You'll wish you had more occasions to wear girlie dresses after you visit this starry-eyed Beacon Hill boutique. The small space is filled to the brim with trendy threads and accessories, but the collection of flirty dresses, skirts, and petal-soft cotton Ts merits special attention. The selection is comfortably eclectic—think Trina Turk, Ella Moss, Tibi, Susana Monaco, Paper Denim & Cloth, Velvet, How & Wen, and Shoshanna, just for starters. You're bound to find yourself circling the racks, spying new must-haves with every pass. 49 Charles St., Boston, MA wishboston.wordpress.com/.
After teaching spinning at workout meccas like Equinox and Crunch, D'Andrea opened his own 5,000-square-foot fitness studio last year to cater to his considerable following. (He claims a 70 percent retention rate among his clients.) Free advice: "For weight training, dumbbells give far better results than machines. And forget weight belts. Last I heard, cavemen didn't wear weight belts, and they were in better shape than some of the people working out now." 55 Charles St., Needham, MA 2494, .
Arthur & Pat's, in the words of one sage local, "doesn't cater to the fancy-pants crowd." And indeed, the restaurant's worn exterior, wooden signs, and random rock soundtrack are unabashedly down-home. But if those details create a misperception of slapdash management, it's immediately cleared up by the glorious grub. We're talking fluffy pancakes with piles of berries; eggs Benedict with real crab; crispy, greaseless fried clams; bottomless cups of strong, hot coffee. After your meal, you may feel tempted to undo your belt—and given the easygoing air, it'd almost be acceptable to do so. 239 Ocean St., Marshfield, MA 2050, .
With heavy hitters like Lenovo, Apple, and Sony to call upon, the sole Bay State outpost of Ohio-based Micro Center stocks the best personal computers on the market, along with a bevy of cameras, scanners, monitors, and other peripherals. But what really gets local tech-heads powered up is the vast BYOPC (Build Your Own PC) section, replete with all the components needed to pimp that desktop—or build one from scratch. Free in-store clinics on such topics as VoIP and network security further cater to IT acolytes who aspire to true geekdom. 730 Memorial Dr., Cambridge, MA 2139, microcenter.com.
The increasingly popular sit-down service is good, too (especially for Saturday and Sunday brunch), but it's the takeout that sets this Newton Highlands institution apart. The friendly staff will wrap up anything to go, from a cup of coffee to a multicourse gourmet dinner for as many guests as you can gather. Big orders like those require one day's notice, but Baker's Best makes it easy with a quiet catering office and a convenient check-off menu. There are also freezers full of ready-to-cook meal components in the main store, from hors d'oeuvres to entrées. And that food—it really is the best. 27 Lincoln St., Newton Highlands, MA bakersbestcatering.com/.
Gazillion-thread-count sheets aside, a hotel is really only as good as its bar. And chichi steakhouse KO Prime has admirably elevated the one at downtown's Nine Zero Hotel over the past year. Adjacent to the restaurant's sweeping dining room, the loungelike space caters to an in-town audience as well as trysters and overnight guests with a smart by-the-glass wine list and wowza cocktails such as the green tea-calamansi gimlet (chilled with liquid nitrogen!). For travelers with work to attend to, the combination of wireless Internet and tush-pleasing seating banishes the memory of sterile hotel business centers. 90 Tremont St., Boston, MA 2108, .
Warning: This is not the type of corner café you can turn into a makeshift office. Instead, the dual-use space, shared with Downtown Crossing’s Graffito SP, caters to serious coffee fiends. Presiding over the Modbar espresso machine are former Coffee Trike barista San Bellino and his team, who dole out the best cortados around using nuanced beans from partner Patrick Barter’s central Massachusetts roastery. That attention to detail also extends to the eats, with cheddar-chive-bacon biscuits and molasses scones prepared daily by Townsman pastry wiz Meghan Thompson. 108 Lincoln St., Boston, MA 02111, gracenotecoffee.com.
Catering to the "thoughtful pet owner" this colorful store functions more like a community hub for animals and their devoted humans than a place to buy supplies. It wouldn’t be unusual to pop in for treats, toys, or food—all of which skew heavily natural—or to wash a dirty pup in the self-serve tubs, and end up chatting with fellow customers about a nontoxic cure for hot spots, a topic that only other pet owners will gladly discuss. 4404 Washington St., Roslindale, MA 02131, thepetcabaret.com.
The essentials for a good night’s sleep don’t change with the trends. Since 1987, this Beacon Hill store has been catering to our restful needs with high-thread-count bedding from established brands like Yves Delorme and Sferra, plush robes from Laurence Tavernier, and silk pajamas from PJ Harlow. And to make your waking hours a little dreamier, it also stocks a selection of scented soaps and soft Egyptian-cotton towels. 52 Charles St., Boston, MA 02114, linensonthehill.com.
On the strength of its individual exhibits alone—notably the vast Goya retrospective and Shinique Smith's exuberant showcase—the Museum of Fine Arts is a formidable contender for best museum. But when you consider the institution's past year as a whole, it's a hands-down winner. Diverse offerings revealed a commitment to pushing boundaries. Performance art was regularly integrated into the museum's hallowed gallery spaces; it maintained a consistently edgy and eclectic film program; and then, as a capper, it launched its first-ever mobile app as artwork. 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115, mfa.org.
In a town with no shortage of gussied-up patties, we keep returning to the workday-only Wheelhouse burger. The griddle sizzles coffee-crusted breakfast burgers and other beef patties loaded with lunch fixings like jalapeño-beer cheese and bourbon-glazed onions. Wax-paper sleeves barely contain such marvelous hot messes, gobbled at window stools or back in the cubicle. 63 Broad St., Boston, MA wheelhouseboston.com.
The brunch at this record shop/tapas bar caters to savory seekers—and hangover chasers. Here the "put an egg on it" philosophy reigns supreme, evidenced by dinner-menu staples like the lamb bocadillo, which gets the morning-after huevos treatment come brunch. While you're waiting for your table (there will be a wait), browse the back bookshop for fiction, art books, vinyl, and a broad collection of food magazines that will surely whet your appetite. 470 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130, tresgatosjp.com.
When it comes to bar pizza on the South Shore, there are important standards to meet. Are the to-go pies placed between two cardboard plates and slid into a brown paper bag? Is the crust hand-pinched in the pan to give it the perfect crunch? Is the joint cash only? And, most important: Do the locals love it? Lynwood checks all the boxes. For bar pizza the way it’s meant to be experienced, commit to the house special, which comes loaded with baked beans (trust us), onions, and salami. 320 Center St., Randolph, MA 2368, lynwoodcafe.com.
The sister property to the iconic White Elephant harborfront hotel, this luxe resort caters to guests’ every whim: Need a ride to dinner? A loaner bike to explore the island? Scoops of ice cream to keep the kids entertained at the pool? Done, done, and done. The circa-2012 inn offers plush rooms and suites, but for a picture-perfectand stress-freefamily getaway, you’ll want to reserve one of the spacious " premier residences," which offer one-, two-, and three-bedroom configurations. 19 N. Water St., Nantucket, MA 2584, whiteelephantvillage.com.
Yes, there's loads of ice on hand here, in the form of Patek Philippe timepieces and Henry Dunay necklaces, but the warm and patient service at Dorfman will thaw any notion that buying big-time bling is a daunting endeavor. In business for seven decades and counting, the family-owned jeweler caters to both Beacon Hill bluebloods and a younger, funkier clientele with diamonds and pearls aplenty, vintage-inspired house lines, and New England's only Van Cleef & Arpels salon. 24 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, .