The H-word may be ill defined—something about young, vaguely cool people having fun in a place where you're not. Unless you happen to be at Trina's. Equal parts dive bar, cocktail lounge, diner, and comfort-food joint, it has the type of lived-in authenticity the you-know-whats can't resist. 3 Beacon St., Somerville, MA 02143, trinastarlitelounge.com.
Perhaps because it aligns with our modern taste for all things fermented, preserved, and pickled, Jewish cuisine is undergoing a much-needed renaissance in these parts. Playing a big role in its revival is this recurring pop-up from proprietor Jeff Gabel, who's managed to talk culinary luminaries like Bread & Salt Hospitality's Joshua Lewin into getting creative with everything from brisket-topped latkes to hamantaschen. kitchenkibitz.com.
Even the pets are well dressed: On our last trip to this Southie consignment boutique, we spotted the Chihuahua mascot, Olive, rocking a fierce faux-fur vest. Humans will fare even better. What this tiny store lacks in square footage, it makes up for in seriously stylish duds at steep discounts, from vintage Yves Saint Laurent frocks to nearly new Jimmy Choos. Act fast when you see something you like on Covet’s Instagram account, lest another eagle-eyed buyer snap it up. 395 W. Broadway, Boston, MA 02127, covetboston.com.
The chance to sing for hours in a disco-ball-outfitted private den with loud, sweaty friends armed with tambourines is reason alone to love DoReMi, but did you know this bastion of Asian-style karaoke offers off-key nightlife in 13 languages? In the rec-plush lobbyinexplicably furnished with an exercise bikeyou’ll inevitably bump into the purest international cross-section of Allston. Way preferable to battling a bachelorette party, dumped out of an SUV limo, at one of those downtown singalong joints. Note to budding Demi Lovatos: Croon here soon before the space gets razed by redevelopers, who have been sniffing around. 442 Cambridge St., Allston, MA 2134, doremikaraoke.net.
Dainty eaters, beware. Only those with a hankering for a little grease and gobs of pork-addled flavor are able to handle the made-to-order plates at Cambridge's stick-to-your-ribs haven. Sure, the chicken's great, but there's also smoked turkey with collard greens, and bread crumb–encrusted mac and cheese, and silky sweet potatoes, and… (the only thing harder than settling on an order here, you'll find, is nabbing one of the few seats). Coast Café may not have much competition in these parts—KFC? Popeyes?—but it could surely hold its own in Dixie. 233 River Street, Cambridge, MA 2139, coastsoulcafe.com.
Sticking it to the corporate chains is most satisfying when you can do so without, you know, sacrificing anything. Seventy-five years after Boston native Mark Kramer opened a bookstore in Harvard Square, the supersize word-maven haven is still family-owned (by Kramer's son, Frank) and still doing everything right, with a public library's worth of used tomes, and new releases to rival Barnes and Borders. In a particularly Cantabrigian touch, the shop vows to go to court before disclosing your purchases to the government or anyone else, should they for some reason ask. Take that, Patriot Act! 1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA harvard.com.
In our fantasies, we while away our days in a Parisian café, composing flowery prose over café au lait. In reality, we've got desk jobs and are lactose intolerant. So we shop at Looc, and make believe. With an inventory that epitomizes accessible Gallic chica spare palette of black, gray, cream, and beige from French and French-informed lines like Simone, Nili Lotan, and Thread SocialLooc helps us look the part of the ingnue, in styles that still manage to fit our made-in-America behinds. 12 Union Park, Boston, MA 2118, .
There's more to upscale salesmanship than strategically doled-out snootiness. In her 30 years at the ring-for-entry Alan Bilzerian boutique, Bilzerian-Kelly (Alan's sister) has developed a knack for divining what customers want and, better yet, what they need. She'll know, for instance, to break the news gently but firmly that, alas, that fabulous Alexander McQueen corset is not a good look for your untoned upper arms—but that you might give this Rick Owens tunic a try. Her unfailing candor doesn't crowd out her dry sense of humor, though, which can turn a quick shopping stop into a memorable event. 34 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, .
Had there been a Fabric Place down the road from the von Trapp family, Maria could not only have outfitted those seven kids in patterns and colors more exciting than the bedroom drapes, but she could've consulted with an at-home decorator to replace the drapes themselves. Armed with "New England's largest selection of in-stock drapery and upholstery fabrics," as state in the brochure, the experienced, trained staff takes the fear out of decorating. There's a reason why Fabric Place has won kudos from us in years past: Its selection is unparalleled. Route 139, Randolph, MA .
Equal parts stern taskmaster, supportive coach, exercise physiologist, and physical therapist, Michael Wood is everything a person could want in a personal trainer. His workouts will leave you stiff, but his personality won't leave you bored. Having trained everyone from Lindsay Course and Steven Tyler to David Mamet and Prince Mohammed of Saudi Ariabia, Wood is a master at creating exercise regiments for every body type. He also offers sports-specific training to build strength, speed, and agility for more athletic types. 3 Bow Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge, MA sportsperformancegroup.com.
Gushing is not usually our style, but in the case of William George's smart Newbury Street salon, we can't help but go on. Men and women alike will feel comfortable here, because each stylist establishes trust before attempting any 'do. The unintimidating decor is part of the appeal: blond wood floors, exposed brick walls, and brushed steel furniture provide a pleasing backdrop. Plus, the price range for various services, $16-$175 (haircuts $30-$60), is reasonable, which means that you can and should come often for some low-key pampering. 168 Newbury Street, Boston, MA jamesjosephsalon.com/.
In the comely Henry James room, a fresh orchid echoes earth tones and the arc of a tree depicted in the Hudson River School painting behind it. Such details are characteristic of the Charles Street Inn, built as a Victorian townhouse in 1860 and revived four years ago as a beautiful inn by proprietors Sally Deane and Louise Venden. Today's rooms call up prominent Bostonians—Emerson, Gardner, Holmes. The Henry James Room, for example, offers lovingly restored classic antiques along with a thoughtfully stocked mini-fridge. The personable staff operates on the rare and precious middle ground between friendliness and respect for guests' privacy. 94 Charles St., Boston, MA .
Frankly, we received plenty of fine haircuts at other upscale salons, but no one listened better than Justine Piecuch at Jeffrey Lyle. This stylist takes a hyper-personalized approach, starting with lots of questions about your lifestyle and daily beauty regimen. A low-maintenance lady, in particular, will emerge from the chair with a pretty wash-and-go 'do. Piecuch is also a great interventionist for those who've suffered bad cuts. She never advocates a Joan of Arc-style bulldoze; rather, she counsels you through the process of slowly growing it out. 135 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, jeffreylylesalon.com.
"Quaint," "romantic," and "personal" describe many a bistro around here. But underrated Salts takes those attributes to a new level, due partly to its inn-in-the-French-countryside polish, but owing mostly to chef Gabriel Bremer's exquisite seasonal plates—roasted halibut with heirloom-potato gnocchi and dill emulsion; bergamot-cured ocean trout with breakfast radishes and pea greens—all teeming with ingredients from Salts' own organic farm. Order the duck for two, and a hush falls over the dining room as it's presented whole at your table. 798 Main St., Cambridge, MA 2139, saltsrestaurant.com.
He's pushed diners' expectations at kitchens across the city, from Tremont 647 and Clio to Pigalle and Toro. Then, at Coppa, Bissonnette got us all comfy—nay, obsessed—with eating as many pigs, and as many parts of them, as possible. There's just something instinctive about the way he cooks from the gut and with the intelligent fire of a food brainiac. His inspired pairings (sea urchin panino with green tomato) are outshone only by his hands-on approach to making sure every last dish that leaves Coppa's kitchen is as beautiful as it is delicious. 253 Shawmut Ave., Boston, MA 2118, .