The neighborhood places, old school, with limited, well-defined menus are truly the bedrock of dining in Boston. The ingredients are solid, the room is a crowd chiefly of regulars, and the owners take what others might see as limitations and instead put these into the foreground. It’s not nostalgia, but deep flavors.
Of the many places in Boston worth your time and money: Santarpio’s (easily one of the best pizzerias in the U.S.), Galleria Umberto (ditto), Meridien Market (the best subs in the city) and Sullivan’s (hot dogs, South Boston).
Of the newer places: Giulia (easily the best restaurant in the city), Babbo Pizzeria and Enoteca, Bar Boulud, Pastoral, Beat Hotel (live music!!!), Night Market, Santouka (ramen), Snappy Ramen, Scampo, and Pepe Bocca.