Though, as it happens, lots of perfectly useful words rhyme with his name, we decided against opening this item with an ode to Ming Tsai. Not that he hasn't earned it: Over the past 10 years, while hosting a TV show and writing books and designing cookware, this superchef has never let his attention stray from the Wellesley restaurant that first put him on the map. A dinner at Blue Ginger today is as dynamic as it was a decade ago; the trademark East-West flavor fusion as fresh and revelatory as ever. The only changes here are the kind we applaud, as Blue Ginger completed a gorgeous renovation this spring that nearly doubled its space and added private dining rooms, a walk-in lounge, and a (bargain-priced!) bar menu. 583 Washington St., 583 Washington St., MA 02482-6411, ming.com/blueginger.
If you’ve never had a night out end with a hazily remembered jaunt to this Faneuil Hall spot, you haven’t done after-hours in Boston right. Amid the bustle of the seven-night-a-week party—a blend of college kids, off-the-clock restaurant staff, and coworkers from downtown office buildings—the generously spiked scorpion bowls offer liquid courage in no short supply. The $1 chicken-teriyaki-on-a-stick, served (how else?) from a tin-foil-wrapped bucket, is tastier than you’d think. Sure, you may have to wait hours for your turn at the mike, but if you’re in the mood to get "Born to Run" off your chest, there’s no better place than the Kong. 65 Chatham St., Boston, MA 02109, hongkongboston.com.
You could be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped back to Thoreau’s time upon sitting down to dinner inside chef Jason Bond’s cozy Concord outpost, with its roaring hearth, cream and pink tablecloths, and elegant bud vases. The kitchen’s wholehearted commitment to celebrating New England’s bounty, however, is utterly timeless. The menu changes every day, giving Bond the freedom to play with the best the season has to offer. Case in point: alate-winter lineup featuring delicate rye-flour agnolotti with favas, foraged mushrooms, and Lemon Gem marigold ricotta; decadent gnocchi gratinée with spring nettles; and perfectly done roasted beef bavette with einkorn and horseradish crème fraîche. 24 Walden St., Concord, MA 1742, bondirconcord.com.
In the overflowing box marked 'Good Idea at the Time,' you'll find, along with DIY plumbing and getting bangs, plenty of gift-buying impulses gone wrong. Pewter-starfish-napkin-holder wrong. What you won't find is anything bought at the rigorously tasteful Trove. A visit could begin and end with the Czech-inspired Artel glassware and John Derian collage creations, but that would leave out Sonya Ooten's crocheted gold earrings and other handcrafted jewelry; décor gems like vintage shagreen lamps and carved jade bowls; and objets d'art sufficiently eclectic (as in, antique Chinese silk earmuffs) to appeal to virtually any recipient. No matter what you choose, it'll be unforgettable—and unregrettable. 542 Boston Post Rd., Weston, MA 2493, .
When the in-laws come to town for a visit, send them straight to Fifteen Beacon, a hotel so classically elegant (and subtly opulent) they'll never want to leave. The staff at this Beacon Hill hotel makes service an art form, so every customer feels like royalty. (The hotel even provides personalized business cards with guests' fax and phone numbers to drop around town, as well as complimentary chauffeur service in a Mercedes-Benz sedan.) Rooms are decorated in rich earth tones with plenty of luxe accents (leather ottomans, working fireplaces) and are loaded with all the goodies you need, from Pevonia bath products to well-stocked minibars. Room service comes from the Federalist, the restaurant downstairs, which means you can leave not only the hospitality, but also the cooking, to the hotel's accommodating staff. 15 Beacon St., Boston, MA xvbeacon.com/.
It's not the easy parking or the sexy and refined décor that makes Ariadne our favorite newcomer—but those things help. Shimmering floor-to-ceiling raw-silk curtains in earthy tones of sage and wheat, candles that glow inside alabaster holders, crystal-accented light fixtures, and luxuriously upholstered half-moon banquettes are telling harbingers of the experience that awaits inside this Newton restaurant. The food, like the design, is refreshingly simple but prepared with passion and talent. Chef and owner Christos Tsardounis prefers seasonal and local ingredients for his Mediterranean-tinged menu, with offerings such as simple grilled squid. No fuss here, but the execution is flawless—as is the crisp-skinned roasted organic chicken served with a rich morel mushroom, fava bean, and creamy fingerling potato sauté and finished with a pan jus glaze. The full bar is also a welcome pleasure, and the wine list includes half bottles such as Billecart Salmon brut rosé and a few new names from around the globe. 344 Walnut St., Newton, MA .
Keeping up with Hollywood's barrage of blockbusters, tearjerkers, and indies-gone-mainstream is less daunting when you can do it at the AMC Fenway 13. This theater's strongest appeal is its easy access: convenient $4 parking, a close-by Green Line stop, and the luxury of avoiding downtown congestion. Inside, arm yourself with popcorn (the butter is do-it-yourself) and a monster soda, and settle into the comfy stadium-style seating. The largest of the 13 auditoriums has more than 550 seats, so you'll worry less about lines and more about finding the ideal place from which to soak up the Sony Digital surround-sound system and see the massive 62-foot-wide screen. Perks like these nearly justify the $9 ticket price. Nearly. 401 Park Dr., Boston, MA .
Remember when you used to sneer at bottle blondes? Stylist Leon deMagistris and his staff of colorists have changed all that with bold, rich hair colors that look better than the real thing. (His latest venture, known as California highlighting, mimics the look of sun-kissed hair without foil strips or hours of harmful sun exposure.) Moreover, deMagistris's talent and sway go far beyond the Boston-area beauty scene. He's the former U.S. creative director for the venerable Italian product line Tocco Magico and regularly grabs international attention with runway coiffures in Europe. None of which stops him from running his 33-year-old Belmont salon like a finely tuned machine. 84 Leonard St., Belmont, MA leonandco.com/.
A yacht club aura sets the tone for the lively crowd that comes here to nosh on lobster, steak, and fried seafood in the Yardarm Saloon while admiring the view of Salem Harbor. Live and DJ-spun music keeps things playful, as do the bar games and irreverent signature drinks such as the "fearless margarita" and "Woody's relaxer," a potent vodka, rum, and fruit juice concoction. The best part about the restaurant isn't dry at all: the Rockmore Floating Restaurant, which consists of a tent-covered bar atop two tied-together barges moored in the harbor. Access is as simple as hopping on a launch from either the restaurant or Village Street dock in Marblehead. Gives new meaning to the term "wet bar." 94 Wharf Street, Pickering Wharf, Salem, MA pickeringwharf.com/rockmore.html.
Blame it on the lazy-Sunday-ness of the bocce, the youthful intensity of the beer program, or the location outside city limits. But we don't think Branch Line gets enough credit for its eye-popping wine list. Co-owner Andrew Holden and wine director Charlie Gaeta delight in the variegated expressions of French terroir: high-toned wild-cherry elegance, deep limestone litanies, Corsican floral bombs—all of which, turns out, go well with rotisserie chicken. Anyhow, here's some credit. Correction, June 26, 11 a.m.: In the July issue of Boston, we misstated the job titles of Holden (co-owner along with Garrett Harker) and Gaeta (wine director). We regret the error. 321 Arsenal St., Watertown, MA 02472, branchlinearsenal.com.
Editor’s Note, July 1, 2 p.m.: After our 2016 Best of Boston issue was published in print and online, reports surfaced that Po Boy has closed, future unknown. Calls to the restaurant have gone unanswered.
It’s not just the Mardi Gras beads or the TV tuned to French Quarter street performers. Eric Cormier’s tiny, chatty Newtonville shop—with its three nicked booths and the scent of fried seafood hanging heavy in the air—feels like something ripped right out of Elysian Fields. More important, Cormier’s take on New Orleans’ ubiquitous sandwich, the po’ boy, is a faithful facsimile, a crusty baguette layered with tangy rémoulade and Captain Marden’s–sourced catfish and oysters. 67 Crafts St., Newton, MA 02458, .
For anyone who didn't have a crazy great-aunt who spent like a fiend, wore things once, and saved it all, owner Bobby Garnett has an unreal stockpile of immaculately kept vintage apparel and accessories. On a recent trip to the Oak Room-esque space, we found: train cases, military-issue messenger totes, college letter sweaters, marching band uniforms, '60s and '70s cocktail dresses, croc handbags, racks of denim jackets, and endless shelves of stadium hats—all at below-market prices. If by chance you don't find that thing you never knew you were looking for, Garnett also takes private appointments at his 5,000-square-foot storage warehouse in Lynn. 19 Thayer St., Boston, MA 2118, .
American men count on their counterparts in the Mother Country, Great Britain, to do two things: support the White House's military policies and show the rest of us how to dress. Here in Boston, guys who seek to effect the casual cool of The Naked Chef's Jamie Oliver (as opposed to, say, the dandyish look of Foreign Secretary Jack Straw) can browse the racks at Allston Beat, which turns in the best local imitation of a fashionable-but-affordable High Street boutique. This Newbury Street shop, once better known for peddling over-the-top clubwear, now stocks a more understated inventory that leans heavily towards jeans by Levis, G-Star, and Earl, retro-inspired button-downs by Ben Sherman, and Fred Perry warmups. The back of the store is devoted to shelves lined with old-school trainers (sorry—sneakers) that you're not likely to find at Foot Locker. 348 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
Your computer is on the fritz. Your boss is on a tear. Your daughter is in a malignant teenage funk. Think: Happy place happy place I'm in my happy place. Not working? Ditch the visualization and hie yourself to venerable Newbury Street day spa Bella Santé (which, for frayed nerves farther afield, also has locations in Lexington and Wellesley). Step inside the hushed, candle-dotted waiting area, where pitchers of fruit-infused water and plush robes are at the ready. Highly trained hands will then scrub, rub, knead, slather, wrap, mist, oil, and otherwise drive your tension away, leaving skin glowing and sanity restored. Can't you just picture it? Feeling better? Good—then our work here is done. 38 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, bellasante.com.
The words "natural" and "hair color" rarely occur in the same sentence. That is, unless you're talking about the work of color artist Laurel Elliott, who is herself something of a natural wonder. Clients lucky enough to snag an hour with Elliott at Vidal Sassoon leave with hair that shines, shimmers, and is undeniably real. Brunettes grow richer with chocolate single processes, while blondes are brought back to that elusive sun-kissed color of their childhoods. Elliott's talents run much deeper than boosting the wattage of ordinary locks. She's also an expert at correcting the damage done by lesser colorists. What's more, this pint-sized prodigy, a J.Lo look-alike with the style to match, couldn't be sweeter or more understanding to the follicly distressed. Which makes us wonder what we ever did without her. 14 Newbury St., 4th floor, Boston, MA .