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Round 2

Round 2 Matchup 1 of 16
Myers + Chang

Myers + Chang, the dim sum diner from restaurateurs Christopher Myers and Joanne Chang, is a beloved South End standby for many reasons: warm service, a relaxed and social vibe, and above all consistently good food. The menu of Asian small plates includes sticky tea-smoked spare ribs, fiery tiger's tears salad, nasi goreng, and other dishes we can't live without.

Rochambeau

At this two-story brasserie in Back Bay, feast on classics (onion soup, duck a l'orange) and not-so-classics (Berbere roasted squash) from chef Matthew Gaudet. The surroundings are tres French — tile floors, tin ceilings, Gare du Nord-esque clock — and between the cafe, lunch, dinner, and the bar, the place is open practically round the clock.

Round 2 Matchup 2 of 16
MIDA

At the corner of Mass. Ave. and Tremont in the South End, you'll find MIDA, the cozy and welcoming restaurant that chef-owner Douglass Williams has steadily turned into one of the city's most delicious places for Italian food. Don't miss pasta dishes like cacio e pepe gnocchi and spaghetti with crab, tomato, and chile butter, along with a super-sexy tiramisu. 

SRV

Styled after a bacaro, one of Venice's hideaway wine bars, SRV —  shorthand for Most Serene Republic of Venice —  offers up more than just well-priced cocktails and seriously tasty bar snacks called cicchetti. The two dining areas thrum with mellow '90s hip-hop as handmade pasta (squid ink bigoli with calamari ragu) and dishes such as fried artichoke with tonnato sauce and lamb involtini arrive at the table. 

Round 2 Matchup 3 of 16
Yellow Door Taqueria

A Dorchester favorite for margaritas, mezcal cocktails, and tacos beyond the ordinary: duck with vanilla-plantain puree, lamb barbacoa with yogurt tzatziki, fried scallop with pickled jalapeno and celery mayonnaise. Now with a branch in the South End, too.

Pammy's

A fire crackles in the fireplace as a statue of the harvest goddess Demeter looks out over this Italian-inspired trattoria: Cantabrigians are contentedly consuming scallop crudo, pork Milanese with arugula salad, and chef Chris Willis’s beautiful handmade pasta dishes, such as lumache with Bolognese and gochujang. A quintessential neighborhood restaurant that might make you want to move to this neighborhood, between Central and Harvard squares.

Round 2 Matchup 4 of 16
Talulla

Come to Talulla for a bespoke experience from a husband-wife team. Chef Conor Dennehy serves precise, pretty plates centered around local, seasonal ingredients: turnip soup with seared scallop and chile oil; Parisian gnocchi with duck confit, parsnip puree, and pesto made from carrot tops and pumpkin seeds; cod with dashi, daikon, and leek. Danielle Ayer oversees the wine and lovely hospitality. The restaurant is named for their daughter.

Sofra

This wonderful bakery-cafe from Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick of Oleana is a local treasure. Come for shakshuka and Turkish-style breakfasts, mezze and flatbread sandwiches for lunch, and gorgeous pastries and cookies all day long.

Round 2 Matchup 5 of 16
Sarma

It's no surprise to find the food so headily fragrant, so beautifully flavored, at a restaurant from Cassie Piuma, who came up at Oleana. But it's still a pleasure. The likes of pumpkin fritters, shakshuka, and lamb kofte sliders make one want to return to this Somerville spot again and again. 

Forage

The hideaway cellar on quiet Craigie Circle has been home to a run of fine Cambridge restaurants that led to Forage. The little bistro emphasizes relationships with area farmers, fishermen, and foragers (naturally), with a menu stocked with roasted roots and salads of local lettuce, perked up with dandelion vinegar and mushroom ketchup, crabapple and beach plum in the cocktails.

Round 2 Matchup 6 of 16
Gourmet Dumpling House

This Chinatown restaurant is wildly popular for its soup dumplings, pliant wrappers filled with meat and steaming broth. But it's also worth standing in line for its long menu of Taiwanese and other specialties. Look for the bright blue sign. 

Tiger Mama

Chef Tiffani Faison creates a haven for Southeast Asian flavors in the Fenway. Tiger Mama's menu is an umami obstacle course, from chile-spiced short-rib crudo to mala mushrooms. What you order, you savor; what you don't, you wish you had —Faison and crew have a knack for balancing bitter, pungent, sweet, sour, smoky, hot, and luscious all at once. 

Round 2 Matchup 7 of 16
Bar Lyon

Bar Lyon is modeled after the bouchon, a traditional Lyonnaise bistro. It feels just so, without being too-too: tile floors, zinc bar, gleaming open kitchen at back, and a beautifully classic menu and French wine list. Start with gougeres and a cocktail at the bar, then move to a banquette for terrine en croute, coq au vin, and bavette steak au poivre with potato confit. The must-order dish is the Lyonnaise specialty quenelle de brochet, a quenelle of pike with crawfish tails in lobster veloute; if you're feeling more casual, there's always "Le Burger."

Fox & the Knife

What to do after a James Beard award-winning turn helming the kitchen at longtime favorite Myers + Chang? Something completely different. Chef Karen Akunowicz opened Fox & the Knife in South Boston, embracing her love (and recognizing ours) of Italian cuisine. She lived in Modena for a time, and the menu showcases techniques she learned there, via heartfelt pasta dishes and entrees like chicken under a brick. Don’t miss the focaccia stuffed with Taleggio, one of the best cheese pulls in town.

Round 2 Matchup 8 of 16
Winsor Dim Sum

This Quincy dim sum spot is one of the area's best. Winsor serves all day long, but come early on the weekends to snag a table before the crowds show up. Then eat your fill of har gow and shumai, steamed rice rolls, wok-fried rice cake in XO sauce, pork buns, deep-fried sesame balls, and much more. Everything is fresh, whether ordered from the menu or off the carts that roll round.

Mei Mei

This brick-and-mortar restaurant comes from the siblings who started food truck Mei Mei Street Kitchen. On the menu, expect dishes such as the Double Awesome (an egg sandwich on scallion pancakes), curried sweet potato, "magical" kale salad, and an array of dumplings. The restaurant is a devoted supporter of sustainable, local producers.

Round 2 Matchup 9 of 16
Toro

Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette's South End tapas bar is loud, crowded, and fun. As the sangria flows, traditional Spanish small plates are served alongside dry-aged mini burgers, grilled corn slathered with alioli and cotija cheese, and more.

Nightshade Noodle Bar

Chef-owner Rachel Miller worked in the kitchen of places like Clio and Bondir before starting Nightshade, a celebration of her love for Vietnamese cuisine. In an intimate, plant-filled space, the kitchen turns out papaya salads, bone marrow fried rice, soulful noodle soups, and more. The bar is also strong.

Round 2 Matchup 10 of 16
Celeste

This tiny Somerville spot feels more like a dinner party thrown by friends than a restaurant. Chef JuanMa Calderón prepares dishes learned from his mother in his native Peru — arroz con pollo (chicken and rice), lomo saltado (stir-fried beef) — with a sure hand and plenty of heart. Don’t miss the ceviche, the causas (cold terrines of mashed potato layered with various fillings), or the complex and soulful stews.

Uni

Chefs Ken Oringer and Tony Messina expanded this subterranean sushi bar and turned it into something truly special. There is plenty of fresh, delicate fish to please purists, plus a dense, creative menu of small and large plates that pair traditional Japanese ideas and techniques with vibrant flavors from around Asia and beyond. Follow elegant sashimi plates with Chiang Mai duck carnitas, Korean rice cakes with oxtail, and more.

Round 2 Matchup 11 of 16
Cafe Sushi

Cafe Sushi is a fine neighborhood sushi spot, dishing up California rolls and teriyaki. But it's also much more, as you find out when you sit at the bar and order the omakase, chef's choice of sushi and sashimi. Chef Seizi Imura and crew create exquisite bite after exquisite bite. 

Little Donkey

Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer's Little Donkey is a restaurant with no rules, with a menu that refuses to be locked into any specific cuisine. It's food that makes you cock your head, scrunch your brow, and ask: What exactly are we tasting? The answer could be matzo ball ramen or farro kimchi fried rice or Vietnamese bologna with squid or a fried chicken sandwich. The creativity and complexity of the flavor combinations often wow. 

Round 2 Matchup 12 of 16
Field & Vine

In the Union Square space that used to be Journeyman, and in many ways its spiritual successor, Field & Vine is run by chef Andrew Brady and Sara Markey, partners in work and life; the food is seasonal, sustainable, and ingredient-driven. In a space that looks the creation of a woodland elf turned celebrity chef — branches festooned with twinkling lights, hanging bunches of herbs and garlic, an open kitchen — Brady turns out salt-baked potatoes with creamy black-garlic sauce, shiitake hand-pies, cheddar cornbread with slow-roasted pork shoulder, and more.

The Smoke Shop BBQ

With barely a half-rack of exceptions, real barbecue is hard to come by around these parts. Leaning on experience with a decorated competition 'cue team, chef Andy Husbands is changing that. His meat-and-whiskey outposts serve up some of the finest smoked meats around — even routinely nailing a succulent Texas-style brisket.

Round 2 Matchup 13 of 16
Island Creek

One of the places that really kicked off the revival of the New England seafood restaurant. Given its name, it makes sense that oysters would be the restaurant's greatest strength, featured in many varieties. You'll also find chowder, lobster rolls, cornmeal-crusted skate with uni beurre blanc, and more.

Deuxave

This Back Bay restaurant serves modern French food prepared with local ingredients. You'll find Scituate lobster with gnocchi and spiced duck breast, along with more-everyday fare like a killer French onion soup and tagliatelle Bolognese. The wine program is excellent, as are desserts.

Round 2 Matchup 14 of 16
Chickadee

Pedigree and polish perch on the edge of the Seaport at this restaurant run by No. 9 Park vets. At dinner, chef John daSilva’s small plates glorify vegetables, house-made pasta, and a ridiculously tasty porchetta; lunch means pillowy pita filled with all manner of good stuff. Dishes are infused with the flavors of the Middle East and North Africa; cocktails are named after birds. It looks too cool to be fine dining, but don’t be fooled: It is.

The Table at Season to Taste

At this toasty North Cambridge nook, servers deliver complimentary treats like sourdough bread with house-cultured butter and granola bars. Unwind over a four-course menu by former "Top Chef" contestant Carl Dooley, who often presents the seasonal plates himself with chummy commentary. Korean-style beef carpaccio? Halibut with couscous, preserved lemon, and green chermoula? The menu changes regularly, but the atmosphere and quality never falter.

Round 2 Matchup 15 of 16
Ashmont Grill

The quintessential neighborhood spot in Dorchester's Peabody Square. Come for trainwreck fries, grass-fed burgers, and mac and cheese, plus maybe a sticky toffee pudding and a cocktail or two.

Coppa

More than a decade after it opened, this South End enoteca from chefs Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer is still going strong. It specializes in salumi, small plates, handmade pasta (uni carbonara is always a winner), and pizza, but it's worth a visit for the Italian grinder alone.

Round 2 Matchup 16 of 16
Giulia

Reserve ahead. It’s hard to get a table at this cozy and beloved Italian restaurant, where chef Michael Pagliarini serves beautiful small plates, monkfish piccata, and the highlight: handmade pasta, from paccheri alla Bolognese to agnolotti del plin with turnips, hedgehog mushrooms, ricotta, and lentils.

Neptune Oyster

One of the first new-wave Boston oyster bars, this North End institution has long been known for having one of the best lobster rolls in town. (Are you partial to the hot or cold version? There's no wrong answer.) Neptune also serves as a model for the many restaurants that have opened in its image. It's been around forever, but there's often still a line to get in the door.