Little Big Diner hits the right notes for a noodle shop: hole-in-the-wall size, sweet art, and delicious bowls of ramen that you can barely get to the bottom of. Chef-owner Dave Punch and crew—the same team behind Newton faves Sycamore and Jinny’s Pizza—crank out bowl after bowl and then some in just a galley-size kitchen. The Chef’s Ultra Ramen, loaded with pork belly, grilled chicken thigh, white kimchi, and more, is forever our go-to with a Cold Tea (tequila, mezcal, yuzu, sake, green tea). While you’re there for the noods, do not miss the Kara-age Fried Chicken and the LBD Flat Patty “Hawaiian Style” with pineapple sambal. The tight quarters and no-reservations policy used to make it a (worthwhile) wait, but now with a sidewalk patio and online takeout available, it’s never been easier to snag a bowl.
The Best Restaurants in Newton
Where to Find the Best Italian Subs in Boston
Where to Get the Best Birria Tacos in Boston
Home to Boston College and on the Boston Marathon route, Newton is just seven short miles west of the city. Continuously named one of the best places to live in Massachusetts, it helped raise the likes of celebrities (John Krasinski, Priyanka Chopra, and Amy Poehler, to name a few). There’s plenty to offer visitors, too, including great food, from banh mi to ramen and arguably some of the best bistros around Boston. Easily accessible from the Mass Pike and the Green Line, Newton still feels like home to Boston's best kept secrets.
Inspired by London’s modern gastropubs (and coincidentally located in Piccadilly Square, named for a landmark in the city), Thistle & Leek is a dream-come-true restaurant for husband-and-wife chef-owners, Trevor and Kate Smith. Formerly of Coppa and Toro respectively, the Smiths have created a thoughtful menu of comfort food and small plates at their spot in Newton, focusing on New England seasonality with a story and true artistry behind each dish. In continuing with the European inspiration, the wine list is Old World-oriented with a focus on small-production vineyards. T&L has a patio, and also serves weekday lunch Tuesday through Friday, just steps away from the Newton Centre T stop.
The neighborhood pizzeria of our dreams landed in Newton Centre thanks to chef Lydia Reichert and her partners at nearby favorite, Sycamore. Like any great pizza, Jinny’s starts with the dough—flavorful and slowly fermented—and a great selection of high-quality toppings. Pies—like the McL’oven (pepperoni, mushrooms, caramelized onions, mozzarella, tomato sauce) and Alla Norma (eggplant, basil, ricotta, smoked mozzarella, chili flakes, tomato sauce)—are perfectly blistered in a beautifully tiled, 700-degree oven. And don’t toss that crust aside: Order a house-made dipping sauce like our fave, the North End, for those final bites of your slice. Outdoor seating is dog-friendly, and like all dining-in at Jinny’s, it’s first-come, first-served.
As billed for more than a decade, Sycamore is truly “Newton Centre’s neighborhood bistro.” You’ll be greeted with warm hospitality the moment you walk in with a wave from the bar from chef-owner Dave Punch, who anchors his original Newton venture. Belly up for a citrusy Falerno! cocktail and a few bar bites, like Tuscan Chicken Liver Pâté or Caramelized Onion and Smoked Gouda Dip. Or mosey over to the exposed brick-covered dining room for house-made pasta and seasonal small plates with a front-row seat into the open kitchen. Whether you’re popping in for a snack and a drink or settling in for dinner, no stop at Sycamore is complete without Sugar Beignets dipped in warm milk jam. Sycamore gives us no better reason to put the city in the rearview mirror.
Pho Viet's II
If you’ve yet to visit Pho Viet’s, you’re missing out on some of the best Vietnamese food in the Boston area. The family-owned restaurant group is a local mainstay with locations in Newton Centre and on Comm. Ave. in Brookline, near the BU campus serving up fresh rolls, bowls of the namesake pho, and bún (vermicelli) with lemongrass pork, but it’s the Banh Mi that really puts Pho Viet’s on the map. Springy sliced ham and terrine or other grilled meats are paired with crunchy vegetables and mint on a crusty roll. Chef’s kiss.
Just two short blocks from the Newton Highlands T stop, a top-notch vegetarian and vegan experience awaits. Walnut Grille is a plant-based restaurant with a menu reflecting seasonal flavors and local farms. For lighter fare, you’ll find everything from fresh juices and smoothies to grilled pizzas. For those a bit hungrier, try the Polenta Napoleon with fennel bearnaise and black-eyed pea salsa. But it’s not just vegan and vegetarian options that fill the menu—there are plenty of dishes that can be made gluten- and soy-free. Walnut Grille is open daily for lunch and dinner with patio dining as well as takeout.
Good bagels in Boston? Are you sure? Oh, we’re sure. In fact, Rosenfeld’s Bagels has been around for more than 45 years. Abiding by the old-school rules of bagel-making, this Kosher-certified bakery adds a little malt syrup into the mix to achieve its signature sweetness. More than 20 varieties of bagels are offered every Wednesday through Sunday, including the elusive egg bagel and Sunday-exclusive Cinnamon Sugar. Bialys and other classics of Jewish baking, like challah and chocolate babka, are counter-ready as well. Your turn to host brunch? Order bagels by the dozen with sides of house-mixed schmear and platters of smoked salmon and accompaniments. You’ll be the host with the most.
Flora's Wine Bar
Cozy yet sleek, Flora’s Wine Bar pops bottles from around the globe, shakes up seasonal cocktails, and stocks the best craft beer in West Newton. The menu is simple, thoughtful and just the right amount of satisfying with cheese and charcuterie boards and small bites like Heirloom Tomato and Ricotta. Flora’s also offers private parties and caters to off-site locations. Take it outside on Flora’s lively sidewalk patio to enjoy it with your puppy pal. Your glass is waiting.
Started in the South End, Mida translates to “he gives me” and is defined in its generosity and community. Chef Douglass Williams does it again in Newton: The feeling is palpable. Mida favorites that make it one of the best Italian joints in Boston, like the garlic butter Focaccia, the Paccheri Bolognese, and house-made gelato, have made the journey to the new outpost. But it’s the notable addition of thin crust, New Haven-style pizzas and weekday lunch service that have us contemplating a move to the ’burbs. Each meal is meant to be a gift just for you, and we’d never turn down a good gift.
Just off the beaten path lives Buttonwood in the Newton Highlands area. Buttonwood dishes rustic American fare in a welcoming environment, whether on the sidewalk patio, inside the navy blue dining room, or from a place at the bar. Seasonal inspiration floods the menu while staying approachable, with dishes like Sesame-Ginger Eggplant Dip with sesame lavash crackers. But it’s the mainstays such as Pizza Shop Greek Salad and Cast Iron Cornbread that we just cannot quit. On the beverage side, the lists of small-production wines, local beers, and craft cocktails rival city standouts. A neighborhood restaurant in the truest sense, Buttonwood is fitting for family dinners, special occasions, and all the just-becauses in between.
In the company’s first location outside of the city, Blackbird Donuts brings its highly desired doughnuts to the Newton Centre. Raised and cake doughnuts both fill the menu in classic flavors like the namesake Blackbird, a vanilla bean cake doughnut with vanilla glaze; and more adventurous ones including Birthday Cake with chocolate buttercream glaze, and a cream cheese-filled Everything Bagel. Monthly specials and doughnut ice cream sandwiches keep the list dynamic and exciting. The Newton Centre outpost is also one of the only Blackbird locations to offer espresso beverages. Who doesn’t love a cuppa Joe with a doughnut to dunk?