Find everything from lobster Benedict to big-as-your-face pancakes at this cheery diner, which also serves an excellent lunch. (Beware the enormous Daily Paper burger, topped with onion rings.) Service is beyond cheerful—our waitress handled an unwieldy party of 10 with genuine care. 644 W. Main St., Hyannis, 508-790-8800; 546 Main St., Hyannis, 508-775-9711. 644 W. Main St., Hyannis, MA 02601, dailypapercapecod.com.
Pho Lemongrass's pleasantly expansive menu almost dares you to find something you can't get excited about. How about a dozen ways to do rice vermicelli, or a build-your-own stir fry? Our pick is the namesake rice noodle soup, packed with spicy shrimp, chicken, or beef and not-soggy vegetables. The waitstaff is patient and kind, ensuring that even if you take a risk with a new dish, you'll never be less than thrilled with what's set before you. 239 Harvard St., Brookline, MA pholemongrass.com.
After working under the tutelage of makeup-guro-to-the-stars Bobbi Brown, Rusty has come to Boston to transform our faces. He applies makeup with Brown's signature minimalist technique, which strives for natural, subtle strokes for daytime. Colston is also adept at using color to create a little drama for evening. As an added bonus, he'll tweeze unruly brows and even make house calls if necessary. 9 Newbury Street, Boston, MA mariorusso.com.
We like it rough, but that bruise on our shoulder? Ouch. And do-nothing spa massages? A waste of a good nap. With a just-right blend of relaxation and technical know-how, Natalie Maibenko at Unique Verve can adjust to whatever your need may be—a lulling back rub to relieve stress, serious bodywork for injuries and muscle tightness. No matter the case, she uses her custom-made aromatherapy oils to deliver an intensive massage session that's both effective and blissfully quiet. 530 Tremont St., Boston, MA 2116, uniqueverve.com.
It's insanely rich, full of intense flavor, and made right on-site. Quite simply: This is a place that all ice cream aficionados must go before they die. Our all-time favorite scoops include the nocciola (hazelnut) and the famous burnt caramel. Yet with Toscanini's ever-rotating inventory (mango ginger, Earl Grey, and lemon pistachio, to name a few), you'll surely find your own pilgrimage-worthy flavor in no time. 899 Main St., Cambridge, MA 2139, tosci.com.
Like laser eye surgery and brake repairs, raw fish is something we're loath to cheap out on. Rather than risk gastric distress—or merely off-tasting nigiri—we get our budget-sushi fix at the Back Bay's Douzo, where the ambiance is polished and the sashimi as glistening-fresh as it is at the astronomically pricey joints. Ample space at the bar means it's a cinch to belly up for a quick lunch, while the scores of tables means there's no silly reservation policy standing between you and your maki. 131 Dartmouth St., Boston, MA 2116, douzosushi.com.
Where local seafood is concerned, we're of the keep-it-real ilk. And Jake's does just that, with heaps of just-netted steamers, light-as-a-feather fried filets, and lobsters (we'll take ours boiled plain, thanks). There's even a Grape-nut pudding worthy of your Yankee forebears. Down it all on the patio area overlooking the sun-dappled harbor, and you'll have a solid reminder of what summer in New England is all about. 50 George Washington Blvd., Hull, MA 2045, jakesseafoods.com.
The better the food, the flirtier we feel. And chef Frank McClelland's tasting menu really revs our engines. With choices from white asparagus and oyster salad to decadent poached lobster and a selection of handcrafted cheeses, we guarantee just a few bites will have your date absolutely enamored, too. Impeccable service in the hushed dining room helps seal the deal, ensuring lovebirds a happy ending. 774 Boylston St., Boston, MA 2199, lespalier.com.
It's strange that Boston is short on purveyors of good Irish food. (Especially when, according to our research, the city was founded by Patrick O'Patrick and his brothers Pat, Pat, Patty, and Steve, who, we're pretty sure, was adopted.) But who needs options when there's Matt Murphy's—still the best spot in town for fish and chips, rabbit pie, and good soda bread. Wash it down with a Guinness and suddenly you're Irish. Even if your name is Steve. 14 Harvard St., Brookline, MA 2445, mattmurphyspub.com.
The fact that every Boston Brazilian joint has earned its fame doling out all-you-can-eat portions of meat left us wondering: How do those girls in Rio look so hot in their thongs? Then we discovered Muqueca, where even our most carnivorous friends fell for the single servings of spicy dishes, including the traditional seafood stew for which the restaurant is named. It's so good we guarantee you'll bring back your very lean booty for more. 1008 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA 2139, muquecarestaurant.com.
We appreciated the doting service. We marveled at the kitchen's inventive-ness (e.g., the vegan-friendly dish whipped up for our dining companion). We admired the exposed-brick dining room. But we absolutely worshipped Ceia's steak frites: a mouth-watering hunk of tenderloin coated with porcini butter and served with sweet-potato steak fries and chef Patrick Soucy's house-made ketchup. This stuff is so good, he'll soon be bottling it for household consumption. 38 State St., Newburyport, MA 1950, ceia-newburyport.com.
Provence touches down in Plymouth at Mirbeau, a resort inspired by French country manors just a short putt away from where the Mayflower met shore. Boasting 34 lavishly appointed guest rooms, the turreted main house overlooks elegant grounds with Monet-worthy ponds and gardens and a Jack Nicklaus–designed golf course. The transportive ambiance extends to the stone-walled spa and Four Diamond–rated restaurant, which hosts farm-to-table dinners right in the middle of a local cranberry bog. Continental class, imported to the South Shore. 35 Landmark Dr., Plymouth, MA 02360, plymouth.mirbeau.com.
After enduring Whitey’s old neighborhood badly rendered in countless movies and reality shows over the years, it’s comforting to find a place that is perfectly, authentically, and effortlessly Southie. This describes the Galley Diner, with its 12-stool counter and four tables, to a T. The joint has all the diner classics, of coursethe corned-beef hash is even better stuffed inside the "Southie" omelet with cheesebut if anything deserves to be featured in a movie, it’s the handcarved ham, sliced fresh in front of your eyes, heated on the griddle, and smothered in eggs and hash browns. Now that, we’d argue, deserves top billing. 11 P St., South Boston, MA 2127, thegalleydiner.com.
If the array of refined Asian-inspired nibbles doesn't clue you in, the owners of this four-year-old restaurant will take pains to make clear that Cha Fahn is about much more than tea. But set aside the premium sake and the inventive entrees, and what's left is simply the best-chosen tea selection in the city, in a perfect setting for enjoying it: a peaceful yet romantically charged room, ideal for lingering over pots of aromatic darjeeling, oolong, assam, lapsang souchong, and so on. It's the kind of spot that feeds the soul. The fact you can also feed your appetite is a lovely bonus. 763 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, MA chafahn.com.
Thanks to new chef Seth Fernald, who hails from the dearly departed Federalist, it's easy to attain euphoria at Soma. Menu standards like 'Duck, Duck, Goose,' a crisp-skinned duck breast served with foie gras butter and sautéed brussels sprouts, are impeccable. Specials such as gray sole-enveloped honshemeji mushrooms with a ricotta-stuffed squash blossom beguile at first bite ('Like spring on a plate,' one diner mused). If that doesn't leave your head spinning, the house-infused bourbons and raspberry-kumquat martinis certainly will. 256 Cabot St., Beverly, MA 1915, somabeverly.com.