1293 Washington St., Newton
It’s not that people don’t appreciate chef Michael Leviton’s Lumiere. It’s that they don’t appreciate it enough. (Same with Steve Johnson’s Rendezvous in Central Square.) There are few restaurants more consistent in the area, and there are few things harder to achieve than consistency. Since 1999, this little bistro has been serving beautiful food, from seared sea scallops with succotash salad to lamb with ratatouille and tapenade jus. The service is good, the atmosphere is upscale but not stuffy, and the prices are reasonable. And few chefs care more about what they are doing. Leviton chairs the board of Chefs Collaborative, a nonprofit focused on sustainability and local food. He has long been a passionate champion of both.
798 Main St., Cambridge
In 2004, co-owners Gabriel Bremer and Analia Verolo took over this cozy Cambridge restaurant. In 2007, Bremer was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s best new chefs. In 2012, he continues to offer innovative preparations of local, seasonal ingredients, ornately plated with fresh herbs and flowers. And then there’s the signature whole roast duck for two, glazed in lavender honey. Just down the road is Craigie on Main, chef Tony Maws’s much-talked-about restaurant. (Maws was a 2005 Food & Wine best new chef — lotta talent on Main Street.) Salts ought to be talked about more often. Focused on food and hospitality, doing very little in the way of promotion, Bremer and Verolo run a charming establishment year after year.
The Salty Pig
130 Dartmouth St., Boston
Focused on charcuterie, cheese, wood-grilled pizza, and dishes featuring tongue, marrow, and other odd animal parts, this restaurant is right on trend. It also has a fine selection of beer on tap, reasonable prices, and a super-convenient location just across from the Back Bay T station. It should be mobbed at all times, but, mysteriously, it’s not.
1193 Cambridge St., Cambridge
Pimento cheese, fried oysters, and catfish with grits, all in the heart of Cambridge. And no, we’re not talking about Hungry Mother. At Tupelo, chef Rembs Layman serves “comfort food with a Southern drawl” — and a slightly lower profile. That may change once the restaurant is featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” Sept. 24.
Tu Y Yo
858 Broadway, Somerville
In the past few years, we’ve seen upscale Mexican restaurant after upscale Mexican restaurant open in the Boston area. Yet few of them are as interesting as Tu Y Yo, which has long served regional Mexican dishes created from family recipes old and new — from a cochinita pibil (pork loin in a garlicky orange sauce) attributed to one María Ruz Viuda de Espinosa circa 1908 to Estela Calzada’s 2005 chicken mole colorado Tlaxcalteca. The deeply flavored black beans and micheladas (spicy beer cocktails) are some of the best around. And I don’t know of too many other local places where one can sample grasshopper tacos.