George "Monk" Foreman III has done something truly unique in Fort Point: He merged a boxing gym with a luxury fitness studio. While the 15,000-square-foot space offers two boxing rings—his father is two-time heavyweight champion and lean mean grilling machine George Foreman, after all—it also has spa-quality locker rooms with steam, sauna, and showers; an on-site juice bar; classes including yoga, Pilates, and indoor cycling; and plenty of cardio equipment and free weights. 15 Channel Center St., Boston, MA 02210, everybodyfights.com.
Shopping for rugs anywhere other than Landry & Arcari is like installing wall-to-wall carpeting in your bathroom: You just don’t do it. Family-owned since its inception, the well-loved store proffers thousands of handmade treasures in styles ranging from traditional to tribal to contemporary. And service is also second to none: For proof, consider the team’s quick pandemic-induced pivot to offering customers an in-store shopping experience online, including sharing videos of the stacks of rugs available in the showroom and providing virtual consultations with design-savvy staffers. 333 Stuart St., Boston, MA 02116, landryandarcari.com.
Puffy's not the best shopping companion: drooling on merchandise, constantly demanding attention, invading strangers' personal space. Any place that overlooks —welcomes, even—such unseemly habits scores big with us. This year Polka Dog expanded to accommodate its lines of animal gear with voluminous bins of squeaky cupcakes and rubber telephones, walls of collars, piles of beds, and accessories for literal clothes hounds. As if all that weren't enough, there's the popular buffet of inventive edibles, for when your guests' shoes are no longer an option: liver chips, salmon coins, and catnip "pawbreakers" for delicate breeds; cow thigh bones for those with heartier appetites. 256 Shawmut Ave., Boston, MA 2118, polkadog.com.
This small, friendly, unpretentious South End restaurant and bar is always crowded, whether it's 5 p.m. or 1 a.m. But nobody seems to mind the wait, mostly because Anchovies has a great vibe and good food (especially the pizzas, sandwiches, and mussels in white wine sauce). The service is good, the feeling is cozy, and the crowd is friendly. And were Anchovies open at 4 a.m., we would go there then too. Which reminds us: Don't all show up at once, because we'd like to get a table sometime this decade. 433 Columbus Ave., Boston, MA anchoviesboston.com/.
Care to try some terrier-misu? Or perhaps the matching pet-owner jewelry is more up your alley. Regardless, the two-legged and four-legged alike are barking up a storm about DogSpa, Beverly's grooming, retail, and nutritional haven. For the languorous pooch, there's an aromatherapeutic quiet room; for the vivacious pup, "Smelly Dog" deodorizations; for all of man's best friends, a chrome state-of-the-art grooming zone with anti-fatigue padded mats, HydroSurge spa baths, and expert stylists. All dogs may go to heaven, but really, what can heaven have on DogSpa? 45 Enon St., Unit 5, Beverly, MA beverlydogspa.com/.
Finally, someone has figured out that all writers are frustrated actors. This Harvard Square institution has always been a writers' haven, even for the obscure and esoteric. But now, having expanded its reading room and hired events guru Jim Behrle (formerly of Brookline Booksmith), WordsWorth has gone Hollywood. Before a wall of windows overlooking Brattle Street and with enough seats to daunt even bestselling authors, readings feel more like the Today show than Masterpiece Theatre (although without the inane chatter). There's an equally impressive A-list of literary guests—Ethan Hawke (on the 8th), for example, and Alain De Botton (on the 9th) this month alone. 30 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA .
This year, we decided two-time winner Lyudmila Sletkova and her team at Best Fit should be put to the test before capturing the prize once more from the crowded field of tailors in this town. So we challenged her not with the usual trouser hem or waistband nip and tuck, but the transformation of a too-short '60s-era cap-sleeve wedding gown. She turned it into a gorgeous, strapless, lengthened masterpiece. Of course, Sletkova handled the job with aplomb (and at a budget-saving price), proving that her talents run the gamut from placing the perfect hem on a pair of jeans to making 268 Newbury St., Boston, MA bestfitinc.com/.
For gym rats who take their sweating seriously, the Sports Club/LA is as type A as its notably toned clientele. Some 114,000 square feet of equipment, including more than 150 cardio machines, means rare is the occasion that you're forced to idle by the water fountain, waiting for Sweaty Guy to max out his half-hour limit; deluxe locker room amenities mean you can look just as good leaving the gym as you did going in. And a schedule of 120-plus classes a week, among them an average of 10 daily yoga sessions at the new MindBody studios, means there's instruction for every fitness (and coordination) level. 4 Avery St., Boston, MA 2111, thesportsclubla.com.
Even after a few million years on the fire, steak as a culinary concept is far from done. For proof, look to the Metropolitan Club, where executive chef and former Todd English majordomo Todd Winer not only finds new ways to deploy beef (a 'steak and egg' appetizer using flash-seared Wagyu), but also brings to the table a fascinating variety of cuts and small-farm sourcing (shoulder tender from Idaho, sirloin from Maine). Stone Age types can keep their porterhouse-and-baked-potato lairs—this is a steakhouse for the evolutionary-minded carnivore. 1210 Boylston St., Chestnut Hill, MA 2467, metclubandbar.com.
Hidden in the quiet, tweedy folds of residential Cambridge, this neighborhood restaurant is part exquisite cuisine, part delicious local fare, and all parts homage to true French bistro culture. Entering the intimate, family-owned spot, with its cozy furniture and warm colors, is like walking into a well-loved (and well-populated) living room. But the extremely well-priced menu is anything but predictable. Chef Tony Maws keeps it fluid with his improvisations (Exhibit A: the red chile-marinated prime hangar steak with sultry roasted bone marrow) and an ebb and flow of local produce so fresh, all Montmartre would be impressed. 5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA craigieonmain.com.
It may be heretical to say this in Brookline, but here goes: Go ye on the Sabbath to Cutty's and get yourself some pork. The Saturday special pork sandwiches, to be specific. Once a week, the slow-roasted pig comes in fresh to this Brookline Village café and is sliced thin for inclusion in such delicacies as the pork-and-pickled-fennel sandwich with roasted garlic on a crusty sesame-seed bun. With apologies to our rabbi, it's a borderline religious experience. Oh, and the rest of Cutty's (more-kosher) sandwiches, which are served all week? They're not so bad either. 284 Washington St., Brookline, MA 2445, cuttysfoods.com.
It’s a snug, sophisticated, don’t-call-it-a-speakeasy space that opened during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic (yikes). Yet Offsuit pulled off its gambit on the strength of simple cocktails that nail everything that really counts: top-shelf spirits, fresh ingredients, and slow-melting bergs of hand-carved ice. The philosophy turns sleepy standards like the Dark & Stormy or gimlet into revelations, while house originals — such as the Lounge Act, made with chamomile-infused apple brandy — are no less impressive. 107 South St., Leather District, MA 02111, offsuitboston.com.
New Hampshire composer Jeff Rapsis is a man on the move: At least once a week, you can find him traveling throughout the region, performing improvised scores to pre-talkie classics. He’s a regular at the “Silents Please” film series at the Somerville Theatre, where he plays along to both romantic travails and madcap adventures, as well as Arlington’s Regent Theatre and Aeronaut in Somerville. Wild and whimsical, Rapsis’s performances give voice to the days of yore. silentfilmlivemusic.blogspot.com.
We're done wandering around wine shops, waiting patiently for a clerk to comb his mental archives for something we'll enjoy. Urban Grape sells wine the way we like to buy it: grouped by body and intensity—not by region, grape, or cheesy categories like "fresh and fruity." Add in a tasting machine that dispenses samples of staff favorites, and you have a shopping experience worth toasting. 7 Boylston St., Chestnut Hill, MA 2467, theurbangrape.com.
Its name means gold, and owners Jill and Robin King have struck it with this newcomer. The Kings source much of their fish and shellfish from local boats, and while the menu isn't limited to seafood, once you've tasted the lobster cake with tomato crema, or the prosciutto-wrapped cod, you'll find it difficult to order anything else. 162 Front St., Scituate, MA 2066, restaurantoro.com.