With a capacity of only 270, this Central Square haunt has an oversize personality that defies its small scale (and always sticky floor). The volume's appropriately loud, the drinks (served in plastic cups) are priced low, and the shows are so rollicking, you'll be a T.T.'s devotee from your first visit: Over 100 bands—a sonic cornucopia of well-regarded Hub artists and fledgling acts from across the country—take the scuffed stage each month. If you want to see the next big thing before everyone else does, this is the place. 10 Brookline St., Cambridge, MA ttthebears.com.
Dress shopping can bring out the Bridezilla in any woman; Vows is the place to go for the ones who want to spend less than a manicured arm and a high-heeled leg. The showroom is constantly stocked with hundreds of exquisite gowns from dozens of designer labels (yes, girls, that means Tyler, Wang, and Hjelm) at often less than half the original prices. The young, thoughtful, and well-informed staff gives its attentive service to one customer at a time, making the dress-shopping experience not only less expensive, but infinitely less stressful. 334 Watertown St., Newtown, MA bridepower.com/.
Have you ever been told upon showing up at work with a brand-new haircut, "Oh...you look terrific, I'm so happy for you!"? That last part belongs to the realm of getting a good job, a good husband, or a big award. A haircut by George is just such an event. And if you've reached a certain age, he knows how to shear some of those extra years, too. Best of all, George's haircuts pass the test of time. One very short haircut kept its style for more than three months as the hair grew in. Unfortunately, many people already know about George, so book ahead. Mario Russo, 9 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
New from New York, the McEvoy line offers hip, practical palettes for lips, eyes, and cheeks, and even has a zippered filofax-style case that you can fill with customized inserts (for all those important little daily appointments to powder your nose). The trained crew at Neiman's invites you to try before you buy. Educating rather than arm-twisting, patiently demonstrating special techniques like "push and wiggle" so you can line your lids like the pros—even after you get home—they do one side of your face, then it's your turn. Neiman Marcus, 5 Copley Place, Boston, MA .
For gym rats who take their sweating seriously, the Sports Club/LA is as type A as its notably toned clientele. Some 114,000 square feet of equipment, including more than 150 cardio machines, means rare is the occasion that you're forced to idle by the water fountain, waiting for Sweaty Guy to max out his half-hour limit; deluxe locker room amenities mean you can look just as good leaving the gym as you did going in. And a schedule of 120-plus classes a week, among them an average of 10 daily yoga sessions at the new MindBody studios, means there's instruction for every fitness (and coordination) level. 4 Avery St., Boston, MA 2111, thesportsclubla.com.
Suburban restaurants often thrive precisely because they're away from the city: A captive audience takes what it can get. Square Café by contrast, could compete fiercely in any Boston neighborhood. This New American eatery radiates a laid-back confidence born of a masterful affinity for different cuisines. Another compliment, and one that may come out wrong: Menu descriptions that sound like overwrought disasters ('stuffed pork chop with spinach, prosciutto, cheddar and cornbread stuffing, sweet potato-vidalia gratin, and golden raisin demiglace') turn out to be carefully calibrated balancing acts of texture and flavor. 150 North St., Hingham, MA 2043, .
“Look on the bright side” is owner Aimee Lombardi’s motto — something she made very clear over the past year with her selection of cheerful cobalt-blue cashmere crews, citron flats, and yellow track pants. Rolling with the times, the stylish shopkeeper focused on keeping shelves filled with WFH threads that could be Zoom-ready on top, and completely comfy on the bottom — think cardigans and flowy skirts from superstar European lines like Molli, Acne Studios, Ganni, and Sofie D’Hoore. The best part? Every last piece transitions seamlessly to any post-vaccine brunch and vacation plans. 119 Charles St., Boston, MA 02114, frenchitalian.com.
Ari Shemtov’s Israeli-fusion menu is full of gems such as deep-fried feta, chickpea poutine with brisket, and couscous arancini, but it pays to time your contactless pickup order to one of the chef ’s weekly specials (don’t miss the Wednesday-night barbecue package complete with ribs, chicken wings, and a whole smoked snapper). That’s not the only way Shemtov is feeding the community in these tough times: The restaurant also offers a food-share program that provides a “one-size-fits-all” box of provisions at restaurant cost. 370 S. Main St., Sharon, MA 02067, simcharestaurant.com.
There would be a lot more strangers in Boston without this multicultural networking group, which aims to remind business leaders of all backgrounds that our economy is a web, stronger when we work together. Run by public relations maven Colette Phillips, the organization has long linked a diverse range of professionals through job listings, a digital magazine, and high-profile events honoring influential people of color. Now it’s doing so through webinars about how small businesses can survive the pandemic, mentoring sessions with senior execs, and more—all online for everyone to take part in. getkonnected.com.
We aren't ones to cry over spilt milk, as our floors can attest; our couch has more hair on it than our cat. Without a speck of judgment, the Maids clean up our act month after month, dusting baseboards, degriming showers, and all but eliminating any traces of pet (except for, of course, the pet itself). They're quick, well priced, and unobtrusive: Aside from the preternatural sparkle and neatly triangled toilet paper, you'd never know they'd been there. maids.com.
The dress may garner most of the attention, but no vision of white tulle is complete without a few painstakingly chosen accessories. And the more perfect they are, the better the odds they came from the Altered Bride. For more than a decade, Boston brides (and bridesmaids) have made this boutique a crucial stop on their way to the aisle. They come to quiz the knowledgeable and experienced staff and browse the exquisite offerings of jewelry, shoes, and veils, as well as the area's largest collection of handmade tiaras. In her new and expanded Boylston Street space, owner Roseanna Martino acts as a guide, strategizing ensembles that are both simple and extravagant. And when even that is not unique enough, she's happy to provide custom-designed headpieces and veils. 376 Boylston St., 2nd floor, Boston, MA .
If there's a party on earth that Bryan Rafanelli and his staff can't pull off with élan, we've yet to see it. Renowned for creating grand entrances, Rafanelli has arranged everything from a Dixieland band leading an entire wedding party into a reception hall, to a links-loving couple's arrival in a golf cart. With every last detail taken care of (and we mean everything, from personalized save-the-date cards to attendants' gifts and even pantyhose) harried brides can rest easy on their big day, a luxury worth any price. 450 Harrison Ave., Suite 401, Boston, MA rafanellievents.com/.
Likable as Trina Holland and Chani Leighton are, you'd think twice about meeting them in a dark alley. Focused, relentless, whip-quick—the seemingly easygoing owners of Bella Skin harbor serious ninja skills. As it happens, that makes for outstanding hair-removal technique: Armed with hard wax (sticks to hair, not skin) and chitchat, they strip clients smooth in a near-painless flash. While everything from furry brows to fuzzy toes is fair game, first-time bikini and Brazilian waxes are a specialty. Newbies never know what hit 'em. 846 Walnut St., Newton, MA 2459, .
Linda Reisert likes to say she cleans closets for a living—which she does—but that covers only a fraction of her work. In reality, Reisert gets paid to think for her clients, and to know precisely when and where they'll reach for life's necessities. Her roster of VIPs draws heavily upon the city's business elite, people who value her talent for tailoring services: In the case of working moms with a tendency to hoard, Reisert is equal parts therapist and taskmaster; for globe-trotting money managers with multiple offices and homes, she's an invisible ally who streamlines personal calendars and business files. 38 Hancock St., Boston, MA 2114, .
Some Sunday mornings require a little time spent catching up with our favorite sister, bloody mary. And the best place to find her in these parts is at the East Coast Grill. The bloody mary bar here goes beyond the traditional to offer tipplers a choice of ingredients—citrus squeezes, herbs, spices, vegetables, and hot sauces—to add to their base of vodka and tomato juice. From there you can get to the next order of business: pulling up to a hearty plate of grilled sausages, tropical fruit pancakes, a fluffy avocado—black bean—salsa omelet, cornbread-crusted French toast, and the Sunday paper. 1271 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA eastcoastgrill.net/.