The gleaming, U-shaped bar here is your gateway to Barbara Lynch's homemade pastas (the tagliatelle with Bolognese is a perennial favorite) and sophisticated plates like whole-roasted trout with anchovies and olives. True, this casual trattoria can be pricey for a weeknight meal—especially when Drink, Lynch's downstairs bar, is tempting you with aprés-dinner cocktails—but the return on investment is reliably delicious. 348 Congress St., Boston, MA 2110, sportelloboston.com.
When you're looking for someone to pick up what you're puttin' down, try the Ames hotel's saloon, where a glass-topped bar and stainless steel accents lend an upscale gloss to the robust singles scene. If you're not ready to chat up a Financial District suit, head for the dance floor—or plot your next move while nursing a motivationally named cocktail, such as the "Skip and Go Naked." 1 Court St., Boston, MA 2108, ameshotel.com.
It's hard to place the exact ingredients that make up the house signature sauce—an addictive barbecue-onion mixture that has led generations to this off-the-beaten-track hot dog stand with its siren call. What is clear is that it tastes damn good on a hot dog, especially on the small and skinny, slightly crunchy ones grilled up without ceremony at this shack behind Worcester's airport. Order three dogs for less than five bucks, and ask for some extra sauce to take home. 244 Paxton St., Leicester, MA 1524, .
Amid the vibeless businesses catering to tourists around the Common, Thinking Cup reminds us of the downtown that Bostonians deserve: grownup, urbane, and a little sexy. Outfitted with a sweeping marble counter and leather banquettes, this newcomer channels an old-school European café while crafting deeply flavorful espressos, lavish Valrhona-chocolate mochas, and mor—all using Oregon's legendary Stumptown roasts. But the apex of Thinking Cup's artisanry just might be its Pour Over: a single flawless cup, ground and brewed expressly for you. 165 Tremont St., Boston, MA 2111, thinkingcup.com.
Scrap all the formulas for what makes a great steakhouse (clubby this, old-world that) and swap them for brave new interpretations. That's just what the team behind Mooo (chef Jamie Mammano and partner Paul Roiff) did, and this year, the place has come into its own. The room hews more to regal French than chop hous—as does the exacting, well-timed service. Still, a steakhouse is about the meat, and Mooo bumps it up a notch—and duxelles that's as gloriously reinvented as the restaurant itself. 15 Beacon St., Boston, MA 2108, mooorestaurant.com.
Even diners who prefer their atmospheres serene are willing to brave the frenetic crowd here for one reason: the food. Simple tapas like tortilla espanola shine; the wine-braised short ribs are so rich they could almost double as dessert; and the house specialty, maiz asado (grilled corn with aioli, lime, and aged cheese) has made an addict out of many. Come in early if you're after a seat, as this place packs 'em in like sardines nearly every night. 1704 Washington St., Boston, MA 2118, toro-restaurant.com.
Crummy roadside location? Check. Severely limited menu? Check. The most ridiculously good hot dogs you'll ever stuff in your hungry maw? Double check. Marinated in apple cider, Boston Speed dogs are grilled, then topped with anything from chili sauce to cranberry relish. A smart slash down the middle of the dog helps condiments stay put, and the hearty Portuguese roll sops up all the tasty juices. 43 Newmarket Sq., Roxbury, MA 2118, bostonsuperdog.com.
Herren of Steve's Ice Cream has won this award. But Steve has sold Steve's to Joey Crugnale, who owns Joey's. And Joey is putting a bit more effort into Joey's than he is into Steve's (also, the lines at Joey's are shorter). Very smooth and light ice cream (Joey says he uses a "fast-whip" process). A make-your-own sundae bar, and chocolate-cinnamon-raisin to boot. 1161 Broadway, Somerville, MA .
Last December, the Boston Marathoner went to the Globe with a sob story about how evil Bank of Boston was foreclosing on his happy Dover home to settle a bank loan to Rodgers's running-goods store. Lo and behold, four months later, Rodgers announced that the bank had given him a fair price on his home and had signed him to a personal-services contract. Hmmm.
Is there anything out there more wonderfully old-school than Mr. Sid? The parquet floors; the in-house bar, hair salon, and billiards table; the genteel service—it all feels reminiscent of another time. The clothing itself is as current as it gets, however, with sharp styles from the likes of Ermenegildo Zegna, Brioni, and Scott James, plus a collection of high-end footwear. Men who prefer to go bespoke will appreciate the "made-to-measure" program, which offers custom clothing from a selection of the store's designers. 1211 Centre St., Newton Centre, MA mrsid.com.
There was a time when anyone on the South Shore interested in fine furnishings had to make the trek up to Boston. But there's no need now. At this lovely one-stop decor shop, you'll find outstanding American lines like Oly and Hickory Chair, French furnishings made by Grange, and accessories by the Vermont-based Simon Pearce. Overwhelmed? Seek out the in-house designer, Bill Barr, who offers complete interiors service. 81 1/2 Fairhaven Rd., Mattapoisett, MA surroundingshome.com.
Since the 19th century, the sprawling barn at Wilson Farm has proffered more than 100 varieties of the grower's own fruit, vegetables, herbs, and flowers; fresh-baked breads and pastries; locally made cheeses; and house-made pastas, soups, salads, and more. It's a one-stop shop in the dead of winter, the height of summer, and any time in between. 10 Pleasant St., Lexington, MA 2421, wilsonfarm.com.
Wood paneling, arcade games, a collection of retro beer cans ... hopping onto a barstool at the Union Brewhouse is like sneaking down to your uncle's basement man cave, circa 1976. Thankfully, the beer selection goes well beyond Bud longnecks at this laid-back spot, which boasts 17 craft beers on tap (including special offerings from the likes of Oskar Blues and Firestone Walker) and more than 100 bottle selections (Belgium's Delirium Tremens and Duvel, among others). 550 Washington St., Weymouth, MA 2188, unionbrewhouse.com.
The romance started with a rich local-oyster-and-bacon chowder with chive and truffle oil. Then came the scallops with oyster mushrooms, asparagus, pancetta, pea shoots, and chive béarnaise, and then the organic beef special with ramps and shiitakes. By the time the heavenly macademia-nut-and-coconut tart showed up, we knew for certain that this homey new spot from Brewster Fish House alum Martha Kane would be more than just a one-night stand. 800 Main St., Dennis, MA 2638, fincapecod.com.
Ascending the worn wooden stairs to reach Nesting on Main recalls a trip to Grandma's attic. The three owners, each with a talent for finding charm in the humblest of artifacts, have covered almost every inch of surface in their four-room boutique with antique card-catalog drawers, beveled mirrors, birdcages, glass doorknobs, chess pieces—the list is seemingly endless. If by chance you don't find what you're after, just write it down in the "wish list" book, and let the buyers work their magic. 44 Main St., Concord, MA 1742, .