Arguments over who makes the best challah can go on longer than Rosh Hashanah services. Our pick? Rosenfeld, where the loaf (pictured at left) is delightfully dense, moist, and balanced in its egginess and sweetness. If you can resist tearing it apart, slice it thick for sandwiches—it absorbs brisket juice like a beast. 1280 Centre St., Newton, MA 2459, .
The Medford Hurricane managed to score a $700,000 payday with Mike Tyson without fighting anyone more dangerous than his mom, proving the old adage that crime doesn't pay but pigmentation does. Our prediction? Tyson in two. We recommend the plastic surgeons at Mass. General, Pete.
With a Korean joint seemingly popping up on every corner, Allston Village is steadily earning its K-town reputation, but the noodle dishes at neighborhood stalwart Buk Kyung still go unmatched. We’re not just talking about pop hits like the inky, pork-rich sauce in the jajangmyeon or the glassy sweet potato threads in the japchae. Because if you haven’t tucked into a bowl of dduk mandoo gook—Korea’s take on beef-noodle soup, carbed up with house dumplings and glutinous rice cakes—or the party-size platter of seafood, stir-fried veg, and potato-noodle shards served with a sweet-hot mustard sauce (otherwise known as yangjangpi), you’re missing out. Multiple locations. 151 Brighton Ave., Allston, MA 02134, bukkyungrestaurant.com.
Let's face it: Sooner or later someone's going to invite you to go sailing, and if you don't know what you're doing, you're going to get clocked in the head with the boom. To avoid humiliation and possible injury, sign up for bargain-basement sailing lessons at this nonprofit boathouse just across from the Charles-MGH T-stop. With your $195 membership, you get an unlimited number of lessons—and as soon as you pass the rigging test, learn the meaning of "luffing" and "halyward" at Shore School, and take a quick quiz, you can sail the Charles with anyone who'll take you. Community Boating also offers kayak and windsurfing lessons. The deal is unbeatable if you don't mind hanging out with the eccentric and sometimes testy volunteer staff. 21 Embankment Road, Boston, MA .
The stretch of Mass. Ave. between Harvard and Porter squares may teem with restaurants and bars, but it's the laid-back-yet-sophisticated West Side Lounge that draws the locals. The main reason: chef Alex Jenkins's dinner creations. Available at the bar or in a candlelit booth, Jenkins's menu includes such straight-ahead appetizers as house-cured olives or grilled pizzas , along with more complex, but still humble, main courses, including roasted chicken, sliced tenderloin of steak, and pan-seared tuna with eye-watering wasabi mashed potatoes and ponzu sauce. The bar provides a solid backbeat, with classic martinis and margaritas, and eyebrow-raising beverages like the "little Debbie," a thick, liquor-soaked chocolate drink that is definitely not for kids. 1680 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA westsidelounge.com/.
Witness the alchemy firsthand: Confections at Serenade, Brookline Village's intimate chocolatier, are prepared before customers' eyes using smooth, buttery Callebaut direct from Belgium. It's a show that has lured in locals, siren-like, for some 15 years now. Then there's the serenade itself: the chocolate. The truffles are an adagio in their own right, each subtly laced with flavor (Champagne, Grand Marnier, raspberry) that plays to a smooth, dense ganache core encased in a layer of chocolate. The French truffle dusted in bittersweet cocoa is a standout, but the house signature is the Viennese, a fat square of layered dark and milk chocolate infused with hazelnut butter. Serenade also runs a small stand in South Station, lulling the train-bound and softening the commute home. 5 Harvard Sq., Brookline Village, MA serenadechocolatier.com/.
A good breakfast joint is the kind of place where you can settle down with your morning paper, sipping from a bottomless cup of self-serve coffee, and order what mom used to cook (or what you wish she had). After seven years in Ball Square, SoundBites is still sans frills; just good home cookin' fresh out of the oven and off the grill. Order French toast or waffles with fruit and you'll get a mound of cool, glistening slices of sunshine atop the warm, light battercakes. The other side of the menu proves there's more than one right way to do eggs, whether they're Moroccan, Benedict, or an omelet. 708 Broadway, Ball Square, Somerville, MA .
Tucked away on a second floor above Hanover Street, this tiny slice of Sicily is proof there's more to an authentic North End restaurant than red-and-white-checkered tablecloths. An elegant experience from start to finish (with a business attire-only dress code), Trattoria à Scalinatella pairs a refined room with a like-minded menu. Appetizers such as the lobster timballo showcase the kitchen's love of fresh flavors, while entrées like the olive-coated salmon are seductively simple. The flirty, macho waiters know their stuff when it comes to the menu and the wine list, and aren't afraid to show it. It's best to just sit back and let them guide you through your meal. Post meal drink in hand, curled up at a table by the cozy fireplace, you won't find a better way to relax. 253 Hanover St., Boston, MA .
Don't be put off by the lines for just about everything here (entry, drinks, the lav): When you're ready to get low, there's always room on the dance floor. This minimalist club has the feel of a house party, with front-row beats by Hearthrob, Soul Clap, DJ Kon, and other electronic mix-masters, plus strong theme nights that range from French pop to a '90s dance jam. While the Enormous Room's undeniably comfy couches tend to attract slouches, the Mid-sex keeps it lively with a monster video screen, benches that roll right up to (or away from) the action, and a crowd that's bumping from open to close on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday nights. 315 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 2115, middlesexlounge.us.
Whoever said you can't get something for nothing didn't know the Courageous Sailing Center. The center teaches mini-mariners to sail for free thanks to finding form the city, adult membership dues, and private donations. Kids start with a half-day "taste" of sailing and progress through four more steps until they are skilled enough to race and teach other youngsters. They'll have a blast tooting around the harbor all summer, but when they sail to the stacks on an all-day outing to the JFK Library, Courageous proves a real parent-pleaser too. Adults can learn to sail for $199, which includes a two-week membership (other learn-to-sail and membership packages are also available) offering use of J-22s and Rhodes 19s, barbecues, sails to Harborlights concerts, and beautiful Harbor island camping trips. 1st and 8th Ave., Charlestown, MA .
The only bad thing about Good Harbor is the small parking lot—which, if you're lucky enough to snag a spot, isn't such a bad thing. The lack of parking keeps the crowds down, meaning it's actually possible to avoid having sand blow into your sandwich every time someone shakes out a towel. The half-mile stretch of white beach appeals to young and old alike, with a tidal river and seaweed-covered rocks to explore and services including lifeguards, showers, and a snack bar. Get there at low tide for a walk out to Salt Island before the water rushes back in to cover the thin sandbar that connects it to the mainland. It's a trusty alternative to Crane, another favorite North Shore beach. Thatcher Rd., Gloucester, MA .
We wait all year to dig into Sesuit Harbor’s lobster roll dripping with butter, crisp fried scallops with slaw, and mountains of succu- lent Barnstable Harbor littlenecks. But it’s not just the food that brings us back to this buoy-festooned clapboard shack—it’s the feeling we get after ordering from the takeout window and then unloading our fresh catch on a picnic table at water’s edge—the very definition of summer. 357 Sesuit Neck Rd., Dennis, MA 02638, sesuit-harbor-cafe.com.
With travel outside the state still a gamble, we’re lucky to have this riverfront resort casino right in our backyard, providing top-notch dining options; gorgeous rooms with marble-tiled bathrooms; and, of course, a Vegas-worthy gaming floor to those in need of a break—preferably a lucky one. The one thing this place doesn’t roll the dice on? Guests’ well-being, with reopening plans developed in conjunction with public health experts. One Broadway, Everett, MA 02149, encorebostonharbor.com.
Kitschy pan-southern spots keep popping up to capitalize on our thirst for whiskey and the idea that everything benefits from a dip in the fryolator. Yet Tupelo remains the most reliable hideaway for Cajun comfort cuisine. The soundtrack of Dixieland and faded records decorating the walls help, sure, but the pleasantly mouth-numbing blackened catfish, fried alligator on a heavenly bed of cheddar grits, and desserts from co-owner Renee McLeod's Petsi Pies are why we keep coming back. 1193 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA 02139, tupelo02139.com.
Windex-starved mirrors line the walls of this snug Vietnamese joint. Maybe it looked less silly around Y2K. Now? We forgive—nay, embrace—the campy environs once our lips hit the steaming bowls of bò kho (slow-cooked beef stew). Like its tableside bottles of sriracha, Pho 2000 is a kitschy vessel full of awesomely kicky flavor. 198 Adams St., Dorchester, MA 02122, pho2000boston.com.