This store's 10,500 square feet of floor space on Arlington Street is brimming with a minimalist but immaculate selection of contemporary pieces from designers such as B&B Italia, Cassina (including designs by Philippe Starck), and Antoine Proulx. Clean lines, solid colors, and 18-foot ceilings accentuate the two-level showroom where co-owners Christopher and Liz Bates are on hand most days to consult. Showcased in roomlike groupings, the pieces here combine to create uncluttered living spaces of sleek, simply lined sofas, multilevel coffee tables, and softly spherical lamps echoing 1950s futurama motifs. Definitely on the pricier side (sectionals can run into five figures), Montage's original selections will nonetheless last well into your home's next retro phase. 75 Arlington St., Boston, MA montageweb.com/.
As sushi has gone mainstream, it's become increasingly run-of-the-mill: rolls, rolls, and more rolls, with too much rice and tasteless (and, frequently, cooked) fish. O Ya doesn't even offer rolls, just sparklingly fresh sashimi and nigiri—including heretofore unseen specialties like big-eye red snapper, conch, and Santa Barbara spot prawn. With a surgeon's precision, chef-owner Tim Cushman and his line of sushi sous pair each fish with thoughtfully chosen exotic adornments like Thai basil and torched banana pepper mousse, and one of dozens of house-made sauces. The results—like the bluefin tataki with smoky pickled onions and truffle oil—are transporting. 9 East St., Boston, MA .
Between the sidewalk throngs and the cheesy chain stores, Newbury Street's attractions can seem overshadowed by, well, the pedestrian. Particularly when you consider that Louis offers all the perks of the strip—but with on-site parking, pristine bathrooms, and guaranteed protection from inclement weather. Owner Debi Greenberg's internationally praised taste informs each and every buy for the four-story retail landmark, from the cutting-edge home goods floor (featuring many plucked-straight-from-Paris pieces, as well as a new Mrs. John L. Strong stationery boutique) to the double-decker layout of dandy men's apparel. The women's collection, showcasing the likes of Rag & Bone and the much-coveted Marni, reposes on the top floor—icing on the cake. 60 Northern Ave., Boston, MA 2110, louisboston.com.
Pick up a $1 bill. Feel that rich, heavy texture? That's Crane & Company paper. The high-quality, 100 percent cotton construction has made Crane's paper the standard for elegant correspondence and very official documents (from legal wills to cold, hard cash) everywhere. Why should your wedding invitations be any different? This stationery can be easily customized: You choose the paper color, ink color, type style (most are classic, simple, and commanding), and whether you'd like the type engraved or thermographed. With tradition comes experience, and Crane's knowledgeable staff walks you through the entire process, from sending save-the-date cards to choosing additional embossings or designs. Prudential Center, Boston, MA crane.com/.
Louis Boston is fast becoming the Tom Hanks of one-stop shopping. In a category with increasingly stiff competition, Louis returns year after year to win the prize, thanks to its superior selection, variety, and (okay, occasionally snooty) service. Where else can you find the perfect pair of shoes, killer dress, and new lipstick while having your nails done—all in one afternoon? Men can find a full range of suits, casual wear, shoes, and even tuxes, all ready to be tailored at a moment's notice. With Debi Greenburg mixing cutting-edge designers from Dries van Noten to Anait Bian with tried-and-true labels like Prada, the competition doesn't stand a chance. 234 Berkeley St., Boston, MA louisboston.com/.
Unless your child has a contract with Kix, you probably don't dress him in expensive outfits destined to wear more cereal than he digests. Miniature linen suits and raw-silk dresses have their place, but shorts that can survive the sandbox and tees that don't need to be dry-cleaned are what most parents are after. The racks at Fish Kids are filled with just that—"better everyday clothing" by European makers such as Catimini, Cakewalk, and Confetti. There are even 125 different styles of shoes from brands including Buckle My Shoe and Aster. Overwhelmed? Owner Donna Fishman knows her stock—and her clientele—and can fill Junior's closet without spending his college savings. 1378A Beacon St., Brookline, MA .
Tired of dealing with shady brokers pushing dilapidated apartments at exorbitant rents? Venture off the beaten Newbury Street real estate path and pay a visit to Lex Lianos at Metro Realty's Brookline offices. Co-owner Lianos and founding partners Mark Pearlstein and Joseph White have spent years building a base of exclusive listings in Brookline and Cambridge, which means you won't have to battle other renters when applying for a place. Pearlstein and White also hand-pick the buildings they show, ensuring that the landlord is legitimate and trustworthy. Besides having some of the best-valued listings in town, Lianos is a broker who actually cares about what happens to you after you sign your name on the dotted line, an attribute that is decidedly refreshing, and rarely found on Newbury Street. Metro Realty, 9 Babcock St., Brookline, MA metrorealtycorp.com/.
From the outside, this sprawling liquor store looks like any other rundown rendezvous for drunken booze-hounds. Inside, however, you'll find one of the finest selections of vintage wine in New England. It's for the latter that we just can't seem to get enough of this store. Laid out in neatly labeled rows are bottles of liquid gold that may cost you more than a month's rent. But no matter: Even if you're not a millionaire collector, the knowledgeable staff will help you find a reasonable red to go with the venison stew that's bubbling at home. Especially strong: Rhone, Burgundy, and Bordeaux selections. Expand your vino repertoire at the Mart's regular tastings or by clicking through their encyclopedic Web site. And don't miss the bargain basement (which is exactly what it sounds like); it can be a treasure trove if you hit it at the right moment. 1354 Commonwealth Avenue, Allston, MA blmwine.com/.
Oenophiles searching for a wine list that both delights and challenges need look no further than the fringes of Boston Common. No. 9 Park wine director Cat Silirie has organized a list that's a worldly tour of tried-and-true Chianti, sauvignon blanc, and chardonnay, and paired them with such never-before-heard-of vineyards and varietals as Josco Gravner's ribolla gialla from the northeast corner of Italy and No. 9 Park private label refosco, a grape from Trentino, Italy, that's grown and bottled at Santa Barbara, California's Au Bon Climat winery. The result: a list that complements chef Barbara Lynch's sophisticated cuisine and is easily organized by grape and flavor (lighter for aperitif to full-bodied, barrel-fermented big boys). Silirie wants diners to be comfortable with wine, and that's exactly what her stellar palate and fastidious organization achieve. 9 Park St., Boston, MA no9park.com/.
After four years of flirting with bestowing this award on Clio, we're finally at the swooning point. What makes Clio the best? To begin with, there's chef Ken Oringer's cuisine, marked by provocative flavors and Franco-Asian techniques. Then there's the smart-yet-casual little dining room, the topnotch service, and general manager Christian Touche's French sensibilities that keep the place humming with symphonic cadence. The menu may raise eyebrows with offering such as scallop ceviche with watermelon and a petite "rack of rabbit," but the results are a refreshing culinary free-fall well worth a leap of faith. The tasting menu is the ultimate lesson in creativity, balance, and timing, offering anywhere from 12 to 15 ounces of bite-sized creations in a progression of tastes and textures that run the gamut (hot to cold, raw to cooked, fish to fowl) without once running astray. Eliot Suite Hotel, 370A Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA cliorestaurant.com/.
Sure, they serve pho at this hole-in-the-wall storefront in Dorchester: great steaming bowls of it, delicately flavored with lemongrass and scallions. But the soup is just the beginning of an adventurous menu of rare and authentic Vietnamese dishes. There's a reason why the tables beneath the tourist prints and buzzing neon are always crowded with locals. The highlight is the chef's specialty, dac biêt bò báy món, seven courses of beef served six ways to Sunday. Thin slices of pure pink meat are offered with the tools to cook it yourself at the table—boiled in vinegar, flash-fried in butter and garlic—then followed up with soup, skewers, and three other gut-busting courses. While no alcohol is served, you can wash down your meal with such exotic beverages as jasmine limeade, salty plum soda—even egg soda. 198 Adams St., Dorchester, MA pho2000boston.com/.
In Brazil, restaurants like Midwest Grill are everywhere, which helps to explain why Brazilians traditionally consume their largest meals at lunch: Feasts like those served up by this Inman Square establishment take time to digest. The format is all-you-can-eat, and the fare centers on grilled meat: skewers of sausages, pork loin, lamb, chicken hearts, and sirloin, carved by hand at your table until you finally beg the friendly servers to bring you no more. The accompanying buffet features salad fixings, fluffy mashed potatoes, tasty casseroles, and what might be the best rice and beans outside of Rio. It does not include dessert, but you won't mind—you'll be too full anyway. 1124 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA midwestgrillrestaurant.com/.
This Back Bay nuovo Italian restaurant is as self-consciously trendy as its downtown sister, Radius, but damned if they don't mix a thumpingly good basil gimlet here, poured with iced Ketel One and a garnish of fresh basil leaves. It's a sunny drink for a bar that aspires to Tuscany via Fifth Avenue. There's cool elegance in the beige-coated bartenders at the twin bars, while the round marble tabletops are pure Mediterranean café—perfect for a social grappa. Equally elegant, although perhaps a touch more florid, is the high-end clientele, and while elbows rub through Prada sleeves and the wine list flows with beauty, the absence of smoldering MS Clubs means it will never quite smell like Italy. 79 Park Plaza, Boston, MA viamattarestaurant.com/.
You've planned the menu and invited the guests. Now you need the perfect wine to make the dinner party a success. Look no further: Bauer Wines & Spirits buyer Howie Rubin knows his wines, has an encyclopedic knowledge of food, and can direct even the most confused oenophobe to the right bottle. Rubin may not offer as expansive a selection as some shops, but the juice he stocks is superlative, and his advice—unobtrusive but freely offered for the asking—is comforting and practical. He and his well-trained staff can steer you toward the perfect bubbly for caviar, the ideal sauvignon blanc for oysters, or a new shiraz for lamb to suit your menu, taste, and budget. Added bonuses: Cases are sold at a discount of 10 percent and delivery is free. 330 Newbury St., Boston, MA bauerwines.com/.
Seems that lately almost every home accessories shop is big on minimalism—in presentation and selection, anyway. (Price is another matter.) Shoppers who are tired of wandering through spartan stores with items and price tags that belong in the Museum of Modern Art can take refuge at Koo de Kir, where the stock is fresh and edgy, yet approachable in both style and cost. Phonetically named for the French phrase coup de coeur, which means "a strike to the heart," Koo endears itself to those searching for such stylish, of-the-moment accents as magnetic spice racks and sheepskin runners. Need help getting your dwelling up to speed? Take advantage of Koo's free design consultations, at the able hands of the store's interior designers. 34 Charles St., Boston, MA koodekir.com/.