Nineteenth-century urban planning may have transformed an ocean inlet into the Back Bay neighborhood, but about 150 years later, inspired chef Michael Serpa is still filling it with (fabulous) Mediterranean-inspired fish: sea bream, whole-roasted and sauced with parsley, mint, and oregano; swordfish with champagne mango and rose harissa; and salmon crudo augmenting towers of oysters and crab salad. A whip-smart wine list—including a nice pool of reds—pays equal attention to terroir. 50 Gloucester St., Boston, MA selectboston.com.
Boasting expertise in architecture and interiors, Stern McCafferty delivers a powerful design punch to every home it touches, breathing new life into old spaces and building from the ground up with equal aplomb. For proof, consider the 1905 Cambridge abode the firm remodeled with a new two-story atrium, wrapped in oversize windows and Cor-Ten steel. 46 Waltham St., Boston, MA 02118, sternmccafferty.com.
Just off the north side of Moody Street, Waltham’s restaurant row, sits this slice of Havana heaven. During the Cuban eatery’s bustling brunch, crêpes stuffed with slow-roasted pork are washed down with guava-mint mimosas and other hairs of particularly delightful dogs. The Spanish Colonial–inspired digs sport artsy Cuban movie posters, overhead mambo beats lend as much pep as the fresh-brewed Umbria coffee, and warm servers make this hacienda a home. 663 Main St., Waltham, MA 02451, gustazo-cubancafe.com.
This basement-level bakery is part of Frank DePasquale's North End culinary empire, and yet somehow everything about it screams old-world charm. From the tiny space, bakers churn out umami-rich olive-studded loaves and prosciutto-stuffed baguettes that are served at DePasquale's restaurants and, if you're lucky, with your next plate of home-cooked pasta. 241 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113, briccopanetteria.com.
After a sweeping $50 million upgrade, Hotel Commonwealth is in a league of its own. In addition to 96 sleek new guest rooms, the Kenmore Square gem now boasts a Red Sox-themed luxury suite and private event space overlooking Fenway Park. Add in three of the city's hottest dining and drinking spots—including Eastern Standard, which also serves up gourmet room service—and you have a home run. 500 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215, hotelcommonwealth.com.
With a selection ranging from the latest bestsellers to indie up-and-comers, this Newbury Street institution pleases all manner of bookworm. Home to two stories of books, magazines, and quirky gifts, not to mention a full-service restaurant, it’s easy to spend an entire day lost among the shelves (and you can—the store is open until midnight seven days a week). 338 Newbury St., Boston, MA 02115, tridentbookscafe.com.
Last August, Hermès unveiled a new and improved Back Bay showroom, nearly doubling its fashionable footprint with more than 8,700 square feet over two stories. That’s given the très chic Parisian design house plenty of room to display its most covetable accessories: handbags and silk scarves, naturally, but also home décor, fragrances, and even the lusted-after equestrian line. 50 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116, hermes.com.
If you think music sounds best through ear buds and films are meant to be watched on laptops, skip Goodwin’s. The guys here take high-end audio seriously: Before talking components, they’ll review your home’s blueprints or even make a house call to ensure that the speakers, amps, and digital equalizers they recommend will achieve mind-blowing sound. 899 Main St., Waltham, MA 2451, goodwinshighend.com.
Building the perfect gyro is a Herculean task. The pita must be warm and soft. The meat must be flavorful and tender. But the real key is the sauce holding it all together, the tzatziki. This is where so many good gyros go bad. At Esperia, the classic Greek cucumber-yogurt sauce is just the right combination of creamy and tart, making it the perfect complement to the juicy chicken or pork. 344 Washington St., Brighton, MA 2135, esperiagrill.com.
Can a person live on pasta alone? At this Somerville specialty shop, you could certainly tryand last for months without ever repeating your order, thanks to a massive roster of take-home, house-made pastas that includes ravioli (with fillings ranging from shrimp and fennel to pumpkin and smoked mozzarella), ribbons of handcut strands infused with everything from squid ink to saffron, and a slew of sauces to pair with them all. Laying off the carbs? Peruse the expert selection of gourmet cheeses, charcuterie, and vino instead. 81 Holland St., Somerville, MA 2144, davesfreshpasta.com.
At an authentic Japanese izakaya, the food is meant to serve as a supporting role to the endless flow of sake. But at this Brighton hangout, the infinitely snackable dishes—flame-licked yakitori-style skewered meats, crisp fried oysters, the noodle omelet hybrid known as omusoba—are just as much of a draw. Maximize your experience of the massive menu (and the hefty platters of pan-fried pork and kimchi) by indulging with friends. 1414 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 2135, .
It's the thoughtful details that make weddings so unforgettable. But who has time to sweat the small stuff? Leave it to Janie Haas. A 36-year industry veteran, Haas will coordinate vendors, secure rentals, review contracts, and make sure everything is picture-perfect for your walk down the aisle. She and her planners will give you plenty of face and phone time, making the whole process stress-free and—dare we say it?—fun. 125 Coachmans Ln., North Andover, MA janiehaasevents.com.
In case you've been in a beauty bubble for the past 15 years, Sephora is the adult version of Candyland. Nearly every brand of mascara, lip liner, and blush known to womankind is on display—and you can test all the colors before taking them home. After all, why buy the cheap drugstore foundation when there's a good chance it won't match your complexion? Prudential Center, Boston, MA sephora.com.
When it comes to outfitting our home, we want it all—high style, gorgeous fabrics, American-made pieces—at a fair price, of course. That's why we always make this Boston-area furniture chain our first stop. Whether we're placing a custom order or browsing higher-end brand knockoffs, we get the same white-glove service, without breaking the bank. 142 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 2116, mitchellgoldboston.com.
Special occasions call for spectacular jewelry, and this Boston institution's got it covered. Popping the question? Buy a Shreve Astral Cut diamond. Celebrating an anniversary? Look to designer collections by the likes of Marco Bicego and David Yurman. Getting a divorce? Take home something deliciously sparkly for yourself. A helpful, attentive staff and a wide range of choices—from estate pins to Mikimoto cultured pearls—guarantee you'll always walk out satisfied. 330 Boylston St., Boston, MA shrevecrumpandlow.com/.