Anna's doesn't serve the biggest burritos in town, and purists might—might—argue that some of its ingredients (particularly the carnitas) trail those prepared by its competitors. But Anna's burritos are, without question, the best put together. And as any hardcore burrito enthusiast knows, structural integrity is the true standard by which a burrito should be judged. The quick-working craftsmen who staff this busy local chain's assembly lines start by steaming each tortilla individually—a step often skipped by other shops—then pile on carefully calibrated scoops of freshly prepared fillings. At the final station, burrito-rolling is elevated to its rightful status among the culinary arts, ensuring that everything holds together until the last blissful bite. 1412 Beacon St., Brookline, MA annastaqueria.com/.
Witness the alchemy firsthand: Confections at Serenade, Brookline Village's intimate chocolatier, are prepared before customers' eyes using smooth, buttery Callebaut direct from Belgium. It's a show that has lured in locals, siren-like, for some 15 years now. Then there's the serenade itself: the chocolate. The truffles are an adagio in their own right, each subtly laced with flavor (Champagne, Grand Marnier, raspberry) that plays to a smooth, dense ganache core encased in a layer of chocolate. The French truffle dusted in bittersweet cocoa is a standout, but the house signature is the Viennese, a fat square of layered dark and milk chocolate infused with hazelnut butter. Serenade also runs a small stand in South Station, lulling the train-bound and softening the commute home. 5 Harvard Sq., Brookline Village, MA serenadechocolatier.com/.
The Boston Children's Museum has been mobbed since it unveiled its 23,000-square-foot expansion and accompanying renovation in April, so chances are good you'll arrive to find a long queue snaking from the door. Try to tough it out: Your reward is just inside, in the form of a corkscrew-shaped three-story contraption that the museum calls the New Balance Climb, and grateful parents might regard as the mother of all monkey bars. Even if your kids don't hit another exhibit, a scamper across, up, through, and under its twisting platforms will leave them too exhausted to do anything but go home and watch their SpongeBob DVDs until the clouds part. 300 Congress St., Boston, MA 2210, bostonchildrensmuseum.org.
That the Boston Ballet's hiring of artistic director Mikko Nissinen, once dubbed "The Flying Finn," will put an end to the company's soaring exits and financial woes.
Todd and Olivia English couldn't have done it better. The meats and fish from the wood-fired grill and oven are fabulous. The decor is warm and sunny Mediterranean. And the prices allow you to go at least once a week. 67 Main St., Charlestown, MA .
Is there any dish more irresistible than a heaping plate of hot fries? We think not. And the pommes frites at Shepard—owner René Becker and chef Scott Jones’s ode to French-inspired dishes—are everything you’d want them to be. Dark and crispy, but not burned. Soft, but not mushy, in the middle. Salted, of course, but not over-seasoned. Grab ’em at the restaurant’s bar, where servers deliver the tempting taters with a side of creamy aioli. One Shepard St., Cambridge, MA 02138, shepardcooks.com.
Winston's Newton store feels more like a mom-and-pop shop than the Boston area florist's biggest location. The mind-boggling array of blooms on offer includes roses, hydrangeas, peonies, calla lilies, and arty, twisted sea grass. And the resourceful, creative staffers will be eager to help you, once you're done staring slack-jawed at the symphony of colors. 11 Florence St., Newton, MA winstonflowers.com.
Anatomy of a Winner: We all shed tears when our favorite impetuous primate and his long-suffering companion, the man with the yellow hat, lost their Harvard Square home in 2011. Luckily, the world's only Curious George store reopened in the same location last year, with an expanded focus and a brand-new interior. Besides the original books by Margret and H. A. Rey, here are some of the things we love about the shop. 1. Stroller valet means there's nary a carriage in sight and more room for playing and browsing. 2. Small visitors can curl up with a book in the popular reading nook. 3. Stuffed versions of the iconic monkey range from eight to thirty-six inches. 4. Local playthings, like this "Pirates of Boston" puzzle from Marblehead's Mud Puddle Toys, are on offer. 5. Exclusive T-shirts emblazoned with the shop's namesake and friends are designed in-house. 6. Trying out the display toys—like these bright Crocodile Creek balls—is encouraged. One JFK St., Cambridge, MA thecuriousgeorgestore.com.
The real ice-cream aficionado's conundrum: Once you've gone Danish, you'll never go back. If that Danish is Farfar's, however, you'll go back repeatedly. This isn't your over-the-top carnival of crazed flavor and obnoxious and undiscriminating mix-ins. Farfar's is about amazing, rich texture and simple but intense fresh flavors. The cinnamon is a coup de cremerie. The peanut butter reaches deep into the nut's truest flavor. And the sweet cream tastes like innocence itself. 272 Saint Georges St., Duxbury, MA farfarsicecream.com/.
The Police and U2 are tough acts to follow. But night after night at the Paradise, musicians take the very same stage where those greats once played. The three-level venue hosts both nationally recognized acts (Kings of Leon, Jack Johnson) and local up-and-comers (the Slip, Apollo Sunshine) piping their performances through a booming, second-to-none sound system made for big bass, pounding percussion, and fierce vocals. 969 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 2215, .
Like the best of the Celtics owners in the team's illustrious past, Messrs. Gaston, Cohen et al. understand that the less one meddles with management, the more one enhances one's chances of fielding a marvelous team such as this years' edition.
Often imitated, never duplicated: In the years since Craigie’s burger became the hottest thing between two buns, other restaurants have tried to replicate the high-quality, limited-quantity formula. And yet the 18 burgers Craigie churns out each night are still the most coveted in town, thanks to an aggressively rich, juicy blend of beef cuts and bone marrow that manages to be way too much and just right all at once. Good news for all you FOMO-racked non-meat eaters: This year chef Tony Maws debuted an umami-packed veggie version. 853 Main St., Cambridge, MA 02139, craigieonmain.com.
Every once in a while, a spa comes along that hits an enviable note combining flawless service, a soothing environment, and extraordinary—and forward-thinking—treatments. That's the zone in which Daryl Christopher finds itself right now, thank to a perfectionist staff whose pedicures are legendary, whose massages are ethereal, and whose body polishes are rejuvenation incarnate. Above the frenzy of the downstairs salon, the peaceful spa feels like it's nowhere in the city. For that matter, with organic treatments like an aromatherapy full-body wrap, it feels like it's nowhere near earth. 37 Newbury St., Boston, MA dchristopher.com/.
Take one technophobe, add one patient, nonaggressive Tweeter salesperson, and the result: one happy new stereo owner. 874 Commonwealth Ave., Brookline, MA .
North East brewmeister Dan Paquette is one to watch, mainly because his Grampus Trippel is one to drink. Served up in a 10-ounce brandy snifter that lets you see its clear amber color and appreciate its aroma, the trippel is fermented with a yeast strain from Belgium's Westmalle, one of only six Trapist breweries in the world. And while this Belgian-style ale may be the of Paquette's lot so far, keep an eye on the horizon. He's churning out brews that no one else in New England—let alone Boston—is concocting. 1314 Commonwealth Ave., Allston, MA .