This little cafe offers a welcome respite from Starbucks culture, offering everything from your standard Assam to more exotic blends, from scented and flavored teas to herbal infusions. For summer, try the iced ginger-and-lemongrass tea with one of Tea Tray's sandwiches or desserts. Complimentary tea tastings Tuesdays from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. 1796 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA .
The name of the place means barbecue, and you'd have to be a fool or a vegetarian not to sink your teeth into a few of the ribs here. This Davis Square favorite also serves up the tastiest soul food in town. Start the gut-stuffing with fried okra and hushpuppies, jump to lip-smackin' cornbread and catfish, and cap it with rich pecan pie or the infamous "White Trash Sundae". Too sloppy for a first date, but a great test of soul on the second. 55 Chester St., Somerville, MA .
Okay, for $11 it should be the best. But if you're going to pay $7.95 for a so-so burger elsewhere, why not splurge for the extra three bucks and live a little? Plus, you'll more than make up for the differences with all those perks: individual jars of ketchup and mustard; salty, crunchy shoestring fries to knock your socks off; and all that white linen and monogrammed flatware. It's a cheap way to be King (or Queen) for a day. 15 Arlington St., Boston, MA .
The Pescado a la Sal (fresh fishbaked in coarse salt) is a masterpiece of Iberian cuisine, as is the Cordero Asado (sauteed leg of lamb marinated n sherry, lemon juice, and garlic). If the mood suits you, it's every bit as satisfying, and even a touch surreal, to sit at the blue-and-white-tiled bar where you can work your way through the dazzling tapas selections. What better way to polish off a pitcher of sangria? 451 Washington St., Somerville, MA .
The Pearl bar is so 1999. Named for the latitudinal line on which Nantucket sits, Lola 41 is the newest spot to toast the start (end, middle, whatever) of your island respite. It has ambitious food with Spanish, Italian, Greek, Chinese, and Japanese influences; a young and casually stylish crowd (Lilly Pulitzer at a minimum); and strong, strong drinks. The cocktail menu includes two types of mojitos and lots of sake, plus an already infamous blueberry martini made with local Triple 8 cranberry vodka, blueberry syrup, and fresh berries. 15 South Beach St., Nantucket, MA 2554, .
Do not order your own entrée here—the portions are enormous. Not in the mood to share? Well, don't say we didn't warn you. Heavy on garlic and olive oil and served still in the pan, Jimmy's pastas—linguine ;puttanesca, frutti del mare—are so good you might just eat the whole thing yourself. And that might hurt. Owner Jimmy Cippola doesn't take reservations, so expect to wait in line (even if you're Bill Clinton). 32 Kennebec Ave, Oak Bluffs, MA 2557, .
Ten bucks says if you were asked to imagine your ideal evening of outdoor island dining, you'd pick something with a water view. Oh, naive soul: On the Vineyard, the most delicious outdoor experience happens in Sweet Life's fragrant garden, where threads of tiny white lights illuminate a handful of white-tableclothed seatings. The food is similarly divine: Lively island fare such as sweet-and-spicy roasted scallops, savory halibut with curry onion rings (a must), and salmon with lemon salsa round out the experience. 63 Circuit Ave., Oak Bluffs, MA 2557, sweetlifemv.com.
Hunks and chunks, slivers and slices, discs and wheels... Formaggio stocks more than 200 cheeses from around the world, stacked on its shelves or aging in its cheese cave. Simply tell the experts what you're having for dinner, and they'll help you select the perfect Bleu des Basques or Nottinghampshire Stilton to complement your meal. Sure beats cheddar and Wheat Thins. 268 Shawmut Ave., Boston, MA southendformaggio.com/.
You can concoct your own cocktail at the bloody mary bar, but why bother when these master mixologists can whip up delicacies like the oyster shooter—a tender bivalve nestled in a bloody mary shot? Even the entrées are a twist on the norm: The cornbread-crusted French toast comes with tropical fruit, and the Mexican omelet is loaded with avocado, beans, cheese, and salsa. 1271 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA eastcoastgrill.net/.
Who knows pizza better than teenagers? We sent four teenagers who had trained on a field trip to Italy to sample pies in the North End and East Boston. Their pick: Santarpio's, with caveats. The wait staff is surly, the dining room is grungy, and the location is convenient only if you're heading to Logan. But the pizza is still the best. We suggest takeout. 111 Chelsea St., East Boston, MA .
Schlow put the newly renovated restaurant at Louis, Boston on the culinary map just a few weeks after his arrival from New York. A protege of Manhattan restaurateur Pino Luongo, Schlow and pastry chef Paul Connors, who worked at Aurora, in New York, and the four-star Ryland Inn, in New Jersey, have brought simply prepared but elegant and sometimes surprising cuisine to Boston, featuring notably fresh produce and other ingredients. Try the tasting menu.
Though there's a flurry of hotel action on the island (the renovated retro-chic Chapman House, Lark Hotels' sleek new 76 Main), the Union Street Inn continues to define the gold standard for boutique lodging on Nantucket. In addition to Matouk duvets, free WiFi, and made-to-order breakfasts, this stylish inn now boasts freshly decorated rooms and a revamped patio and outdoor space. 7 Union St., Nantucket, MA unioninn.com.
Start your Saturday with a snack from the Great Cape Baking Company—we suggest the apple-cider doughnut or a hunk of rosemary bread. Load up on local seafood from C&C Lobster & Fish (based in nearby Hull) and fresh produce from Mary Bukujian's Hanson farm. Enjoy the view of Bathing Beach. Drive home happy. Hingham, MA 2043, hinghamfarmersmarket.org.
Escape the pickled beach-bar crowd at this sexy subterranean spot, with its smart mix of single malts and blends, local beers, and a carefully cultivated wine selection. Order from upstairs restaurant Atria's menu—a dozen different juicy burgers are available—or simply cap off the night by raising a glass to your good taste with one of Brick Cellar's inspired cocktails (we dig the Edgartown Harbor Breeze). 137 Main St., Edgartown, MA 2539, atriamv.com.
Enthusiasts of eclectic home decoration adore the Potted Geranium, a cluttered catch-all craft and home accessories store. Need something to offset your dining room's midcentury modernity? Pick up a locally designed Mariposa aluminum bowl. Or maybe a hand-woven Kennebunk & Churchill throw. The constantly evolving jumble of merchandis—old and new, understated and bold—means you never know what you'll find, or find you suddenly can't live without. 188 Main St. (Rte. 28), West Harwich, MA 2671, pottedgeranium.com.