We know, we know. Two Ben Thompson joints in one B & W? Hard to believe, but this place gets our vote just because it dares to serve skate. And backs it up with the best chowder (the Gloucester version) in town. North Market Building, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, MA .
Lewis Wharf, on the waterfront in the summer. Ritz-Carlton Hotel, 15 Arlington St., Boston, on the Public Garden in the winter., Boston, MA .
The drinks aren't bad, either. Gerry's Landing Rd., Cambridge, MA .
This is P-town's first boutique hotel, new this spring, and already we're smitten. Each of its rooms, snug and brilliant white, has plush bedding, nautical curiosities hung on the walls, and unique touches we love. WiFi and parking are gratis, as are the homemade breakfasts (try the strawberry-waffle trifle). The owners have big-city hospitality bona fides, but here their concept is relaxed beach chic. 6 Conwell St., Provincetown, MA salthouseinn.com.
Not to imply Bostonians are some beleaguered, deli-deprived populace for whom stellar pastrami has forever been but a shimmering, fat-dappled mirage—or that the heavenly hand-cut stuff Our Fathers plies in Allston is some kind of smoky, cardamom-crusted godsend. We’re flat-out stating it. Besides the Katz’s-rivaling cured beef, the takeout arm of this modern Jewish restaurant from the Franklin Café crew sells reliably stellar sandwiches, smoked fish, and other cold cuts by the pound. In other words, the stuff deli dreams are made of. 197 N. Harvard St., Allston, MA 02134, ourfathersboston.com.
Every fairy-tale wedding needs a fairy godmother, and for you, that person might just be Malinda Macari at Your Dream Bridal. Her singular goal? To make each and every bride who sets foot inside her inviting Sudbury boutique feel special. Before meeting with you, Macari will review your wedding details and even your Pinterest board to get a sense of your vision. Then, she’ll work her magic in a private (and pressure-free) appointment, pulling from a curated collection of covetable dresses by Truvelle, Lea-Ann Belter, Laudae, and more—no magic wand required. 730 Boston Post Rd., Sudbury, MA yourdreambridal.com.
Like the city’s options for Sichuan fare, this repeat winner just keeps getting better—and bigger. Last winter, the Chinatown original spawned a sibling kitchen in Central Square that instantly warmed the Scoville-loving hearts (and mouths) of Cantabrigians with its palate-igniting cauldron of “Scalding Fish Fillet” and thin-skinned dumplings drenched in beguiling hot sauce. (The puckery, vinegary stuff—like pork with pickled cabbage soup—is tempting, too.) Here’s hoping the fire continues to spread. 58 Beach St. , Boston, MA 5spiceshouse.com .
The Boston alpinist's Valhalla sells all the gear you'll need to get down the hill—and look damned good doing it. Bob Smith's stock of sticks is on a par with that of other ski shops, but the service is unparalleled, thanks to a staff that actually skis—a major plus, considering the impressive and serious selection of K2s, Völkls, and Salomons. Lest we forget the agony of suffering through a season in the wrong boot size (usually too large, he says), custom boot fitter Dave Prahl is on call to save us from ourselves, expertly assessing fit and alignment. 1048 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA .
First things first: If you're still skiing on old-fashioned straight skis, you should be ashamed of yourself. Skiing has changed dramatically in the past 10 years, thanks to improvements in equipment. Shorter, curved skis can make first-timers look like Picabo Street, and Bob Smith's Wilderness House is where to find them. The accessible, knowledgeable staff begins by determining where you'll be skiing (hard-core New England ice and rocks, or pansy-pants West Coast powder), your ability level, and budget, then points you to (and custom fits) the perfect pair. The wide selection—from Rossies to Völkl, K2 to Dynastar—means there's a fit for everyone. The shop also stocks a wide range of apparel and accessories, with everything from glove liners to back-country ski gear, and its end-of-season sales are a favorite with skiers in the know. 1048 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA .
So confident of their excellence that they offer to send you a free tasting kit including competitors' wares. 818 Morrissey Blvd., Dorchester, MA .
Never are fresh ingredients more crucial than when it comes to seafood. These friendly fish-mongers reel in customers with a vast assortment of finned favorites such as haddock, salmon, and swordfish, as well as giant lobsters (10-15 pounds), crabs (hard and soft shelled), and no fewer than five varieties of clams on any given day. Furthermore, if your recipe requires periwinkles, fresh sardines (those here taste nothing like those tiny, stinky, oil fish in a tin), or octopus, this is the place to go. 484 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA courthouseseafood.com/.
Never mind the tourists; come for the wine. This is not only the greatest wine list in Boston, it's one of the greatest wine lists anywhere in America. Old, old bottles abound— and at astonishing prices. For only $40 you can choose between two wonderful, mature Sauternes from Chateux. Nairac, 1975 or 1976. For $85, you can drink a magnificent, minerally white Burgundy, the 1993 Corton Charlemagne from Domaine Louis Latour. For less than half that price ($40), you will be shocked at just how good a "mere" bourgeois Margaux— Ch. Angludet— can be when it's from a year like 1978. Northern Ave., Boston, MA .
The summertime venture of this family candy business is creamy and extra rich. The chocolate chip is the best anywhere. Chewy Turtle Soup is coffee ice cream studded with Hilliard's own chopped-up cashew caramel turtles. 316 Main Street, North Easton, MA .
Where else are you going to find the great American restaurant except next to a highway? 95 Worcester Rd. (Route 9), Framingham, MA .
We'll always miss the old subterranean cafe, but we're glad the Algiers is back and better than ever. 40 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA .