The cool taupe walls with pure white trim make you feel as if you've stepped into a late-model Bentley. This is the type of place to come when a relationship sours (you'll make up) or a distant relative comes to town (conversation will flow). Still, the high-brow ambiance encourages a friendly camaraderie—a glance at a neighbor's appetizer is met with a conspiratorial smile. And Ken Oringer's dashing fare is certainly worth smiling about. Eliot Suite Hotel, 370 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA .
The wine list at Anthony's Pier 4 is deceptive: It's a Wine SpectatorGrand Award Winner (since 1982), and it is huge in a way that usually suggests an equally huge bill at the end. But do flip through the 30 pages or so. Jump from Champagne to German Eisweins. Then pick your favorite without laying out the huge markup most restaurants charge. Do not confuse this with low prices...you get what you pay for! Word to the wise—we're recommending the wine, the food is up to you. 140 Northern Ave., Boston, MA .
Some nights just call for a simple dinner served in a cozy dining room where the service is relaxed and the food is just like mama used to make. That's the essence of an evening at Sage, chef (and North End native) Anthony Susi's American-Italian bistro. No matter that the wait for one of the eight tables is often long: Susi's handmade gnocchi and pastas are heaven-sent, with melt-in-your-mouth textures and impeccable use of fresh seasonal ingredients. 69 Prince St., Boston, MA .
Here's a tavern in the truest—and best—sense of the world: a homey magnet for folks from many walks of life, with good comfort food and plenty of drink. The Washington Square hits all the right marks on all the scales: high on quality and atmosphere, but low on pretense. Hang at the long wooden bar or the communal tables to chat with everyone from pierced college kids to nuclear families, or slide into one of the dark corner booths with your better half for a dinner for two. 714 Washington St., Washington Square, Brookline, MA washingtonsquaretavern.com/.
Henry Ford may have invented the assembly line, but Anna's Taqueria has perfected it. The queue at any of its four locations is usually out the door but moves quickly, thanks to the deft hands of the burrito-istas who slap down cheese, guac, hot sauce, and tasty meat faster than Speedy Gonzales. Don't think quality suffers with velocity, however: The lemony grilled chicken, the spicy carnitas, and the juicy grilled vegetables are as delicioso as the assembly is rápido. 1412 Beacon St., Brookline, MA annastaqueria.com/.
We have a tendency to think of South End Formaggio as a great spot for fancy cheeses, unctuous olive oils, and other hard to find treasures. And it is. But there's plenty more here. The chewy, sesame seed-coated mini ficelle loaves lined with thinly sliced salami and slivers of sharp cheese are a treat you can eat with one hand while you drive home. That'll stop you from snacking on these fancy cheeses you're saving for your dinner guests. 268 Shawmt Ave., Boston, MA southendformaggio.com/.
When it moved into Elephant Walk's old Union Square location, Rauxa had sizable shoes to fill—and lived up to the challenge. Step down into the stark cavern for a sampling of delicious wines (including cava), fresh bread, olives, and impeccable entrees. If you thought tapas and sangria were all Spain had to offer, this new Catalan-style restaurant will change your mind. 70 Union Square, Somerville, MA .
Kill two birds with one stone: Armani Cafe —at the Prime Viewing Central between Fairfield and Exeter — is not only the best place to see other people, it's the best place to be seen in all your sartorial splendor. Required accouterments: cell phone, beeper, head-to-toe black Eurowear, and the Beemer double-parked nearby so all can see you coming and going. The pricey, trendy, yet tasty fare satiates cravings while you watch the creatures of Newbury stroll by. 214 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
With close to 200 herbs and spices to choose from, Harvest remains the wise shopper's best bet. Planning a romantic dinner? In one stop you'll find the cardamom, tumeric, and cilantro for your seductive Chicken Pasanda, and some Damiana herb to help keep the— uh— mood up. Bulk dispensers allow you to buy as much or as little as you need, and the staff is knowledgeable and friendly. 581 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA .
Italian on demand: Stuff the freezer with an assortment of Capone's gnocchi, ravioli, and tortellini, and toss in a couple of containers of vivid pesto and cardiac-crisis Alfredo sauce. Guaranteed, your guests will bicker over the last square of ravioli stuffed with lobster and crab, the last crescent of aged Gouda tortelloni. The three varieties of fresh gnocchi are addictive— black pepper, chive and sweet potato— and all plump up like miniature footballs when you cook them. 14 Bow St., Somerville, MA .
With some of the world's loveliest jewels and New England's largest selection of designer jewelry (David Yurman, Doris Panos, Charriol, Cassis, Pasquale Bruni), all that glitters at Royal Jewelers really is gold. Don't be dazzled just by the selection of designers, though—leave room to be amazed by the work of the masterful watchmakers and the in-house design and repair service. 58 Main St., Andover, MA royaljewelers.com/.
With locations in Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and Vineyard Haven, Mad Martha's sees to it that you don't have to go far to get your ice cream fix. It produces some of the richest, creamiest, and freshest ice cream around and packs it with pure flavor, from the anything-but-plain chocolate or vanilla to the varieties that come loaded with ingredients like buttered pecans. There's amazing frozen yogurt, too, but who wants to count calories on vacation? 7 North Water St., Edgartown, MA .
Seven thousand yards of championship golfing, nestled in 170 acres of sweet-smelling pine forest: The 72-par Dennis Pines is a course to be reckoned with. With water at four of the holes, enough trees to test anyone's accuracy, and the notorious par-5 twelfth, the course is arguably the toughest—and certainly one of the most beautiful—on Cape Cod. Amenities are plentiful, including an expansive driving range and practice green, a nice little lounge, and a well-stocked pro shop. Rte. 134, East Dennis, MA dennisgolf.com/.
This is what you might call seafood in the rough: You stand at the counter, shout your order, eat it, and leave. But paper plates and plastic cutlery aside, there's very little that's actually rough about Woodman's, which offers some of the smoothest fried seafood around. The breading isn't a disguise for a small and salty chunk of meat, as it is at lesser seafood shacks, but a crispy golden complement to the tender bivalves beneath. 121 Main St., Essex, MA woodmans.com/.