Asian-influences fusion cuisine has made it to the suburbs. This time around, it is being done with intelligence, restraint, and style, in this case by Ming Tsai, a Yale-educated, French-trained Chinese chef who was a pacesetter in San Francisco and Santa Fe before coming East. Star of a 40-part series on the TV Food Network, Tsai mixes Western (mainly French) and Eastern (mostly Chinese, with a little Japanese thrown in). The resulting dishes, like the fabulous Long Island duck breast marinated with achiote pepper, candied ginger, thyme, and garlic, should be enough to get even the most devoted urbanite to venture out to Wellesley. 583 Washington St., Wellesley, MA .
With the steady proliferation of Whole Foods, Bruegger's, and Panera, there's no shortage of places to stock up on baked goods out west. Bread & Chocolate, a three-year-old independent outfit in Newtonville, rises above all that mass-produced stuff on the strength of such house-made offerings as fluffy Irish soda bread, pecan-studded sticky buns, glossy fruit tarts, whoopie pies, and gigantic coconut cupcakes filled with lemon curd. The coffee shop atmosphere here goes a long way, too—and the ultracreamy cappuccinos help wash down every last bit of those oh-so-crumbly raisin scones. 108 Madison Avenue, Newtonville, MA 2460, .
The low-key town of Duxbury is better known for bivalves than brioche, but that doesn't keep this café's Paris-born bakers (the same artistes behind Café Vanille in Boston and Chestnut Hill) from turning out the most decadent pastries on the South Shore. Flaky napoleons, rich éclairs, petite financiers, elegant pear tarts, all types of crusty loaves, and other French classics beckon from the shelves, but it's the enormous croissants—especially apricot and chocolate—and the chewy-moist coconut macaroons (a.k.a. congolais) that really convince pastry lovers that the world's their oyster. 459 Washington St., Duxbury, MA 2332, frenchmemories.com.
That contented sigh that comes with shucking off the 9-to-5 suit in favor of jeans and a tee? It's the same one you might hear any night at this four-year-old bistro, as diners relax into its placid charms. Dusky red walls and buttery candlelight set the scene for chef Brian Houlihan's contemporary versions of European comfort-food classics, like duck confit with poached figs, steak au poivre, and tarte Tatin. Figure in a modest but irreproachable wine list, and a night at Bia goes down easy in every sense. 25 N. Main St., Cohasset Village, MA 2025, biabistro.com.
Its name may sound utilitarian, but don't be fooled. This homey café makes the most tempting sandwiches on the island, like the aptly named Turkey Terrific: Thick, home-baked wheat bread topped with smoked turkey, buttery stuffing, cranberry sauce, and just enough mayo creates portable perfection for the beach or taking in the Straight Wharf view. Our only advice: Try not to order it every day; the entire sandwich menu, as well as the homey, baked goods and sweets (lemon squares, cranberry-walnut pound cake), deserves your full attention. 3 Harbor Sq., Nantucket, MA 2554, .
There's no shortage of French technique in Boston, but few restaurants can effectively transport you to Paris for the night. Aquitaine, in the lovely old St. Cloud building (master architect Nathaniel J. Bradlee's 1869 homage to the French flat), feels like a real 11th-arrondissement brasserie. Gold-stenciled mirrors, an oversize chalkboard, and voluptuous floral arrangements (courtesy of Spruce) look the part. But it's the buttery, bouquet garni-rich classics—mussels en cassoulette, escargots de Bourgogne—that keep us coming back again and again. 569 Tremont St., Boston, MA aquitaineboston.com.
Diesel is just what a coffee shop should be: a balanced union of hip and cozy. Helping up the cool quotient in Davis Square, Diesel has walls full of original artwork, high ceilings with exposed beams, red-felt pool tables, and comfy couches. Favorites of the house: Vietnamese coffees, aromatic teas, various espresso concoctions. Amenities: a laptop-friendly environment and miniboxes of cereal at breakfast time. Best part of the experience: being able to glance out the window at the green sign of a certain Seattle-based cafe and feel darned good about going indie. 257 Elm St, Somerville, MA diesel-cafe.com/.
Hovering over Fenway Park in a helicopter, Boston Magazine staffers recently watched the Red Sox lose another game. It was worth it though, if only for the adrenaline rush of liftoff. Boston Helicopter Copmany offers unsurprisingly smooth and scenic sightseeing flights, as well as helicopter lessons. Umphrey & Co. have a spotless safety record, in part because it turns down frequent injudicious requests. "A number of people have wanted to bungee jump off the helicopter," says pilot Ivan Jaffe. "One guy wanted us to drop eggs to him for an egg-catching competition." Hangar 1727, Hanscom Field (military side), Bedford, MA .
So it's in a hotel, so what? Suits and garment bags can be forgotten in this dimly lighted club with its huge windows overlooking the Charles. Scullers consistently provides the city with great jazz—local bands just rising and bigger names in their prime (and post prime). The summer lineup has included Shirley Horn, Stanely Turrentine, and Herbie Mann. Scullers is a true jazz club, however, not because of its acts but because of its clientele. Even on a quiet weeknight, the crowd will clap wildly after a good solo and holler when the drummer starts to kick it. DoubleTree Guest Suites Hotel, 400 Soldiers Field Rd., Boston, MA .
This city has no shortage of fab cellars boasting wine menus as thick as a midsize town’s phone book. But lately we’ve been digging vino programs that trade exhaustive depth and range for singular points of view. At Belly Wine Bar, co-owner Liz Vilardi (who also owns the shop Central Bottle) crushes hard on old-world beauties with brash, tart, and downright dirty tendencies: lambruscos, Beaujolais, orange tannin-bombs, funky Savoie whites. All of which just so happen to pair beautifully with the house-cured salumi. Go figure. One Kendall Sq., Cambridge, MA 2139, bellywinebar.com.
Not to imply Bostonians are some beleaguered, deli-deprived populace for whom stellar pastrami has forever been but a shimmering, fat-dappled mirage—or that the heavenly hand-cut stuff Our Fathers plies in Allston is some kind of smoky, cardamom-crusted godsend. We’re flat-out stating it. Besides the Katz’s-rivaling cured beef, the takeout arm of this modern Jewish restaurant from the Franklin Café crew sells reliably stellar sandwiches, smoked fish, and other cold cuts by the pound. In other words, the stuff deli dreams are made of. 197 N. Harvard St., Allston, MA 02134, ourfathersboston.com.
As blowout bars become as ubiquitous as Starbucks franchises, many have resorted to a formulaic styling process: wash, dry, and out the door. At Hairo, however, there’s no shuffling through a blow-dry assembly line: You’ll get a personalized ’do from a seasoned stylist, plus expert tips on which looks work best for your hair type. The best part? Your tamed tresses will last for days, with just the right amount of bounce. 163 Newbury St., Boston, 617-266-1199; 2 Winter Place, Boston, 617-231-7914. 163 Newbury St., Boston, MA 02116, myhairo.com.
Why schlep out to pick up locally grown produce when Forage can do the work for you? The farm-to-table restaurant is now partnering with small area growers and producers to offer several options for upgrading your pantry and fridge: multiweek subscription boxes of fresh veggies like local mushrooms and fiddleheads; separate “Goodie Bags,” available à la carte, featuring house-made herb oils, cocktail mixers, and other delights; and weekly orders of unique natural wines. With even delivery available, we wonder: Why wait in supermarket lines ever again? 5 Craigie Cir., Cambridge, MA 02138, foragecambridge.com/.
While we wait for the world to return to 21st-century speed, a throwback trend perfect for the social-distancing era has roared back to life: the 1950s-style drive-in movie theater. And what better place than the wide-open grounds of the now-canceled Marshfield Fair—reimagined this summer as an al fresco theater (pictured above) complete with a big screen and concessions—to sprawl out on a lawn chair with a bag of popcorn? Past showings have ranged from the current (Trolls World Tour) to the old-school, including the aptly chosen Back to the Future. 140 Main St., Marshfield, MA 02050, marshfielddrivein.com.
When former Cambridge vice mayor Dennis Benzan teamed up in 2017 with restaurateurs Nivia and Hector Piña, longtime leaders of Boston’s Caribbean dining scene, they upped the ante by teaming with celeb chef Giovanna Huyke, previously dubbed the Julia Child of Puerto Rico. Now Huyke is covering Cuban-, Dominican-, and Puerto Rican–inspired flavors in Cambridge, from marvelous mofongo and garlicky tostones to a whole fried snapper that arrives, still grinning, over coconut sauce. Don’t miss the superlative list of fine rums, perfect for sipping over live reggae and rumba. 450 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA lafabricacentral.com.