Veteran art dealer Bernard Toale, formerly based in the Back Bay, relocated to Harrison Avenue back when SoWa was just a gleam in ambitious real estate agents eyes. Today he stands as one of the pioneers of the neighborhood's thriving arts scene. The works on display at his upscale gallery are so edgy you could shave with them. Two spare, bright white showrooms host a merry-go-round of psychedelic paintings, urban photography, graphic prints, abstract sculptures, and mixed media displays; featured artists range from international stars like Laura McPhee to rising Massachusetts talents such as Sandy Litchfield. 450 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA 2118, .
This mammoth Fenway space is more than just a place for catching concerts. Come midnight most nights of the week, the venue transforms into the dance club of choice for Boston collegians and techno lovers alike. With an outstanding lineup of big-name DJs from Junior Vasquez to Sasha, John Digweed, and Grandmaster Flash, an impressive sound system, and a newly redesigned VIP lounge called the Nu Room, the line behind Avalon's velvet rope is consistently one of the longest in town. Not to worry: The high-energy, anything-goes atmosphere attracts a hip but diverse crowd, making the people-watching alone well worth the wait. 15 Lansdowne St., Boston, MA .
For a town that prides itself on being a seafood lover's Valhalla, Boston has surprisingly few exemplary restaurants in the category. And after subtracting the ones that'll set you back more than a few clams (B&G, Oceanaire, even Legal), the outlook is bleak indeed. A lovely exception is Pescatore, serving up Italian-style seafood entres that never venture past the mid-teens. Highlights include generous pasta specials like the fusilli Amalfi: Tossed with sweet lobster claw meat, scallops, and shrimp in a garlic-wine sauce, it makes for an unbelievable bargain. 158 Boston Ave., Somerville, MA 2144, pescatoreseafood.com.
We'll admit we're skeptical of any salon inside a full-service day spa. Can one place really excel at massages, pedis, and cuts and color? At Spa Ni'Joli, the answer is a resounding yes. The stylists strike the delicate balance between listening to your hair-care woes and delivering advice, and our tresses were all the better for a visit. For all you busy North Shore moms: Ni'Joli also offers babysitting ($5 for two hours). Now that's what we call full service. 116 Pleasant Valley St., Methuen, MA 1844, nijoli.com.
Considering the onslaught of just-opened and recently renovated hotels, it's a good time to be a guest in Boston (if a somewhat less good time to be a hotelier). How to stand out among the expected 300-thread-count sheets, Frette robes, designer bath products, and 24-hour room service? The glossy waterfront InterContinental outshines the competition (literally—its wavelike structure is swathed in reflective glass) with all of the above, plus a spa, a gym, three novelty restaurants, and one of the biggest ballrooms in town. The quick, courteous employees are a business traveler's dream; the mini esplanade along nearby Fort Point Channel, a stroller's delight. 510 Atlantic Ave., Boston, MA intercontinentalboston.com.
Have you ever been told upon showing up at work with a brand-new haircut, "Oh...you look terrific, I'm so happy for you!"? That last part belongs to the realm of getting a good job, a good husband, or a big award. A haircut by George is just such an event. And if you've reached a certain age, he knows how to shear some of those extra years, too. Best of all, George's haircuts pass the test of time. One very short haircut kept its style for more than three months as the hair grew in. Unfortunately, many people already know about George, so book ahead. Mario Russo, 9 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
So what if Food & Wine Magazine stole our thunder by making her one of America's best new chefs for the year? They read about Lydon's talents here first, courtesy of reviewer Corby Kummer. Indeed, Kummer knows true talent when he tastes it: Lydon's holistic approach to food involves combining the very best local ingredients with proven French techniques. Her frogs' legs, her lamb chops, her simple touch with vinaigrettes and sauces—she's a star on the rise for sure. Lydon makes it look effortless; we can't wait to see what she'll concoct next. 560 Tremont Street, Boston, MA .
If you need to get something somewhere in this perpetually gridlocked city quickly, you have two options: hire City Express, or . . . okay, you've got only one option. Rain, wind, traffic jams, and subway breakdowns fail to thwart this company's army of messengers, who quietly, safely, and responsibly complete rush deliveries, often along custom routes established for regular customers. Full disclosure: We use City Express. Fuller disclosure: We use City Express because they're the most reliable and efficient service out there. And—novelty of novelties—they staff the phones 24 hours a day to fine-tune delivery schedules. 201 South St., Boston, MA cityexp.com/.
When testing this category, one might expect things to get a little uncomfortable. But unsanitary? Thanks, but no thanks! (In truth, some of the most pain-free waxes weve ever had were disqualified because of sketchy hygieneas in, double-dipping wax from a communal pot.) Luckily, just when we were contemplating letting our bikini line go rogue, we met Exhale pro Garczynski. In addition to the fact that she creates a fresh container of wax for each customer, shes quick and thorough, and any ingrown hairs worst enemy. 28 Arlington St., Boston, MA 2116, .
A good brasserie is not a paean to fine French cuisine—though great eats should be in ample supply. Nor is it a flash-in-the-pan hot spot that's busy one month, empty the next. It's a bustling, reliable restaurant where everyone—foodies, tourists, business travelers, sports fans—feels welcome. No place does all-occasion fun better than Eastern Standard, which, five years after takeoff, is still filled noon to night with revelers catching the Sox game and regulars dining at the bar on an expansive menu (raw bar, burgers, salads, charcuterie) that's only gotten better with time. 528 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 2215, easternstandardboston.com.
Out in public, and especially out at the city's better restaurants, you want as few people as possible to notice when your princeling starts whacking his silverware together or gleefully tossing sugar packets onto the floor. Luckily, the popular Kenmore Square brasserie has a dining room that's plenty large and noisy enough to absorb such commotion. Order the refined mac and cheese and strawberry shortcake for the little one, and treat yourself to mustard-glazed salmon or house-made cavatelli. The absence of dirty looks will make everything more delicious. 528 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 2215, easternstandardboston.com.
Looking for the city's top bartenders on their night off? They're probably knocking 'em back right here in Central Square, along with anyone else who puts a premium on creative, classically prepared libations. Powerhouse mixologists Misty Kalkofen and Andy McNeese stand ready to pour any of the 100 options on Green Street's drink menu, many being a clever twist on vintage recipes. Try the Cocktail Miranda, a takeoff on the Manhattan, or one of the well-shaken egg (!) cocktails, like Kalkofen's original Fort Washington Flip. If you're looking to play things straight, there's also a smartly curated list of wine and beer. 280 Green St., Cambridge, MA 2139, greenstreetgrill.com.
Suburban restaurants often thrive precisely because they're away from the city: A captive audience takes what it can get. Square Café by contrast, could compete fiercely in any Boston neighborhood. This New American eatery radiates a laid-back confidence born of a masterful affinity for different cuisines. Another compliment, and one that may come out wrong: Menu descriptions that sound like overwrought disasters ('stuffed pork chop with spinach, prosciutto, cheddar and cornbread stuffing, sweet potato-vidalia gratin, and golden raisin demiglace') turn out to be carefully calibrated balancing acts of texture and flavor. 150 North St., Hingham, MA 2043, .
Colorful prints, playful ruffles, unexpected details: Even if you’re just wearing this local designer’s bikinis and one-pieces to CBI or Wequassett for a weekend, you can expect to turn heads. Even better, the swimsuits — inspired by the exuberant beach culture of Karol’s native Brazil — come in a variety of shapes and silhouettes for all body types, so you can feel confident and comfortable on the sand. sinesiakarol.us.
The perfect brows finish your face — so it’s a good thing this beauty expert, who’s worked with celebs and top models, knows how to transform even the wildest ones into full and natural arches with the flick of a tweezer. She also has an arsenal of special effects on hand to help the brow-challenged achieve their fullest potential, including customized tints and a keratin infusion for extra va-va voom. 18 Newbury St., Boston, MA 02116, prettyology.com.