January 2010: Where to Eat Now 2010

Publick House
Great for: Boys’ night out.
Yes, there are newer, flashier places—upscale beer bar Lord Hobo, say, or craft-cocktail haven Drink—but sometimes you really don’t feel like asking how much that doppelbock will set you back or guessing what’s in an “Aviation.” With its long list of reasonably priced beers, sturdy fare (stout-marinated hanger steak, crispy fish and chips), and living room décor, the Publick House feels like a place where you and the guys can hang out awhile, and just maybe order one more round than you normally would. 1648 Beacon St., Brookline, 617-277-2880, eatgoodfooddrinkbetterbeer.com.

The Beehive
Great for: Girls’ night out.
An evening of proper female bonding calls for someplace more energetic than a candlelit restaurant, but not something resembling a pickup scene. Thanks to its funky boho décor and live jazz acts that take the stage each night, this South End favorite has exactly the right vibe, along with a raucous crowd, a roomy downstairs bar, and a come-as-you-are attitude (so feel free to skip the Spanx). Even better, the ridiculous list of sparkling wines—plus the potent champagne cocktails—practically ensures tipsy fun. 541 Tremont St., Boston, 617-423-0069, beehiveboston.com.

Vee Vee
Great for: Sticking to your diet.
Though it got off to a bit of a rocky start when it opened in early 2008, this Jamaica Plain restaurant recently started over with a new chef, Simon Kershaw; now his fresh, seasonal cooking boasts a dedicated following of health-conscious and eco-minded foodies. After a meal of Atlantic salmon with roasted fall vegetables and apple-mustard sauce or couscous-stuffed delicata squash with braised chard, Moroccan hummus, and crumbled feta, you’ll feel as virtuous as you do satisfied. 763 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617-522-0145, veeveejp.com.

Great for: Cheating on your diet.
When it’s time for a break from carrot sticks and kombucha, there’s no better place to do it than Scampo, superchef Lydia Shire’s restaurant in the Liberty Hotel. There’s glorious garlic bread, cooked over coals till it’s toasty and crisp…thin-crust pizza topped with sherried chanterelles and drizzled with truffle oil…oozy-creamy mozzarella, handmade buffalo ricotta ravioli, and soft polenta with chive butter…. (We could go on, but we can see you’re already drooling.) Liberty Hotel, 215 Charles St., Boston, 617-536-2100, scampoboston.com.

The Lansdowne
Great for: Burgers and beer on game day.
When Sox fans are not actually at Fenway, they typically get their fix of beer and sports action at the always-packed Game On or the Cask ‘n Flagon. But if you want to eat a meal in relative peace without forgoing access to flat-screens or proximity to the park, venture a bit farther down Lansdowne Street to this Irish pub in the former Jake Ivory’s space. Though it gets plenty lively, patrons are generally too busy swilling Guinness and gorging themselves on Irish-bacon-and-cheddar-topped sliders and curry fries to get in each other’s way. 9 Lansdowne St., Boston, 617-247-1222, lansdownepubboston.com.