Chris Kurth and Ana Sortun's 50-acre Sudbury farm supplies some of the area's top restaurants with fresh produce—and, through their brick-and-mortar shop in the South End, many local home kitchens as well. Peruse the overflowing bins for the most vibrant bounty of carrots, kale, and beets you'll find anywhere—plus locally made gourmet goodies (chocolate from Taza; Middle Eastern meze from Sofra, a Cambridge bakery run by Sortun). 106 Waltham St., Boston, MA sienafarms.com.
We swore that this year would be different. Surely there was some out-of-the-way truck stop or quirky-crunchy café tucked away in a random cow town that had slipped beneath our radar. After downing piles of leaden pancakes and a coop's worth of ho-hum omelets, though, we're sticking with the still-matchless Arthur & Pat's. This Marshfield phenomenon has the cheese-slathered home fries, sugary slabs of banana bread, and crusty Aerosmith sightings we crave on a weekend morning. 239 Ocean St., Marshfield, MA 2050, .
Yarmulke-bedecked customers attest to the kosher bona fides at this Brookline mainstay, where the takeout case is long and complete, the sandwiches are overstuffed with choice cuts, and the pickles—well, Rubin's knows from pickles, offered free in the tightly packed dining room. And you can bet your tuches that Bubbe would approve of the meat knish: flaky crust setting off pillowy mashed potato and salty ground beef, the whole mess served piping hot. 500 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 2446, rubinsboston.com.
There's not a whole lot to Catch, a handful of tables in an unremarkable corner of Winchester. Not that we care: Chef Chris Parsons's palpable passion for seafood makes ambiance entirely irrelevant here. We could have been sitting in a dumpster and still had a dinner for the books, from feather-light potato gnocchi with Maine shrimp to crispy black bass with beet purée. We'd eat this meal 10 times over—if the menu didn't change daily. 34 Church St., Winchester, MA 1890, catchrestaurant.com.
Less is more at Mare. Whether it's the unusually stark décor (more SoHo than North End) or the delicate hand chefs use on the restaurant's high-quality seafood. No heavy sauces here. The whole sea bass is grilled with just a dash of lemon, salt, and herbs, and meaty scallops sit pristinely atop homemade lemon angel-hair pasta. The tasting menu is worth every penny. 135 Richmond St., Boston, MA 2019, mareorganic.com.
Pictures of Mexican wrestlers, Day of the Dead skeletons, and photos of Pancho Villa bolster the authenticity of this Mexican outpost in the Fenway. Unlike at other assembly-line burrito joints, the burros here don't mush together into a single taste on the palate. Each ingredient—Mexican rice, succulent, homemade guacamole, and grilled steak, chicken, or fish—bursts with its own spicy flavor inside the symphonic whole of the roll. A word of warning: If you ask for extra hot sauce, you better mean it. 92 Peterborough St., Boston, MA elpelon.com.
Its name means "Land of Eternal Youth" in Gaelic, but this smallish bar in Union Square hosts both young and old. Proprietors Robert Elliot and Patsy Wheelan run a welcoming pub, where those with a brogue out-number those without. Patsy's band Zozimus (starring Billy Bulger's son Brendan, on fiddle) rocks the house on weekends, and during Sunday seisiunsan Irish gentleman can sing an old folk song to the respectful silence of the whole room. Tasty food is available; parking is easy. 366A Somerville Ave., Somerville, MA .
Pancakes as large as plates are served up every Saturday and Sunday at this, which is fast becoming known for great food as well as good music. Buttermilk-blueberry and buckwheat-apple-raising flapjacks are always available. Don't miss the organic multigrain pancakes with dates, walnuts, and raisins. Order a short stack (two pancakes) and a side of great home fries, while you enjoy the gentle jazz guitar. 17 Holland St., Davis Square, Somerville, MA .
Its old space was awe-inspiring enough, but its renovated 10,500-square-foot showroom leaves us speechless. Montage now features an overhauled collection that includes contemporary European lines like B&B Italia, MatteoGrassi, and Poltrona Frau. It's always pushed the home-design envelope, but this year, Montage has us asking: When can we move in? 75 Arlington St., Boston, MA 2116, montageweb.com.
Lighting makes a room, and the selection at Wolfers can give any home a welcoming glow. The Allston gallery has fixtures for every space—indoor and out. It caters to a variety of styles and budgets with fixtures including ornate chandeliers and funky kitchen pendants. The savvy salespeople can always shed light on any illumination problem, whether you need help changing a bulb or lighting an antique barn. 103 N. Beacon St., Allston, MA wolfers.com/.
For urban dwellings that feel stuck in the dark ages, this standby has scores of ways to usher in enlightenment, from boudoir-ready chandeliers to energy-efficient outdoor sconces, and all the (lamp)shades in between. And here's the best part: You can take prospective purchases for a test run in Wolfers's real life-simulating light labs, guaranteeing the final pick is truly the most flattering for your home—not to mention that beautiful mug of yours. 1339 Main St., Waltham, MA 2451, wolfers.com.
Four generations into making furniture, the Shapiro family discovered they could not only craft a gorgeous sofa, loveseat, chair, or bed to match a customer's specific vision, but also make it totally nontoxic. The company they founded on that principle, Furnature, draws upon organic and sustainable materials for its upholstery, which is good for the environment, and formaldehyde-free wood and finishes that won't emit unhealthy chemicals into the home—which is good for your environment. 86 Coolidge Ave., Watertown, MA 2472, .
Chris Bates and Liz Cingari, the duo behind Montage, recently executed a flawless makeover of their bright, sleek Arlington Street showroom, and with it, unveiled a brand-new roster of European and American designers, including up-and-coming lines exclusive to Montage. Only here, for example, can you find Armani/Casa, Giorgio Armani's foray into high-end (and highly gorgeous) home furnishings. 75 Arlington St., Boston, MA 2116, montageweb.com.
Culture and film buffs thank the celluloid gods for this place to see all the idiosyncratic flicks that get reviewed in The New Yorker and The New York Times. Still the sole straddler of the art house/multiplex genres, it offers a great selection on nine screens and in many languages. Great snacks too: real biscotti and cappuccino, and birdbath-size containers of high-quality popcorn. All this and gumfree floors. One Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA .
The collaborative is a nonprofit group for inner-city teens dedicated to fostering creativity and self-esteem through photography. The center has both summer and year-round programs for teen students, who are encouraged to document what they see in their neighborhoods and homes. Fresh off a recent exhibit at Boston City Hall and a number of philanthropic awards, directors Carl Mastandrea and Ilana Krepchin run their organization with spirit and dedication. Best event: the yearly auction, which features works from such local heroes as William Wegman. 67 Brookside Avenue, Jamaica Plain, MA bostonstudiop.com.