This shockingly well-stocked tobacconist is less smoke shop than historic landmark. Family operated since 1870, it's been at its Park Square location since 1938, when customers including Bing Crosby and Prime Minister Ramsey McDonald bought their tobacco here. The store hasn't changed much since then, and, with its Old World clutter, it's a treasure haven from both modernity and draconian new smoking bans. In addition to a voluminous arsenal of cigars, the Peretti family sells humidors, house-blended pipe tobacco, and hand-carved pipes. 2 1/2 Park Square, Boston, MA ljperetti.com/.
When it comes to lingerie, there's a fine line between terrific and trashy, seamless and tasteless. And while sequins and intricate decoration may look great on window models, they often leave something to be desired after a day of wear. Lingerie Studio's stock melds practical comfort with feminine design. With lines including Cosabella, Lou, Aubade, and Hanro, the nicely edited inventory at this quaint row-house store features pieces that look as good as they feel. Don't miss the wedding lingerie or the large selection of terry, waffle-weave, and silk robes. 264 Newbury St., Boston, MA lingeriestudio.com.
Greeted by strains of club music and stylistas sporting wild chunks of hair color, the Indra newcomer may fear she's crashing a too-hip party. But this decade-old Aveda salon is a pro at putting clients at ease, be it with a neck rub or glass of wine. Consequently, it has a lot of them: thirtysomethings, dads with kids in tow, prep schoolers, mothers-in-law. There are 30-plus snippers on staff, so odds are good someone here will "get" your hair (we adore Jennifer Traverso, a bona fide curl whisperer), and with a senior stylist's cut starting at just $55, you won't pay dearly for that wisdom. 7 Elm St., Andover, MA 1810, indrasalon.com.
Metro Cab doesn't coast on the status quo: It was taking credit cards before the city mandated it, and recently began letting customers schedule rides online and pay via cell phone. All that wouldn't matter, of course, if Metro weren't also speedy. It has the largest fleet in the area—including vans for people with special physical needs and hybrids for those with special ethical ones—and uses a computerized system to dispatch the cab closest to your location (rather than trying to cajole a driver by two-way radio). 84 Braintree St., Allston, MA 2134, .
A few of the dishes that have already become legends in the few years since this sophisticated Kenmore Square spot opened: the fried-oyster sliders, which come smeared with chili-lime aioli and topped with pickled onions and arugula; the lobster-roe noodles, tossed with nubs of grilled lobster and braised short rib; and a house-made-saltine-topped casserole packed with scallops, fresh fish, lobster, and shrimp in a sherry-cream sauce. But if all you're really after is a basket of fried Ipswich clams—well, those are great here, too. 500 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA islandcreekoysterbar.com.
By far the most complete facility in the Hub. A South Station shuttle totes the club's downtown professional clientele to its palatial Summer Street facility; a kiddie gym takes care of the little ones while parents pump up; and a swimming pool, driving range, and squash, tennis, and basketball courts offer every possible perspirational opportunity. The BAC also has in-house trainers, nutritionists, hair stylists, masseurs and masseuses, and a restaurant and TV lounge. The BAC serves with fin-de-siècle family style, and members wouldn't have it any other way. 653 Summer St., Boston, MA .
Diesel is just what a coffee shop should be: a balanced union of hip and cozy. Helping up the cool quotient in Davis Square, Diesel has walls full of original artwork, high ceilings with exposed beams, red-felt pool tables, and comfy couches. Favorites of the house: Vietnamese coffees, aromatic teas, various espresso concoctions. Amenities: a laptop-friendly environment and miniboxes of cereal at breakfast time. Best part of the experience: being able to glance out the window at the green sign of a certain Seattle-based cafe and feel darned good about going indie. 257 Elm St, Somerville, MA diesel-cafe.com/.
It stands to reason that seafood is the speciality of the house at this bright little spot near the Chinatown gate. To wit: The restaurant is decorated with tanks of live fish, lobsters, eels, crabs, and shrimp. The atmosphere itself is delightful, including a huge mural of Hong Kong adorning one wall, and the constant chatter of both Chinese and English filling the air. Favorite dishes: crispy orange shrimp and calamari with mixed green vegetables; lobster sauteed with ginger and scallions; Hunan-style crispy whole fish. All meals finish with chocolate-dipped fortune cookies. Jumbo Seafood is open seven days a week until 2 am. 5-9 Hudson Street, Boston, MA newjumboseafoodrestaurant.com/.
There are floral bouquets, and then there is floral art. Ilex is in the latter category, orchestrating fields full of fresh blooms—luminescent calla lilies with orchids and fluffy penoes with full-petaled, butter-hued French tulips. Even the simplest of arrangements are minimalist treasures, such as one with mango-hued garden roses, glossy green anthurium, and pale apricot hypericum berries. The staff, talented as it is, couldn't be more helpful or down to earth. When you're handed your arrangement, you won't know whether to put it on the dining room table or in an exhibit case. 73 Berkeley St., Brookline, MA ilexflowers.com/.
Order a cheese course at L'Espalier and you'll get something far more interesting than a few hunks of blue and Brie. Maitre d' and house fromager Louis Risoli tends to his selection of little-known artisanal cheeses like babies. And, proud father that he is, he can tell you where each wedge and wheel on his gorgeous trolley was born and raised, be it a Cheshire from England or Hannahbells from right here in Massachusetts. It's a delightful way to finish a multicourse meal, but if it's just cheese you're after, you can also request a flight to nibble in the restaurant's salon. 744 Boylston St., Boston, MA 2199, lespalier.com.
This spanking-clean Chinatown eatery makes neophytes feel welcome without sacrificing neighborhood authenticity. Even better, the food leaves us so invigorated that we'd swear it has health-boosting effects—xinh xinh means 'young and beautiful,' after all. Start with the fortifying chicken or beef pho (sure to put a glow in your cheeks), move on to more-substantial dishes like ca kho to (caramelized catfish) and banh mi bo kho (beef stew with crusty rolls), and head home in a perfect harmony of serenity and satiety. 7 Beach St., Boston, MA 2122, .
With the steady proliferation of Whole Foods, Bruegger's, and Panera, there's no shortage of places to stock up on baked goods out west. Bread & Chocolate, a three-year-old independent outfit in Newtonville, rises above all that mass-produced stuff on the strength of such house-made offerings as fluffy Irish soda bread, pecan-studded sticky buns, glossy fruit tarts, whoopie pies, and gigantic coconut cupcakes filled with lemon curd. The coffee shop atmosphere here goes a long way, too—and the ultracreamy cappuccinos help wash down every last bit of those oh-so-crumbly raisin scones. 108 Madison Avenue, Newtonville, MA 2460, .
The previous generation (Eastern Standard, the sadly defunct B-Side Lounge) may have planted the seeds for a cocktail revival, but Fort Point newcomer Drink—with its house-made liqueurs and garnishes, mid-bar herb garden, and bespoke ice cubes—presents the modern imbiber's paradise in full flower. The brilliantly designed winding bar hides the bottles and puts the bartenders front and center as they work off of their imagination, rather than preconceived menus. Everything from the custom drinks to the linen-and-mini-water-glass setup at each seat is meant to focus the patron's attention on the matter at hand: the serious art of cocktail making. 348 Congress St., Boston, MA 2210, drinkfortpoint.com.
That contented sigh that comes with shucking off the 9-to-5 suit in favor of jeans and a tee? It's the same one you might hear any night at this four-year-old bistro, as diners relax into its placid charms. Dusky red walls and buttery candlelight set the scene for chef Brian Houlihan's contemporary versions of European comfort-food classics, like duck confit with poached figs, steak au poivre, and tarte Tatin. Figure in a modest but irreproachable wine list, and a night at Bia goes down easy in every sense. 25 N. Main St., Cohasset Village, MA 2025, biabistro.com.
Those who make frequent worshipful visits to this midsize sushi joint know it doesn't take much to coax chef-owner Junji Aoki out of his seemingly forbidding silence behind the bar. Just ask (and you might well have to ask, as specialties like firefly squid and monkfish liver aren't often glimpsed in suburban environments), and Aoki will tell you how a particular delicacy is prepared, and how long it'll be in season. Your taste buds, meanwhile, will tell you it's simply dynamite. 397 Main St., Wakefield, MA 1880, .