This is what we call good timing: Just as the country is starting to take watches as seriously as Europe does, ubiquitous local watch retailer Alpha Omega opens a new high-concept store and fills it with the world's most sought-after timepieces. With gleaming cases of wrist candy from Rolex, Gucci, Tissot, A. Lange & Söhne... it's a timekeeper's utopia and every big shot's bliss. (No one there raised an eyebrow when Ben Affleck walked in to buy a Vacheron Constantin.) Still hunting down that elusive Panerai? You'll find it here in the heart of Harvard Square, along with freestanding boutiques and fine jewelry from Montblanc, Bvlgari, and Doris Panos, plus lower-cost and sport watches. 1380 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA .
Unlike the now-ubiquitous Asian fusion restaurants it resembles, this Coolidge Corner newcomer serves food that is authentically exotic. Fortunately, the knowledgeable waitresses excel at coaching diners who might otherwise steer past the Northern Thai specialties and play it safe with spring rolls and pad Thai. The miang kum appetizer (roll-your-own packets of baby spinach leaves filled with bits of lime, coconut, peanuts, fresh ginger, onion, and dried shrimp) reveals a different texture and flavor combination with every bite. The haw moak (chicken or salmon seasoned with red curry and coconut milk and steamed in a banana leaf) brings a hint of heat, but not too much. Spicy dishes—and there are many here—are rated on a scale of one to three chile peppers, and the kitchen doesn't sacrifice subtlety when adding fire. If you still manage to torch your taste buds, you've got an excuse to order the soothing mango sticky rice for dessert. 250 Harvard St., Brookline, MA khaosarnboston.com/.
You'll likely be saying "oishii" (Japanese for "delicious") after one bite of the fresh, flavorful sushi from this Chestnut Hill hot spot. The restaurant may have barely a dozen seats, but the long waits for a table here are quickly forgotten when the food arrives. The care and attention given to each piece of handcut, glistening, ruby-red tuna belly or light-as-a-feather crunchy tempura is meticulous. Besides, it's all available (and just as good) to go. Not counting combination plates, soups, or teriyakis, there are more than 50 options on the menu, including everything from California rolls to "alligator maki." While there's no real alligator inside, the roll is a delicious adventure in eel, fish eggs, crispy shrimp, and avocado. 612 Hammond St., Chestnut Hill, MA oishiiboston.com/about-ch.html.
Arcade games, sippy cups, and free kids’ meals before 6:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday. No, this isn’t your local Chuck E. Cheese—it’s the latest hot spot from Kristin Canty, the brains behind West Concord favorite Woods Hill Table. At her new, family-friendly-but-still-sophisticated entry to the town’s dining scene, the focus is on Mexican cuisine—and not just any Mexican cuisine. Here, the pasture-raised pork, chicken, and beef stuffed into every tempting taco, burrito, and quesadilla comes straight from Canty’s New Hampshire farm, so you can feel good treating the little ones (and yourself) to dinner here any day of the week. We’ll raise a guava margarita to that. adelitaconcord.com.
Just because you've bypassed the high-end bridal boutiques doesn't mean you don't want to be fussed over when making the biggest decision of your wedding (besides the groom, of course). Enter Vows Bridal Outlet. With an attentive staff offering as much help and advice as you want, this store manages to make its customers feel they're at a posh boutique—until they see the prices. Designer gowns by the likes of Vera Wang, Amsale, and Caroline Herrera (to name but a few) are drastically marked down. Zip one on, strike a pose on the mirror-surrounded pedestal, let a saleswoman place a matching veil in your hair, and try not to gloat over it with your friends who paid retail. 334 Watertown St., Newton, MA bridepower.com/.
McKinney is based at the Colonial Hilton Racquet and Fitness Center, and Red Soxer Dwight Evans swears by him. "You learn philosophy as you go," explains McKinney. "I tell my classes, 'I can't give you a formula for success, but I can give you one for failure: try to please everybody.' That's what Dwight used to do." McKinney's karate style is torayama, which incorporates aspects of yoga, judo, aikido, kendo and other regimens. "I can't imagine anyone going through life not being exposed to a karate class," McKinney says. "It's like going through life never having been in a church." Wakefield, MA
The maitre d' at L'Espalier is so accustomed to proposals among his customers, he'll happily dispense advice about where to conceal the ring. It's all part of the superb and attentive service at this Back Bay institution, which just so happens to serve equally superb food. Chef Frank McClelland's delectable courses, which start with a dainty amuse bouche, are cosseted with luxury ingredients and inevitably end with tiered trays of precious petits fours—the fabled backdrop to more than a few passion plays. And if all that doesn't whet your appetite for love, consider the surroundings: a dimly lit and tastefully sumptuous townhouse that even includes one chamber known as the Seduction Room. 30 Gloucester St., Boston, MA lespalier.com/.
If dining is theater, then Teatro is the consummate Italian drama. Scene One: bold openers like over-the-top fresh antipasti and simple, but intensely flavored, steamed black mussels swimming in a smoky tomato and pesto sauce. Scene Two: The opus continues with such northern Italian minimasterpieces as fig-glazed duck legs atop a luscious mascarpone polenta, and a brightly flavored veal saltimbocca with prosciutto and creamed spinach. Studied performances by a fast and well-trained waitstaff, a superb list of Italian wines, and the fluid direction of Mistral's Jamie Mammano further elevate the staging. Then there's the set: the revamped former Galleria Italiana, electrified with a swanky, modern pale blue ceiling that arches over limestone walls and intricate terrazzo floors. All in all, a five-star production. 177 Tremont St., Boston, MA teatroboston.com.
Given the weather, there's seldom much call in New England for ceiling fans. Even so, the whirring hum beneath the Oak Bar's carved mahogany ceiling adds a touch of airiness to a room that might otherwise seem stodgy. In fact, the Fairmont Copley Plaza's bar strikes a perfect pitch between opulence and ease. The marble on the walls and generously apportioned martinis are the best kinds of throwbacks to a more civilized age. But the scene stays lively with the help of energetic jazz bands, a chatty and helpful staff, and a menu rife with inside jokes. The signature dirty martini, for example, is named after the Charles River, though we can't imagine our current teetotaling governor diving into one anytime soon. Fairmont Copley Plaza, 138 St. James Ave., Boston, MA oaklongbarkitchen.com/.
McGuirk is a throwback to a time when cocktails were made without a measuring cup, lighting a lady's cigarette was cool, and bow-tied bartenders had all the answers. Even his deep, warbling voice resonates with black-and-white romanticism; he recently auditioned to do voice-overs for the Cartoon Network. He can make any drink you can think of, from a simple martini to a B-Side standard, the aviation. And if you can't think of one, he has an eerie ability to mix exactly what you didn't know you needed (like a suffering bastard). What really sets the defending champ McGuirk apart is that he's there when you need him—with a refill, with a bit of barkeep philosophy, with a Red Sox update—and he knows when you don't. 92 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA .
For those times in life when you have been very, very good, there's Clio—proof that fine dining doesn't have to be stuffy, and luxury doesn't have to be predictable. Credit goes foremost to chef Ken Oringer, who flies in his ingredients from every corner of the earth for palate-challenging dishes like cassolette of lobster and sea urchin with yuzu and Japanese pepper. Oringer's graceful, gutsy cuisine may tend toward the erudite, but it always goes down easy. Equally captivating is Clio's dining room, a mix of finery (gleaming crystal) and fabulousness (the leopard print rug). With great service and a superlative wine list, Clio is the truest kind of reward: not an experience you have often, but one worth waiting for. 370 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA cliorestaurant.com.
Given this town's historically intense dedication to tea, you'd expect us to claim at least one intensely dedicated tea outpost. Well, we have two—each a Tealuxe branch. This subtly retro business can render a quick cup of takeout chai as meticulously as it does a slowly infused, crumpet-saddled Earl Grey. (There's even a cream tea service, if you're feeling particularly British). Light crimped-edged hot or cold sandwiches (the grilled chicken and marsala chai sauce is a clever and delicious combination) are on offer at the Newbury location, as are serveral hundred types of tea leaves, and what seems like all the tea equipment in China—and elsewhere. So what if it's been mall-ified? Tealuxe is a distinctly Bostonian—and original—creation. 108 Newbury St., Boston, MA tealuxe.com/.
When up-and-coming event planner Renée Sabo launched her own boutique firm in 2017, she quickly established herself as one of the city’s go-to vendors. While her creativity and attention to detail shine through in each wedding the Urban Soirée founder brings to life, it’s her deep commitment to her clients and community that impresses most. When the coronavirus outbreak threatened to derail untold brides’ and grooms’ big days, for example, Sabo sprang into action, sharing crucial postponement and rescheduling advice on her blog and teaming up with fellow pros to offer gratis planning consultations for local couples in distress—true leadership, if ever we’ve seen it. urbansoireeboston.com.
We’ve been there countless times: We want one last cuddle with Fido before leaving for vacation, but instead he wriggles out of our hands like an eager camper, more than ready to sniff butts and play with his buddies. These are the moments when pet parenting can be slightly heartbreaking (My puppy! He’s all grown up!). When Urban Hound is hosting him for the weekend, however, that goodbye is a little easier to handle: The luxury accommodations at the pet hotel and daycare facility—which features two indoor play parks and 1,000 square feet of outdoor space—are matched only by the fantastic trainers and staff, who are more than qualified to play in loco petrentis. 129 Malden St., Boston, MA 2118, urbanhounds.com.
As department stores and other competitors were busy freaking out over the downturn—buying less, discounting mor—Serenella owner Leslee Shupe Korff made some minor but pointed adjustments. These days, even as her Newbury boutique shows $1,000 Cavalli dresses and $600 Alexandra Neel stilettos, it has equally attention-grabbing numbers from more-affordable lines like GarpArt and Stella McCartney for Adidas. A cast of design-darling exclusivesThakoon, Massimo Alba, Sophie Thealletmeans that if you do choose to invest in those $3,900 silver sequined shorts, odds are good that unless you live next door to a Brazilian supermodel, youll be the only one on the block wearing them. 134 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 2116, serenella.com.