Even restaurants that are booked weeks ahead will often have seats available for diners willing to eat at 6pm or earlier

  1. Harvest

    For 40 years, this relaxed restaurant has been a leader in setting the direction of American cuisine. Chef Mary Dumont reinterprets New England classics, matching monkfish with artichokes and cockles, or filling ricotta gnocchi with butternut squash and sautéeing them in pumpkin seed oil.

    • 44 Brattle St, Cambridge

    • 617 868 2255

  2. Rialto

    Chef Jody Adams takes a luscious and delicately innovative approach to Mediterranean cuisine, working magic with a simple basil cream soup, or using grilled tomatoes to give extra depth to her gazpacho. A green olive and balsamic vinegar sauce perfectly balances the unctuousness of her signature roasted marinated duck. A perennial favorite with the restaurant critics and press. The comfortable and soothing dining room is ideal for special occasions .

  3. Hamersley’s Bistro

    Chef-owner Gordon Hamersley presides over this defining South End restaurant. The menu is inspired by French provincial cooking but features the best of mostly local produce (don’t miss the lemon-infused broiled chicken). The bar scene is lively, and the outdoor dining tables provide one of the neighborhood’s prime social settings in summer .

  4. Clio

    One of the country’s most lauded young chefs, award-winning Ken Oringer is dedicated to innovation and experimentation. With an ever-changing menu he always looks for new flavor sensations. For instance, few Boston chefs would dare to serve bone marrow custard with nougats of wild mushrooms and black truffles. Reservations are recommended .

  5. Locke-Ober

    Everything old is new again since über-chef Lydia Shire took over Boston’s oldest gourmet restaurant (established c.1875) and breathed new life into the classic haute cuisinedishes. Her crisped duck with elderberries and ginger achieves the perfect crackling over succulent meat. The city’s most established families dine here. It has a superbly atmospheric authentic 1890s interior .

  6. Restaurant Dante

    The patio seating at this superbly stylish restaurant offers spectacular views of the Charles River and the Boston skyline. The warm, relaxed indoor dining room, located at the Royal Sonesta hotel serves renowned chef Dante de Magistris’s Italian-accented, playful food, such as a salad of oysters with tomato-cucumber sorbet. An excellent, eclectic wine list .

  7. Rocca

    This impressively dramatic South End room from one of the city’s top restauranteurs focuses on the seafood- and herb-based cuisine of Italy’s Ligurian coast, such as poached fresh sardines marinated in lemon and hot pepper. Their elegant desserts are unmissable. There is also free parking which completes the package.

  8. Olives

    Olives is home to the city’s most famous chef, Todd English, who piles plates high with delights such as roasted pork chop on garlic mashed potatoes topped with a caramelized mushroom sauce. Huge and loud, Olives is a temple to bravura cookery. Reserve far ahead or arrive early and expect to wait.

    • 10 City Sq, Charlestown

    • 617 242 1999

    • Closed lunch & Sun

  9. Meritage

    Chef Daniel Bruce of the Boston Harbor Hotel pairs his creative small plates with six different wine styles. Seared yellowfin tuna rolled in black pepper, for example, fits a spicy red, while roasted grey sole topped with caviar calls for a refreshing sparkling white wine.

    • 70 Rowes Wharf

    • 617 439 3995

  10. Radius

    Chef Michael Schlow is a stickler for detail and blends multiple flavors for a single, clear taste fusion in his own version of New American cuisine. You’d think seared Maine scallops might get lost when combined with wild mushrooms, potato puree, leeks, and a truffle emulsion, but the woodsy flavors just enhance the sweet, salty taste of the sea. The restaurant is regularly mobbed by successful CEOs and their more glamorous stockholders .

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