For many, "grabbing a cup of coffee" means getting your buzz on fast. Render will encourage you to slow down and enjoy the process: All hot coffees are meticulously prepared using the pour-over method, which takes a few minutes per cup. It’s worth the wait for these, or the expertly pulled espresso drinks starring Counter Culture and Gracenote beans. If time is truly unlimited, have a seat and partake in the WiFi, the outlets, and the phyllo-crusted house-made quiche. 563 Columbus Ave., Boston, MA 2118, rendercoffeebar.com.
The butter yellow painted-brick facade houses marvelous treats—gingerbread in the fall, lemon-blackberry cake in the summer. Our absolute favorite item is available only on Sunday: sweet fruit bread studded with dried sour cherries, cranberries, raisins, and other fruits. Divine. 5197 Washington Street, West Roxbury, MA .
As moms and dads know a little too well, when kids find a book that works for them, they tend to go back to it again and again. And again. The same applies to our pick in this category. Four-time winner Barefoot Books brims with fresh, cleverly illustrated titles, and doubles as an independent publishing house run by parents dedicated to the art of old-fashioned storytelling. 1771 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 2140, barefootbooks.com.
Puppies make friends. 'Nuff said.
In the romantic hour when streetlights first crackle to life, lonely singles prowl the city from Commonwealth Avenue Mall to Minuteman Bike Path with naught but their trusty pooches for companionship. And for many of them, the motive is pure, unadulterated animal attraction. We're talking high long-term potential here: If someone can take care of Max's daily needs, then he or she can probably feed a human relationship. And it's easy to meet other owners; unlike some of their owners, dogs aren't afraid to stop, check each other out, and shamelessly pair off. MA
A good brow-shaping can change your life. Really—every time we leave Mondi Hodgdon's chair, the compliments start pouring in. Did we lose weight? Get a tan? Suddenly we have cheekbones, and our eyes pop without mascara. Hodgdon's tools are tweezers and a bit of wax, but she might as well be sprinkling pixie dust. 125 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, daniwagener.com.
Yes, it’s nestled within the tourist mecca of Mashpee Commons. No matter: Once you step into Trevi, you might as well be on a European vacation with your secret paramour. There’s an expansive covered terrace overlooking a soothing backlit fountain, a vast menu of global wines, and a list of generously poured cocktails (the Trevi Tini is our favorite). 25 Market St., Mashpee, MA 02649, trevicafe.com.
These unassuming storefronts take their motto—Feed Your Body Well—to heart, with some 75 alternating choices, all wholesome and flavorful. We slurped lentil; sweet and sour cabbage with fresh dill, white bean, and tomato; numerous chowders; and hearty chilis. Iced soups include banana, honey, and almond; blueberry and peach; and the old, spicy standard, gazpacho. And the Factory makes a matzoh-ball soup to make a Jewish grandmother proud. Our only complaint is that there isn't a Soup Factory in every neighborhood. 2-4 Brookline Place, Brookline, MA .
At first, we were hopelessly distracted by the eye candy, as Abbicci's exotic-looking French and Peruvian servers floated by sensuously to a soft instrumental soundtrack. Once the food arrived, though, our gazes were fully focused on the Mediterranean-inspired plates before us: scallion-and-pistachio-stuffed Peppadews, scotch-glazed squad, and pan-seared pork loin with sweet and sour pepperonata. Owner Marietta Bombardieri fiercely edits her wine list to match her menu. As for other types of matchmaking, you're on your own. 43 Main St. (Rte. 6A), Yarmouth Port, MA abbicci.com.
When was the last time you pulled up to a spa, threw your keys to the valet, and were led into a private VIP suite? The answer, obviously: never. But now you can do just that at the four-story Emerge, Boston's new grande dame of day spas, which boasts a host of standard and medical services for both genders (men get their own area), two in-house doctors, a juice bar, and locker rooms stocked with posh Kerstin Florian products. Spend an afternoon here, and you needn't exit as discreetly as you arrived. 275 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, emergespasalon.com.
"If you want something done right, do it yourself" is a nifty aphorism, but it's also true that we could all use a little help sometimes. The versatile grease monkeys at this bike co-op offer options for all levels of hands-on experience. Stand-and-tool rental runs $9 per hour, an unflappable mechanic to talk you through your repair costs $18 per hour, and if you just can't be bothered, they'll tune your ride to perfection at reasonable rates. If you really want to get your fingernails dirty, the school offers classes in repair and wheel building. 351 Broadway, Cambridge, MA broadwaybicycleschool.com/.
After closing for a year to retool, this nonprofit bakery and “social enterprise” returns to Nubian Square with new African and Caribbean influences on the menu—try the house-baked chapati flatbread wrapped around Haitian pikliz—and an even stronger equity-minded mission. In addition to providing job opportunities to marginalized community members, the café now employs “open book management,” a format that helps staff learn, stem to stern, how a business really works. 12 Dade St., Roxbury, MA 02119, haleyhouse.org/hhbc.
Bridal-gown stylists deal with a cross-section of the touchiest subjects: our relationships with our bodies, our closest family members, and our money. Your Dream Bridal’s Malinda Macari expertly guides you through that emotional minefield, landing you and your perfect gown—handpicked from designers such as Jesus Peiro and Truvelle—securely on the other side. The icing on the cake? Macari insists on booking just one client at a time, so you and your squad get the boutique all to yourselves, ensuring that the experience is both meaningful and safe. 730 Boston Post Rd., Sudbury, MA 01776, yourdreambridal.com.
The Wonka-esque factory may be hard to find, but the chocolate samples (in flavors like chipotle chili) are well worth the extra effort. 561 Windsor St., Union Square, MA 2143, tazachocolate.com.
Invented at the Omni Parker House back in the days when men wore top hats and no one had heard of hydrogenated fats, this custard-filled, chocolate-topped sponge cake is the 19th century at its most decadent. 60 School St., Boston, MA omnihotels.com.