Relax, kids: This store doesn't have any of those icky vegetables you like to dispose of in your napkin. What it does have is loads of great clothes you can't get at the mall. That's because the owner, Molly Moncreiff, orders them from faraway places like Denmark, Israel, and Cabot, Vermont. For girls, there are down-to-earth print tops and dresses that any Anthropologie-loving big sis would kill for; for boys, relaxed Charlie Rocket tees and dress-up wear that's not dorky. There's even something for Mom and Dad: sale signs galore. 855 Washington St., Newton, MA 2460, .
Your bathroom never had it so good. Every inch of Waterworks is dedicated to the senses, and every item—each perfectly placed and folded—is luxury incarnate. The sweet aroma of French soaps welcomes you first. Then come bath towels so soft, you'll think you're back in the womb. Next up: gleaming shower fixtures, faucets, tiles, and tubs—in as many classic styles as newfangled modern designs. The staff is informed and charming, and if you absolutely must have those frosted glass tiles by the weekend, many of the items are available for delivery within eight days of the date of purchase. 103 Newbury St., Boston, MA waterworks.com/.
One step inside and your willpower begins to fade. After three steps, you're fixated on a lustrous, lacy negligee. Soon you're too weak-kneed to take any more steps. And here's why: set after set of bras, underwear, corsets, and simply sublime undergarments so beautiful, they'd make Roseanne Barr feel like Cameron Diaz. Far from tacky, these are quality labels like Cosabella and La Perla—all pricey, all worth splurging. How will you ever decide? With the help of the friendly and efficient staff, of course. 5 Copley Place, Boston, MA neimanmarcus.com/.
Among Cantabrigians' best-kept secrets is America Dural, hidden on a quiet street in Observatory Hill. An unfussy storefront conceals treasures from every period: midcentury Bertoia chrome chairs, ornate Georgian mahogany chests, a refreshing selection of contemporary art. Only a pro could set up such an enticing array of home furnishings—and, in fact, the showroom is part of Phillip Miller's interior design business. You could buy a single piece, but then again, why not just engage Miller to bring his cultivated eye to your entire home? 143 Huron Ave., Cambridge, MA americadural.com.
At first glance, Cargill has the right résumé: He started at Cheers. Of course, he was only parking cars. Now behind the bar at a more upscale and off-the-beaten-path location, the Newburyport native has quietly made a name for himself, especially for his mojitos. (He's got the muddler's callous to prove it.) But he's equally adept at martinis or whatever might be your highball poison. Cargill's laid-back charisma and cackling laugh perfectly match Chez Henri's easygoing French-Cuban vibe, and his knack for creative mixology produces concoctions that would bowl over even Norm Peterson. One Shepard St., Cambridge, MA chezhenri.com/.
First, a point of order: A proper martini will never, ever be preceded by an adjective. Not chocolate, not raspberry, not blue velvet, not anything. Except, of course, for the words "extremely dry." Nor shall a martini be bastardized with vodka. Only gin, please, with a mere whisper of vermouth, straight up and very cold. That said, we're left with a dilemma—namely, how to choose the glass of cold gin. Presentation and atmosphere are the only criteria left. The Bristol Lounge, with its comfy seats, warm nuts, and an upscale yet unpretentious and definitely unstuffy ambience, is the perfect martini arena. Pricey, yes. But tableside pouring from chilled shakers costs money, you know. Four Seasons Hotel, 200 Boylston St., Boston, MA .
A good rule of thumb for determining whether or not a restaurant serves authentic Mexican cuisine is to scan its menu for ceviche, pozole, flan, and café de olla. Casa Romero, tucked into a tiny Back Bay alleyway, has all four, as well as nicely executed traditional main courses such as enchiladas, verde or poblano; chicken mole; and tenderloin of pork marinated in orange and smoked chipotle peppers. The margaritas are tasty; the service is, well, serviceable enough; and the atmosphere, mellow and intimate. Hit Casa Romero during summer and you can dine in its lovely courtyard. 30 Gloucester St., Boston, MA casaromero.com/.
You must take seriously any soup shop that boasts "Triple Strength Chicken Vegetable Available Daily." The Factory means business, with four alternating selections of more than 75 varieties every day. Cool down on a summer evening with a chilled bowl of Blueberry Peach or serve some Gazpacho to guests. When winter rolls around, be ready with Hot Carrot and Ginger, Double Onion with Sherry, or Classic Lentil. The only Soup Nazi-esque thing about this place is the price: a slightly steep $4.25 for a 12 oz. bowl. 2-4 Brookline Place, Brookline, MA .
For the healthy: blackened tuna sashimi. For the daring: wasabi-crusted salmon. And for the hungry: a lobster roll that's meaty, chunky, and sweet. No matter what your palate craves from the sea, Skipjack's probably serves it, and serves it well. This year, the Newton and Natick branches of the three-restaurant chain even began to feature sushi, from hearty lobster maki rolls to thin-sliced tuna sashimi. Or bypass the raw and head straight for the cooked—everything is flapping-fresh and runs from the creative (mahi-mahi grilled to perfection, then smothered in a peach pepper salsa) to the traditional. (The Boston clam chowder is a rich meal unto itself.) 55 Needham St., Newton, MA skipjacks.com/.
Born from the civic altruism that also created the Emerald Necklace, Revere Beach was the first public beach in America, and thanks to a centennial restoration that began in 1996, it's again one of the best. The bathhouses might still be funky and the surrounding apartment buildings can be eyesores, but the bandstand is spiffed up, and the sand and water are clean, making the nearly three-mile crescent lapped by the Atlantic one of New England's most beautiful beaches. If it were in Rio, there would be a song about it. Where else can you watch 747s set down like giant birds as you do the backstroke, or forgo your summer potboiler to read the tattoos on passerby? If Revere is the people's beach, then power to the people. Revere Beach Boulevard, Revere, MA .
Local masterpiece-mongers tend to deal in one of two extremes: jejune still-lifes geared to designers who spruce up Back Bay sunrooms, or sprawling esoterica that cause poseurs to start lusting for home-display space. Hewing a noble path between pear paintings and "environments," Lanoue focuses on established artists who tackle traditional genres—portraits, landscapes, even floral studies—with modern flair. Though varied in style, the monthly exhibitions all balance craftsmanship with conceptual edge, requiring neither advanced degree nor audio tour to blow you away. 125 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, lanouefineart.com.
Sometimes pushing a stroller through the mall feels like navigating a herd of wildebeest; an afternoon at the playground, like dodging wild chimpanzees. On these days, wise parents escape to more civilized environs—namely, this parklike turn-of-the-century zoo, which offers 72 acres' worth of roaming room. The recently renovated gorilla exhibit and the addition of two magnificent tigers have the zoo looking better than ever. And it has lots of kid-friendly food options and convenient diaper-changing stations to help keep your own little critter happy. 1 Franklin Park Road, Boston, MA 2121, zoonewengland.com.
With a capacity of only 270, this Central Square haunt has an oversize personality that defies its small scale (and always sticky floor). The volume's appropriately loud, the drinks (served in plastic cups) are priced low, and the shows are so rollicking, you'll be a T.T.'s devotee from your first visit: Over 100 bands—a sonic cornucopia of well-regarded Hub artists and fledgling acts from across the country—take the scuffed stage each month. If you want to see the next big thing before everyone else does, this is the place. 10 Brookline St., Cambridge, MA ttthebears.com.
This is vintage for the finicky. No wading through bins, no discarding racks' worth of garments for signs of age or questionable authenticity. Co-owner and former high school history teacher Rachel Hirsch works with suppliers from around the globe, and each piece that she pulls into her immaculate Porter Square shop is carefully inspected and arranged by decade. The finishing touch is a tag describing the occasion for which some stylish woman could have originally donned the garment. Reads the legend for a black velvet babydoll from the '60s: "This might actually be a fun New Year's Eve." Chances are, your night out in any History purchase will be equally memorable. 1693 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA historyboutique.com.
Leave it to the ever-professional Ellen Bartlett to create a confection as sweet—and original—as your wedding. Bartlett knows the pain suffered by so many wedding guests forced to eat flavorless wedding cakes the texture of Styrofoam. Her antidote: fresh, delectable cakes in any shape you can dream up. Maybe it's a Frangelico-soaked hazelnut dacquoise with mocha buttercream—in the shape of a sailboat. Or a deep chocolate framboise with fresh raspberries, festooned with delicate fondant flowers. You want it, odds are she can make it—and make you happy ever after. 248 Cypress St., Brookline, MA cakestoremember.biz/.