Like hat-blocking, microweaving is a dying art. But moth holes and cigarette burns are forever, and this is the place to repair them. Columbo's is open only from noon to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. 11 Foster Street (in the North End), Boston, MA invisiblereweaving.com.
The Tex-Mex, Mex-Mex, Mass-Mex craze has subsided, but this hole-in-the-wall restaurant in the Forest Cafe still serves the best Mexican food within God-knows-how-many hundreds of miles. 1682 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA .
Dark, woody, and intimate, the bar at the Ritz is exactly the sort of watering hole weary travelers and high-end drinkers demand. The martini menu is extensive and intriguing, and the Five Star nut mix (no peanuts in the bunch) adds salty cachet. 15 Arlington St., Boston, MA .
Good thing J.P. Licks launched a new line of ice cream cakes in time for its 40th birthday. Now we can properly celebrate the small chain of Boston-area scoop shops, which has gifted us over the years with countless creative flavors served in cones and cookie sandwiches. All of them are still handmade at Licks’ home base in Jamaica Plain, including a few boozy varieties — like caramel-bourbon-fig or cherry-amaretto — that would feel particularly appropriate for raising a ruby anniversary toast. Multiple locations, jplicks.com.
Our beef-boiling Yankee town has come a long way with its southern cuisine. But North Carolina native Jason Cheek goes beyond the conventional canon, rattling off the sort of nuanced, modern riffs they’re rocking right this second in Charleston and Atlanta. Think: whole grilled trout nestled in stewed fregula. Short-rib meatloaf dolled up with bone marrow and bracing piperade. And a tea-brined, thyme-scented fried chicken—craggy and orange-rust in color—we can’t stop clucking about. 600 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA southernproperboston.com.
A little over a year ago, Avalon, the once white-hot star of the Lyons' Group club holdings, had dimmed to white-dwarf status. Except for Sundays, its perpetually successful gay night, the cavernous club was lame. And pretty empty. Enter promoter Steve Adelman, the man behind New York City's Tunnel and, before that, Limelight. Within weeks, Adelman was booking the biggest names in dance music at Avaland, the club's Friday night reincarnation. Superstar DJs like Frankie Knuckles, Little Louie Vega, and Junior Vasquez have all taken turns behind the decks, bringing Avalon to a boil and putting Boston on the dance-club map. 15 Landsdowne St., Boston, MA .
Yoga has gone from niche to the norm. Instructors teach the masses in mat-filled locations everywhere in the city—the gym, the spa, the private studio. All of which makes truly personalized yoga something of a rarity. Noel Schroeder is the exception: Her class at the Sports Club/LA may be filled with deep-breathing bodies, but her teaching methods make the experience feel like a private session. She scans the room constantly, pinpointing when her students need to hold their pose and anticipating a slip-up in form before anyone moves a muscle. Is it any wonder that her fiercely loyal clientele all happen to be lithe and limber-bodied? 4 Avery St., Boston, MA .
Kathy Van Patten's small private gym in the heart of Beacon Hill is the best home in town of the avant-garde exercise technique known as Pilates. An exercise trend since the early '90s, Pilates is actually a system of workouts that incorporates balance, posture training, and muscle toning; it is particularly favored by dancers and athletes for its effects on coordination. Van Patten is a trained professional who studied at the Pilates Studio in New York before opening her own studio five years ago. Her friendly demeanor, enviable physique, and mastery of the unique Pilates equipment ("the reformer" and "the universal Cadillac" are just two of the highly-specialized pieces) make her a stand-out. 12 Joy Street, Boston, MA bostonbodyworksstudio.com.
With a reasonably priced menu that caters to a diverse range of eaters, the Organic Garden Cafe will leave you feeling full and healthy. It's something of a hole in the wall, but adventurous eaters are rewarded with yummy kale chips, vegetable and quinoa bowls, fresh-pressed juices, and oh-so-good vegan baked treats. 294 Cabot St., Beverly, MA organicgardencafe.com.
If ever there was a feel-good pill for these challenging times, chef Tony Maws's cooking at Craigie Street Bistrot is it. Troubles fall away as soon as you set foot in this subterranean restaurant and its cozy dining room, a warmly decorated space that oozes with "aw shucks, c'mon in" charm. (Maws's mother even works the door, making everyone feel instantly at home.) Former sous-chef to Ken Oringer at Clio, Maws has made Craigie Street a stage for showcasing his training in Boston and a previous stint in France. The menu, which features five appetizers, five entrées, and five desserts nightly, seduces diners with casual French country flavors: roasted breast of Muscovy duck, herb-crusted monkfish, marinated skirt steak, and classic crème caramel. Each dish perfectly captures the ingredients, all market fresh and seasonal. If you must choose only one reason to love Tony Maws and his little bistro, it's the price: The three-course prix fixe is only $29.99, a cost anyone can swallow. 5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA craigieonmain.com/.
This hole-in-the-wall looks like a cross between Bob Vila's garage and a grungy New York apartment. With enough searching, you'll find anything from drill bits and thumb tacks to gas masks and paint thinner. In the words of employee Ed Vryla, "We got everything." 51 High St., Boston, MA .
How does he remember me? I've only been here once before. But he's treating me like a queen, setting up a special table for me and my visiting in-laws. Then again, he did it the first time I was here, too. Hmmm. Maybe he's flirting with me. Hope. We've since heard that he does this for everyone. Kaufman either has a photogenic memory, is outrageously congenial, or can smell a special occasion a mile away. This restaurant may not be the fanciest place in town or serve the best food, but when you want to be treated well, it's nice to be remembered— or at least to think you are. Ciao Bella, 240A Newbury St., Boston, MA .
When you can't find that rare, out-of-print classical CD around the corner on Newbury Street, try Orpheus. This hole-in-the-wall store carries classical, jazz, and international recordings, opera boxed sets, laser discs, and such musical memorabilia as autographs. A great place just to browse, too. 362 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA .
A lot of restaurants pivoted to add grocery sales this year, but none did it quite like Pagu. Yes, chef-owner Tracy Chang stocks the virtual shelves of her market with jars of house-made condiments (including her bomb-dot-com Umami XO sauce), chef-driven provisions (see the eye-popping purple pancake mix made from taro root), and meal kits, all reflecting her restaurant’s Japanese-Spanish cuisine. Just as important, though, she’s also long on essentials — flour, EVOO, fresh produce — and through her new organization, Project Restore Us, home-delivers them to communities in need. 310 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139, gopagu.com.
At a time when every supermarket trip is an unwelcome adventure and food shortages have proved we can’t rely on factory farms, it’s been a godsend to get Walden Local’s monthly, home-delivered meat shares featuring Northeast-farm-raised pork, lamb, beef, and chicken. The quality? Unimpeachable. And once it’s safe, we can’t wait to revisit the South End shop for butchery demonstrations and small-group workshops that let us (literally) see how the sausage gets made. 316 Shawmut Ave., Boston, MA 01862, waldenlocalmeat.com/butcher-shop.