If you visited Fifteen Beacon in th past few months and wondered how to replicate the sleek look at home, go no further than Repertoire. Showcasing the best of contemporary design and technology, this showroom designed by Fifteen Beacon interior guru Celeste Cooper features lines by Agape, Antoine Proulx, Ceccotti, and bulthaup kitchens—furniture and accessories that prove function actually follows form. 114 Boylston Street, Boston, MA .
Kitchen Arts is the Chanel of cooking and baking stores: Its surroundings are simply much more stylish than its competitors'. But there's also substance to back up the finery: Kitchen Arts carries all the important manufacturers that professional chefs recommend using at home, from Le Creuset crockery to Wusthof knives to All-Clad pots and pans. These wares aren't cheap, to be sure, but they last forever—if not, the Kitchen Arts staff has been known to be very helpful in replacing parts of worn equipment. 161 Newbury Street, Boston, MA .
The expert bicyclists who double as the sales staff of ATA not only love to ride, they love to ride what they sell: a wide selection of bikes, accessories, and parts ranging from recreational hybrids to top-of-the-line racing models. A family business, the full-service store will do tune-ups or dole out maintenance advice just as happily as it will sell you a new set of wheels. 1773 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA atabike.com/.
The customer-service orientation of this new mom-and-pop (and son) store ought to be a model for others. We love the 24-hour movie-drop-off box and the drive-through pickup window. A popcorn machine (help yourself!) and pizza restaurant are in the same space. It delivers movies and pizza to your home, if you're lucky to live anywhere nearby. 87 High St., Danvers, MA .
With reports out almost daily about the dangers of chemical cleaning solvents (perchloroethylene, for example, has been linked to liver damage and cancer), the organic and biodegradable cleaning methods at owner Shelly Mars's Ecoluxe are literally a breath of fresh air. Crunchy ethos notwithstanding, this small Boston chain is also a modern and decidedly bourgeois establishment. The clean, streamlined storefronts are so pretty they could be mistaken for boutiques, the polite and efficient service (from cleaning to pressing) never wavers, and home delivery is available. 1018 Beacon St., Brookline, MA .
From 1 to 3 p.m. each day, Jeb Taylor and Daniel Lopez-Ospina close up their petite J.P. shop for an afternoon siesta. Perhaps that's when they dream up otherworldly designs for their host of high-end clients, from the Boston Lyric Opera to L'Espalier. They also provide seasonal décor and stunning arrangements with unexpected textural elements (fruits and herbs, painted twigs, leaf-wrapped stems) for posh area homes. 599 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, MA 2130, newleafjp.com.
We could give this award solely on the merits of Highland Kitchen's tangy, saucy shrimp and grits. But there's so much more to love. Teeming with noisy families and rumpled Camberville denizens, Highland on Sunday mornings is the antithesis of the fussy, overdressed, brunch-is-a-verb scenes of the South End and Harvard Square. Come unbrushed and unshaven, order up a "biggie" mimosa, fried green tomatoes, and those grits, and you may never want to brunch the other way again. 150 Highland Ave., Somerville, MA 2143, .
There's no tastier version of the New England staple than Toscanini's traditional vanilla malted frappe—not just in the Hub, but anywhere under the sun. Oh, and when it is under the sun, the dairy delight holds up superbly: Served in a clear plastic cup and plugged with a wide straw, the thick frozen shake stays that way until the very last slurp of homemade greatness. 899 Main St., Cambridge, MA 2139, tosci.com.
Fun as it is to play hooky from the world at a cool, insidery haunt, at some point you need to get along home, culinarily speaking. And ringing that get-your-butt-in-here-for-supper bell with both hands is Tupelo, a southern joint that sets the table with soulful family recipes and heavenly desserts (brown-butter pecan pie!). Most Inman folks weren't raised on this kind of food, but judging by the way they've been packing into Tupelo since its April debut, maybe their kids will be. 1193 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA 2139, tupelo02139.com.
This perpetually crowded spot sits comfortably at the top of the Boylston bar heap, an elevation earned by its killer sandwich list—a sort of gastronomic group project showcasing recipes from Ming Tsai, Susan Regis, and similarly revered local chefs—and a prime location mere steps from the Public Garden. Winning a seat on the patio makes neophytes feel lucky; the good-natured bustle and sophisticated grub make Back Bay regulars feel right at home. 361 Boylston St., Boston, MA 2116, parishcafe.com.
There's nothing flashy about this 85-year-old institution. But when it's New England seafood you're shopping for, quality trumps flair. The fish at Wulf's, mostly local and undeniably fresh, comes in seasonally, so the selection is well edited and cut to order, sometimes straight from the whole animal. Experienced and genial, the butchers are clad in white aprons and quick with a recipe or thoughts on this season's striper run. 409 Harvard St., Brookline, MA 2445, .
The finest cannoli is in the North End, but it's not where you might think. To satisfy our craving for the classic pastry, we slip into Caffé Paradiso's dimly lit shop and head straight to the bakery case in back. The shell of the cannoli there is light and flaky, the ricotta filling is smooth and sweet, and the whole thing is sent over the edge by a dunk in chocolate. 255 Hanover St., Boston, MA 2113, caffeeparadiso.com.
Hungry Mother effortlessly delivers on all the fundamentals of Deep South cooking—flaky biscuits topped with country ham; skillet-roasted chicken with creamy grits—but it's the down-home hospitality that won us over. You'll find us here on Thursday and Friday afternoons, when $9 buys a pulled-pork sammy on homemade pain de mie. 233 Cardinal Medeiros Ave., Cambridge, MA 2141, hungrymothercambridge.com.
O'Shea is among the last of a breed that's giving way to discount building-supply houses and plastic furniture: a craftsman who'll make home visits. "I really enjoy cabinetmaking," says O'Shea, who's been in the business for six years, "and I do a good job." His favorite material is cherry ("Soft woods dent too easily"), and will do most any "variation on a rectangle" that is related to furniture or cabinetry. Cambridge, MA
Dick Umile (273-1279) and Ralph Deldon (272-2767) are schoolteachers who moonlight. They've been painting homes for five years, and as far as we can tell, they can do no wrong. They stick to interiors and smaller houses and prefer to work in the summer or on weekends. "We first started doing it for other teachers, and the word spread," Umile says. "We're probably more dependable than a bunch of college kids, as we've been around longer." 617-273-1279 (Umile), 272-2767 (Deldon).