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/.
Over the years, hundreds of women have watched natural beauty they never knew they had emerge from under Katrina Hess's skilled brushstrokes. Weddings are a specialty, but, as Hess puts it, a woman should feel like a million bucks whether she's going to the office or going to the altar. Hess is a well of beauty tips and tricks (from how to avoid getting lipstick on your teeth to giving lashes that elusive perfect curl). Equally impressive is her product knowledge: While she's worked for many of the best (Bobbi Brown, Trish McEvoy, Chanel, Christian Dior), Hess now works only for her clients and has the luxury of culling every label's standout cosmetics into a dream palette. Combine that with her meticulously honed technique, and you've got a beautiful thing indeed. 105 Newbury St., 3rd floor, Boston, MA .
Shopping for bridal baubles at this 55-year-old family-run emporium is almost as satisfying as striking a deal directly with the diamond cutter in Antwerp. In their cozy showroom four floors above Downtown Crossing, DePrisco's white-haired salesmen steer anxious grooms-to-be into private cubicles, where they use jeweler's loupes and expertly handled tweezers to show off naked stones. DePrisco often knocks a few hundred bucks off its asking price—so the customer at least feels like he's getting a bargain. And if he (or, more likely, she) later decides the ring needs more bling, DePrisco will always buy it back and let the happy couple use the cash to trade up to a bigger rock. 333 Washington St., Suite 448, Boston, MA deprisco.com/.
No more standing before a certain unnamed 'denim bar,' wondering where on earth to begin. No more searching specialty stores' stacks of wash-du-jour denim, wondering where they put all the stuff for guys who aren't pocket-sized indie rockers. Having expanded beyond its dingy, Birkenstock-filled basement space last year, the new and vastly improved 10,000-square-foot Tannery in Harvard Square devotes an entire well-organized wall to men's denim stars like William Rast, True Religion, and Genetic. Still can't make a pick? Brutally honest salespeople rush to the rescue, producing pairs that—miracle of miracles—actually fit. 39 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 2138, thetannery.com.
Somewhere between couture and casual wear, there is the striking work of Daniela Corte. First, there are her designs: wrap shirts that evoke Pucci's colors and Prada's lines; pants that run from pristine silk trousers to leopard-print capris; and vibrant halter dresses that would be at home on both Newbury Street and Cannes beach. Then there's her fit: each piece custom-cut to your exact measurements, and in the precise fabric, pattern, and color you want it. The pint-sized Corte, every inch a style doyenne, takes customers beyond mere label obsession and into the realm of real fashion: She fuses cuts from the best international designers, puts her own distinct stamp on the pastiche, and tailors it to perfectly flatter every customer—all from a tiny Back Bay studio. In a town that tends to be too buttoned-up in the clothing department, Corte is just the right fit. 271 Newbury St., Boston, MA danielacorte.com/.
If you want bells and horns, go to one of those big, anonymous bike stores in the suburbs. Broadway sells lean, mean, and versatile sets of wheels perfect for city commuting. Its selection of new bikes from solid, lesser-known manufacturers gives you maximum quality at the lowest price, while its fleet of reconditioned wheels includes the famous "Broadway Bike" (the store's own creation), a vintage three-speed frame with souped-up Sturmey-Archer software. Gearheads will be glad to know that the grease under the staff mechanics' fingernails isn't just for show; many are co-owners, so they take extra pride in turning around the toughest repair jobs quickly. If you can't wait to go mobile, they'll even teach you how to fix your trusty steed yourself, with cheap (and patient!) walk-in tutoring. 351 Broadway, Cambridge, MA broadwaybicycleschool.com/.
The Botox frenzy—you know, the one that has everyone and her mother running off to unwrinkle their brows with Botox injections—belies one important truth: The treatment may be easy, fast, and essentially risk-free, but that doesn't mean just anyone should inject it. It's still a medical procedure that requires expertise, safety, and finesse. Dr. Ramsey Alsarraf stands out on all of those fronts for his credentials (Harvard, Yale, a fellowship with the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and board certification); his integrity (if you don't need it, he'll tell you); and his finely tuned aesthetic sense (his work is known for being subtle and natural-looking). If you're going to do Botox, the last thing you should be worried about is whose hands you're in. And on that front, Alsarraf gives you fewer reasons to furrow your brow. 69 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
Some argue that power yoga is not really yoga. But sweat and stretch your way through just one class with Baron Baptiste and you'll be a believer in his high-intensity, high-temperature workout. Just ask the dozens of devotees who pile into his tiny Porter Square studio for his first-come, first-serve classes—or any of the professional athletes and celebrities (including Elisabeth Shue and Helen Hunt) who are fans. Lest you assume that Baptiste's method forgoes the meditative properties of traditional yoga, be assured that classes are conducted in a soothingly quiet room where traditional breathing techniques and perfect form are stressed, though the room is heated to more than 90 degrees to keep the muscles loose. And at only $10 per session (a dollar extra for mat rentals), it's an indulgence that can easily be made a habit. 2000 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA baronbaptiste.com/.
Ever since Europe found itself firmly on Dubya's bad side (and the dollar took a nosedive), the idea of traveling overseas for a café-and-culture fix has grown a little less appealing. No matter. With its continental feel and sidewalk-side tables (not to mention its potent, delicious espresso), Sonsie can supply your Eurofix. Of course, it takes more than attitude to make a great neighborhood restaurant, and chef Bill Poirier takes care of that by serving up tempting, fashionable fare, from brick-oven pizzas to café classics like steak au poivre. And now that the downstairs Red Room lounge provides a place for cocktails and late-night revelry with the restaurant's own soundtrack mix, who needs Europe? 327 Newbury St., Boston, MA sonsieboston.com.
One step inside this Cambridge bakery and you know you're in a serious place for serious bread. Half of the shop is an open baking area where workers mix, cut, shape, and bake loaves in an oven the size of a station wagon. A heady, yeasty aroma wafts through the air. Owner René Becker uses handmilled wheat for his classic whole-wheat loaves, and rye and corn breads. The daily specials are equally alluring: walnut- or olive-studded rounds, sesame and sunflower seed-coated ficelle, potato boules, or cheddar-pepper loaves. The extra care and craftsmanship comes at a slightly higher price than at many other bakeries, but after one bite, you'll happily hand over your cash. 208 Concord Ave., Cambridge, MA hi-risebread.com/.
A real pint of Guinness takes time to pour. So while you're waiting at the bar in this old Cambridge haunt, take a gander at the great menu (with standbys like steak and roasted fish, all under $10) or a soccer game broadcast from Europe. Or just kick back and listen to one of the surprisingly talented musical acts that show up nightly. The crowd—a mix of intellectuals and down-and-outers, young and old, casual drinkers and straight-up drunks—makes for good people watching. Not a Guinness fan? The bar serves 20 different beers and all the usual boozes. And if you're in the mood for a smoke, go ahead and light up (at least until October 1, when Cambridge bans smoking, too)—you're not in Boston anymore. 912 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA ploughandstars.com.
The B-Side Lounge has the feel of a real neighborhood establishment, but ever since Joe was written up in Details magazine as a great bartender, tourists have been showing up looking for him. What makes him so great? He's flirtatious with the ladies and chummy with the regular guys. He'll hand over a cocktail menu and with an impressive snap of the shaker, he'll pour an elegant drink. Proud of the fact that B-Side "isn't anything like Sonsie," Joe is as genuine and real as his bar. He got started in the business eight years ago after saying to a friend, "If I don't get a raise, I'm bartending for the summer." It's been a long summer. 92 Hampshire Street, Cambridge, MA .
They definitely got the funk. Thom Brown boasts the biggest selection in town from the hipper side of Kenneth Cole to platforms in all shapes and sizes. Here's where our boys find shoes that express their personality without getting too ridiculous. 331 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
Coach is back on our radar with a new young designer turning out leather goods in shapes and colors never before associated with the conservative store. Look for its ergonomically shaped purses, wallets in lime green, and golf gloves in baby blue. Copley Place, Boston, MA .
Charm and meticulousness have earned this mixologist more than his fair share of props. But that's no reason to deny him this year's Best of Boston nod, especially as we anticipate his residence (and ours) at Drink, part of Barbara Lynch's coming gastronomic juggernaut in Fort Point Channel. 9 Park St., Boston, MA 2108, .