Rarely have we seen as devoted a clientele as Rosaline's customers, who laud her quality, service, product line, and commitment to teaching clients about skincare. They love the shoulder massage that comes as part of her facials, and the fact that she's low-key about pushing products, not to mention the results they see in their skin. "In lean, mean times I give up everything but my facial," says one long-time fan. 1426 Beacon St., Brookline, MA .
It's barely noon and hungry lunchers slurping down soups already fill this bright and homey Ipswich café. Whether it's curried butternut squash, spicy black bean, or ripe tomato that strikes your fancy, every one is made from farm-fresh ingredients—and it shows. If you're particularly hungry, pair your bowl with a veggie-stuffed wrap or seared scallops over pasta, or just go with a second helping of that creamy lobster bisque. Zero Central St., Ipswich, MA 1938, .
You'd think that after eight years, a fusion joint like Blue Ginger might be a tired concept; after all, who doesn't offer garlic-black pepper lobster these days? But Ming Tsai is a disciplined kitchen maestro: He knows not to mess with the classics (like that aforementioned oft-imitated lobster) and how, and when, to create new ones (such as sweet Hawaiian-style tuna ;poke atop a crispy rice cake) that keep his menu fresh—and little old Wellesley a gastronomic destination. 583 Washington St., Wellesley, MA 02482-6411, ming.com/blueginger.
It's trendy, it's tasty, it's open till 1:30 a.m. What's not to like? Well, there is the wait to be seated—which can be up to 90 minutes. But the bustling bar, with its blood orange martinis, is one of the big draws. And the food is worth hanging around for: The seasonal menu showcases such contemporary American cuisine as slow-roasted spiced chicken and turkey meatloaf—all for under $20. 278 Shawmut Ave., Boston, MA franklincafe.com/.
Ten years ago, skeptics wondered whether an upscale American bistro like Gargoyles could succeed in Davis Square. Judging from the crowds of patrons, the answer is yes. For more-affordable eats, though, bypass the dining room, grab a seat (if you can find one) at the bar, and indulge in options like the tuna tartare with avocado purée, a top-notch burger with perfectly seasoned fries, or the creative pizza of the day. 219 Elm St., Somerville, MA .
Fasten your plastic bib, roll up your sleeves, and park your party at one of the long picnic tables inside Jasper White's Cambridge clam shack, where the meal itself is the evening's entertainment. Dunking steamed clams into warm butter, cracking lobster claws, and nibbling on ears of corn are all good fun. With a daily selection of seafood—and balloons for the kids—the warehouse-sized restaurant will please every age. Oh, and there's no need for reservations: Priority is given to parties of eight or more. 149 Alewife Brook Pkwy., Cambridge, MA summershackrestaurant.com/.
In years past, we anointed Back Bay, but with one reservation. Brewmeister Tod Mott always made the damn small-batch beers this side of the Mississippi. (His seasonal Imperial stout is a classic, notwithstanding that goofy squabble over naming it Boston Strangler Stout.) But the food left something to be desired. New chef Jim Casey has taken care of that, however, with a fine inventive menu devoid the culinary pretense that hobbles other brew pubs. 755 Boylston St., Boston, MA .
This year French-American husband-and-wife team Pierre and Susan Guerin revamped the menu and ratcheted up the service at their Oak Bluffs café, effecting a vast improvement on what was already a pretty sweet place. Vegetarians enthuse over the meaty wild mushroom strudel, while the lemon-infused pasta with fresh shellfish and the tender steak in a Paris-grade bordelaise are can't-miss propositions for carnivores. One thing, though, remains happily unaltered: the romantic white-lit garden patio. 63 Circuit Ave., Oak Bluffs, MA 2557, sweetlifemv.com.
The décor is worn; the waiters, crusty. The low-priced seafood, on the other hand, couldn't be fresher, and the kitchen knows what to do with it, displaying considerable finesse with battered fried clams, seared scallops, and buttery chowder made with leftovers from the catches of the day. While some people may be put off by the No Name's unfussy shtick—the restaurant famously serves water by the pitcher in tiny paper cups—regulars know it's part of what amounts to one of the tastiest bargains in Boston. 15 1/2 Fish Pier, Boston, MA nonamerestaurant.com.
As much as we like to see some dynasties fall, this one shows no signs of abdicating— nor should it. Even amid a healthy crop of Viet-upstarts in Allston, Pasteur still prepares tastier spring rolls than those spring chickens. We especially love the dipping sauces and the ginger chicken. The Harvard Square location comes through with particular elegance. 5 Dunster St., Cambridge, MA .
Boldly layered flavors, as in charred calamari with black olive puree and red pepper jus, and imaginative twists on staples, as in fusilli in a parmesan broth with walnuts and sundried tomatoes, make this copper-kitchened restaurant one of the brightest sports in the North End. Charles Draghi and his staff love to cook so much that, for diners who repeatedly order the six-course chef's choice menu (with accompanying wines), they'll even ad lib an occasional dish. 125 Salem St., Boston, MA .
No matter how much they tinker with the menu, the food never gets beyond adequate, not to mention over-priced. But Tod Mott still brews the best damn small-batch beers. His India Pale Ale, bitter ale and seasonal brown ale are all excellent renditions of classic styles, and his lager is one of the better light beers to be found locally. His seasonal offerings— stouts, Belgian triple, mai blocks— are generally superb. 755 Boylston St., Boston, MA .
At BCAE, you can learn everything from beadmaking to digital filmmaking. And that's just scratching the surface. In each case, you'll find a friendly atmosphere in classes taught by professionals: The burlesque course, for one, is led by dancers from Rogue Burlesque, who perform at the A.R.T.'s Oberon and other hip spots. 122 Arlington St., Boston, MA bcae.org.
Few Boston galleries can claim to have an international following, but this small fourth-floor boutique on Newbury Street is a big-league player. When Robert Klein founded his gallery more than 30 years ago, he was one of the first to exhibit works by Diane Arbus, Annie Leibovitz, and Sally Mann. Throughout the years, his unerring eye for photography's best has resulted in a collection that rivals any in the world. 38 Newbury St. #402, Boston, MA 2116, robertkleingallery.com.
Much as we enjoy fighting for a bar stool with sunburned tourists and libidinous and over-lubricated college students, we do sometimes crave a slightly more civilized scene. 21 Federal, inside a classic Nantucket 1847 Greek Revival building, features a sophisticated downstairs bar and another cozy one upstairs. In-the-know Nantucketers congregate here for masterfully poured drinks; an award-winning wine list; good-looking, genial bartenders; and a crowd that knows how to have a stylish sort of fun. 21 Federal St., Boston, MA 21federal.com.