The Neighborhood Secret
At Craigie Street Bistrot (5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge; 617/497-5511; dinner for two $110), award-winning chef Tony Maws creates an adventurous, ever-evolving menu (recent dishes have included a ragoût of lamb sweetbreads, tongue, and brain; and raw yellowtail with spicy sea-urchin vinaigrette).
The Big Splurge
Barbara Lynch is one of Boston’s star chefs, and No. 9 Park (9 Park St.; 617/742-9991; dinner for two $140), yards from the State House, is her masterpiece—not least for the signature prune-stuffed gnocchi with seared foie gras.
Best Raw Bar
Everything is just-off-the-boat at Great Bay (500 Commonwealth Ave.; 617/532-5300; dinner for two $125), where old-fashioned classics like the lobster roll and clam chowder are given a fresh and modern twist.
The Hidden Gem
On a leafy residential block blissfully overlooked by tourists, Oleana (134 Hampshire St., Cambridge; 617/661-0505; dinner for two $100) revels in lusty Mediterranean and North African flavors (tuna-spiked deviled eggs; whipped feta; trout dolma; duck shawarma with cardamom-rose yogurt). Snag a table in the garden on warm nights.
Jasper White’s Summer Shack (149 Alewife Brook Pkwy., Cambridge, 617/520-9500; 50 Dalton St., Boston, 617/867-9955; dinner for two $65), a kitschy remix of a shoreside seafood joint, takes fish and chips, fried clam rolls, and corn dogs to unexpected heights.