what is the single best restaurant you've been to in Boston area?
feel like I need to start exploring based only on recommendations, and not just drop in, because I find a lot of disappointments...
I am rather new her :-)
I don't go to very fancy/expensive restaurants, so the best restaurant I've been to here is probably either JM Curley or The Abbey. Everything I've had at both places (drinks and food) has been fantastic.
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I think it's awful hard to say a "single best restaurant," because so many of them are good at different things. I adore Sound Bites and I adore L'Espalier, both for experience and for food, but they are very different.
Roger Ebert said it better than I ever could: "The star rating system is relative, not absolute. When you ask a friend if Hellboy is any good, you're not asking if it's any good compared to Mystic River, you're asking if it's any good compared to The Punisher. And my answer would be, on a scale of one to four, if Superman (1978) is four, then Hellboy is three and The Punisher is two."
That said, the single best restaurant I've been to in the Boston area, at least today, is Oasis Restaurant, a Brazilian churrascuria in Medford. I always find a plateful of vegetables at the buffet that are actually tasty as well as healthy, and then top it with a little bit of meat - rare sirloin steak, or pork sausage, or chicken hearts - and then save room for one slice of shockingly delicious sugar-browned grilled pineapple.
I think you need to narrow your request. Are you looking for best fine dining? Ethnic? Local gem? Lunch? Dinner! Brunch? Atmosphere?
My answer would be different for most.
Bergamot in Cambridge never disappoints and frequently delights in terms of food, drinks, and service.
Toraya in Arlington is always top notch, delicious, fresh classic Japanese and sushi
Neptune Oyster in the North End is always worth the wait.
Island Creek Oyster House coupled with The Hawthorne for cocktails is a fantastic combination every single time.