You see the customers patiently waiting outside this off-the-beaten-path Brookline bakery on rainy weekend mornings, and you think, Surely the baguettes can't bethatgood. They are, actually, but here's betting it's the chock-full-of-fruit flaky tarts, addictive sticky buns, decadent brownies, and no-messing-around chocolate brioche that regulars consider worth getting soaked for. 178 Thorndike St., Brookline, MA clearflourbread.com/.
The super-thin crust that flies out of Emma's kitchen is addictive in its own right. Add to that such innovative combinations as Canadian bacon, caramelized onions, and rosemary sauce, or a scallion, garlic, and gorgonzola mix. The restaurants may have just changed hands, but nearly everything else about it has stayed the same—right down to the à la carte toppings (three kinds of tomatoes, sweet and gold potatoes, capers, even dried cranberries). Friendly service (the waiters offer detailed reheating instructions) rounds out the experience. 40 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA emmaspizza.com.
Harvard Law students flirt with hipster artists at the bar. Undergrads flirt with their first taste of grilled octopus in the dining room. Software publicists pitch clients in the bistro's corner, between gulps from the smartly chosen wine list. And the best part is that everyone is genuinely, utterly relaxed. Does Harvard Square get any more real than this? One Shepard St., Cambridge, MA 2138, chezhenri.com.
A lounge used to be a place where you could mingle with strangers and tie one on at any time of day. Now it's usually just home to overdressed scenesters and overpriced drinks. But Lucky's is a throwback to the glory days. A speakeasy-style bar with dim lighting, vintage leather booths, and walls covered in Rat Pack photos, it's an ode to the three-martini lunch era. 355 Congress St., South Boston, MA 2210, luckyslounge.com.
Sure, we’d all love to have the Hope Diamond in our jewelry box, but it’s those pieces we wear every day that become part of who we are — and nobody understands that better than M. Flynn founders and sisters Moria and Megan Flynn. Their impeccable taste, refined over more than a decade in business, is what keeps their loyal fan base coming back for bold, statement earrings, colorful bracelets, and everything in between. 40 Waltham St, Boston, MA 02118, mflynnjewelry.com.
In a year when sending love meant more than ever, Sofi Madison’s “Local Maker Gift Box” provided a much-needed dose of TLC, in the form of delectable shortbread cookies from Lark Fine Foods, peanut butter patties from Seacoast Sweets, and a Well Told rocks glass engraved with a city map. The best part? Purchasing one for your favorite cousin or college bud is a gift to the community, too, as every small-batch, handcrafted item inside is produced right here in the Bay State. 623 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02118, olivesandgrace.com.
We’ve all experienced it: the unmistakable squeak from inside a wall, those dreaded droppings on the kitchen counter, or — worse — a face-to-face encounter with an eight-legged or winged intruder. When bats, rats, spiders, termites, or other pests worm their way into your humble abode, call this fearless team pronto. Not only will they safely trap and remove the uninvited guests, they’ll also repair minor damage, decontaminate the site, and seal up potential reentry points to ensure your home remains trespasser-free. ultrasafepest.com.
This national-caliber Somali kitchen makes and bottles its own luxuriously supple-textured mango-habanero hot sauce, which adds just the right zhoosh of incendiary complexity to coconut-milk grits with slow-cooked chickpeas; unctuous braised goat (hilib ari) bursting with turmeric and cardamom; and, honestly, any leftover taking up space in your fridge right now. 389 Maverick St., East Boston, MA 02128, tawakalfoods.co.
Bonner is like the fashionable friend you wish you could bring along on every shopping spree: patient; quick with a joke to enliven fitting-room tedium; and known to go great lengths to find the perfect pair of jeans. The best part? Getting whisked away to her cozy office to try on your haul in blissful privacy. Copley Place, Boston, MA barneys.com.
A GA ticket to House of Blues means A) you’re seeing one of your favorite acts, and B) you’re about to move. We love House of Blues for the energy on the floor, whether you’re dropping it low with Lizzo, moshing with August Burns Red, or crying as you hold an iPhone in flashlight mode aloft with Jenny Lewis. Hey, however the music moves you is cool with us. 15 Lansdowne St., Boston, MA houseofblues.com/boston.
No venue in town outdoes the 'Dise, where stellar acoustics and a wide-open layout ensure that music lovers get both an earful and an eyeful from just about anywhere on the floor. National indie acts like Tapes 'n Tapes and the Kooks frequently pop up on the bill, alongside buzzy local bands such as Bon Savants and Aberdeen City. The fact that bona fide legends (Blondie, Tom Petty, the Pixies) have performed here certainly doesn't hurt the vintage-cool, never pretentious, vibe. 967 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA thedise.com.
A 20,000-square-foot space that stocks everything plus the kitchen sink: Sub-Zero fridges and Thermador stovetops, Maytag dish-washers, GE microwaves, and more. But the best part is that it's not just a showroom full of floor models; thanks to the seminars run by resident chef Kurt von Kahle and demos by area culinary pros, you can also see people cook using many of said appliances. Check out the scratch-and-dent selection for some killer steals. 296 Freeport St., Dorchester, MA 2122, yaleappliance.com.
What impressed us most about this place was that the friendly sales assistant had personally tried on 50 of the skates on display. Even better, she seemed genuinely interested in helping us find the right pair. The stock here also includes a smorgasbord of gear, such as helmets, pads, and socks. The staff arms you with tips on finding a qualified instructor and Boston's places to skate, so you'll leave feeling ready to roll. 349A Newbury St., Boston, MA blades.com/.
Wanna buy a car? Whether you are looking for something new or used, to lease or purchase, Robert Aron will guide you through the car-buying maze. Aron's three-part service will help you decide what you really want, allow you to test drive your choices without having to endure the hard-sell of fast-talking car dealers, and then help you buy at a cost close to dealer's invoice.
The thrill is definitely back. Don't even bother with the suburban locations (you'll do just as well at Marshall's or TJ Maxx), but the Boston store has gotten its groove back. Other than for the big sales (bridal gowns, men's and ladies' suits, Ferragamo shoes, and whatever upscale New York City emporium is dumping its past-season stuff), the most successful bargain shoppers drizzle in frequently, armed with no specific purchasing agenda, an absence of modesty, and a big-city sense of style. Downtown Crossing, 426 Washington St., Boston, MA .