A truly great fry is only as good as the stuff you dip it in. And while we love Heinz as much as the next guy, It's hard to top this ;frites shop's cheddar Duvel sauce, garlicky "Vampire Slayer' aioli, and truffle ketchup—merely a few of the condiments available. Order your cone of hand-cut, cooked-to-order spuds with a deep-fried egg on top, and write us a thank-you note later. 33 Union St., Boston, MA 2108, eatfrites.com.
There are glossier retailers of rioja and champagne. But Ball Square's supreme approachability has us bubbling over. Once a perfectly respectable neighborhood store, this shop has gradually expanded into a wine-lover's heaven, with staffers that make education—not the upsell—their mission. Whether you seek something for the cellar or something you can drink, um, right now, it's impossible to walk out unsatisfied. 716 Broadway, Somerville, MA 2144, ballsquarefinewines.com.
Everything about Madeiros's facials is done right, from the back-and-neck massage to the gentle cleansing process that goes on and on. And the things other salons do wrong are blessedly absent, particularly excessive product promotion. The salon also offers a wide range of other services, including haircuts, collagen masks, biosauna massages and reflexology. The $55 facial is expensive but worth it. the Atrium Mall, Chestnut Hill, MA .
A good sommelier knows wine. A great sommelier enlightens all the rest of us. That's what makes No. 9 Park's Cat Silirie the best in town. Each evening her servers are treated to "wine word" classes—"it's grassy, not bright!"—during the staff meal, while diners are gently encouraged to experiment outside their comfort zone—but not beyond their price point. 9 Park St., Boston, MA no9park.com/.
Food so good you won't want to go out for dinner. Although the containers should feed two or three people, don't underestimate the hog factor once you dig in. It's a toss-up which lasagna is the best, meatless traditional or chicken and spinach, but the veal parmesan is hands-down better than any other in town. There's even Thai chicken for those who (strangely) don't want to eat Italian. 31 Putnam Ave., Cambridge, MA .
It no longer serves the classic French haute cuisine it once did, but L'Espalier still maintains the highest standards with imaginative new American cuisine. Chef Frank McClelland turns out some of the cleverest, most sophisticated food around: rabbit "streudel" delicately wrapped in phyllo pastry; whipped potatoes scented with truffle oil; "kir royale" sorbet (balls of cassis ice drenched tableside in champagne); and a cheese platter to die for. The Back Bay townhouse setting is the height of luxury and the service is exquisite. 30 Gloucester St., Boston, MA .
The succulent beef doesn't just fall off the bone here, it leaps. Cooked in a smoker built in Texas, the beef short ribs served at this joint near Fenway Park are a combination of Memphis and Kansas City styles. They're dry-rubbed with herbs and spices and then smothered in sauce while they simmer. The accompanying fire-roasted veggies are great, and the sturdy molasses-baked cornbread stands up to the sauce. Pool tables are covered in aged red felt in tune with a decor that can only be described as "nouveau barn". 109 Brookline Ave., Boston, MA .
We like our karaoke with a side of characters, and this J.P. pub packs 'em in on Saturday nights: a James Spader doppelganger crooning the Temptations' "Get Ready," a gaggle of girls rapping their way through the early-'90s hip-hop songbook, and a tone-deaf regular unleashing his jazz hands during a rendition of "Just a Gigolo." Extra points for solid drafts, an encouraging crowd, an extensive Cher selection, and the occasional New Wave videos between performances. 144 South St., Jamaica Plain, MA 2130, jeaniejohnstonpub.com.
Once a month, the girls here get the place all to themselves—and is it ever worth the wait. A scorching mix of beats keeps the dance floor jammed, but the real action takes place on the periphery, packed with those who want to lounge, gawk, or straight-up flirt. By the way, promoter DykeNight gives a portion of the door fee to local nonprofits. 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 2130, dykenight.com.
You can't see the ocean from Detente, but once you taste the food here, you won't care about the landlocked location. Don't miss the "boarchetta," a creative take on porchetta that involves boar belly and sweet cherries. Also unforgettable: locally caught tautog with cavatelli, crab, and a light cod bisque. 15 Winter St., Edgartown, MA detentemv.com.
You could spend the week at Winnetu and never once leave. Rooms range from new studios with kitchenettes and porches to private multiroom cottages with patios and grills. Drop the kids at the day-camp program while you play tennis, take a yoga class on the lawn, or walk to South Beach right out back. Wind down in the evening at Lure, the resort's upscale restaurant. 31 Dunes Rd., Edgartown, MA winnetu.com.
Cheap canned beer, microwave pizza, and straight cues—this 7-table pool hall is the real thing. Go Monday through Thursday for the special ($6 a head for five hours of play between 3 and 8 p.m.). It's $10 an hour at other times. Sully's is also a bona fide male zone—women should move in groups. 445 Cambridge Street, Allston, MA .
You don't want your girls in some garish getup out of 27 Dresses. Thankfully, a trip here makes finding the right dresses simple, owing to a tight selection of gorgeous (and, happily, understated) frocks from the likes of Coren Moore, Jenny Yoo, and Lynn Lugo. There are tons of colors, fabrics, and styles, and the service is both professional and patient. 10 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, flairbridesmaid.com.
Unlike the fable told about bridesmaids' gowns, a piece from Valentino can actually be worn again, and not just to another black-tie event. The current line of classic silhouettes and punchy colors is on-trend without being trendy, so the garments won't quickly look dated. The designs can also be taken from night to day with toned-down accessories and a more-casual shoe, so that printed crՎpe de Chine dress that made you feel like Cinderella at the fundraising gala doesn't need a glass slipper to stun again. 47 Newbury St., Boston, MA 02116, valentino.com.
Patrice Vinci is the beauty fairy godmother you never knew you needed. With an old-school Boston accent and gorgeous golden tresses of her own, the colorist wields her brushes like magic wands and her dyes like potions. Case in point: a visit that turned our thick blond curls a rich, multi-toned copper that looked so incredibly natural, even our mother swore we must have entered this world a redhead. Expert or enchantress—why can't it be both?—Vinci will help your hair live happily ever after. 91 Newbury St., Boston, MA 02116, patricevinci.com.