Boston has no shortage of outdoor dining options, but for our money, none is as transporting as the backyard terrace at Oleana. It's a fairyland of flora and fauna—swags of crawling green draped over wooden trellises, fruit trees burgeoning with ripe fruit, flowers of every variety waving in the summer breeze. That's more than most of us needed to set the scene for a relaxing meal—so when chef Ana Sortun tosses in her soothing and exotic Mediterranean menu, it's just glorious gravy. 134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA oleanarestaurant.com.
It's hard to decide whether Dairy Fresh deserves our vote more for its nonpareil assortment of confections or for its friendly and informative staff. Its two narrow rooms are packed to the rafters with such imported and domestic treats as Italian baci (kisses), Turkish pistachio nuts, Lake Champlain chocolates, and Dancing Deer cookies. Around the holidays, the little shop kicks into an overdrive that would wear out even an Oompah-Loompah. 57 Salem St., Boston, MA .
Island living might seem easy, but it sure ain't fair. Hear us out: Stroll past the Juice Bar and the aroma of homebaked waffle cones comes wafting out. Inside, the list of rotating flavors like cherry chocolate chunk and peanut butter cup proves irresistible; after just one taste, eating (and eating, and eating) ice cream becomes inevitable. Our bikinis are getting tighter just thinking about it. 12 Broad St., Nantucket, MA 2554, .
It should be called No. 1. Barbara Lynch's spot tops our list as the best in the city for inspired, seasonal cuisine like bacon-wrapped trout with pickled ramps, baby red potatoes, and Swiss chard. Feast on a nine-course chef's tasting menu in the softly lit dining room, or enjoy a light(er) plate of steak tartare (it comes with brioche and truffle aioli) at the bar. 9 Park St., Boston, MA no9park.com/.
Minimalism is to fresh New England seafood what media attention is to Tom Cruise—which is to say, essential to its very being. Jake's serves up our region's underwater treasures the way they're meant to be: straight from the ocean and nearly unadorned (save a squeeze of lemon here, a toss of bread crumbs there). The result? Dishes—cedar-roasted salmon, swordfish with anchovy-and-olive relish—that let unsullied flavor shine. 50 George Washington Blvd., Hull, MA jakesseafoods.com/.
We’ve loved Glen Cunningham’s classes for the better part of a decade, and on good days, his instruction helps us remember why we hit our mats. (On bad days, a few of his signature words of wisdom certainly don’t hurt.) Cunningham’s style is soothing, his pace is precise, and, unlike most instructors, he encourages a bit of creative interpretation in the poses. 15 Worcester St., Boston, MA 2118, sadhanastudios.com.
Texas smoke versus Memphis rub, vinegar tang versus peppery heat—barbecue debates will likely rage until kingdom come (and straight on into the sweet hereafter). This year our returning champion silenced at least one point of contention—which of its two outlets is better—by debuting a central, honking-big smoker (reportedly New England's largest) that turns out uniformly succulent sliced brisket, pulled pork, and an array of other regional specialties for both Blue Ribbon locations, as well as its booming catering business. 1375 Washington St., West Newton, MA blueribbonbbq.com.
We were worried when we heard they were making over our beloved patio at Oleana. After all, it's the drooping wisteria, fragrant herbs, and sparkling white lights that create the transporting backdrop for Ana Sortun's distinctive eastern Mediterranean fare. But we're glad to report the revamped oasis is better than ever, with more trees and more-manicured gardens, plus a new glassed-in porch that offers welcome refuge if you forget to bring a sweater on a cool night. 134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA oleanarestaurant.com.
A local stalwart for more than 40 years, Leather World helps us handle our hauls, supplying a polycarbonate spinner to withstand the perils of the TSA, a leather duffel perfect for that weekend jaunt down to the Cape, and a trim briefcase for the daily commute to and from the office. Plus, all of its locations offer one line of embossing at no additional cost. 30 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA shopleatherworld.com.
Spending time in the serene and lovely Lester Harry's is like entering a magical portal to a land where babies don't ever cry or spit up, and there are no finger-paint fiascos, tantrums, or time-outs. Okay, maybe that's just our sleep-deprived imaginations drifting again, but we blame the future-heirloom frocks from Makie, Flora and Henri, and Bleu Comme Gris for being so dreamy. 115 Newbury St., Boston, MA lesterharrys.com.
Ladies in the market for a cloche, toque, or fascinator (though nothing quite on the scale of Princess Beatrice's) emerge just as satisfied as the brave men who venture in to procure fedoras, bucket hats, and Panamas. Sorry, Red Sox, but thanks to Salmagundi, we're temporarily putting all of our flat-brimmed baseball caps into storage—at least until playoff season. 765 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, MA salmagundiboston.com.
City Sports has dominated this category for years, and if you're trying to pull off athlete chic no matter the cost, it's still a fine choice. Weekend warriors as concerned with price and performance as stylishness, though, should make tracks for Dick's. Here you can score everything from sturdy Russell sweats to high-performance Under Armour tees to footballs, camping tents, and bows and arrows. Alas, the only thing we couldn't find was our long-missing jump shot. 1336 Worcester Street, Natick, MA 1760, .
You don't have to worry about that,' says Shaw when we tell her we really need a therapeutic massage, not just a light shoulder rub. As she begins to press and knead, our concerns, and stress knots, melt away. Shaw's firm touch relaxes and revitalizes as she instinctively homes in on problem areas, leaving us free to daydream or doze. 257 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, violetskinboutique.com.
We can't quite put our finger on when brow shaping morphed from a quick rip of indifferently applied tape into an art form. But we do know that LuxLash has perfected the procedure. The specialty spa, so popular it moved to a larger location six months after opening, charges a reasonable $25 to $35 for a painless, expertly waxed and plucked arch. Owner Suzanne Cats has even developed her own brow-extension technology for those who believe more is more. 232 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, luxlash.com.
Owner Gus Rancatore is a bona fide gourmet, a guy with a penchant for combining unusual flavors and unique textures. As a result, his inventive ice creams—in flavors like goat cheese-brownie, bourbon flake, and even pancake—push the boundaries of the palate while remaining undeniably delicious. Our favorite way to enjoy his scoops? Nestled in an Iggy's brioche bun and drizzled with hot fudge—it's the ice cream sandwich, Gus-style. 899 Main St., Cambridge, MA tosci.com.