Sadly, the rediscovery of the cocktail culture has perverted the once noble activity of drinking, reducing it to a runway show for an unfortunate breed of baseball cap-sporting frat rats, who choke on cigars, while wincing through martinis. The lounge at Frank's Steak House, in North Cambridge, is sufficiently off the beaten path to attract the fully grown who really enjoy the basics—conviviality, entertainment, and, of course, booze. The rat-packy lounge is free of the smarmy irony that characterizes some of the Johnny-Come-Lately cocktail spots; Frank's has been open since 1938, and some of the patrons look as though they've been glued to their barstools since opening day. 2310 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA .
Next Wednesday about 10 o'clock, shake yourself out of your TV-induced stupor and set out for Central Square. when you spot the Cantab, take a sharp right through the door, go down a narrow staircase, and for a measly three bucks you'll discover a world of beer-drinking word lovers who are out to rescue poetry from the mannered monotone of more civilized readings. The poetry is usually impressive if not ground-breaking (as those present at the premiere of Patricia Smith and Michael Holly's collaborative "Funk 101" can attest) and always energetically rendered. And you may even get to judge. 738 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA .
With its three venues—the Cutler Majestic, the Paramount Mainstage, and the Jackie Liebergott Black Box—ArtsEmerson certainly dominates the Theater District, but its artistic reach goes far beyond the city. This year, executive director Rob Orchard landed the following: Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, reimagined by Brooklyn company Mabou Mines; a musical about the Shakers called Angel Reapers, co-conceived by Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur grant winners; and The Speaker's Progress, which used Shakespeare's Twelfth Night as the basis for a satire about the Arab Spring. The organization's biggest coup, though, was convincing Cambridge's reclusive John Malkovich to star as a serial killer in The Infernal Comedy. artsemerson.org.
Preen under the sunlit umbrellas, lounge with an icy, rum-laced banana mama, and watch the Portofino-meets-Prudential scene unfold. The Colonnade's rooftop pool itself may not be much bigger than your average backyard version, but its entertainment factor is larger than life. Besides, where else can city dwellers count Speedos, nosh on croque monsieur, and watch as a gigantic steel plank is hoisted to the top of an abutting building site—all while floating on their backs? Be warned: Sybaritic city escapes don't come cheap. Nonmembers pay a $22 entrance fee ($27 on Fridays). 120 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA colonnadehotel.com/roof_top_pool/.
In short, it rocks, so it has often earned a Best from us. If the Tam doesn't change its tune, we won't change ours. 1648 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA .
Also has the best concession stand. But with its sale to USA Cinema, we've got our fingers crossed about the Nick's future.
This is the rare spot that we applaud for a static menu, because it’s reassuring to know that we can always get our charred Caesar salad and grilled flatbread pizza. 1657 Beacon St., Washington Square, MA 2445, abbeyrestaurant.com.
Many moons after this café started earning long lines, we still love to start our mornings with hits like double-thick Belgian waffles with berry compote, and wondrous “surf and turf” Benedict with lobster and steak. 612 Main St., Cambridge, MA cafeluna-centralsq.com.
Tucked into a little courtyard behind Rozzie Square, this lovely Italian spot is one of our favorite places to while away a warm evening with a pitcher of sangria. What to Order: The antipasto; spicy mussels. 22 Birch St., Boston, MA sophiasgrotto.com.
There are trays of exotic sweets here, including our favorite, the guayaba empanada—a cream-cheese pastry filled with tangy homemade guava puree. We also like the rice pudding, perfect and creamy, sprinkled with cinnamon. 622 Hyde Park Avenue, Roslindale, MA .
Open bars, hors d'oeuvres, an exclusive guest list, and top national acts. For example, the 1983 list included the Gap Band, Laura Branigan, the Manhattans, the Weathergirls, and (yes) Pia Zadora.
A surreal study of the spreading mediascape featured the most interviewed man in the world. Novelist DeLilo's second play said something true and haunting about how the national obsession with fame is corroding our souls.
Balanced, elegant, smart—the architects at this firm understand the New England design vernacular better than anyone around. With their deep knowledge, they play with our region's dominant forms to create innovative and exciting spaces. Concord, MA dskap.com.
Mercy, the suit wasn't here 10 minutes and the gonfalon was ours, by God. What are the Sox going to do for front-office help if somebody steals Peter Gammons's Rolodex?
Our test of a good haircut: Will it grow out gracefully? In other words, can we get an extra week out of it without looking like outtakes from Headbangers' Ball? James's cuts make the grade. 115 Newbury St., Boston, MA .