With pours spanning the cider spectrum—from the cherry-tinged Rojo to the farmhouse-style Sweet Scrumpy—Bantam’s taproom serves up a refreshing alternative to your typical neighborhood watering hole. Claim a standing table, and make a day of it. 40 Merriam St., Somerville, MA 02143, bantamcider.com.
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.
Most of us look forward to a bikini wax about as much as we look forward to a root canal. Like a good dentist, a first-rate aesthetician is meticulous and professional—and makes the experience as painless as possible. Enter Austen (who, like Madonna and Sting, does not have or need a last name). His deft touch and finely honed technique make him as nimble with brows as with Brazilian bikini lines. And that's what brings men and women alike flocking to Austen's second-floor boutique, with its plush carpets, homey accents, and attentive but discreet service. 115 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
Boston is blessed with a bumper crop of young culinary talent injecting our food scene with energy and enthusiasm. But while many seem to spend as much time on the party circuit as they do in the kitchen, Robert Sisca has retained a singular focus: turning out exacting Provencial fare. The deceptively simple plates he creates at Bistro du Midi—pan-roasted cod with golden raisins and chorizo; grilled Mediterranean sea bass with slow-cooked fennel—employ the meticulous French technique he honed under chef Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin in New York. 272 Boylston St., Boston, MA 2116, bistrodumidi.com.
From their home at the Boston Center for the Arts, the folks at SpeakEasy manage to do it all, regularly hosting Boston and New England premieres, staging crowd-pleasing productions, and reaching out with socially conscious theater, including Allegiance, about a Japanese-American family held in a World War II internment camp. The upcoming season promises an even more engaging, eclectic lineup, with School Girls, a self-described "African Mean Girls play" about a boarding school in Ghana; The View UpStairs, a glam-rock musical set in a 1970s New Orleans gay bar; and a staging of the Tony-winning show Once. Stanford Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont St., Boston, MA 02116, speakeasystage.com.
Kristen Repa has seen (and made) a lot of wedding cakes: Before launching her own bakery more than a decade ago, she honed her sweet skills at local institutions like Konditor Meister and the Catered Affair, and even trained at the renowned Konditorei Gerstner, in Austria. Whether you want your cake to match your theme, your personality, or your gorgeous gown, Repa and her team of pastry chefs will turn out an exquisite confection that tastes as good as it looks (dulce de leche or lemonsummer berry, anyone?). 302 Providence Hwy., Westwood, MA 2090, dessertworks.net.
Caught between bare-bones restaurant-supply stores and overstyled kitchen emporiums, home cooks in search of a good sharp knife and a turkey baster are left with meager options. They'd do well to head to KitchenArts, where the basics (colanders, oven mitts) are blessedly abundant, and the array of gadgets (gnocchi paddles, avocado slicers) has a way of making even takeout devotees want to pick up the culinary hobby. As for those knives: KitchenArts' reasonably priced blades include Forschner, Messermeister, and Wüsthof—and the staffers, who are all avid gastronomes themselves, are happy to opine on their favorites.
This companion to the long-running National Public Radio show extends the lunacy that you hear on the air every Saturday. The centerpiece of Click and Clack's home page is "Time Kill Central," which includes features like the Hate Mail Generator (which can churn out letters to lousy mechanics) and the Daily Didactic Diversion, a trivia contest. You can also print out your own traffic tickets—like a "Blue Hair Offense" for people who can't see over the wheel and rive 35 mph in a 65 mph zone.
Paul Revere called it his favorite watering hole. George Washington is said to have stopped by for a brewski. Since then, thousands of townies have lifted a pint to their memories. The oldest tavern in continuous operation in the city of Boston, this is the real prototype for Cheers. 2 Pleasant Street, Charlestown, MA .
Estonian beer, caipirinhas with a citrus twist—this swanky underground bar is not your typical Vineyard watering hole. The drinks are fun, the atmosphereis cozy and intimate, and the food (including 10 different burgers) is tasty. Don't miss the photo booth on your way out. 137 Main St., Edgartown, MA atriamv.com.
“Look on the bright side” is owner Aimee Lombardi’s motto — something she made very clear over the past year with her selection of cheerful cobalt-blue cashmere crews, citron flats, and yellow track pants. Rolling with the times, the stylish shopkeeper focused on keeping shelves filled with WFH threads that could be Zoom-ready on top, and completely comfy on the bottom — think cardigans and flowy skirts from superstar European lines like Molli, Acne Studios, Ganni, and Sofie D’Hoore. The best part? Every last piece transitions seamlessly to any post-vaccine brunch and vacation plans. 119 Charles St., Boston, MA 02114, frenchitalian.com.
If we could dream up a 2020 all-star squad of heroes, champions, and advocates, it would look a lot like this: Community organizer Gladys Vega (1) of the Chelsea Collaborative, who has spent the past two decades fighting for social justice but swiveled her focus to feeding 11,000 residents each week as the coronavirus ravaged her city. Public health advocate and Harvard professor of epidemiology Marc Lipsitch (2) would also make the team, in no small part due to his consistent and clear message, whether speaking to us in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, or the Boston Globe: Never underestimate COVID-19. Our best city politician is Julia Mejia (3), the first immigrant and Latina on the Boston City Council, who fought back against racist harassment after taking office in early 2020. She has also worked to improve bilingual communications in Boston and even made a series of TikTok videos with her daughter to liven up the mood at City Hall during the early days of the pandemic. Ibram X. Kendi (4), meanwhile, is the man of the hour and our hope for humanity. A bestselling author, the 2019 Guggenheim Fellow recently became a history professor and the founding director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, where he’ll lead many of the country’s brightest minds to solve problems of racial inequity. His books, including How to Be an Antiracist, are already required reading among those in the know around town. As for the best social justice advocate in Boston? That’s Monica Cannon-Grant (5), a Roxbury mother of six adopted children who rallied tens of thousands of residents to Franklin Park to peacefully protest police brutality. She also runs a victim-assistance program and free-meal delivery service through her organizations Violence in Boston and Food for the Soul. And though he’s best known for his moves on the court, Celtics star Jaylen Brown (6) is our clear choice for celebrity ambassador—he’s peacefully protested, regularly speaks about race in America, and was honored at the State House this year for his charity work with children. We’re proud to have him on our home team.
Here, genre-bending hard cider is finely crafted in gorgeous steel tanks or a phalanx of barrels. A visit to the tasting room ($6 per pour, or $10 for a flight of five tastes) is the best way to swirl and sip the vast spectrum of Bantam's oeuvre—from a lightly effervescent cider with hibiscus flowers and fresh mint to a sour, funky wild-yeast variety. Snack away on complimentary pretzel rods stylishly splayed in Mason jars, and once you've identified your new favorite cider, take home a bottle, a four-pack, or a growler for the perfect souvenir. 40 Merriam St., Somerville, MA 02143, bantamcider.com.
Opened last fall, the Crossing Main spinoff has been drawing local style fiends with the kind of high they formerly got in Boston: killer heels by big names. Look beyond the shelves of neatly displayed Nanette Lepore peep-toes and Loeffler Randall stilettos, though, and find an equally jones-worthy array of handbags (led by Orla Kiely, an area exclusive), jewelry, belts, and other accessories. Crossing Main's recently added personal styling service, available in store or at home, can help make sure that finishing touches don't go over the top. 28 South St., Hingham, MA 2043, .