It is hard to believe that this is our fourth year of picking top little-known restaurants in the Boston area! But it is indeed time once again to list the best of the best for 2008. This year, we have several repeat winners as well as a few first timers (and a few new categories). Please look below to check out our picks for best restaurants of 2008 in Boston and beyond! (Note: This Best of 2008 Boston Restaurant page is part of our restaurant features section, which also includes our 2007 Best Boston Restaurants List, 2006 Best Boston Restaurants List, and 2005 Best Boston Restaurants List).
Best American (New) Restaurant, 2008
Geoffrey's Cafe, Roslindale, MA
Quirky, funky, and a bit goofy at times, this New American in the heart of Roslindale features a number of excellent entrees, and some rather decadent desserts. And for lovers of the outdoors, the mellow, laid-back patio area at Geoffrey's is an especially nice place to be in the warmer months.
Best American (Traditional) Restaurant, 2008
In a Pig's Eye, Salem, MA
This offbeat and rather eclectic little dining spot is a great place to enjoy reasonably priced traditional American fare--often with a twist--over a drink or two. Located just east of downtown Salem in an old, historic neighborhood, In A Pig's Eye is a great spot for those who like dark, cozy places with lots of atmosphere.
Best Breakfast Place, 2008
McKenna's Cafe, Dorchester, MA
The neighborhoods of Boston are chock full of local breakfast joints, and for our money, McKenna's Cafe in the Savin Hill neighborhood of Dorchester is one of the best of the lot. Friendly, quick, and cheap, McKenna's is the perfect place to go to on a Saturday or Sunday morning for some eggs, waffles, and pancakes, or perhaps a traditional Irish breakfast.
Best Greek Restaurant, 2008
Farm Grill and Rotisserie, Newton, MA
Once again, the Farm Grill beats out some tough competition (Greek Corner in Cambridge, New Brothers in Danvers, etc.) to win in 2008. The food at this Newton Highlands dining spot just seems a little fresher and a little tastier, and it is a clean and bright place that is rather attractive for a restaurant that does takeout and counter service.
Best Hamburgers, 2008
O'Sullivan's, Somerville, MA
Now a four-time winner, O'Sullivan's is heading toward the Boston's Hidden Restaurants Hall of Fame (which we will be working on soon!). The huge, thick burgers here are perhaps not to everyone's liking, but for those who enjoy burgers the way they are when they come of the BBQ grill, O'Sullivan's is tough to beat.
Best Hot Dog Stand, 2008
Simco's, Mattapan, MA
Simco's has been around seemingly forever, but it is amazing how many Bostonians are still unaware of its existence. This takeout joint just north of Mattapan Square features a lot of food items on the menu, but it is all about the hot dogs here, as their nearly foot-long grilled franks are about as close to perfection as you'll find in the Boston area.
Best Irish Pub, 2008
The Snug, Hingham, MA
Located in tony Hingham Center, The Snug is a laid-back little place that is popular with locals, but few others since it isn't known all that well, The pub resides in an historic building with lots of charm in every nook and cranny, and features good food, excellent music (both live and over the sound system), and a variety of beers and ales including Guinness, of course.
Best Italian Restaurant, 2008
Ecco Trattoria, Weymouth, MA
Our pick for best Italian restaurant is in...a Weymouth strip mall? Yes, but don't let the relatively anonymous exterior of Ecco keep you from coming to this place, as this upscale Northern Italian spot features food that rivals many of the best places in the North End of Boston.
Best Mexican/Latin Restaurant, 2008
Angela's Cafe, East Boston, MA
It faced some very stiff competition in Cafe Azteca (Lawrence), Taqueria El Amigo (Waltham), and La Siesta (Winthrop), but what put Angela's Cafe over the top this year is its dedication to consistent quality. The mole at this tiny East Boston spot remains perhaps the best in Boston, while the guacamole is smooth, buttery, and simply outstanding.
Best Middle Eastern Restaurant, 2008
Reef Cafe, Allston, MA (CLOSED)
If we had to pick one particular dish in Boston to eat, the mouthwatering falafel sandwich at the Reef Cafe in Allston would certainly be considered. But there is more than just falafel at this friendly Lebanese spot in the heart of Allston, and the prices are low enough so as to be a popular place among college students in the area.
Best Pizza, 2008
Gran Gusto, Cambridge, MA
We have had some good bar pizza, Sicilian squares, and traditional pies over the past year, but Gran Gusto seems to be the place that is most memorable for pizza. The crispy thin-crust pies at this cozy trattoria near the West Cambridge/North Cambridge line are cooked in a real wood-fired oven that was transported from Naples Italy.
Best Sandwich Shop, 2008
Nick's Famous Roast Beef, Beverly, MA
Nick's Famous doesn't look like much (and the parking situation can be a little rough), but this classic North Shore roast beef joint more than makes up for the lack of atmosphere and the parking aggravations with some of the tastiest, most tender roast beef in the Boston area. The three-way (sauce, cheese, mayo) is nothing short of pure heaven at this North Beverly spot.
Best Seafood Restaurant, 2008
Haddad's Ocean Cafe, Marshfield, MA
Perhaps the furthest restaurant from Boston that made this year's list, Haddad's Ocean Cafe is a classic seafood joint in the historic Brant Rock section of Marshfield. The bar side of Haddad's can be pretty raucous, but the dining area to the left is quiet and comfortable, and the seafood is right-off-the-docks fresh.
Best Thai Restaurant, 2008
Mango II, Tewksbury, MA
It may be hard to believe that Tewksbury is home to one of the best Thai restaurants in the Boston area, but try this place and you will probably understand why it gets such rave reviews. The food is mostly authentic at Mango II, though there are also some more Americanized items for those a bit less daring.