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Boston's Best Restaurants 2012

Legal Seafoods Harborside, Boston
Each of three levels here functions like a separate restaurant. Casual seafood and an old-fashioned fish market recall the chain’s roots on the first floor; the second level features polished fine dining. The best view is on the roof deck, where cocktails, a raw bar, and wines are served. First-floor entrees: from $11; second-floor: from $30. 270 Northern Ave. 617-477-2900;

Coppa, Boston
Coppa’s extensive and unusual wine list touches all the Italian bases, from Alto Adige in the north
(crisp whites) to Sicily in the south (hearty reds). The menu of tasty small plates for shared snacking covers the peninsula as well, from risotto balls and white anchovies to a sea urchin-and-salami panino with mustard seeds. Don’t miss the wood-fired pizzas. Small plates: from $5; pizzas: from $14; pasta: from $13. 253 Shawmut Ave. 617-391-0902;

Tres Gatos, Jamaica Plain
Built into a former residential building, the bar serves nicely priced Spanish wines that match the authentic Spanish tapas. In a twist on the bookstore cafe, Tres Gatos retains a sales area in the back of the restaurant for new and used books and music (including vinyl). Tapas: from $6. 470 Centre St. 617-477-4851 (restaurant), 617-477-9209 (store);

Prezza, Boston
A far cry from hunkering down to a plate of spaghetti. Chef/owner Anthony Caturano’s contemporary pan-Italian dishes range from hearty plates such as roasted meatballs, sausage, and ribs on polenta to wood-grilled lobster tail with a small tart of knuckle meat. Entrées: from $25. 24 Fleet St. 617-227-1577;

Rendezvous, Cambridge
If only every enclave could have a place like this. The menu takes its inspiration from the cuisines of the western Mediterranean, but owner Steve Johnson buys most of his produce, fish, and even meat from people he considers neighbors. Plates such as crispy roasted chicken with baby Brussels sprouts and sauteed cod with braised artichokes are refreshingly straightforward. The service is warm and the mood is happy, as though you’re dining with friends you haven’t met yet. Entrées: from $16. 502 Massachusetts Ave. 617-576-1900;

Flour Bakery, Boston & Cambridge
Pop in early for scones, muffins, or the sinfully rich cinnamon cream brioche, and come back at midday for hearty soups and tasty sandwiches, such as roast lamb with tomato chutney and goat cheese. Pastries: from $2.25; sandwiches: from $7. 12 Farnsworth St., Boston; 617-338-4333. 1595 Washington St., Boston; 617-267-4300. 190 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; 617-225-2525.

Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen, Boston
Just up the street from Berklee College of Music, Darryl’s plays up the jazz connection with live performances most evenings. The menu offers modern twists on Southern soul food. Entrées: from $15. 604 Columbus Ave. 617-536-1100;

Petit Robert Bistro, Boston
Steak-frites is only the start of authentic French bistro cooking, and Petit Robert keeps the hits coming, from sauteed scallops over mushroom risotto to a gorgeous roasted half-chicken. Entrees: from $14.25. 468 Commonwealth Ave.; 617-375-0699. 480 Columbus Ave.; 617-867-0600. Petit Robert Central, 101 Arch St. 617-737-1777;

Sweet Cheeks ‘cue, Boston
Flawless barbecue: smoky pulled pork, crisp-tender ribs, fluffy butter-rich biscuits, and short ribs that’d make a dog break his chain. Entrées: from $10. 1381 Boylston St. 617-266-1300;

Bondir, Cambridge
Jason Bond must be the hardest-working man in the restaurant business. On rare days off, he forages beach-rose petals and uses them to make jam. He cures meats for charcuterie, coaxes rye flour into pasta, pickles Concord grapes for garnishes. To eat at his restaurant is to savor the tremendous care that goes into each meal. Entrée prices vary with daily menu. 279A Broadway. 617-661-0009;

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

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