Cobbling is in George Triantafillidis’s blood, having spent his younger years working at his father’s shoe-repair shop in the Pru. Now at his own shop in the South End, Triantafillidis refinishes worn leather boots, fixes heels snapped on cobblestones, and replaces soles that have been completely worn through from long walks around the city — and he does it all with fast turnaround times and great prices. 120 Union Park St., Boston, MA 02118, .
Industry vet Tenzin Samdo has taken over the bar-director role at ArtScience with grace and ease, sticking to the tech-forward restaurant’s tradition of high-flying, science-forward cocktail craft while putting his own spin on things. Over the past year, he’s brought thoughtful, sustainably minded touches to the program, including pledging to forgo the use of plastic straws. And just as noteworthy, Samdo never fails to serve his cocktails with a wide smile and a side of old-fashioned hospitality. 650 E. Kendall St., Cambridge, MA 02142, cafeartscience.com.
Tatte is on a roll this year (no bun intended). Since 2016, it’s opened three new cafés—with a Seaport outpost on the way—which means there are now even more of those sweet, swirling chocolate roses to go around. A Boston with Tatte in every neighborhood is a future we can get behind, especially if it means stopping in for a croque-madame in the morning and picking up an ultra-flaky almond croissant for the walk home. Multiple locations. 1352 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02215, tattebakery.com.
A nurturing home for local art students and established professionals alike since its founding in 1879, this Newbury Street gallery/nonprofit displays works ranging from the fiercely abstract to the traditionally pictorial. Best of all, it’s always refreshingly accessible, never more so than during the Holiday Small Works show, where you can snag an original—and affordable—masterpiece for the art lover in your life.. 158 Newbury St., Boston, MA 02116, copleysociety.org.
Stuck in a rice-noodle rut, or just maxed out on coconut-y curries? Refresh your Thai-food game at Montien, where the kitchen has dug deep into the cuisine for more than 30 years. Stick to the "authentic" menu for slabs of chewy-crisp pork, raw shrimp bathed in fiery lime juice, and whole fish deep-fried so expertly that you'll crave the skin like cracklings. 63 Stuart St., Boston, MA 02116, montienthaiboston.com.
With a fragrant wood-burning fireplace, country-chic décor, and refreshingly casual vibes, dining at this Area 4 gem feels like sharing an intimate home-cooked meal—only with much, much better food. Chef Jason Bond's elegant six-course tasting menus—think roast duck with tare, and milk custard with green tea and honeycomb—give you plenty of time to linger with your beloved, especially when you splurge on wine pairings. 279A Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139, bondircambridge.com.
Throwing all of the rules out the window doesn't take talent, but getting away with it sure does. For their latest local hot spot, chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette (Toro, Coppa) have created a thrilling whirlwind of flavors, textures, and cooking styles. Shareable small plates—from matzo-ball ramen and halibut biryani to farro-kimchi fried rice—superbly meld high- and low-brow influences from around the world, making this destination restaurant feel right at home in diverse Central Square. 505 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139, littledonkeybos.com.
Wellcoin uses a time-tested strategy to encourage good behavior: bribery. By logging healthy activities—working out, eating right, walking the dog—users earn “Wellcoins” for tempting rewards, such as Whole Foods gift cards. Since the app is free, it’s a boost to your financial and physical health. Available for iOS and Android.
Never danced a step in your life? No problem. This Central Square club holds $12 salsa lessons every Friday and Saturday at 9 p.m., plus bachata lessons on Mondays at 8 p.m. You’ll look like a pro by the time the real party begins, with more than 300 dancers burning up the floor from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. 288 Green St., Cambridge, MA 02139, havanaclubsalsa.com.
Six years ago, Brandeis University feared the recession would shutter its art museum. Thankfully, a public outcry and powerful art collectors reversed that plan, and the school hired a new director, Christopher Bedford, to add to the museum's collections. The Rose has always excelled at midcentury abstract expressionism and pop art, and recently fleshed out its contemporary and African-American holdings. Today, it's among the most expansive university-run modern-art museums in the U.S. 415 South St., Waltham, MA 02453, brandeis.edu/rose.
This pick-your-own operation has implemented some new procedures this year— face masks and social distancing are a must, and don’t forget to reserve your tickets in advance—but a day in the fresh air scoop- ing up blueberries already lends itself to distance (and pie!). Here’s hoping the PYO pumpkins and corn maze return this fall. 53 Palmer Rd., Plympton, MA 02367, sauchukfarm.com.
Whatever your mark of a great brunch is—gooey cinnamon rolls, killer libations, or an outstanding eggs Benny—this Commercial Street gem delivers. With a background in sourcing organic ingredients for Whole Foods, chef-owner Brandon Quesnell brings the same fresh-and-local commitment to Yolqueria’s menu. The food is worth the wait and the patio is worthy of a cocktail. Paloma picantes and cowboy carnitas, anyone? yolqueria.com.
Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center offers wildlife educational programs designed to make nature fun—and a trip to the beach a (gentle) teaching moment. Kids and adults alike can explore marine touch tanks and art exhibits at the center, then set off on guided tours across the refuge’s 52 acres of salt marsh and mud flats, home to more than 300 species of birds, including bald eagles and snowy owls. massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/joppa-flats.
The ceviche is always stellar at this pint-size Peruvian spot, thanks to a vibrant marinade of leche de tigre (“tiger’s milk”) that’s a whole different animal from the limey bell-pepper water everyone else plies. Temper the punishing bursts of ají-chili fire with bites of cold sweet potato and an egg-white-velveted pisco sour before moving on to the kitchen’s creamy shredded-hen stew. “Celeste” means “heavenly,” and after sampling the menu here, we’d hardly disagree. 21 Bow St., Somerville, MA celesteunionsquare.com.
Hire Boston Common Band, and they’ll treat you to a private concert. Watch as the lighting crew heightens the energy in the room with orange and red fixtures, and while the sound team keeps the music playing with state-of-the-art technology—all in the name of ensuring the eight-member group can focus solely on their music. Able to belt out anything from Adele to Queen, the band can even work with hometown hero Keytar Bear—available by request for cocktail hour—to start the evening on a high note. 290 Needham St., Dedham, Massachusetts 02026, bostoncommonband.com.