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.
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/.
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 .
WHDH-TV, Channel 7, whose Jeff Derderian was slapped in the face on camera by an alleged sex offender's girlfriend while he was trying to interview her, and whose Mike Macklin—once reportedly charged with assault in an incident involving his girlfriend (the charges were later dropped)—was told on camera by an alleged priest sex victim: "We all have our problems."
"Most of those homicides were inside buildings."—Tom Menino finding the silver lining in the rise in Boston's murder rate. "I did those two years when I was very young, very young."—Menino inexplicably defending in term in junior college. "Our intelligent unit is working with federal officials."—Menino showing concern about potential terrorist attacks in Boston.
Long a local favorite, brunch at Johnny's is worth the wait on the weekends—especially with kids in tow. The boisterous atmosphere, child-friendly menu, and vibrant retro décor would be worth a stop even without the incredible food. Our favorites: the outstanding crunchy French toast, generously sized omelets, and Johnny's porridge, a creamy concoction topped with dried cranberries. Prompt service—and, if you still have room, the frappes—ensure that no one leaves unsatisfied. 30 Langley Rd., Newton Centre, MA johnnysluncheonette.com/.
Big screens, sharp sound, stadium seating. The AMC Fenway, once again, gets top billing. And here's why: We like our popcorn popping out of its box in Sony Dynamic Digital Sound. We prefer to recline way back in club-car-like seats. And we insist on plenty of parking. Hollywood cinema may lack substance, but at least you can treat yourself to star service in the theater. 401 Park Dr., Boston, MA fandango.com/regalfenwaystadium1326rpx_aaovd/theaterpage.
Even if you didn’t know that colorist Annalouise Rusk is the direct descendent of hair-care royalty—her parents, Irvine and Louise, created the globally recognized Rusk prouct line—you’d probably guess that her talent for effortlessly prescribing and executing spot-on color treatments lies deep within her DNA. See: our head-turning balayage highlights in all the right places. 39 Dalton St., Boston, MA greentangerinespa.com.
This impossibly hip Wenham shop is back on our radar this year, and for good reason: Owner Lisa Cancelli Picard fills racks with stunning pieces from the kinds of cutting-edge designersKenzo, Giada Forte, Tila Marchthat you’d expect to see in a chic city boutique. In fact, you can find them in the city: Cancelli Picard opened a sister location in the South End last year. 148 Main St., Wenham, MA 1984, violalovely.com.
The better story would have been that finally, in this, the year of the cow, one among the city's numerous new upscale meateries had managed to dethrone our 14-time of Boston stalwart. Nothing doing. Mooo inherited the Federalist's matchless wine list. KO Prime has the offal around. But for a prime, dry-aged rib-eye with a power client (downstairs) or a significant other (the more intimate upstairs), Grill 23 still rules the herd. 161 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 2116, grill23.com.