In the past year, Somerville has exploded as a culinary destination. And while the Union Square food scene may change as a result, there's one constant: our beloved Indo,with its relaxed service, bacon deviled eggs perched atop cucumber slices, and stacked beer list featuring favorites from both home (High & Mighty's Beer of the Gods) and away (Six Point Brewery's Sweet Action). 75 Union Square, Somerville, MA 2143, theindo.com.
Davis Square has seen its share of exciting openings this year, but we continue to adore this tavern's eccentric fare. The Kentucky-fried Cornish game hen comes with jalapeño-spiked mashed potatoes; the "lobstah" pizza is topped with pork belly and grilled corn; and Brussels sprouts get a kick from a fish-sauce vinaigrette. Those dishes—and the international beer list—are what keep our heart true. 400 Highland Ave., Somerville, MA 2144, fivehorsestavern.com.
The finest cannoli is in the North End, but it's not where you might think. To satisfy our craving for the classic pastry, we slip into Caffé Paradiso's dimly lit shop and head straight to the bakery case in back. The shell of the cannoli there is light and flaky, the ricotta filling is smooth and sweet, and the whole thing is sent over the edge by a dunk in chocolate. 255 Hanover St., Boston, MA 2113, caffeeparadiso.com.
We swore that this year would be different. Surely there was some out-of-the-way truck stop or quirky-crunchy café tucked away in a random cow town that had slipped beneath our radar. After downing piles of leaden pancakes and a coop's worth of ho-hum omelets, though, we're sticking with the still-matchless Arthur & Pat's. This Marshfield phenomenon has the cheese-slathered home fries, sugary slabs of banana bread, and crusty Aerosmith sightings we crave on a weekend morning. 239 Ocean St., Marshfield, MA 2050, .
Any chef who can transform a Harvard Square music store into a destination for cutting-edge cuisine is really cooking. (Forgive uswe had to write more than 300 of these things.) Oms Rachel F. Klein, who arrived this winter from New York via Providence, rejects the usual steak and salmon for fresh, inventive dishes that are both conventional and pleasing to the palate. Our favorite, if we have to pick just one: the Okinawa squashstuffed ravioli served with wood-grilled olives in a spicy Thai broth. 92 Winthrop St., Cambridge, MA 2155, omrestaurant.com.
With toppings this terrific, it's hard to limit yourself to just one slice. The Slightly Pesto—white pizza splashed with pesto, garlic, and diced tomatoes—is our fave, but thin, chewy crusts beneath fresh ingredients such as seafood or Italian sausage, and local monikers like the MGH (spinach, broccoli, and feta), make any slice at the Upper Crust a cut above. 20 Charles St., Boston, MA theuppercrustpizzeria.com/.
Mark our words: Naples-born pastry chef Tonie Rapa is going places. And her Catalan version of a creme brulee is just one reason. It comes in a big, shallow soup plate (the usual mini gratin dish would be a frustrating tease), and you can eat a lot more because it seemingly has double the luscious, yolky vanilla flavor yet half the richness of its rivals. 70 Union Square, Somerville, MA .
At last, a treat we can enjoy without guilt. Finagle bagels have very little fat and most varieties have no cholesterol, and they are still fabulous. Of course, they're even better topped with one of the shop's cream-cheese spreads. Our sources say President Clinton orders up a batch of cinnamon raisin every time he's in town. Copley Square, MA .
We like our karaoke with a side of characters, and this J.P. pub packs 'em in on Saturday nights: a James Spader doppelganger crooning the Temptations' "Get Ready," a gaggle of girls rapping their way through the early-'90s hip-hop songbook, and a tone-deaf regular unleashing his jazz hands during a rendition of "Just a Gigolo." Extra points for solid drafts, an encouraging crowd, an extensive Cher selection, and the occasional New Wave videos between performances. 144 South St., Jamaica Plain, MA 2130, jeaniejohnstonpub.com.
Husband-and-wife team Andy and Jackie King have built their business around the art of crafting thick, crusty loaves brimming with ingredients like olives, walnuts, and apricot fennel and baked fresh each morning while most of us are still drooling on our pillow. Naturally, they try to source ingredients from nearby farms, meaning their sweeter offerings change with the seasons—you wouldn't trust anything in March featuring strawberries, would you? 48 Central St., Salem, MA 1970, ajkingbakery.com.
When Philip Saul said he intended to celebrate the New England gent's wardrobe with the opening of Sault, it seemed a somewhat lofty goal; after all, the region is known more for jerseys and button-downs than high-end men's fashion. Six years later, he has proven to naysayers that Boston boys do, in fact, appreciate good style. They appreciate the South End shop's selection of classic Grayers sweaters and Penfield outerwear. They appreciate the Jack Spade bags and the occasional vintage accessory. And the rest of us appreciate our guys' newly spiffy style. 577 Tremont St., Boston, MA 02118, saultne.com.
We know: It's better to give than to receive. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Frankly, we beg to differ. But when we have to do the buying, we make our first stop Wild Goose Chase, whose owners, Irene Chang and Bob Kelly, embrace the age-old mantra and strive to make gift-giving fun. With a stock of Infinity jewelry boxes, Ashleigh Manor picture frames, Patrick Meyer sugar spoons, and Stephen Dixon rings, the boutique has no shortage of appropriate presents for anniversaries, apologies, and every event in between. 1355 Beacon St., Brookline, MA 2446, thewildgoosechase.com.
Gingham rompers? Sailor suits? Excuse our spit-up, Mom and Dad, but you need to check yourselves: That stuff's strictly for the outta-towners. We urban babes need something with a bit more attitude, like tees paying homage to Bruce Lee and Frank Sinatra, along with slick Pluie Pluie rain gear and funky kicks by See Kai Run. And if we absolutely must submit to the affront of being swaddled, please let it be in a simple slate-gray blanket from Toby + Rei, not some friggin' Disneyfied nightmare. A shopping excursion to Bird by Bird should do the trick. Hand us that crayon—we'll draw you a map. 1361 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA 2139, .
True, it's in a shopping mall, or at least the closest thing Harvard Square has to a shopping mall. And it's part of a bigger chain. But it's still one of those photo stores where the staff loves to talk about cameras, and the prices are some of the best around. A standard Minolta flash that costs more than $100 around the corner sells here for $75. After buying the flash, our agent asked for an expensive gizmo to connect it to his light meter. "Oh no," said the salesguy. "You don't need it. We use the same light meter in the studio I work at and I'm sure you don't need it." 57 JFK Street, Harvard Square Galeria, Cambridge, MA .
Salon Capri conquered the suburbs decades ago, so we wondered if its recent move to Newbury Street would feel like a minivan parking in a row of Porsches. But the sleek new space with floor-to-ceiling windows is a stunner, and so were we after a visit. We loved the massage chairs during the shampoo, and the shoulder-straightening weights (similar to an X-ray bib) to prevent lopsided cuts. And when we were handed a mimosa and serenaded by a jazz trio (Saturdays only) during our trim, we nearly shouted, "Welcome to the neighborhood." 11 Newbury St., Boston, MA saloncapri.com.