Out in public, and especially out at the city's better restaurants, you want as few people as possible to notice when your princeling starts whacking his silverware together or gleefully tossing sugar packets onto the floor. Luckily, the popular Kenmore Square brasserie has a dining room that's plenty large and noisy enough to absorb such commotion. Order the refined mac and cheese and strawberry shortcake for the little one, and treat yourself to mustard-glazed salmon or house-made cavatelli. The absence of dirty looks will make everything more delicious. 528 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 2215, easternstandardboston.com.
Looking for the city's top bartenders on their night off? They're probably knocking 'em back right here in Central Square, along with anyone else who puts a premium on creative, classically prepared libations. Powerhouse mixologists Misty Kalkofen and Andy McNeese stand ready to pour any of the 100 options on Green Street's drink menu, many being a clever twist on vintage recipes. Try the Cocktail Miranda, a takeoff on the Manhattan, or one of the well-shaken egg (!) cocktails, like Kalkofen's original Fort Washington Flip. If you're looking to play things straight, there's also a smartly curated list of wine and beer. 280 Green St., Cambridge, MA 2139, greenstreetgrill.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, .
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.
Moxie’s Kerry Zirpolo is the secret weapon for many a suburban doyenne, not to mention quite a few city dwellers who appreciate her warmth and value. There’s just one chair, so you’ll receive plenty of personal attention as Zirpolo dishes out honest feedback about what will work for your face and then takes her time snipping and highlighting. Known for her ability to fix color conundrums, she’s also eager to go edgy with balayage and asymmetrical cuts, if you so please. 691 Belmont St., Belmont, MA 02478, moxiebelmont.com.
During COVID, expanded hours and new sidewalk seating helped us rediscover the revelatory lobster rolls at Cusser’s, the street-level takeout window chef Carolyn Johnson built into the side of Mooncusser Fish House and Moon Bar. Red-wine butter sauce dresses juicy meat on the decadent hot version; tantalizing tarragon mayo, meanwhile, is used for the heavenly cold one. Either way, the perfectly griddled potato bun is a curbside craving all on its own. 304 Stuart St., Boston, MA 02116, cussersboston.com.
Long one of our favorite Boston standups, this mother of two and tireless advocate for inclusion of children with special needs is a unique combination of high-alert neurosis and deadpan, low-key delivery. Since March 25, she’s been hosting her “Artisanal Comedy” show live on Instagram every Wednesday at 9 p.m., and her hilarious observations about the pandemic have kept us in stitches, even while we assiduously try to avoid the emergency room. MA bethanyvandelft.com.
Who knew that Boston’s newest fashion superstar would be a retired telephone repairman? After years of dreaming about designing shoes, last year Chris Donovan officially took the plunge and launched his eponymous brand of footwear—and we’re so glad he did. Made in one of Italy’s most famous luxury shoe factories, Donovan’s bold, sculptural boots (pictured) and chic heels are investment-quality pieces that stand the test of time. chrisdonovanfootwear.com.
Skin-care purists searching for the most natural of products need only step into this sunny, subway-tiled boutique to make their dreams come true. After all, if an item contains any one of 31 ingredients barred by the company, including parabens, animal fats, and synthetic fragrances, it never hits the shelves—so you can rest assured that every cleanser, eye cream, and face serum has passed the company’s extensive review process. All that’s left to do is start pampering. 65 Charles St., Boston, MA 02114, follain.com.
Omakase translates—very roughly—to “entrusting the chef to create a special meal of sequential bites from a perch mere inches from your face,” and Uni was always one of our favorite spots to partake. In the meantime, whatever Akira Sugimoto’s super-luxe 8-, 12-, and 16-piece nigiri boxes to go lack in off-the-cuff serendipity, they more than make up for in jewel-like exquisiteness. 370A Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215, uni-boston.com.
Who captures the spirit of the city of champions in this era of prosperity and decadent joy better than Rob Gronkowski? The man who brings raucous mischief wherever he goes, who both wins and dents championship trophies, and whom everyone loves both in spite of and because of his flaws, Gronk may be retiring from the Patriots, but he’s still number one in our hearts.
If you're like us, you can't stand watching sports without the benefit of booze and high-def. At Game On, two bars amply stocked with top-shelf hooch get fans out of the Coors Light rut while they take in their choice of competition on one of the 90 televisions. The burgers, too, are excellent, and almost as diverting from the on-screen action as the people-watching parade that streams in before and after Sox homestands. 82 Lansdowne St., Boston, MA .
Under Gabriel Frasca and Amanda Lydon, the aging Twenty-One Federal was remained as Ventuno—a stellar dining option for the island. The Italian-focused small plates showcase many ACK-grown ingredients, while handmade pastas (strozzapreti with braised rabbit, spaghetti alle vongole); substantial antipasti (burrata, braised local conch); and a thought-provoking wine list make this eatery a vacation must. 21 Federal St., Nantucket, MA 2554, ventunorestaurant.com.
No post-appointment plans? You'll be scrambling to make some after a visit to this ego booster/blowout artist extraordinaire. Calling on fierce wattage and killer technique, Furxhi shapes locks into your desired frizz-free configuration, from stick straight to full-on Jessica Simpson—all the while complimenting in an exotic growl your "gorgeous," "hot" new look. One glance in the mirror, and you'll be hard-pressed to disagree. 9 Newbury St., Boston, MA mariorusso.com.
Be kind to those in your wedding party (after all, they put up with your occasional horrifying bouts of bridezilla). Pick out favorable, flirty frocks they might actually wear again, at Priscilla of Boston. The store carries its own line, Watters & Watters (plus the less expensive Wtoo collection), and a sassy assortment of Melissa Sweet. It's also one of the only local retailers that offers the coveted trendy Thread line. 801 Boylston St., Boston, MA priscillaofboston.com/.