Galina Rabkin can't stand a smudged lens any more than she can abide a crooked frame. The petite Russian-born optometrist is a perfectionist through and through, and she's arranged her spare Brookline Village boutique accordingly: Polished specs by Chanel, Prada, Face à Face, and the cleverly kooky XIT decorate the backlit walls and fill the neat wood-and-glass cases. Behind the scenes, her spotless exam room and state-of-the-art vision equipment are organized and unintimidating. And should Vizio not have your preferred pair, Rabkin will go to great lengths to order or import them. 11 Harvard St., Brookline, MA 2445, viziooptic.com.
Proprietor Jeff Diamond is an unabashed Francophile who even acquired his sheep dog, Aramis, in the Pyrenees. Although a few provincial antiques find their way into the five or six jumbo containers he ships each year from France, most pieces look as if Diamond had plucked them from a Paris drawing room. The Charles Street store emphasizes art deco classics, popular these days on Beacon Hill. The Brookline branch has both deco and more formal items with marquetry and intricate decoration—and a huge assortment of antique beds, most of them cleverly altered to king or queen size. 200 Washington St., Brookline, MA aroomwithavieux.com/.
Considered influential by everyone from Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill to Richard Gere, and known as nothing less than the birthplace of American drama, Provincetown has given its heady thespian spirit a high-voltage jolt with this new, year-round playhouse. The classic black box setup has flexible seating, state-of-the-art lighting, and a killer sound system so it can accommodate its two resident companies (the Provincetown Repertory Theatre and Provincetown Theatre Company) as easily as its high-profile productions by writers such as Eve Ensler, Douglas Carter Beane, and Terrence McNally. 238 Bradford St., Provincetown, MA provincetowntheater.org/.
There are some places where you feel cooler just by walking in. Such is the case with this funky pool hall, which sets the right mood with red-felt tables, an alternative-music soundtrack and Roy Lichtenstein-esque mural on one wall. The crowd seems to consist of Cambridge's hipper denizens who have taken time off from the art studio or recording hall to rack a few. It's a fresh change from the meat-market pool halls downtown. The only downside: Pool tables here are a bit close for comfort—though depending on who's at the next table, that's not necessarily a bad thing. One Kendall Square, Building 200, Cambridge, MA flattopjohnnys.com/.
You get a CSA box from your local farm and you’re on a first-name basis with your butcher, but what about the plates and bowls you set the table with every day? A worthy addition to any Boston cabinet, potter Jeremy Ogusky’s durable, unpretentious pieces can be purchased on Etsy; biannual open-studio days at his J.P. workspace, meanwhile, welcome all to come learn the art of pottery. claycrocks.com.
Sinesia Karol’s playful yet sophisticated bikinis, one-pieces (pictured), and cover-ups were born out of her desire to help buttoned-up New Englanders feel as comfortable and confident in swimwear as the women she knew growing up in her native Brazil. Her eponymous brand’s signature style? Artful prints and unexpected cutouts guaranteed to have you strutting in the sand like it’s your personal runway. sinesiakarol.com.
Erica Feldmann’s spellbinding boutique blends the metaphysical (spell kits and tarot decks) with the sort of good taste even the devoutly unspiritual can appreciate (art by indie makers, naturally dyed meditation pillows). The shopkeeper draws on her background in design and feminist theory to help people spark some interior magic while encouraging self-care through reiki and tarot readings at the shop’s nearby “healing space”—this is Salem, after all. hauswitchstore.com/.
If the house-made charcuterie at Moody's deli is art, its adjoining restaurant, the Backroom, is the gallery in which chef-owner Joshua Smith's smoky, fatty, umami-rich masterpieces get their finest showcase. Spicy 'nduja is blended into a ragu for strands of bucatini here; Iberico pork belly dots a clam flatbread there. In fact, the entire menu, from the slow-smoked chicken with crisp spaetzle to the melt-in-your-mouth Wagyu brisket, is a master class in meat—and the perfect syrah or sangiovese to pair with it. 468 Moody St., Waltham, MA 2453, moodyswaltham.com.
Boston is touted as a top arts town, and it lives up to that ideal when its institutions are constantly refreshing their canons. Well, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project has been doing just that since 1996: Its adventurous approach to contemporary classical music includes works by locals such as John Harbison and world premieres by international artists such as this year’s season finale of contemporary Chinese composers. MA bmop.org.
Is it uncool to call this store cool? Regardless, it’s hard not to get excited once you open the door camouflaged as a vending machine and step inside the sleek, well-lit space, where the latest and greatest styles from Nike, Adidas, and Puma are lined up like artifacts in a museum. And just to ensure Bodega continues its reign of cool, the brand opened Series, a constantly evolving micro art space just a couple of doors down that offers buzzy limited releases and serves as a mecca for local sneakerheads. 6 Clearway St., Boston, MA 02115, shop.bdgastore.com.
Grape-juice stewardship is an art, not a science. But it’s empirically proven that a well-informed beverage team increases your odds of success. Sommelier Robert Taylor manages arguably the city’s loveliest Italian lineup—showcasing gorgeous bottles in the two-digit range and exhilarating nebbiolo depth—and GM Megan McKinnon is a seasoned vino vet herself. A deep bench helps: On a recent visit, a clued-in server whisked us away on an impromptu Friulano mini tour. Charles Hotel, One Bennett St., Cambridge, MA 02138, benedettocambridge.com.
Jill Rosenwald's groovy patterned pottery and accessories are pure bold technicolor, and so is her personality: Chatty and effusive, Rosenwald considers her clients and colleagues old friends. When you call her studio, it's actually her on the other end, always game to kibitz about your latest design needs. She's a big supporter of our arts scene, too, as a cofounder of the Design Salon, a networking organization for creative women to swap ideas and advice. 369 Congress St., Boston, MA 02210, jillrosenwald.com.
Walk into this shop on a Saturday and you’re likely to run into dining-scene bigwigs like Shepard co-owner René Becker probing for tips on aging steaks or working with off cuts. That’s because owner Michael Dulock and his staff are experts in the art of butchery, specializing in pasture-raised animals reared on farms less than 250 miles away. 201A Highland Ave., Somerville, MA 02143, mfdulock.com.
In seven years, founder and director (and former Boston Ballet teacher) Betsi Graves has grown Urbanity Dance into a thrilling, whimsical, acrobatic beast. Last year, the company collaborated twice with local chamber orchestra A Far Cry, leaping and weaving with the violinists in Jordan Hall. At the Institute of Contemporary Art in February, they performed "Bend," an orgy of strobe lights and corporeal geometry. Whether twisting into one another to form a human skirt or wrestling with their shadows, Urbanity's dancers fulfill their mission to "elevate physical intelligence." 1180 Washington St., Boston, MA 02118, urbanitydance.org.