It may sound tacky on paper, but in person, Peking Tom's is deliciously campy and cool. With colorfully ironic splashes of Asian pop culture, delightful retro tinges, and plenty of room for lounging, this hidden Downtown Crossing destination with its highly competent service is perfect for parties of 2, 12, or 20. The menu relies on a perfect balance of sweet and sour, fried and juicy, meaty and delicate. Just remember—don't overload on kumquat mojitos before digging into the crispy sweet-chili squid or orange and tamarind-glazed spareribs. 25 Kingston St., Boston, 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.
Every evening, somewhere around midnight, a magical—if vaguely treacherous—moment occurs in Boston. High up onto the back bar of one of the city's most beloved restaurants clambers an employee who, teetering precariously, writes the late-night specials onto a gargantuan mirror. The items differ—flatiron steak with bérnaise, or maybe a Cubano with house spicy mustard—but what remains constant is the anticipation generated, and the rush of orders that inevitably follows. 528 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 2215, easternstandardboston.com.
The Fields Corner neighborhood of Dorchester is filled with exceptional Vietnamese restaurants. But for its skill with dishes beyond the usual pho and vermicelli, Anh Hong rises to the top. Take the vinegary jellyfish-and-shrimp salad, a perfect balance of tangy and sweet. Then there's the beef fondue trimmed with Granny Smith apples and fish mint, which you can use to make your own fresh rolls. And the pineapple-ginger sauce that comes with that tender beef? We'd put it on everything if we could. 291 Adams St., Boston, MA 2122, .
Nothing sinks the heart of a Korean food aficionado more than seeing steamed broccoli as one of the panchan side dishes of a restaurant's every meal. That won't happen at Yasu, where the kimchi and all variations thereof are abundant and flavorful. Order up beef to grill at the tabl—the kalbi and bulgogi are juicy and tender—plus a hearty, spicy tofu stew to go with it, and your palate will want for nothing. 1366 Beacon St., Brookline, MA 2446, yasuboston.com.
There's something refreshing about TC's after a Sox game, if you think of its griminess as a filter that keeps the pink hats out and lets the real fans in. These are the people you want to rock the jukebox, share a pitcher, and play Big Buck Hunter with. Besides, nothing screams "dive bar" like calling your signature drink the "OxyContin Shot." If that's not class all the way, we don't know what is. 1 Haviland St., Boston, MA 2115, .
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/.
Entrusting someone with the most photographed hairstyle of your life is no small decision—unless, of course, that someone is Maricruz Polito. With years of experience behind every tendril she curls, pins, or spritzes into place, the savvy stylist doesn’t just create memorable ’dos for clients preparing to walk down the aisle. Polito—who recently debuted a shiny new studio in Waltham—brings peace of mind to brides looking for a stress-free (and decidedly elegant) wedding day. 681 Main St., Waltham, MA 02451, maricruzhairstyles.com.
Miss seeing your favorite writers in living color? The good news is the beloved author talks at this bibliophile’s paradise are still happening as many as five times a week online, now with an added perk—celebrity moderators. Recent pairings include longtime Globe book critic Gail Caldwell discussing her deeply personal memoir with Gloria Steinem, and former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy chatting about his latest book on health with former First Daughter Barbara Bush. 1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138, harvard.com/index.php?.
Sinesia Karol’s playful yet sophisticated bikinis, one-pieces (pictured), and cover-ups were born out of her desire to help buttoned-up New Englanders feel as comfortable and confident in swimwear as the women she knew growing up in her native Brazil. Her eponymous brand’s signature style? Artful prints and unexpected cutouts guaranteed to have you strutting in the sand like it’s your personal runway. sinesiakarol.com.
No surprise this Venetian wine bar’s popular prix-fixe option made such a (small-s) seamless transition to takeout. The family-style “Arsenale”—a multicourse, shareable feast featuring Italian delights such as wild mushroom conserva, roasted peach stracciatella, and pork-shoulder rigatoni—always felt more like eating a fine-chef-prepped dinner in someone’s home. The only difference: That home is now yours. 569 Columbus Ave., Boston, MA 02118, srvboston.com.
For Ethel’s Lobster Roll, named for his beloved grandmother, chef Jeremy Sewall sources delicate, ultra-fresh meat from his Maine fisherman cousin, then classes it up with a rosemary-imbued bun, crème fraîche, and the perfectly calibrated blend of celery salt and pickle. Your favorite seafood shack can’t compare. 500 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA islandcreekoysterbar.com.