Best of Boston + Cambridge 2020 | Hall of Fame

Yankee editors pick the top dining, lodging, and attractions in Boston and Cambridge in our first-ever Hall of Fame list.

By Yankee Editors

Apr 06 2020

Fenway Park_Massachusetts Office Of Travel and Tourism

Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts.

Photo Credit : Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

A note from the editors: After Yankee published its summer travel guide, many of the terrific destinations that it showcases have changed their operations in light of COVID-19. But while you may not be able to dine out, book a stay, or go explore shops, museums, and other attractions right now, you can help ensure they are ready to go when the current crisis recedes. Just contact your favorite New England small business or nonprofit attraction, and they’ll be happy to tell you how. 

Fenway Park in Boston
Photo Credit : Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism
For almost half a century, Yankee’s summer travel guide has showcased New England’s must-visit destinations and diversions. This year, our first-ever Hall of Fame salutes 230 past winners that continue to wow us today.

Best of Boston + Cambridge | Hall of Fame


Area Four Cambridge

Thanks to 30 hours of fermentation and a sourdough starter that’s been going strong since 2002, the pizza crust at this Kendall Square favorite has a signature tang as well as a shatteringly crisp exterior that belies the tender, chewy interior. It’s so good that we’d eat it plain—but then we’d be missing out on Area Four’s earthy mushroom-fontina-gremolata pizza and one of the best clam and bacon pies in New England. A second location opened in Boston’s South End in 2016. 617-758-4444;

Craigie on Main Cambridge

Chef Tony Maws employs his virtuosic technique to meat and veg in equal measure (when in doubt, order the pork—he’s especially deft with it). The food is infused with French flavor and elevated by attention to detail and a love of perfect ingredients; plus, the bar program ranks among the city’s best, and Maws serves one of the most sought-after burgers in town. 617-497-5511;

Eastern Standard Boston

This is the Swiss Army knife of restaurants: well designed and endlessly useful. A quick bite before a Sox game? A business dinner? A first date? Come one, come all. Since opening in Kenmore Square in 2005, the brasserie-inspired eatery has established itself as Boston’s most reliable go-to, with a breakfast-to-late-night menu that hits all the classics (steak frites, charcuterie, shellfish) and a bar program that has been a nexus of taste-setting from day one. 617-532-9100;

Flour Boston/Cambridge

Joanne Chang ran a single Flour bakery-café in the South End for seven years before opening a second in Fort Point Channel; as of early 2020, there are eight locations in Boston and Cambridge—and they’re always bustling. Flour’s greatest claim to fame may be Chang’s perfect sticky buns (hers beat Bobby Flay’s), but don’t miss the scrumptious banana bread, lemon meringue pie, and brownies, not to mention the excellent salads and sandwiches. For a small chain that works in such high volume, the menu remains seasonal and the service is always warm.

Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge

For more than four decades, Ihsan and Valerie Gurdal and their staff have traveled the world to find the best cheeses, pastas, chocolates, vinegars, and wines to bring home to their very choosy customers. The original Cambridge venue (there’s also a South End Formaggio in Boston) is one of the few such shops in existence with its own cheese cave. 617-354-4750;

Grill 23 & Bar Boston

Since its founding, Grill 23 has seen the high-rolling ’80s give way to the low-fat ’90s and then the steakhouse revival of the early aughts and the small-plates fixation of today. It has not only weathered them all but also raised the, ahem, stakes. The 100-day-aged ribeye should be on every carnivore’s bucket list, the wedge salad is crunchy perfection, and the caramel profiteroles are the ultimate big-kid delight. Add in the white-jacket service and the wood-paneled clubbiness, and Grill 23 is, ever and always, the best chophouse in town. 617-542-2255;

Neptune Oyster Boston

The space is tiny, it’s always busy, there are no reservations, and street parking in the North End is impossible. So why go to all the trouble? Because Neptune Oyster is just that good. All marble counters and red booths, it’s like your dream of a Little Italy seafood restaurant come to life. From the creamy clam chowder to the seafood plateaus to the roasted mackerel with chimichurri and tomato-olive broth, eating here feels like a neighborhood party. 617-742-3474;

Sofra Cambridge

The most casual of chef Ana Sortun’s eateries, this always-packed bakery serves Middle Eastern–inspired salads, spreads, and shawarmas, all packed with local produce. These star alongside co-owner Maura Kilpatrick’s ultra-chocolatey earthquake cookies, almond-rose cakes, za’atar almond brioche, and other fusion delights. In other words: Save room for dessert. Then wash it all down with a halva latte or cocoa-rose tea. 617-661-3161;

Toscanini’s Cambridge

Depending on the season, you can find Belgian chocolate, Aztec chocolate, or Mexican chocolate on the menu at this ice cream shop, a Cambridge fixture since 1981. Then there are the malted vanilla, French vanilla, and sweet-cream flavors. And fruit? How about lemon pistachio or mango ginger? The Tosci’s team is always inventing, always raising the bar on quality. 617-491-5877;

Uni Boston

Along with chef-owner Ken Oringer, Tony Messina—who clinched the 2019 James Beard Award for the Northeast’s best chef—has made Uni one of the most innovative and consistently excellent restaurants in the city. The menu offers both baroque beauty (grilled unagiand foie gras with cranberry and bee pollen) and austere perfection (a perfect slab of wagyu grilled tableside on a sizzling rock), making a night at Uni dinner and theater rolled into one. 617-536-7200;


Boston Harbor Hotel Boston

There are plenty of excellent reasons to spend the night at this waterfront luxury hotel, but the most compelling might be all those panoramic views of Boston Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean. From your spacious guest room—replete with Frette linens and done up in elegant shades of blue—you can watch yachts, ferries, and sailboats glide along, and even witness the drama of weather as it rolls in. In the summer, head down to the harborside restaurant and terrace for the popular “Summer in the City” outdoor entertainment series. 617-439-7000;

The Charles Hotel Cambridge

Billing itself as a home away from home for the families of Harvard students, this four-star Harvard Square hotel has oodles of appeal for the non-Ivy crowd, too. On the ground floor is chef Peter Davis’s award-winning restaurant, Henrietta’s Table, which has been luring foodies since 1995; a few floors up is the legendary jazz nightclub Regattabar, which has welcomed everyone from Dizzy Gillespie and Herbie Hancock to Cassandra Wilson and Ahmad Jamal. The guest rooms and suites are understated New England chic, and the service is Brahmin-worthy. 617-864-1200;

Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston

Designed by the architect of New York’s Plaza Hotel, this c. 1912 Beaux-Arts beauty looks right at home next to such historic treasures as Trinity Church and the Boston Public Library. Inside, the lobby exudes Old World splendor with gilded ceilings, Italian marble columns, and crystal chandeliers. Along with a rooftop health club and an award-winning brasserie, the Fairmont Copley Plaza offers Boston’s only “canine ambassador,” a black Lab who socializes with guests and often joins them on walks and runs. 617-267-5300;

InterContinental Boston Boston

Occupying a perennially prime waterfront location between downtown and the Seaport, this contemporary high-rise stay boasts a 6,600-square-foot spa and health club, a French restaurant, and two lively cocktail bars. Families will appreciate the large guest rooms (starting at 420 square feet) and rare outdoor space (two-acre waterside plaza and garden); eco-minded guests will love the fact that the rooftop hosts Boston’s first-ever hotel-run beehives. 617-747-1000;

The Kendall Hotel Cambridge

At this stately boutique hotel housed in a former fire station, you don’t have to choose between Cambridge and Boston: Walk a mile east via the Longfellow Bridge, and you’ll be oohing and aahing at Beacon Hill brownstones, or stroll less than two miles west to rub elbow patches with academics in Harvard Yard. Folk art lends a homey vibe, while the nightly wine reception and substantial “fireman’s” breakfast buffet underscore the already strong value. 866-566-1300;

Kimpton Marlowe Cambridge

A completely refreshed look for its guest rooms is only the latest reason to love this family- and pet-friendly boutique hotel. Located a hop, skip, and a jump from the Museum of Science, it caters to kids with welcome toys, pint-sized robes, and gourmet menus of their very own. Meanwhile, the front desk staffers are pros at helping get your pooch settled, from procuring a comfy bed to ordering a pet birthday cake from local favorite Polkadog Bakery. 617-868-8000;

The Liberty Hotel Boston

Opened in 2007 in the revamped Charles Street Jail (a National Historic Landmark), the Liberty ranks among Boston’s hottest high-end lodgings. Offering views of the Charles and easy access to Beacon Hill, it has a sense of humor and style that informs everything from its restaurants—Clink, Alibi, and Scampo (Italian for “escape”)—to the stunning atrium and the 298 luxurious rooms and suites. 617-224-4000;

The Verb Hotel Boston

Located across from Fenway Park, the retro-leaning Verb is a funky and affordable option done up with memorabilia from Boston’s rock-and-roll scene. In addition to modern amenities such as high-speed Wi-Fi and high-def TVs, the 93 guest rooms have their own record players and a selection of vinyl. Even cooler: There’s a seasonal outdoor pool and tiki-inspired cocktails at Hojoko, the on-site Japanese pub. 617-566-4500;

XV Beacon Boston

Between drinking in views from the roof deck and draping yourself in a cashmere throw before a gas fireplace, you might start pretending this art-filled boutique hotel near Boston Common is your very own posh pied-à-terre. Even Fido will feel right at home in the lap of luxury, as well-behaved pups of all sizes are welcomed with homemade biscuits and turndown service. 617-670-1500;


Boston Harbor Islands Boston

One of the best-kept secrets in Boston lies just beyond the skyline, in the form of some 30 pristine islands scattered across the 50 square miles of Boston Harbor. Part of the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park, they’re brimming over with spots ideal for walkers, paddlers, and campers. Those who make the effort to reach them are repaid with a blend of old military forts, lighthouses, drumlins, and rugged shoreline—all guaranteed to entice those of us who yearn for a slice of solitude.

Boston National Historical Park/Freedom Trail Boston

No trip to the Hub is complete without a couple of stops on the Freedom Trail, the 2½-mile route past 16 of the city’s historical landmarks. And while you can certainly navigate it on your own, you’ll learn a lot more about Boston’s role in the Revolutionary War and the growth of a new nation during the dramatic 90-minute Freedom Trail tours led by rangers from Boston National Historical Park, which encompasses several of the most famous sites, including the Old North Church and Faneuil Hall.;

The Brattle Theatre Cambridge

The tagline says it all: “Boston’s unofficial film school since 1953.” Indeed, this Harvard Square nonprofit is ground zero for esoteric and independent cinema and a specialist in repertory programming (recent series have included “The Films of Jim Jarmusch” and “Ingmar Bergman 100”). Little wonder the Brattle’s advisory board includes indie icon David Lynch. 617-876-6837;

Brookline Booksmith Brookline

As a town that loves its tomes, Boston is bound to have its share of standout bookshops. But this c. 1961 indie distinguishes itself by more than what’s on its shelves (although the literary lineup is impressive and spans both new and used). There’s the dog-friendly, neighborhood feel; the eccentric and sophisticated gifts and cards; and the visits by big-name authors (Julia Alvarez, Michael Chabon). And with a big expansion in 2020 and a new bar and café, the Booksmith simply can’t be beat. 617-566-6660;

Fenway Park Boston

With a capacity of roughly 38,000, Fenway is one of the smallest parks in the American League, but good things come in small packages. To fully appreciate this c. 1912 shrine to America’s national pastime, take one of the behind-the-scenes tours offered year-round. Listen to tales of Red Sox greats, check out the view from the Green Monster, and peer down at the quirky asymmetrical field from the press box. Even if you’ve been to Fenway dozens of times, you’ve never experienced it quite like this.

Kennedy Museums Boston

Housed in a striking I.M. Pei–designed tower rising from the waterfront, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum brings to life the excitement and tensions of the Camelot years. Next door is the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate, where visitors can explore the younger Kennedy’s political legacy and try their hand at being legislators in a full-scale reproduction of the U.S. Senate chambers. 617-514-1600,; 617-740-7000,

Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Already world-renowned for its collections of Impressionist works, Egyptian artifacts, and Asian art, the MFA made a critically hailed expansion in 2010 with a sprawling new wing dedicated to artwork from North, Central, and South America. This is where you’ll find many of the locally rooted treasures that Bostonians hold dear, such as Paul Revere’s “Sons of Liberty” bowl and the paintings of John Singer Sargent (don’t miss his magnificent murals in the museum rotunda and colonnade). 617-267-9300;

Paddle Boston Greater Boston

For an unforgettable skyline vantage, take to the water in a canoe, kayak, or paddleboard from Paddle Boston, providing affordable outdoor recreation for residents and visitors since 1973. Its seven locations on the Charles and Mystic rivers include a subway-accessible option in the heart of the city, in Cambridge’s Kendall Square. Whether you go solo or join one of the kayak tours, the views of Boston and Cambridge, the Esplanade, and the Zakim Bridge are spectacular. 617-965-5110;