Some days you don't want to even decide on dinner, never mind cook it. Thank goodness this Newton Highlands restaurant chooses for you with a monthly dinner menu, two specials that change nightly, and a setup that's designed for whisking food straight home and onto the table. Dinner specials, such as grilled ginger-lime salmon and scampi over angel hair pasta, range between $11 and $18 and include a starch, vegetables, bread, and choice of dessert. Or you could skip the dinner and go straight for the sumptuous cakes and pastries. 27 Lincoln St., Newton Highlands, MA bakersbestcatering.com/.
It is with good reason that the Lizard Lounge consistently tops our live-venue list: It's still the favorite choice for established rock acts, and, for all its renown, is still every bit as intimate as a suburban rec room. Crowded cocktail tables stand inches away from the Oriental rug-lined stage, where, on any given night, a classic jazz trio, alt-rockers, or spoken-word poets perform to no more than 105 fans. Adding to the club's character are the laid-back punks behind the bar who dole out boutique draft beers such as Mojo IPA and Victory Golden Monkey. 1667 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 2138, lizardloungeclub.com.
The Milky Way looks the picture of a suburban basement lounge—if only a basement could be this cool. Tucked beneath Bella Luna restaurant in J.P.'s Hyde Square, the space is a study in shabby chic. Mismatched chairs, dim lighting, pool tables, and candlepin bowling set the stage for a young, hipster clientele. The funky locale is intentionally Bohemian, working to evoke the slacker-glam feel of joints on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Don't hold its pretensions against it, though: The Milky Way is a very fun place to hang for an evening. 403-405 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, MA milkywayjp.com.
These days, "gym" is such a bandied-about catchword, people barely know what it means anymore. Well, we do. It means a no-frills establishment where people come to sweat, not be seen in Spandex or loiter over echinacea smoothies. Mike's, a South End staple, takes equipment seriously—in fact, we dare you to name an apparatus they don't have. Who cares about the lack of décor and amenities when there are seven rooms of machines, free weights, and cardio equipment? The clientele's chummy demeanor and the clean locker rooms make you feel right at home. Getting back in the habit? Just look around at the burly shoulders and pumped pecs for inspiration. 560 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA mikesgym.org/.
Let's be blunt: Kieron Reynolds kicks ass—literally, with a medley of cardio and strength exercises. In addition, his heavy brogue and constant quipping make the workout whipping a comedic treat. When Reynolds is not bolting around the room to check your form, barking an inspirational word, or holding a punching mitt in front of you, he doubles as a deejay and keep the place booming with techno tunes. If you haven't sweated enough during Reynolds' hour-long aerobics class, his 30-minute ab session that follows is sure to finish you off. 542 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA .
A cage for your cairn? Quelle horreur! As long as poochie can hold her own on the playground, she can roam with the big boys at Paws. This doggie camp is both day care ($17 per day) and overnight stays ($25 per night); dogs can romp supervised in the half-acre backyard (half paved, half stone). Don't let the modest house fool you: There are 11 rooms decorated with beds and couches where pooches can sleep. Cats are welcome too (in their own rooms, $12 a night). 113 Central Street, Stoneham, MA pawsclub.com/.
A wag-worthy alternative to the city's many well-intentioned but hospital-like kennels, the Urban K9 is based in a Roslindale home that owners Karen Donoghue and Erika Forssberg are happy to share with their four-legged clients. After being dropped off (or fetched by the duo's 'pet taxi' service), Fido is let out on his own schedule, taken to the park for group romps, and tucked into his very own doggy bed at night. For owners who prefer not to board, the Urban K9 will make dog-sitting (or cat-, bird-, fish-, or hamster-sitting) house calls, too. 129 Malden St., Boston, MA 2118, theurbank9.com.
Tattoos stopped being solely for bikers and misfits a long time ago, so it's only right that tattoo shops have graduated from dimly lit spaces to more contemporary (and way less scary) digs. Redemption is the very model of the modern tattoo parlor: a hip, clean venue with wood floors, a classy portfolio on the walls, and talented artists. Whether you know what you want or need some collaborative input, the crew will deliver a flawlessly executed design, all while you lounge—to the extent that it's possible while having your skin pricked over and over—in a cushy chair. 2094 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 2140, .
Call it whatever you want—the Puppy Palace, the Kitty Kastle—no euphemism will ever fool pets into believing a kennel is as good as their own bed (or yours). But when you just can't bring them along on the family trip to Cabo, this is the next best thing. Indoor and outdoor play spaces, trained staffers, and stimuli aplenty make for boarding that's almost fun; at-home visits cater to the finicky, moody, or antisocial. Plus, the DogScoop's handy pickup/drop-off service makes coaxing Cupcake into the car or crate their problem, not yours. 216 Webster St., Newton, MA 2465, thedogscoop.com.
Loyal sidekicking is hard work. So is giving a cat a bath (something we've learned the hard way). Make life a little easier for both you and your furry, filthy pal with a visit to 'sPoochies, where the gentle techs will get even the most hygiene-averse animal into show-ring shape: clipping nails, cleaning ears, decrusting fur, trimming those unsightly under-chin spots where drool goes to die. A generous selection of sweet-smelling grooming products provides the necessary tools for ambitious owners to try again at home, if they must. 400 Tremont St., Boston, MA .
In the gap between Southie's working-class past and emerging condo-class future, St. Alphonzo's stands as a small marvel of a bridge: authentic but not staid, polished but not pretentious. Owned by Silvertone alums Natasha and Peter Irving, who live nearby and obviously pride themselves on feeding their neighbors well, it plates up top-notch sandwiches (the Cuban's a standout) and affordable pastas, meat, and fish that embody home cooking in the best sense. The pocket-sized space is rarely packed, which means patrons can relax and actually hear themselves think—probably, about how soon they can come back. 87 A St., Boston, MA 2127, stalphonzoskitchen.com.
It’s hard to resist the soft glow emanating from this Design Center standout, where you’ll find light fixtures in just about every shape, style, and size your home could possibly need. Foyer-ready chandeliers by Chapman & Myers give way to mod Kelly Wearstler table lamps, gleaming with brass-finished shades. Should your space call for wall-mounted beauties instead, don’t miss new candelabra-like sconces from Aerin, fit for the grandest of living spaces, or floral-themed vanity lights from Kate Spade — as good a reason to redo your bathroom as any. Boston Design Center., Ste. 120W, Boston, MA 02210, circalighting.com.
When former Cambridge vice mayor Dennis Benzan teamed up in 2017 with restaurateurs Nivia and Hector Piña, longtime leaders of Boston’s Caribbean dining scene, they upped the ante by teaming with celeb chef Giovanna Huyke, previously dubbed the Julia Child of Puerto Rico. Now Huyke is covering Cuban-, Dominican-, and Puerto Rican–inspired flavors in Cambridge, from marvelous mofongo and garlicky tostones to a whole fried snapper that arrives, still grinning, over coconut sauce. Don’t miss the superlative list of fine rums, perfect for sipping over live reggae and rumba. 450 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA lafabricacentral.com.
Boston’s best high-end women’s clothing store is in—the ’burbs? Hear us out for a minute. Like the most coveted of closets, this jaw-droppingly pretty new boutique in Chestnut Hill is home to a tightly curated selection from fashion’s biggest stars—Balenciaga, Dior, Fendi—alongside up-and-coming darlings like Adam Lippes, Brock Collection, and Khaite. The smart selection of high-end shoes and jewelry, meanwhile, feels polished, but not too precious to wear on a Friday-night dinner date with pals, whether you’re headed to the city or just outside of it. 33 Boylston St., Chestnut Hill, MA copiousrow.com.
Dapper restaurateur Nick Varano is incredibly adept in his role as the table-hopping, handshaking host with the most. So it’s no surprise that his original Strega restaurant has been a hub for celebs making a Beantown cameo since it opened in the North End 15-plus years ago. The star-studded list of guests—Kylie Jenner! Rihanna! Shaq!—grows even longer when you add in the spot’s subsequent offshoots, including Strip by Strega steakhouse, which scored Jamie Foxx and Mary J. Blige as opening-party entertainment. 379 Hanover St., Boston, MA stregaristorante.com.