With its hip-hop soundtrack, generous pours of outside-the-box wines, and cheekily named snacks (e.g., a "David" Hasselback potato), this wine bar mixes serious oenophile cred with a laid-back atmosphere. Pop in to discover your new favorite vino; they'll open anything on the old-world-focused bottle list if you commit to two glasses. 45 Province St., Boston, MA 02108, haleyhenry.com.
After dropping off your bags in one of this waterfront hotel’s plush rooms or suites, each decked out in teals and taupes, order a cocktail at the in-house bar Henry’s (the Thyme After Thyme is finished with local sea salt) and take it out to the wraparound porch. Sip and savor sweeping views of Chappaquiddick and Edgartown lighthouse. Repeat. You are now officially on vacation. 131 N. Water St., Edgartown, MA 02539, harbor-view.com.
At this shiny new steakhouse in Burlington's 3rd Ave development, presentation is paramount—and often over the top. (For proof, look no further than the 3,000-plus-bottle wine collection, displayed on a catwalk above a glass-paneled dining room.) James Beard-nominated chef Mario Capone's food is equally dramatic: Steaks come with flags labeling their doneness; a "fork-and-knife cauliflower roast" is served with a knife through the middle; and house-made and individually bottled cocktails are poured tableside. 15 Third Ave., Burlington, MA 01803, the-bancroft.com.
In a region with four distinct seasons, it can be near impossible to find a retailer that stocks bathing suits year round. Rather than resign yourself to hit-or-miss online shopping for that midwinter trip to warmer climes, head west to Everything but Water. Looking for a retro-inspired one-piece? A specific shade of orange to match your new lipstick? This Natick store has it all, from designers like Nanette Lepore and Trina Turk, gorgeously displayed in January, July, and every month in between. Just add water, indeed. Natick Mall, 1245 Worcester St. #1126, Natick, MA 01760, everythingbutwater.com.
After tag-teaming at culinary heavyweights like L’Office and Del Posto, chefs Kevin O’Donnell and Michael Lombardi have taken their talents to the South End, opening a stellar Venetian-style bacaro. The marble-topped bar is the perfect place to kick back with a glass of aglianico and a few bite-size cicchetti, but don’t miss the chefs’ fresh pasta—including an alluring garganelli with foraged mushrooms and shaved egg yolk—all made with Four Star Farms grain milled in-house. 569 Columbus Ave., Boston, MA 02118, srvboston.com.
A visit to chef Peter Ungár’s culinary theater is transformative from start to finish. Take your seat, gaze upon the team of busy chefs, and let the show begin: an island of lobster custard and seaweed in a briny pool of uni broth; tangy sour-cream dumplings with crispy pancetta; and bite-size chocolate ganache cake with preserved strawberries, all personally plated with just enough time between courses. Who could have guessed such luxury lurked behind Aeronaut Brewing? 14 Tyler St., Somerville, MA 02143, tastingcounter.com.
If you think music sounds best through ear buds and films are meant to be watched on laptops, skip Goodwin’s. The guys here take high-end audio seriously: Before talking components, they’ll review your home’s blueprints or even make a house call to ensure that the speakers, amps, and digital equalizers they recommend will achieve mind-blowing sound. 899 Main St., Waltham, MA 2451, goodwinshighend.com.
Can a person live on pasta alone? At this Somerville specialty shop, you could certainly tryand last for months without ever repeating your order, thanks to a massive roster of take-home, house-made pastas that includes ravioli (with fillings ranging from shrimp and fennel to pumpkin and smoked mozzarella), ribbons of handcut strands infused with everything from squid ink to saffron, and a slew of sauces to pair with them all. Laying off the carbs? Peruse the expert selection of gourmet cheeses, charcuterie, and vino instead. 81 Holland St., Somerville, MA 2144, davesfreshpasta.com.
A TV show as appraiser? Absolutely. WGBH turns out episodes in various cities, where locals line up with treasured heirlooms and garage-sale finds. Some of the art specialists in the country—including some of the local auction bigwig Skinner—are on hand to give owners and viewers information on their finds, including the estimated value. Ah, the agony of learning your prized highboy is a well-crafted knockoff? Ah, the pleasure of discovering that one of granny's knickknacks is worth more than the house!
It isn't easy to explain the social and culinary vortex that is the Pearl. But there's no doubt the the foundation of its lure is the combined talents of husband and wife owners Seth and Angela Raynor. He handles the kitchen with a Franco-Asian touch (the salt and pepper wok-fired quail is worth picking up with your fingers to get at every last scrumptious morsel); she runs the front of the house with such style, grace, and humor, it's no wonder the luminescent dining room is the place to be on an island packed with the tanned, the powerful, and the famous. 12 Federal St., Nantucket, MA thepearlnantucket.com/.
Manhattan meets Cape Cod at this trendy Hyannis bistro and raw bar. The oysters—prepared naked or topped with a hint of cocktail sauce, a splash of Absolut Peppar vodka, or sour cream and caviar—are beyond divine. The littleneck clams are tiny tastes of the sea. And the melt-in-your-mouth beef carpaccio appetizer and a host of tempting desserts round out a fun, fresh menu. 20 Independence Dr., Hyannis, MA nakedoyster.com/.
The latest addition to Brian O'Neill's growing empire, this new Good Life is perfectly suited to its Central Square location. The decor is, as in other Good Lifes, remarkably similar to your parents' den, only wings this good and spicy were probably not served at home. Wash 'em down with one of many beers on tap, or a tasty cosmopolitan (the bartenders seem to have a flair for this drink du jour). 720 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA goodlifebar.com.
Celebs know that great eyebrows can dramatically improve a face. Thanks to Bhusal, we’re well versed in this phenomenon as well. "Something’s different!" ... "You look amazing" ... and our personal favorite, "Your brows are killer right now," were just a few of the flatteries flung our way after Bhusal worked her magic, first delicately threading and then gently tweezing until she achieved the perfect arch. Sensitive-skin types rejoice: Threading is cleaner than waxing, doesn’t leave any stickiness behind, and the chances of a burn are zilch. The Mall at Chestnut Hill, Newton, MA 2467, the-threadingspa.com.
It's the oldest story in the book: Man tours steakhouses, steakhouses run gamut, man eliminates fading relics, lesser chains, and 'modern' meateries where the flourishes outshine the beef. And by the final page, Abe & Louie's and Grill 23 once again have emerged as the heroes of our tale. In terms of overall atmosphere, it's a draw (lively merriment versus relaxed elegance), but Abe & Louie's cuts are a touch more flavorful, the wine list a tad kinder to our bottom line, and the non-steak options—like the addictive crab cakes—a little nearer to perfection. After all, in a showdown this sizzling, victory is measured by degrees. 793 Boylston St., Boston, MA 2116, abeandlouies.com.
Sure, it lacks the grit of some of the area’s older music venues, but in return it has every touring indie band on its calendar, fantastic acoustics, and (gasp!) nice bathrooms. Plus, the attached restaurant’s patio is a solid spot to kick back with a craft cocktail and house-made pretzels while waiting for the show. Is the concert experience any less rock ’n’ roll if it’s this pleasant? In any case, we’re happy to partake. 52 Church St., Cambridge, MA 02138, sinclaircambridge.com.