Pity us. We're so inclined to stuff our bellies full of chef Tony Maws's house-made pastas and glorious takes on pork that we have a hard time saving room for dessert. This is tragic, because it's simply not a Craigie experience without the wildly decadent confections assembled by Jessica Scott. She expertly blends traditional delights (bourbon-pecan ice cream) with inspired elements (a bacon-Mexican chocolate crust) for an extraordinary savory-sweet finale. 853 Main St., Cambridge, MA 2139, craigieonmain.com.
In our quest for the ultimate meat-wich, we knocked back dozens of Franken-patties built from precision combinations of brisket, round, short rib, sirloin, skirt, even marrow and suet. But in the end, plain old ground chuck triumphed. Loaded onto a toasted house-made bun, the $14 SDLT Burger's pronounced grilled crust and superbeefy flavor stand up to sharp Vermont cheddar, spicy aioli, and the most savory pancetta ever made. 255 State St., Boston, MA 2109, seldelaterre.com.
Having eaten our way across the MetroWest in a futile search for a challenger, there's little left to say except, once again, here's Johnny's. This four-time Best Of winner extends its run by virtue of its satisfyingly thick French toast and rib-sticking meals like pastrami skillet scrambles and Santa Fe burritos. Its sparkling-clean setup (surprisingly rare in breakfast joints) and '50s-style cheeriness further ensure its rulership over the early-bird roost. 30 Langley Rd., Newton Centre, MA 2159, .
Seven miles of white sand edged with rolling dunes make this our favorite spot to plop down a beach chair, catch some rays, and read a trashy romance novel—all thanks to a 1945 bequest from the estate of Chicago bazillionaire Richard Crane of plumping and fire hydrant fame. Parking fees are steep ($15 to $20), but a $40 yearly membership gets you a discount and helps the Trustees of Reservations with an aggressive wildfire management program. It also helps keep the shore free of debris and the bath houses clean. Crane Beach, Argilla Rd., Ipswich, MA .
One part jazz club, one part restaurant, the Beehive is our go-to spot for a laid-back night out on the town. The stellar list of libations (we're fans of the champagne cocktails and the "Apparatus," a Scotch and cognac concoction) and the sophisticated fare are the perfect complement to the musicians onstage. Something to keep in mind: If you want to be at all close to the action, make a reservation—otherwise, you'll be cooling your heels at the bar. 541 Tremont St., Boston, MA 2809, beehiveboston.com.
Jill Rosenwald's groovy patterned pottery and accessories are pure bold technicolor, and so is her personality: Chatty and effusive, Rosenwald considers her clients and colleagues old friends. When you call her studio, it's actually her on the other end, always game to kibitz about your latest design needs. She's a big supporter of our arts scene, too, as a cofounder of the Design Salon, a networking organization for creative women to swap ideas and advice. 369 Congress St., Boston, MA 02210, jillrosenwald.com.
After nearly 30 years in the business, Cumar still wins our vote for the best selection of full-slab stone in town. Trust owner Angelo Cubi and his team to find you the cream of the crop (Italian marble, Brazilian granite, French limestone—you name it), and then cut and install it perfectly. Your countertops won’t know what hit them. 69 Norman St., Everett, MA 02149, cumar.com.
Tennis may be the ultimate country-club sport, but there are still plenty of places to practice your backhand while you linger on waiting lists. Our favorites are the courts at Newton South, which feature recently updated surfaces and a sun shelter for spectators. With 12 courts to choose from, wait times are low, and overhead lights let you play well past sundown. 140 Brandeis Rd., Newton Centre, MA 02459, .
A good pair of sunglasses possesses a strange power to make you look and feel glamorous, even when you're slumming it in sweats. Lunette Optic has long been our trusted guide to finding such shades. Pros whisk you from case to case, pointing out the right style for your face and the level of protection and price you're seeking. Ready to splurge? Check out the specs from Tom Ford and Barton Perreira. 121 High St., Boston, MA lunetteoptic.com.
Most car washes charge you $20 to roll your vehicle under a few spritzers and a blow dryer. At Allston, that same amount gets you full doors-to-floors tidying. (Want just the exterior cleaning? Ten bucks.) We were impressed by the attention to detail: When our—admittedly, hanging on by a thread—radio antenna popped off in the tunnel, the attendant gladly replaced it with a new one. 434 Cambridge St., Allston, MA allstoncarwash.com.
We used to prefer our pedicures short and sweet. But after just one Bella Foot Facial with Marina Kan, we've grown more than happy to linger. What's not to love about dozing for 80 minutes in a plush armchair while your tired pups are exfoliated, massaged, masked, and moisturized? Kan's all-business approach spares you the chitchat, and her palette of scrubs and creams looks almost good enough to eat. 38 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, bellasante.com.
Some say you should never trust a bald barber, but there's an exception to every rule. Poirier, the tonsured and tattooed owner of this year-old salon in South Boston, is ours. He uses a straight razor and skills acquired during a two-decade tour on Newbury Street to create the kind of just-got-outta-bed looks that hipsters know can only be crafted by expert hands. 840 Summer St., South Boston, MA shagboston.com/.
Boston doesn't have many patisseries, and our bakeries feel like coffee spots that just happen to have cinnamon buns and cupcakes. Café Vanille, however, seems like a French pastry shop that just happens to serve espresso and tea. One look at the lineup of flaky napoleons, ganache-glazed éclairs, colorful petits fours and fruit tarts, and buttery brioche makes the cookie-and-donut offerings everywhere else seem downright dull. 70 Charles St., Boston, MA 2108, frenchmemories.com.
Save the formal service and immaculate silverware for your power lunches in the city. On the Cape, you want to grab something fast and friendly—and then head right back outside. At Blue Willow, the ingredients are fresh, the sandwiches inventive, and the baked goods all made from scratch. Our superlative midday meal: the signature grilled chicken and Brie panini followed by a fudgy, walnut-studded 'outrageous' brownie. 1426 Route 6, Wellfleet, MA 2663, .
If, like us, you've made the rounds of showrooms and emerged empty-handed, stop next at Frank Roop. The interior designer creates pieces with your tastes and dimensions in mind. His French-inspired lounges, beds, and side tables have a vintage feel and are all 100 percent unique. Ideal for those who despair our country's Crate & Barrel-ization. 224 Clarendon St., Suite 31, Boston, MA 2116, frankroop.com.