Given that Mick Jagger, Michelle Williams, and Salma Hayek have all put themselves in her hands (literally), Robin Chalfin can certainly lay claim to being a celebrity tailor. But while she's deployed her sewing skills on movie sets and at rock concerts, you don't need to be a star to be a customer: Just ring her up and she'll show up at your door, pins and measuring tape in hand, and return in a matter of days with clothes that fit you to a T. MA
The Newbury Street veteran's solo endeavor in Newtonville is a study in making the best of a painful (and often embarrassing) salon service. Caterina Sorrenti keeps Rina's Studio obsessively clean (no double-dipping applicators here). She's thorough, too, though she gets this award because she's a pro at multitasking, able to chat distractingly about real estate, the weather, and whatever else while going to town on your ingrowns. 811 Washington St., Newton, MA 2460, rina-studio.com.
Don't dig up that lady's slipper! Come to the annual June plant sale at Garden in the Woods for wildflowers you can take home without fear of eradicating an endangered species. While the June sale is the largest, wildflowers are always available for purchase at the Garden, as well as books and other items in the charming gift store. But don't leave without a tour of the Garden itself, one of New England's unique treasures. Hemenway Road, North Framingham, MA .
Divine Sales, 415 Mass. Ave., in Central Square, Cambridge, is operated by the followers of Guru Mararaj ji, the short, fat spoiled brat of a perfect master. But religious convictions should never interfere with a financial transaction. Divine Sales does have a nice selection of second-hand goods, and you can buy them without selling your soul. 415 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, MA .
First, Idaho russets are aged for at least a month before the peeling, cutting, and rinsing commences. Next comes a low-temperature dunk in the fryolator. Finally, the Belgian-style frites are flash-fried to order in a vegetable-oil blend, salted, and corralled into a stiff paper cone—and only then are they ready to be dunked into one of the 12 house-made sauces on offer (we're partial to the curry ketchup, cheddar Duvel, and "Saturday-night chive"). 33 Union St., Boston, MA eatfrites.com.
Most Japanese restaurants around here are either sushi specialists or theatrical hibachi houses. Shiki, a subterranean spot tucked away on a Coolidge Corner side street, is the outlier. Offering a massive selection of traditional small plates—tangy tsukemono pickles, fluffy agedashi tofu, and mushroom-packed, sticky-rice-stuffed squid, along with plenty of sake to pair with them—this spot was designed for the true Japanophile. 9 Babcock St., Brookline, MA shikibrookline.com.
Roger Plourde gives humanity what nature didn't, from born-with-it blond highlights to look-at-me strawberry luster. Sure, he's up on the latest color trends and can certainly let fly if you want that. But foremost, Plourde works to give you exactly what you ask for and does so with that rarest of qualities: good taste. And, as the ultimate kicker to your fresh color, he happens to also be a superb stylist. 30 Newbury St., Boston, MA jamesjosephsalon.com/.
When Zayna Gold tells you to do a pushup, you do it. You do it because she's an expert in forging top-condition bodies, because she's always at the cutting edge of new fitness moves and methods and because her devotion to you breeds your devotion to her. With more than 15 years of Pilates experience, hundreds of devoted clients, and multiple feather in her professional cap (including an appointment as trainer for Self magazine's 2002 fitness challenge), Gold has reached near-celebrity status. 364 Boylston St., Boston, MA bostonbody.com/.
A manicure by Maria Rodriguez is, hands down, a tour de force. Her perfectionist's eye to detail (from clipping and buffing to lengthy hand massages) is impeccable, her conversation keeps the process interesting, and her easygoing demeanor makes the often-impossible task of choosing the perfect color a cinch. She takes the extra time to make sure nails are dry, offers pointers on how to sustain manicures, and sees to it that every singer, by the time leaves her table, feels positively regal. 9 Newbury St., Boston, MA mariorusso.com/.
Searching for real estate is as much fun as a bad case of hives. Mark Bensky of Hunneman's Back Bay office is like a dose of hydrocortisone. Kind, funny, very professional, and ever-patient, Mark will help you see that the adorable garden flat you've set your heart (and collateral) on is actually a resort hotel for vermin. Call him first. Hunneman/Caldwell Banker, 227 Dartmouth St., Boston, MA .
Hell-o-o-o! Can anybody help me? Where is everybody? The hardest thing to find in a department store these days is a salesperson. And even when you find one, too often they're clueless in helping match you with your quest. Not at Bloomingdale's. Time and again, the sales staff is on hand, pleasant, knowledgeable, and resourceful. That's shopping. The Mall at Chestnut Hill, Chestnut Hill, MA .
The pleasures of wine-drinking diminish considerably when everything a restaurant pours (a) puts you in debt or (b) comes from a vintner or varietal you've never heard of. Cheers, then, to Les Zygomates for its accessible list aimed at connoisseurs on a shoestring. Arranged by color and grape, the menu boasts dozens of wines under $50. There's even a quick-hit guide to bottles that can be had for an Andy Jackson or less, a handy resource for diners who are really pinching pennies. 129 South St., Boston, MA 2111, winebar.com.
For a modern Boston tea party, head to L'Espalier on a Saturday afternoon, when the Back Bay brownstone is filled with elegant ladies nibbling on pastries and canapés. We recommend Red Riding Hood's Basket: savory tea sandwiches, melt-in-your-mouth scones with crème fraîche, and chocolate-dipped strawberries or Valrhona milk chocolate mousse tarts. The tea, delivered with a graceful flourish, is brewed just so and punctually refilled. You won't want to spill a drop. 744 Boylston St., Boston, MA 2199, lespalier.com.
If lobster was exclusively meant to be served boiled and dunked in butter, God would not have created ginger and scallions. One mouthful of the crustacean at this Chinatown gem, and you'll rethink the wisdom of the clambake. Equally transcendent are the whole, crispy fish; the jumbo shrimp netted live from an in-house tank and fried in a spicy orange sauce; and the (yes, delightful) Seafood Delight. 5 Hudson St., Boston, MA 2111, jumboseafoodrestaurant.com.
The crisp, airy baguettes and delicious country loaves are an excellent reason to make this European-style bakery the stop for your daily bread. But it's the cinnamon 'morning buns,' pear-ginger coffee cake, and apricot brioche that make us loyal—nay, slavish—customers. Clear Flour's crowning glory, and on this even the most exacting French pâtissier would have to agree, is their chocolate croissant: diaphanous, buttery, divine. 178 Thorndike St., Brookline, MA 2446, clearflourbread.com.