barleywino

          no, but with the reviews on can iron out which places may be in ones wheelhouse. i didnt even have to finish the review of O YA to know that i would never, ever be able to afford to eat there.

          1. re: hyde

            I don't think O Ya has a minimum spending amount, so you could spend say $20-$30 each time you go, to try an item or two, if you just wanted to sample what they have (and fill up elsewhere, or not-- the O ya weight loss plan :)

            1. re: barleywino

              understand your point, and understand it is a different experience, but would be uncomfortable knowing i could be feeding four at sichuan gourmet for the same dough.

              1. re: hyde

                true...I was going to offer to trade you a dinner at o ya for a dinner at sichuan gourmet, but then i read a post of yours (under Sichuan Gourmet) saying that you're not really a fish person...oh well

                  1. re: beetlebug

                    its true. leave 'em in the sea, i say.

                    perhaps i should have used another place, say, Per Se, to illustrate my point, that though one needs to be wary that reviews are not your experience, they can be indicators of places where one would be more comfortable.

                    i will never eat there either.

    2. Welcome to Boston. Hope youall enjoy it here!

      OYa and Craigie on Main are consistently reviewed well as top foodie experiences. From a recent very disappointing dinner for four, I do not recommend Clio. Other elegant/expensive places that have been well reviewed in The Globe and by many on CH (but not the cutting edge ingredients/preparation of Alinea etc.):

      L'Espalier (reviewed today in The Globe G section)




      Great food/ fit for foodies/unusual ingredients and menus, in bistro atmosphere:


      Strip T's


      This visitor last year, who has dined at Alinea, Next etc etc, wrote this long report on his Boston experiences, which might be useful to you:

      If you didn't see this when it hit the stands, this might be a good reference for you to do further searches:

      Boston Magazine 11/11 issue: 50 Best Boston Restnts. This list is a very comprehensive and convenient reference list for brief restnt. descriptions, phone numbers, website links of the 50:



      Guide to Boston by Areas and Restaurants:

      I don't know if you're new to CH, but if so, you can do a 'search' for any restnt at the top right of each CH page, and that will bring up all the threads for that place.Also, even though Portsmouth NH is only 1 hour north of boston, it is part of the Northern New England board on CH, not the Boston board. And Ct, Providence R.I., are included in the Southern New England Board on CH.

      1 Reply
      1. re: opinionatedchef

        Troquet is a treasure because of its wine list; the food is merely very good INHO. I go there for the wine and no the food,

        Clio/Uni has a Japanese sashimi menu that I really like even if OC had a bad experience with the Clio portion of the restaurant. Un is similar to O Ya and usually quiet on a Sunday evening.

        My recommendation would be to try Strip-T;s and Craigie on Main (the wine list there is its weakest area.)


      2. I'd like to suggest East by Northeast, unique take on Chinese food with french influences, they do tasting menus, and I was most impressed by both the food and professionalism of the service. It isn't fancy by any means, but an excellent foodie experience in my book.

        1. The places you mentioned are simply head and shoulders above anything that is happening in this area. So I think you should consider flying to Chicago or New York and enjoying the foodie destinations for real, rather than trying to find what will inevitably be poor facsimiles in Boston.

          O Ya and Craigie make interesting food, but they are not in the same ballpark, and you would probably spend close to the same amount (for the meal anyway).

          I bet you could find a relatively low cost airfare and hotel and make a mini-vacation out of it.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Bob Dobalina

            I think the big question for the OP is -- what is it you like about Next and Alinea?

            If you're trying to find a high-concept, ultra-luxe 'destination' restaurant on those levels, sadly, you won't find it in Boston. There's places that aspire to that, but aren't on that plane.

            But if they're simply after a restaurant with a very creative tasting menu with pairings, no problem. Any of the restaurants listed here will fill that order easily without flying to Chicago. Check out the menus & pairings at Journeyman, for example. Is it Alinea? No way. But it's a great evening out for a foodie.

            1. re: Boston_Otter

              For sure - I was keying off the request for places "on the level of Next, etc."
              I would throw in Bondir to the mix too.

          2. Alinea-level modernist cuisine (or molecular gastronomy, whatever you want to call it) only exists in flourishes here and there in Boston. A few of our chefs work with liquid nitrogen, vapor ovens, immersion circulators, dehydrators, gelling agents, foams, and such, but nobody builds their entire menu around molecular cooking techniques or avant-garde presentations. I don't I think I've ever seen a piece of custom-built servingware here.

            I think the city isn't quite big enough, isn't home to large-enough industry sectors that still entertain lavishly, doesn't attract enough super-rich tourists -- or, arguably, doesn't have an adventurous-enough local dining populace -- to support one. (There are how many places at that level nationally? Ten? Maybe 20?)

            Most of the worthiest places that dabble in it have been mentioned here. Boston has lots of great food, but our top tier is thinner and less edgy than New York's or Chicago's. Mostly, it's a matter of size.


            3 Replies
            1. re: MC Slim JB

              i have to agree. its sheer size/volume. mahattan, without the boroughs, is thirteen times the size of boston.

              1. re: MC Slim JB

                "I don't I think I've ever seen a piece of custom-built servingware here."

                I disagree! You've forgotten the special paper bun holders with only one end, designed for enjoying a lobster roll served in a New England-style bun!

                1. re: hckybg

                  I stand corrected. You know what I miss? Those disposable cone-shaped coffee cups (set in resuable plastic "mug" holders) at Martin's Coffee Shop in Brookline Village.