Next time you're strolling the Esplanade, don't let that cute rollerblader pass you by—strap on some skates of your own and pull up alongside. How to make a good impression when you finally catch up? Stop at Blades first, the ultimate purveyor of all things wheeled and wooden. The staff will hook you up with the best selection of skateboards and in-lines in the city; they'll also keep you looking fly with rack after rack of fashions from Flosport and Aesthetics gear. 349 Newbury Street, Boston, MA .
The old-world charm of this boutique on the first block of Newbury Street harks back to a time when people dressed for dinner, casual Friday was something out of an Orwellian nightmare, and men really did spend a month's salary on trinkets for their wives. It's also a place where the collective gem knowledge of the staff goes way beyond the four Cs of diamonds. Its lines include Picchiotti for stones, DeVroomen for enamel jewelry, Tahitian and South Sea pearls, a Bulgari boutique, Patek Philippe watches, and Van Cleef & Arpels. 24 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
Jeanne Lee doesn't shy away from problem toes—no, she specializes in them, taking the time to rigorously cleanse, file, buff, exfoliate, and massage before unscrewing the cap to your desired polish. And because Lee works with only one other nail technician (her mother) in her fourth-floor Newbury Street space, you're all but guaranteed a tranquil experience. 125 Newbury St., Boston, MA jeannesalon.com.
This is Blue Ribbon's third straight year notching a win, which means we've already waxed rhapsodic about its smoked-to-perfection brisket and tender pulled pork. (For maximum enjoyment, mix the above liberally with any of the house sauces.) Thus, knowing it's the details that make the difference, this year we pay special homage to the baked beans. They're the glue that binds any self-respecting barbecue meal, and Blue Ribbon's are superlative. 908 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington, MA 2476, blueribbonbbq.com.
When you're ready to put some sizzle in your pan, there's no better place to start than at Russo's. Its esoteric selection of produce—Thai okra, dandelion, Asian pear, lychee nut—provides endless inspiration, while the cheese counter brims with imports from the likes of Italy (Robiola), France (at least three Bries), and Spain (Garrotxa). Plus: fresh pasta, salumi and charcuterie, a full array of baked goods, vibrant cut flowers and plants...better break out the reusable grocery bags now. 560 Pleasant St., Watertown, MA 2472, russos.com.
This place is constantly mobbed with lively diners—a sure indication of its status as neighborhood staple. With reasonable prices, speedy service, and generous portions, the sushi bar does particularly well with the area's college crowd. After gorging on maki, order one or two of the mochi ice cream patties; the light (and lightly priced) sweets are a fine way to end your meal. 45 Gainsborough St., Boston, MA 2115, symphonysushi.com.
This ever-expanding outdoor market now includes more than 30 food vendors selling everything from produce, meat, and fish to cheese, bread, pastry, gelato, and local honey (not to mention a couple dozen artisans hawking handmade jewelry, pottery, and the like). There are also occasional classes on topics like raising your own chickens, and an outreach program that teaches schoolkids about eating local and cooking with fresh ingredients. Lexington, MA 2421,
If you're looking for deli atmosphere, head to Rubin's—it's like a time machine, taking you back to an era when the term 'hot tongue' had nothing to do with Lady Gaga. But for pure beefy deliciousness smushed between slices of rye, there's no topping Michael's in Coolidge Corner. It's small, it ain't fancy, and there's barely anywhere to sit. But just try to tell us, with sauerkraut and Russian dressing dripping down your chin, that it's not the best corned beef sandwich in town. 256 Harvard St., Brookline, MA 2446, michaelsdelibrookline.com.
Talk about spreading the love. This year the team at Ten Tables expanded across the Charles, giving Hub cuddlers the choice of intimacy (the tiny J.P. original) or intrigue (the new Cambridge location, full of cozy dark nooks). Both locations feature upscale comfort dishes, like house-made pasta and skillet roasted Giannone chicken, for under $25. Chef David Punch also does a nightly $45 prix fixe, ostensibly for customers with other things on their minds than menu decisions. 597 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, MA 2130, tentables.net.
Barely bigger than a trophy wife's walk-in closet, the original Ten Tables delivers one of the most divine but relaxed meals around. Charcuterie boards bear house-cured meats and rich patés, bacony collards cozy up to pan-seared bluefish, and orange and bay leaf infuse a crème brûlée, none of it overreaching, all created by chef Sean Callahan's able team. 597 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, MA 2130, tentables.net.
Despite the proliferation of earthy-crunchy types in town, only a handful of restaurants here dedicate their menu to meatless meals, and even fewer elevate the concept past casual fare. At True Bistro, though, the offerings actually fall into the category of fine dining. Everything, right down to the wine, is completely vegan, from the English-pea ravioli in lemon-thyme cream to the decadent crepes at brunch, all of which will satisfy even your most staunchly carnivorous friends. 1153 Broadway, Somerville, MA 2144, truebistroboston.com.
We're reluctant to give up this little storefront gem, but its ribbons of house-made pappardelle and tender raviolis are just too delightful not to share. The bubbling braised tripe and perfectly charred tagliata are right out of Nonna's Tuscan kitchen—which is fitting, since the wood tables, simple wine selection, and servers with alluring Italian accents could be, too. 130 Jersey St., Boston, MA 2215, .
This warm, elegant Somerville bistro was cleverly designed to suit both neighborhood residents and those who travel for a celebratory meal—a nice balance that can be attributed in part to wine director Kai Gagnon's skill in choosing wines for both crowds. His bottle list is lengthy and varied—a veritable tour through Europe—but there are also nearly two-dozen by-the-glass options for those with commitment issues. Most important? The knowledgeable servers to guide you to the perfect selection. 118 Beacon St., Somerville, MA 2143, bergamotrestaurant.com.
Smoked meat, we've long held, is the great equalizer—the one cuisine practically everyone (vegetarians aside) can agree on. For proof, head to chef Tiffani Faison's tribute to Texas. You'll find families with toddlers, hipsters chugging Bud Light Lime, and camera-wielding tourists still buzzing about the Fenway tour—all with a huge grin accented by a smidgen of tangy sauce. The pulled pork is divine, and be sure to order a bucket of fluffy biscuits and a scoop of broccoli casserole. 1381 Boylston St., Boston, MA 2215, sweetcheeksq.com.
(IN MEMORIAM) This place was notorious for many reasons: dirty floors; a weird sign hanging from the ceiling advertising an "Oxycontin shot"; the fun-house women's room (don't ask); and the sale of infant-wear emblazoned with the words "Future Customer." In other words, TC's was a truly wonderful place—until it burned down in March. We have high hopes that after its planned resurrection, it will be "better" than ever. Boston, MA 2115,