After years of apartment hunting in this city, our personal renters have found that Pru Gibson is the most consistent in getting you what you want with the least amount of hassle. Its agents take the time to call you when a new listing opens up, and they don't try to sell you on undesirable locations or "features" such as linoleum in the living room. 227 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
Love is rough. One of our readers in Watertown wrote to say that he fell in love with "a new Porsche 968 coupe with certain options." Unfortunately, it was sold before he made up his mind, and even searches of the World Wide Web did not yield another Then along came Craig Meece, auto broker to the uncompromising. Meece tracked down the car, secured the options, negotiated a good price, and closed the deal. "An example of Zuffenhausen pride is now sitting in my driveway," says the satisfied customer. International Auto Consultants, 11 Richardson Avenue, Arlington, MA .
What the folks at South End Naturals can do with a juicer and a blender should satisfy everyone from garlic, beet, and what-grass junkies to folks who just want something super-tasty and pretty. Our favorite (and, it should be said, we fall into category B): the Brasil 66—strawberry, pineapple, orange, and mango. heaven in a 12-, 16-, or 20-ounce cup. 517 Columbus Avenue, Boston, MA .
Chef George Willette's menu of New England-with-a-twist fare is murder on decision-making. Should we start with Hudson Valley foie gras or Brie-cranberry spring rolls? Sea scallops with pineapple-raisin relish or curry-rubbed duck? Why, oh why, hadn't we brought friends? So we went the responsible route and ordered everything—plus the Thai-roasted cauliflower on the side. Five clean plates later, we were glad we left our pals behind. 8 Jarves St., Sandwich, MA 2563, belfryinn.com.
Sometimes it feels as if romance has all but vanished. Luckily there's L'Espalier, where Frank McClelland's sumptuous cuisine is guaranteed to set hearts aflutter. Settle into a table at one of the bay windows of this charming townhouse, and unwind together as a parade of champagne, oysters (served with a sensuous dab of pink sorbet), and decadent chocolates comes and goes as if by magic through our stomachs. 30 Gloucester St., Boston, MA lespalier.com/.
Don't let the Korn-T-shirt-clad crowd outside the adjoining music club scare you off; once you get inside the restaurant portion of Church, you're in for a mellow—and seriously enjoyable—dining experience. If tuna tartare is available, go for it; our favorite version is served with cucumber chunks and wonton chips. The grilled steak tips with truffle-Parm fries are also delicious. 69 Kilmarnock St., Boston, MA 2215, churchofboston.com.
Not everyone appreciates the olfactory assault that is Formaggio. In fact, we frequently have to check our companions at the curb before heading in to sample this place's runny gobs of poisses and Robiola. True fans of the stinky stuff, however, will be blown away by the shop's countless whole wheels of raw-milk cheddars, marbled blues, and crumbly Parmigianos, aged and tended in Formaggio's own custom-built cheese cave. 244 Huron Ave., Cambridge, MA 2138, formaggiokitchen.com.
The truffle display alone, filled with row upon row of beautiful, handcrafted chocolates from the best confectioners in the world, is well worth the trip to this Charles Street boutique. Once we've chosen from the blood-orange fleur-de-lis and candied-bacon caramels, each dainty treat is wrapped individually—which we suppose is cool and all, but really just delays our tearing into them. 91 Charles St., Boston, MA 2114, beaconhillchocolates.com.
Boston isn't known yet for great Mexican fare—perhaps we're a little too far north of the border for the spicy stuff. But things are looking up now that El Centro has rolled into town. Our go-to order? The deeply flavored ;carne asada and fish tacos, followed by ;al pastor sopes (doughy corn tartlets). Top that off with a couple glasses of jalapeño-spiked sangria, and you'll easily silence any naysayers. 472 Shawmut Ave., Boston, MA 2118, elcentroboston.com.
Trailing orange blossom syrup and rose petal sugar, Ana Sortun's year-old bakery-café comes on like a Salome of sweets, beguiling the cupcake-and-cookie crowd with such Middle Eastern-inspired delicacies as Egyptian bread pudding and Syrian shortbread with rhubarb-rose jam. To pastry chef Maura Kilpatrick, our oversugared palates owe thanks for a much-needed dose of spice. 1 Belmont St., Cambridge, MA 2138, sofrabakery.com.
We're channeling Frances Rivera here to deliver our special report: The best burgers and beers are at the Newes. This 'Colonial vintage' pub has creaky hardwood floors and a copper pipe-lined ceiling, and its food is just as classic—baskets of fish and chips, corned beef Reubens, plus the Smokin' Musket Turkey Sandwich and Bag of Onions onion rings, which reward taste buds in ways that belie their cheeseball names. The drink menu includes the so-called Rack of Beers, a flight of five brews. Kelley House, Edgartown, MA 2539, kelley-house.com.
Sure, there's what seems like an interminable wait for one of the nine tables. But that's only because all the hipsters who got here before you want to savor every bite of their fashionably late dinners of adobo-rubbed pork and grilled garlic calamari. Our advice: Ask for a blood orange martini and be patient. You'll be very well rewarded. 278 Shawmut Ave., Boston, MA 2118, franklincafe.com.
In just a year, Treadway has taken this already exciting snack-and-cocktail spot and upped the ante even further with his unique mix of seasonally driven classics (like our favorite drink of summer, the grapefruit-and-tequila-based Paloma), modern spins on standards (barrel-aged mai tais), and fun, laid-back options like the smoky mezcal pickleback. 9 Sanborn Ct., Somerville, MA backbarunion.com.
Although Kirschenbaum trained as a nurse, she believes she does more healing with her hands. "I started out giving backrubs to work my way through school," she explains. Now it's a full-time job. Kirscenbaum specializes in the Esalen style, which eschews the choppier Swedish motions: our session was both relaxed and unclinical, and Kirschenbaum likes it that way. "Giving massages is meditation for me," she says. "My ultimate goal is to give massage credibility in the country. Soon." Cambridge, MA
Mango's shop, The Image Maker, at 28 Boylston St. in Cambridge, is the favorite of our art director, Sam Savage, who should know about these things. For one thing, Savage says, Mango managed to clear up some pictures he could barely see on the contact sheet. "We give quality prints without killing on the price," Mango says. The Image Maker also has one-day developing service. The Image Maker, 28 Boylston St., Cambridge, MA .