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, .
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, .
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/.
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.
Technically, the Beach Plum Inn’s harborfront restaurant has been in business since the 1980s. But we’d argue that all the changes made here in 2013from the installation of chef Chris Fischer (who sources ingredients from his nearby Beetlebung Farm) to the revamped, dressed-down-but-still-smart interior (with butcher-paper place mats and crayons for grownup doodles)have rendered the Beach Plum an entirely new culinary animal, indeed. In sum? It’s a stylish spot that marries the Vineyard’s bounty with a decidedly cool aesthetic. 50 Beach Plum Ln., Menemsha, MA 2552, beachplumrestaurant.com.
Husband-and-wife team Ryan and Kimberly Habbyshaw take the term “locally made” seriously: Watch as the paper enthusiasts bring their witty, colorful greeting cards to life on a 1911 printing press at the center of their Pinterest-worthy Union Square shop. Of course, if you just need to pop in for a few delightfully analog everyday accoutrements—Autopoint pencils, Appointed notebooks—they stock those, too. 21 Union Sq., Somerville, MA loyalsupplyco.com.
While these days any clothing boutique worth its counter-side Hanky Panky display boasts a 'denim wall,' none can touch the selection at the downtown Barneys. The racks and tables and shelves of jeans include the blue-chip (True Religion, Paper Denim & Cloth), the hard-to-find (Acne, Edun), and the affordable (J Brand, Cheap Monday). Bargain hunters salivate over the store's semi-annual sale, which recently saw a pair of $300 Ksubis go for less than $60. 100 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 2116, barneys.com.
A caged kennel for Fifi? Quelle horreur! Now there's a doggie bed and breakfast where she can lounge like she's in her own living room. Common Dog, which opened last year, boards dogs overnight in a home-style setting, right down to sleeping on worn sofas and romping in a gravel backyard with wading pools. It also doubles as doggie day-care service, picking up canine campers in a small white bus so they can play while their owners are out earning their kibble. 22 Park Terrace, Everett, MA .
You know what they say about cleanliness and godliness. Which must be why visits from Crystal Clean always leave your home so divine. A four-person team buffs and shines down to the hard-to-reach spots and tops it all off with finishing touches—dusted reading glasses, triangle-folded toilet paper—that other services often skip. Boston, MA 2116, crystalcleanboston.com.
Miss your adolescence? The Formica booths at Little Stevie's aren't just seats, they're time machines that sweep you right back to braces, babysitting money, and after-school specials. And the pizza's right there with you: pillowy, bubbly, and doughy edges with a paper-thin and oven-charred crust, sweet and tangy tomato sauce, and a hot, dense layer of mozzarella. Say what you will about teen angst; pie this good makes it all seem worthwhile. 1114 Boylston St., Boston, MA littlestevespizzeria.com/.
You won't find modern, four-star Greek cuisine at this hole in the wall. But in an oddly delightful way, it reminds us of every humble neighborhood taverna we've savored in Greece, from the blue-and-white paper place mats to the scattered but amiable service. The tzatziki is a house specialty, the moussaka hearty and delicious, the ;horiatiki a true Greek salad—all plates so tasty, we'd be loath to smash a single one. 202 3rd St, Cambridge, MA 2141, desfina.com.
The Martin's formula—cozy atmosphere plus simple, delicious food—lures regulars out of bed to feast on crisp veggie omelets, buttery-rich French toast, and grilled muffin specials (the oatmeal cinnamon is stellar). Paper mats and crayons top the wooden tables, and the waitstaff often plucks up the best drawings and tacks them to the diner's bulletin boards. Despite repeated attempts, we've never made the wall, but we'll happily continue to get full trying. 49 Railroad St., Great Barrington, MA 2351, .
Some suburban day spas, catering as they often do to busy moms, have entirely missed the point of an escape: A noisy cut and blow-dry during a massage is not relaxing. But the Lexington outpost of Bella Santé gets the pampering thing down perfectly with imported teas, soothing music, and peaceful treatment rooms. And, of course, one-at-a-time services that are stress free. 76 Bedford St., Lexington, MA bellasante.com/.