Our beef-boiling Yankee town has come a long way with its southern cuisine. But North Carolina native Jason Cheek goes beyond the conventional canon, rattling off the sort of nuanced, modern riffs they’re rocking right this second in Charleston and Atlanta. Think: whole grilled trout nestled in stewed fregula. Short-rib meatloaf dolled up with bone marrow and bracing piperade. And a tea-brined, thyme-scented fried chicken—craggy and orange-rust in color—we can’t stop clucking about. 600 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA southernproperboston.com.
It's teensy. It's not fancy. It's in sleepy Winchester, where the nightlife scene doesn't exactly buzz. And yet this place is near the top of our reservation wish list, in the city or in the 'burbs, because the food is so reliably good. Chef Chris Parsons makes a revelatory burger, crowned with portobello mushrooms and tangy balsamic onions. When he steams Maine mussels in lobster broth, they're sop-up-the-juices good. And the farm-egg-and-bacon-topped frisée salad makes you wonder why other restaurants even bother. 34 Church St., Winchester, MA 1890, parsons-table.com.
When testing this category, one might expect things to get a little uncomfortable. But unsanitary? Thanks, but no thanks! (In truth, some of the most pain-free waxes weve ever had were disqualified because of sketchy hygieneas in, double-dipping wax from a communal pot.) Luckily, just when we were contemplating letting our bikini line go rogue, we met Exhale pro Garczynski. In addition to the fact that she creates a fresh container of wax for each customer, shes quick and thorough, and any ingrown hairs worst enemy. 28 Arlington St., Boston, MA 2116, .
How does this local master of all things chocolat—which last year left its Pinckney Street location for bigger digs on Charles Street—continue to win our affections? It's simple: Paula Barth's array of elegantly displayed truffles, sourced from around the globe and ranging from the traditional (champagne-flavored) to the exotic (the Dragonfly, a dark chocolate bonbon with the essence of kaffir lime leaves, coconut milk, and pieces of candied ginger). We also can't seem to leave Beacon Hill Chocolates without some ultracreamy gianduja chocolates and a few salted caramels. 92B Pinckney St., Boston, MA 2114, .
Just because a restaurant's in the South End doesn't mean it's a South Ender's restaurant (ahem, Stephi's on Tremont). This place, however, is the real deal. The soul of Boston's now-crowded foodie enclave since opening 12 years ago, the Franklin fills with almost all regulars craving their specific comfort food—in our case, the garlic-grilled calamari and cornmeal-crusted catfish, with a glass of grüner, please!—every night of the week. And it doesn't hurt that the kitchen keeps on serving those calamari, and the rest of the menu, until 1:30 a.m. 278 Shawmut Ave., Boston, MA 2118, franklincafe.com.
So what if Food & Wine Magazine stole our thunder by making her one of America's best new chefs for the year? They read about Lydon's talents here first, courtesy of reviewer Corby Kummer. Indeed, Kummer knows true talent when he tastes it: Lydon's holistic approach to food involves combining the very best local ingredients with proven French techniques. Her frogs' legs, her lamb chops, her simple touch with vinaigrettes and sauces—she's a star on the rise for sure. Lydon makes it look effortless; we can't wait to see what she'll concoct next. 560 Tremont Street, Boston, MA .
It may be heretical to say this in Brookline, but here goes: Go ye on the Sabbath to Cutty's and get yourself some pork. The Saturday special pork sandwiches, to be specific. Once a week, the slow-roasted pig comes in fresh to this Brookline Village café and is sliced thin for inclusion in such delicacies as the pork-and-pickled-fennel sandwich with roasted garlic on a crusty sesame-seed bun. With apologies to our rabbi, it's a borderline religious experience. Oh, and the rest of Cutty's (more-kosher) sandwiches, which are served all week? They're not so bad either. 284 Washington St., Brookline, MA 2445, cuttysfoods.com.
Being a great chef isn't just about respecting good ingredients or cooking with passion. It's also about being a good manager and building relationships with the guests you serve. Michael Schlow is all of the above, and more. With three restaurants in his expanding stable (Radius, Via Matta, and Great Bay), Schlow may not be the man who personally prepares you dinner, but he juggles each of his top-notch kitchens with aplomb. Schlow understands the culinary parameters of his ventures better than anyone—he knows, for example, that at Radius, less is more; that at Via Matta, cooking pasta is an art; and that at Great Bay, it's all about the bounty of our local waters. Radius, 8 High St.; Great Bay, 500 Commonwealth Ave.; Via Matta, 79 Park Plaza, Boston, MA michaelschlow.com.
Yes, it's a chain. But our search for comparable quality and variety in the area always leads us back here. Visit the artfully arranged shop in person and you'll come face to face with bushels of oversized dahlias, silky long-stemmed roses, and of course, dozens of the store's signature, precisely designed arrangements. The space feels like a Tuscan villa, with topiary trees and buckets of seasonal blooms. As for out-of-state delivery, the staff's well-deserved reputation for attention to detail means you'll never have to worry about red carnations getting in the mix. 31 Central St., Wellesley, MA winstonflowers.com/.
It is with good reason that the Lizard Lounge consistently tops our live-venue list: It's still the favorite choice for established rock acts, and, for all its renown, is still every bit as intimate as a suburban rec room. Crowded cocktail tables stand inches away from the Oriental rug-lined stage, where, on any given night, a classic jazz trio, alt-rockers, or spoken-word poets perform to no more than 105 fans. Adding to the club's character are the laid-back punks behind the bar who dole out boutique draft beers such as Mojo IPA and Victory Golden Monkey. 1667 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 2138, lizardloungeclub.com.
Sounds like virtue, tastes like vice: That's the MO of By Chloe, the quick-service vegan empire that's winning hearts, minds, and Instagram feeds with its sinfully sloppy portobello-and-seitan barbecue sandwiches. Don't be fooled by the Roald Dahl-grade whimsy (beet ketchup? kale ice cream?). In both taste and texture, these creations manage to soar over the uncanny valley where so many other faux meats have crashed and burned—our favorite being a smoky shiitake bacon that even shatters the way real bacon does. 107 Seaport Blvd., Boston; 100 Van Ness St., Boston; eatbychloe.com. 107 Seaport Blvd., Boston, MA 02210, eatbychloe.com.
After years spent styling models for fashion weeks in New York, Milan, and Paris, Nikki An-Levi brought her skills to Wellesley Hills, where she now delivers city-chic, face-framing cuts in a fresh, polished space. On a recent visit, An-Levi transformed our dried-out curls into a high-volume, shoulder-length 'do with beachy waves, walking us through every snip of the scissors and flip of the hairbrush. That attention to detail—not to mention the weekly training sessions she holds for staff—makes even more sense when you consider her background as lead educator at Bumble and Bumble University in New York. 398 Washington St., Wellesley Hills, MA 02481, theparlorsalonandapothecary.com.
Buying within a clothing genre whose designers seem to delight in tweaking our dysmorphic tendencies has left us feeling broke, fat, and alone on more than one occasion. But at Riccardi, no body is left behind. With original denim-obsessed hipster Riccardo Dallai Sr. at the helm, brands show up here before the kids (not to mention the department stores) even know to lust after them, and the dozen-plus lines in stockcult favorites like Nineteen48, Nudie, Ksubi, and Superfinecater to thin, thick, petite, pear-shaped, stick-straight, and overly self-critical alike. 116 Newbury St, Boston, MA 2116, riccardiboston.com.
When he was an undergraduate at Harvard, John F. Kennedy used to sell his slightly worn formal wear to Max Keezer's store, where Harvard men have shopped since 1895 for the occasional velvet-collared chesterfield. Keezer's also sells a huge range of more practical, traditional formal wear, casual duds, and even hats. There's also low-priced new merchandise and high-end closeouts at bargain-basement prices. They're pretty picky about the used stuff, too. Trust us; we've triedd to sell them our suits. 140 River St., Cambridge, MA .
When this national cosmetics outlet opened its branch in Burlington, we rushed to see what the fuss was about. The verdict: For pure, unadulterated immersion into the beauty world, Sephora can't be beat. There are imported perfumes (nearly the entire Versace collection!), lotions and potions (Stila body glimmer!), and trendy makeup lines (Lorac lip gloss!). There are also all of our favorites, from Chanel to Shu Uemura to Nars. The best part: Everything can be sampled before purchasing. Of course, a knowledgeable and approachable sales staff is on hand to supply product advice and makeup application assistance. 75 Middlesex Turnpike, Burlington, MA sephora.com/.