Food & Wine Best New Chef 1996 Michael Schlow gives an insider guide to Boston, from the best brunch spots to the top bars.

On Boston

What first drew me to Boston 13 years ago was its small-town feel and the love affair it had then-and still has-with its chefs, who are known on a first-name basis. Radius, which turns 10 this year, features modern Italian dishes (8 High St.; 617-426-1234 or

Favorite Cultural Activity

I like live music at The Middle East in Cambridge (472 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, Massachusetts; 617-492-9181 or You never know when someone like Peter Wolf, formerly of the J. Geils Band, might pop onstage and belt out a few tunes with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

Favorite Brunch Spot

Chef Ken Oringer’s Spanish-influenced Toro (1704 Washington St.; 617-536-4300 or Toro is great at night, but I like it more at brunch when it’s more laid-back (I get the chorizo and eggs).

Favorite Nightlife Spot

Pho Republique for its funky decor and dedicated bartenders. If you’re there with a group, order the superpotent Scorpion Bowl cocktail (1415 Washington St.; 617-262-0005 or

Restaurant Recommendations

Oiishi, where Ting Yen makes some of the best sushi I’ve ever had (1166 Washington St.; 617-482-8868 or

B&G Oysters, for the best lobster roll in the city (550 Tremont St.; 617-423-0550 or

Grill 23, for perfectly cooked steaks. I sit at the quieter upstairs bar, where it’s a bit easier to talk (161 Berkeley St.; 617-542-2255 or

Blue Ginger in Wellesley. I’m addicted to chef Ming Tsai’s Bings (pot stickers) (583 Washington St., Wellesley, Massachusetts; 781-283-5790 or

Pigalle, which has one of the top wine lists in the city (75 Charles St. S.; 617-423-4944 or