Amid the vibeless businesses catering to tourists around the Common, Thinking Cup reminds us of the downtown that Bostonians deserve: grownup, urbane, and a little sexy. Outfitted with a sweeping marble counter and leather banquettes, this newcomer channels an old-school European café while crafting deeply flavorful espressos, lavish Valrhona-chocolate mochas, and mor—all using Oregon's legendary Stumptown roasts. But the apex of Thinking Cup's artisanry just might be its Pour Over: a single flawless cup, ground and brewed expressly for you. 165 Tremont St., Boston, MA 2111, thinkingcup.com.
Where to go when you're craving fantastic raw creations on a burned-out budget: Douzo, near Back Bay Station, which serves up little sushi treasures that are every bit as pristine (if a tad less transcendent) as those at the city's big-price bars. The loungey space is hopping on weekends, but don't let that distract from the kitchen's deft flavor-texture balancing act, as displayed in the torched toro maki wrapped with asparagus and paper-thin raw jalapeño. 131 Dartmouth St., Boston, MA 2116, douzosushi.com.
Gordon's is Waltham's answer to one-stop shopping for wine and spirits aficionados. The wine market has a solid foundation in Bordeaux in addition to an impressive international selection; in addition, Gordon's sells a wide range of single-malt scotches and imported tequilas. Added amenities: a gourmet catering service, a glassware department, and an e-mail newsletter listing daily specials. 892 Main Street, Waltham, MA gordonswine.com.
The Globe's assault on Herald reporter Beverly Ford, which claimed wrongly that she had made up an interview in the Reverend Accelyne Williams case. Globe reporter Tom Mashberg defended Ford, became persona non grata at his paper, and left shortly after the incident. Meanwhile, you can read Mike Barnicle regularly in the Globe.
Where else can you learn the secrets of grilling with Mark Bittman, examine fascism with Madeleine Albright, and ponder life sans social media with virtual-reality trailblazer Jaron Lanier? It’s all about variety at this perennial favorite, where the events series—presented in a range of venues, on a range of subjects—caters to bookworms of all stripes. 1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138, harvard.com.
This pretty, well-appointed South End apothecary caters to your beauty needs, but with a conscience. Owner Tara Foley selects only the healthiest and most environmentally friendly products, including locally made goods from Shamanuti, Farmaesthetics, and Amber Blue, to line her shelves (an in-store hand-and-body-soap bar for refills cuts down on plastic bottle waste, too). Foley’s even committed to your well-being on vacation: Her Nantucket outpost opened this past May. 53 Dartmouth St., Boston; and 9A S. Beach St., Nantucket, shopfollain.com.
This is Burberry's? If you are wedded to the image of Burberry's as catering to a stuff-upper-lip, sensible shoe-wearing clientele, think again. Sure, you can still buy the classic trench, but the store is moving away from its ultra-conservative roots and getting a little hipper. The men's overcoats range from traditional toppers to wool and cashmere overcoats, shearlings, and leather jackets— in short, something for everyone. 2 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
Signs of authenticity in the book world: the musty smell of old paper and bindings; the creak of the wooden floorboards; a house cat lounging on the counter as if she owns the place. Add seemingly endless warrens of well-organized books and you have the prototype for the perfect used bookstore. Room after room has been organized here into such eccentric but irresistible categories as "Polar Exploration" and "Disasters." The store also offers recent releases and first editions. (A larger collection of rare books is in the company's 705 Centre Street branch in Jamaica Plain.) 908 Beacon St., Boston, MA .
Candy jars stuffed with dried chicken livers and beef esophagi and a sweeping buffet of artisanal dog cakes and brownies (bearing names like Pawreos and Power Barks, inevitably) make this place puppy heaven. Two floors of accessories include a wall of collars and enough rubber to sate any dog's shoe fetish; a kitty corner caters to the smarter species, lest any felines feel left out. 256 Shawmut Ave., Boston, MA 2118, polkadog.com.
For all its beauty and history, the Back Bay struggles to maintain a true neighborhood feel. Its commercial district caters to tourists and students; on weekends, Newbury Street seems a bit too much like an outdoor mall. Amid the clamor of shoppers and too-noisy, expensive sidewalk cafés, the Trident is a low-key, affordable oasis. Here, diners can tuck into the signature stuffed French toast (served all day) or savory items like homemade squash ravioli and a mom-approved meatloaf, and enjoy it in relative peace. 338 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2115, tridentbookscafe.com.
Carb addicts, allow us to introduce you to your downfall: Monk's Frites at the Publick House. A mere $6 gets you a shareable portion of hand-cut fries worth their weight in Yukon gold. These not-too-crispy, not-too-soft pommes are lightly dusted with sea salt, wrapped in a traditional Belgian paper cone, and finally served up with a choice of two homemade dipping sauces (we can't get enough of the fresh herb mayo and the truffle ketchup). 1648 Beacon St., Brookline, MA 2445, .
Giblees may not look like much from vantage of Route 114, but behind its inconspicuous storefront is an international array of the finest men's suits and casualwear this side of I-95. Lucky, Paper Denim & Cloth, Hugo Boss, and Coogi are just a few of the big-city brands you'll find at this surprisingly swank suburban haberdashery, whose cordial staff has 50 years of experience making the men of the North Shore look their best. 85 Andover St. (Rte. 114), Danvers, MA giblees.com/.
Regulars know to get to Martin's before noon, as this bustling brunch spot, with its no-frills menu and attitude-free staff, always fills up fast. Guests doodle with crayons on paper place mats—the best are hung on the bulletin boards—as they wait for custom omelets with homemade hash browns or French toast topped with fresh fruit. And just so lazy latecomers don't miss out, the restaurant serves brunch until 3 p.m. 49 Railroad St., Great Barrington, MA martinsgreatbarrington.com/.
You can get decent takeout dinners anywhere. But gourmet low-fat? This shop specializes in event catering, but you can order individual meals as well: apricot-glazed chicken over brown rice, spinach and chicken manicotti, pork loin with caramelized apples. Oh, and low-fat fudge brownies with two—count 'em, two—grams of fat. Get a dinner for two at $10.49 each, or a family-sized portion (serves 4 to 6) for $39.99. 35 Washington St., Norwell, MA .
Tim O'Donnell believes in exiting with style. He considers a wake de rigeur, and, on the day of the funeral, is resplendent in top hat and cape. The only thing missing is the Mormon Taberenacle Choir singing "Dies Irae, Dies Illae." 276 Pawtucket St., Lowell, MA .