Neil Kiley’s friendly spot is a true local hangout, with regulars bellying up to the long bar or sitting in the narrow dining area night after night, feasting on comfort food. Go for the rich lobster mac ’n’ cheese, towering haystacks of onion strings, and zingy fried pickles, best enjoyed with a craft beer. It’s a throwback to the old days in a rapidly redeveloping neighborhood. 24 Chestnut St., Quincy, MA 02169, fatcatrestaurant.com.
Let's see. The football team beats Notre Dame. the basketball team beats North Carolina. The stadium is expanding. Across the South Shore old bald guys spend the year joyously spilling manhattans all over the little whales on their trousers. Therefore, the athletic director must be fired for failing to salute every Globe newsbox he passes.
This elegant walkup is no dingy, dime-a-dozen tailor shop. It's a richly carpeted, sprawling space overlooking Newbury Street through extra-wide windows, with changing booths the size of hotel rooms. And the service? Impeccable and personal, without fail. Owner Lyudmila Sletkova treats her customers like family and sees to it that their clothes—from cut-rate to couture—are cut and sewn flawlessly. Little wonder that many of the street's savviest shops send their customers here. 268 Newbury St., Boston, MA bestfitinc.com/.
Just reading the beer menu at the Sunset is enough to make your head spin. At last count there were 100 brews on tap here, as well as 300-plus bottled beers. The selection ranges from the prosaic (Pilsner Urquell) to the obscure (Stone's Arrogant Bastard Ale) to the unpronounceable (the Gueuze 100% Lambic is said to be the champagne of beers). For connoisseurs, there's usually a cask-conditioned ale, like the popular Middle Ages' Wailing Wench; for the less discerning, there are the always-reliable Bud Light longnecks. 130 Brighton Ave., Allston, MA 2134, allstonsfinest.com.
The trash bin at the Shawmut-Milford intersection brims with the other kind of doggie bag, the calling cards of tail-wagging patrons who find plenty of reasons to stop here: two floors of homemade treats (tuna cookies for crunching, pig ears for gnawing), fancy leashes, and bright, squeaky toys just waiting to be slobbered over. The variety satisfies even two-legged shoppers—which, let's be honest, are the only critical ones on the premises. 258 Shawmut Avenue, Boston, MA 2118, polkadog.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.
<p>The life span of most nightclubs is short, largely because crowd loyalties tend to change about as often as the Republican candidate for governor. Fortunately, however, that fact has always kept the city's impresarios on their toes. Local club owners know that to make it, they've got to make it happen. With clean sight lines and state-of-the-art acoustics. Or an interior that's as sleek as it is comfortable. Or a consistently solid lineup. Or the right kind of crowd.</p> <p>Club managers Sam Marcus, Robert Gregory, and Chloe Sachs have put together all those elements—under the same roof, no less—at Nightstage, an upscale Cambridge music room that opened a day after Hurricane Gloria, and with all the storm's gusto, last September.</p> <p>Six years ago, Sachs, a devoted fan of the Ann Arbor Blues Festival, sensed a blues revival coming and gambled on it. "Our basic love was the blues," says Sachs. "But we were tired of seeing the acts we wanted to see in such grody conditions."</p> <p>According to Sachs, the concept behind Nightstage, located at 823 Main Street, was "to create a comfortable and sophisticated space in which to hear the music we wanted to hear and to attract the kind of crowd we wanted to attract—namely, people in their middle twenties and older." Six years later the reality is exactly that.</p> <p>Although Nightstage—a two-level room coated in muted lavender, taupe, and gray with recessed lighting, wall-to-wall carpeting, and a mahogany bar—is arguably the best-dressed club in the area, its real success has hinged on the breadth of its nightly (except Monday) performance schedule.</p> <p>Since opening, Nightstage has attracted top names in blues (Memphis Slim, Sippie Wallace, Albert King), jazz (Sun Ra, Carla Bley), folk (Leo Kottke), Latin (Tito Puente), pop (Girls' Night Out), and bluegrass (Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys), plus local talents like the Screaming Coyotes.</p> <p>Says Sachs: "The best part of it all has been the diversity of the crowds and the music we've been able to pull in. We feel that culturally we have really given something to the city, and that's been incredibly gratifying."</p>
The trash bin at the Shawmut-Milford intersection brims with the other kind of doggie bag, the calling cards of tail-wagging patrons who find plenty of reasons to stop here: two floors of homemade treats (tuna cookies for crunching, pig ears for gnawing), fancy leashes, and bright, squeaky toys just waiting to be slobbered over. The variety satisfies even two-legged shoppers—which, let's be honest, are the only critical ones on the premises. 256 Shawmut Ave., Boston, MA 2118, polkadog.com.
Mention 'Allston/Brighton,' and the average Bostonian's nose hoists a few degrees skyward, as if avoiding the odor of a thousand musty futons. That's fine by locals, whose dual neighborhood's rep as a student slum keeps interlopers at bay; thus, the crowds remain fairly tolerable at this rare grownup watering hole, where the cocktails hail from yesteryear, the food from down south, and the tap list from a beer geek's fever dream. 477 Cambridge St., Allston, MA 2135, .
Order it hot with butter, or cold with mayo. Either way, sizable chunks of lobster will overflow the warm brioche roll, leaving you to dig in with a fork before attempting to pick up any stragglers with your hands. Do not be distracted by the delicious, massive pile of accompanying fries; the sweet claw and tail meat is why you came—and why you waited an hour for a seat at this tiny gem. 63 Salem St., Boston, MA 2113, neptuneoyster.com.
Inevitably, most whoopie pies fall victim to one of two disaster scenarios: The cookie is too hard (demanding a Herculean biting effort that causes most of the frosting to get squeezed out the sides) or it's too soft (resulting in a cakelike pie that fails to satisfy). Finale, thankfully, offers up just-right chocolatey bookends for the real star of the show: the heaping helping of cool, gooey cream cheese bliss. 1 Columbus Ave., Boston, MA 2116, finaledesserts.com.
Mark our words: Naples-born pastry chef Tonie Rapa is going places. And her Catalan version of a creme brulee is just one reason. It comes in a big, shallow soup plate (the usual mini gratin dish would be a frustrating tease), and you can eat a lot more because it seemingly has double the luscious, yolky vanilla flavor yet half the richness of its rivals. 70 Union Square, Somerville, MA .
It's three hours from Boston, but it also has the lasagna this side of Naples. Sal, formerly of Sal & Ciro's in Provincetown, uses homemade noodles, sausage, and hard-boiled eggs in his recipe; since he serves lasagna on Sunday nights only, until he closes for the winter at the end of September, you'll have plenty of time to budget calories in advance. 99 Commercial St., Provincetown, MA .
The long lines don't lie: Arnold's serves fried clams at their messy best alongside the fluffiest, tastiest onion rings we've ever eaten. The location doesn't hurt either: It's right on the Cape Cod Rail Trail, with picnic tables in the shade of tall pines where you can pitch your kickstand and enjoy surprisingly reasonably priced seafood on a cafeteria-style tray. As a gesture to gourmets, there's even a raw bar. But stick to the specialties: fried clams, steamers, lobster, and corn on the cob. Rte. 6, Eastham, MA arnoldsrestaurant.com/.
When the Data General vice president and cofounder dissolved his merger with his third wife, Nanette, he bailed out with the couple's $4-million Dover farm, their Boston townhouse, his Waterville Valley real estate, his millions in DG stock and assorted assets. All Nanette got was a flat $1 million, two mink coats, and numerous four-legged creatures and four-wheeled vehicles.