In an era when you can access millions of titles on a single screen, the Booksmith still draws throngs of hungry readers. They come for the lovingly selected staff picks. The A-list author events. The Used Book Cellar, with more than 25,000 titles to choose from. In other words, they come for the things the Internet can’t give us: a sense of IRL community (the handmade journals aren’t too shabby, either). 279 Harvard St., Brookline, MA 02446, brooklinebooksmith.com.
The H-word may be ill defined—something about young, vaguely cool people having fun in a place where you're not. Unless you happen to be at Trina's. Equal parts dive bar, cocktail lounge, diner, and comfort-food joint, it has the type of lived-in authenticity the you-know-whats can't resist. 3 Beacon St., Somerville, MA 02143, trinastarlitelounge.com.
Oleana's candelit garden feels a world away from the bustle of Cambridge. Tucked at a table under the vine-laden trellis, you could easily be in the Greek isles, Turkey, or Morocco. Ana Sortun's eclectic Mediterranean food—don't miss the fried haloumi and the flambéed asparagus—won't necessarily help you pin down a particular region. But wherever the experience takes you, we're sure you won't want to leave. 134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA oleanarestaurant.com/.
The recipe for a superlative dive bar is simple: cheap drinks, good music, and a feeling of belonging for every sad sap who saunters in. The Silhouette Lounge delivers all of these ingredients, with a few grubby-but-great enhancements: dartboards, free popcorn, and stools so tattered they look like they've endured a natural disaster. If you're looking for panache, look elsewhere. If you're looking to drink away the blues and talk to strangers, sidle up to the bar at 'the Sil.' 200 Brighton Ave., Allston, MA 2134, .
Unlike at many chichi restaurants, chef-owner Jamie Mammano's entire critically acclaimed menu is served at Mistral's bar until quite late, freeing barflies to sidle up to that sexy someone without having to forgo their real beloveds: the beef tenderloin pizza with mashed potato and white truffle oil, or the glistening, Asian-spiced tuna tartare. 223 Columbus Ave., Boston, MA mistralbistro.com/.
There are two kinds of karaoke-goers: traditionalists "just in it for the music" and Axl-style mike hogs. Limelight suits both. More than 5,000 songs provide variety, and an always appreciative, largely tipsy audience supplies the right amount of Idol-esque egging on. (Those suffering from stage fright can "Sweet Child o' Mine" it up in private studios modeled on clubs in Tokyo, where subtitled singing is practically a professional sport.) The food may be greasy and the drinks can be weak, but never having to share stage time with "Sister Christian"-loving frat boys is more than a fair exchange. 204 Tremont St., Boston, MA limelightboston.com.
Fiery martinis, seductive lighting, chef Jamie Mammano's Mediterranean flavors, alluring bartenders—whatever drarws them there, the beautiful people who sidle up to Mistral's long, intimate bar wind up in the mood to shake and stir long after the last call. The barflies come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and present a decent cross section of the city's professional landscape along with well-heeled out-of-towners looking for a good drink and possibly a good time. The come-ons can be so smooth that on a recent night we actually overheard this imaginative opener: "Hi." And it worked. 223 Columbus Ave., Boston, MA mistralbistro.com/.
If you need another excuse to get married, look no further than Soul Cake’s Instagram. A casual scroll reveals masterpiece after masterpiece, thanks to pastry chef Gayoung Kim’s myriad textures and toppings: monstera leaf plastered to a pink-marble surface, blue watercolor fondant interrupted by flashes of gold, and sugar peonies placed by the bucketful. But of course, looks alone do not a wedding cake make—not only are Kim’s creations gorgeous, they’re also can’t-put-it-down good. Why double-tap when you could order one IRL? Woburn, MA 01801, soulcakeshop.com.
Armed with the diplomacy and precision that come only from years of European-trainingand a tricked-out kitchen sporting the latest sous vide accoutrementschef Mark DesLauriers helps novices and gourmets alike sidle up to the stove with confidence. New this year: couples’ cooking classes ($170 per duo) on Friday evenings. Woo that special someone over a meal of roast duck breast with warm shallot dressing, red-wine-braised duck leg and pan-seared foie gras with vegetables roasted in duck fat, and chocolate pot de crème. One Fitchburg St., Somerville, MA 2143, artepicure.com.
It's tough for a newcomer to stand out in a city that already has more Irish pubs than Ireland. Kitty O'Shea's, though, is like a trip to the Emerald Isle. The bar was fashioned from a church pulpit in the Old Country, the fireplace was brought from Dublin, and even the floor-boards are 200 years old. Stained-glass windows of Irish scenes filter out the bustle of the Financial District. Guinness and other Irish beers run from the taps, and the staff is off-the-boat Irish. The only thing that doesn't seem true to the authentic Irish pub theme is the food. It's good. 131 State St., Boston, MA .
Visiting this idyllic, sheltered enclave is something like stepping into a Georges Seurat painting. It wouldn't be surprising to see ladies with parasols strolling around the pond, seeking shade under the willows, or daydreaming on the footbridge. With such out-and-out tranquility just minutes from the crowds of the city, Larz Anderson Park is an ideal spot to relax, stretch out on the grass, and spread out a feast. There are even grills and tables. At the end of the day, when the sunset reflects off the water and slides through the trees, you'll feel as though you've entered an entirely different era. Newton St., Brookline, MA .
Fleeing the city seems an idyllic notion, until you find yourself bunking down among doily-strewn antiques and overpowering potpourri at a B&B advertising bucolic "charm." A rare exception is the Porches Inn, set in a row of renovated multi-colored Victorians in North Adams. Its 50-odd rooms are done up in modern décor and feature high-speed Internet and smart service. Out back are a pool and sauna; out front, the stylish Mass MoCA complex. Those still craving a little countrification can kick back in one of the dozens of rocking chairs that sit on the inn's verandas. 231 River St., North Adams, MA 2147, porches.com.
His slugging kept the BoSox neck-and-neck with the heated Yanks through early summer... even with Nomar on the DL.
This suburban denim depot was long overdue for a city location, and its sophisticated Newbury Street storefront was well worth the wait. Browse five pockets from J Brand and DL1961; premium selvage denim; and tops, dresses, and accessories from a slew of other brands. 218 Newbury St., Boston, MA njcboston.com.