On the strength of its individual exhibits alone—notably the vast Goya retrospective and Shinique Smith's exuberant showcase—the Museum of Fine Arts is a formidable contender for best museum. But when you consider the institution's past year as a whole, it's a hands-down winner. Diverse offerings revealed a commitment to pushing boundaries. Performance art was regularly integrated into the museum's hallowed gallery spaces; it maintained a consistently edgy and eclectic film program; and then, as a capper, it launched its first-ever mobile app as artwork. 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115, mfa.org.
Looking to bolster your collection of anti-racist literature and books about the Black experience? This Nubian Square mainstay has you covered. But what makes owners Leonard and Clarrissa Egerton’s shop an irreplaceable part of Boston’s literary scene is its role as a hub for book groups and social gatherings where both authors and readers of color can feel welcome and be celebrated. Bostonians across the city are vowing to finally listen to Black voices—Frugal has been amplifying them for 12 years and counting. 57 Warren St., Roxbury, MA 02119, frugalbookstore.net.
The selection of coveted craft brews has long been the main attraction here. But it’s a good thing that dry, fruity Belgian-style ales—the backbone of owner David Ciccolo’s beer list—also pair so well with food: New chef Joe Cooke has upped the ante on the Publick House’s culinary program big time, sourcing whole pigs and sustainable seafood for menu upgrades such as house-cured bacon and frequently changing crudo. 1648 Beacon St., Brookline, MA publickhousebrookline.com.
This neighborhood meat market specializes in ethically sourced, hormone-free meats—all raised on pasture within 250 miles of Somerville—and nose-to-tail butchery. That means you’ll see hard-to-find proteins such as livers and blushing lamb’s hearts, along with house-made sausages, pork cutlets, chicken, and slabs of brisket. Want to try them all? Subscribe to M.F. Dulock’s meat club and take home new cuts every month. 201A Highland Ave., Somerville, MA mfdulock.com.
Everybody knows accessories make the outfit, something that holds true whether you're three months old or 30. What good is a playtime pinafore without a Barefoot Dreams stuffed animal and attached blanket? Or a dressy cashmere sweater sans handstitched suede hunter's cap from France? This beyond-cute Newbury Street destination has these and plenty more socks, shoes, scarves, tights, and blankies to help put the "aww" in any ensemble. 115 Newbury St., Boston, MA 1945, .
Louis's unparalleled offering of women's designs by fashion darlings including Marni, Tuleh, and Zac Posen—not to mention a formidable men's collection with everything from Brioni to Trovata—makes it a legendary local house of style. The revitalized first floor now includes more bath products, linens, and vintage home goods than ever, and the salespeople remain polite, not pushy. 234 Berkeley St., Boston, MA louisboston.com/.
We feel pretty—and fizzy and funny and fine—every time we enter Brooke Garber and Stephanie Nist's boutiques. They stock the fete-ready dresses we've come to expect, plus pieces from favorite brands like Yumi Kim, Myne, and Milly that inject style into our workaday and weekend wardrobes, too. The fact that we can build whole outfits here, from foundations (neon Hanky Panky thongs) to finishing touches (flirty JoJo earrings), makes Mint Julep worth toasting. 1302 Beacon St., Brookline, MA shopmintjulep.com.
For the absolute best in seasonal vegetables—think asparagus in May, strawberries in June, and carrots and potatoes through February—Verrill Farm can't be beat. Just ask Hamersley's Bistro, Chez Henri, Salamander, and every other fine Boston restaurant that purchases Varrill's produce. When you add homebaked country desserts, grass-fed beef that's raised and frozen on the farm, and backwoods family fun like strawberry "feastivals," hayrides, bands, and barbeques, you may never go home. 11 Wheeler Rd., Concord, MA .
If you've eaten south of the border, or anywhere near it, chances are your tortilla sights are set a little higher than those Wonder Bread gringo wafers found at most markets. Take corazon! Maria and Ricardo's produces some of the tastiest, and muy autentico tortillas anywhere. Whole wheat, spinach, tomato, chile, and blue corn varieties round out the standard white flour and corn far. We love 'em all. Also available at Bread & Circus, Savenor's, and select Star Market stores. 30 Germania St., Jamaica Plain, MA .
This delicious salad might well tempt a vegetarian to reconsider. Perfectly diced pieces of chicken are tossed in a light mayonnaise that hints of fresh herbs. The shop is also a good all-purpose pit stop, either for lunch or as you're heading home after work. It boasts a varied selection of excellent takeaway meals, side dishes, and desserts. 27 Lincoln St., Newton Highlands, MA .
This Italian specialty shop routinely stocks the finest and freshest selection of fresh pasta. Four or five daily flavors can be cut to order, and the freezer cases hold homemade tortellini filled with chicken, pesto, pumpkin, or roasted garlic, as well as a variety of sauces and oven-ready hors d'oeuvres. Also look for for the barrels of dry pasta in every shape and form, and don't miss the huge deli selection. 31 Putnam Ave., Cambridge, MA .
You'll feel like guests at a neighbor's summer home here. The dining room is a screened-in back porch with pillow-covered bench seats and mismatched silverware, and homey dishes such as meatloaf and lobster potpie grace the dinner menu—as do three veggie sides (we loved the balsamic Brussels sprouts) sourced from what's available on the island's farms that day. 218 Upper Main St., Edgartown, MA luckyhanksmv.com.
This shop's forte is an outstanding mix of antiques, from imported European country pieces to pine reproductions, plus offbeat accessories and lamps—in short, everything you need to decorate an upscale eclectic home. The 18,000-square-foot warehouse at 1580 Commercial Street stocks whatever doesn't fit in the store, but it's open only weekends. 21 Park Ave., Weymouth, MA .
Start your Saturday with a snack from the Great Cape Baking Company—we suggest the apple-cider doughnut or a hunk of rosemary bread. Load up on local seafood from C&C Lobster & Fish (based in nearby Hull) and fresh produce from Mary Bukujian's Hanson farm. Enjoy the view of Bathing Beach. Drive home happy. Hingham, MA 2043, hinghamfarmersmarket.org.
Faithful followers suggest that perennial Best of Boston winner Oishii serves the best sushi in New England. Rare (and delectably dangerous) options such as blowfish hold court with traditional rolls and sashimi creations. Don't miss the toro tata, Kumamoto oyster sushi, and hamachi torched maki topped with caviar. Note to claustrophobes: The Chestnut Hill location is tiny. 612 Hammond St., Chestnut Hill, MA oishiiboston.com/.