Ardent followers of the tenet 'Well, you just never know,' we're not the types whose weekend gear will fit in a tiny backpack. And so the crew at Biltmore-Green has come to know us by name. The Back Bay shop has our favorite high-end Tumi and Hartmann rollers; durable Samsonite and Swiss Army suitcases; and leather totes from Bosca and Jack George. If your packing preferences lean toward the aforementioned knappie, well, you can buy simple, sleek carry-ons here, too. Just don't complain if you wind up needing the shoes you left behind. 176 Boylston St., Boston, MA 2116, .
Sparks fly every time we enter the unassuming front door of this charming Cambridge eatery. Maybe it's the sparse, soft-lit dining room, filled with just 10 white-linen-topped tables accented by fresh flowers. Or maybe it's the anticipation of chef Tim Wiechmann's divine French-influenced fare (we're still daydreaming about the house-made rillettes, and the squid-ink gemelli with Moosabec mussels and razor clams). Whatever the reason, no matter how many other discerning diners make the pilgrimage to T. W. Food, it always feels like our special place. 377 Walden St., Cambridge, MA twfoodrestaurant.com.
The John Dewar & Company operation has been in business only since October, but already its commercial clients include Front Street, the Hermitage, and Jason's. The Dewar company also encourages retail business at its 753 Beacon St., Newton, address. According to Fred Donovan, the vice-president and chief meat cutter of the store, "We're not trying for the strong sell. We just want to satisfy the customer. We don't care if they come in for one hot dog or four ounces of hamburger. We treat all our customers the same." John Dewar & Company, .
Great service, flavorful food, beautiful presentation—and a willingness to take on any affair, no matter how small or bizarre—set this small company apart from its bigger sisters. From weddings and wakes to corporate conferences and informal dinner parties (sans staff), Bakers' specialties include grilled Norwegian salmon with citrus salsa, rack of lamb with a honey-peppercorn crust, grilled teriyaki chicken, and imaginative hors-d'oeuvres such as artichoke hearts with Parmesan triangles, pan-seared dumplings, grilled lime-marinated scallops, and Tandoori shrimp. Plus an attitude that makes you feel as special as your event. 27 Lincoln St., Newton Highlands, MA .
Toasted or untoasted? Either way has its advantages. Fresh off the shelf at baker Adam Hirsh’s long-awaited new shop, the bagels are a soft, chewy foundation for substantial sandwiches such as the Monumental, featuring a hard-boiled egg, local greens, and bacon. Warmed, the crisp exterior crackles pleasantly. Bagel lovers can’t go wrong with flavors like "everywhere" (a thoroughly seeded everything); jalapeño-cheddar; and egg—but our favorite order is sesame, toasted to bring out the nutty flavors, with a generous schmear of house-made bacon-everything cream cheese. 3346 Washington St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130, exodusbagels.com.
We came to Bass with a three-month-old haircut on the fritz. His diagnosis? Too heavy, especially around the shoulders. Within 60 seconds the stylist had devised a surgical plan: longer in the front, with flattering layers in the back. And then he swiftly and quietly went to work, using both wet and dry cutting techniques to sculpt our mane as if it were a statue made of clay. The result: a cut with body, style, and plenty of personality. Bonus: Bass sees clients as early as 6 a.m., so you don’t have to wreck your work day (or fight Newbury Street traffic) for a trim. 18 Newbury St., Boston, MA 02116, chuckbass.com.
Set your GPS: Chef Ernie Campbell’s beloved Jamaica Mi Hungry truck (pictured) is now permanently parked at an Allston lot, outside the address where a second restaurant is set to open this fall. (There’s already a brick-and-mortar joint in Jamaica Plain.) Speed by to snag signature, heat-seeking jerk chicken, hearty and comforting goat curry, or stellar sides like sweet plantains from Campbell, whose hardly idle hands are also busy managing kitchen operations for CommonTable, a citywide initiative to feed vulnerable communities during the pandemic. 182 Western Ave., Allston, MA 02134, jamaicamihungry.com.
Socrates Abreu’s J.P. restaurants may be small, but the aromas coming out of his Mexican street-food kitchens are big and bold. There’s no wrong way to go with the mix-and-match menu here: Just choose your "canvas" (taco, burrito, torta, and more), meat, and toppings. Our favorite combos: spicy chorizo and potatoes packed into a burrito, and herbaceous pork enchiladas smothered in salsa verde. Look for two more super-fresh locations coming soon, in Mission Hill and Chestnut Hill. Multiple locations. 224 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130, chilacates.mx.
We'd love to tell you how tasty the hot house-smoked pastrami and creamy blintzes are at Mamaleh's, but oy vey, we're stuffed like a kishka and can barely finish writing this. For years the area has been short on real-deal Jewish delicatessens, and now we finally have one that satisfies all of our cravings, right down to the cherry phosphates and crisp, golden latkes just like Mom used to make. Bring the experience home with you via the takeout counter, generously stocked with all manner of smoked fish and cold cuts. One Kendall Sq., Cambridge, MA 02139, mamalehs.com.
At too many department store cosmetics counters in this town, too-chic salespeople more often than not will slather your screaming pores with overly perfumed chemicals and then, as if a life depended upon it, try to force you into spending upwards of $300 on said chemicals. That's why E6, with its well-organized shelves of hard-to-find lines (from diva staples such as Helena Rubinstein and Versace to cult favorites Rescue Beauty Lounge and Becca) and its always-informed but low-pressure sales staff, remains our local shrine to beauty. 167 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
Since chef Jason Bond opened the doors last fall, the applause for Bondir hasn't let up. Now, nine months and zero missteps later, he gets another voice added to the gushing chorus: ours. His menus, which change every day, are detailed yet somehow still welcoming and unprecious. His flavors are creative and nimble but restrained, and focused on one thing above all others: freshness. Already he has the rest of the house—staffers and diners alike—dedicated to that idea, and to creating a vibe that isn't about status dining or stuffy service, but about eating deceptively simple, yet simply wonderful, food. 279A Broadway, Cambridge, MA 2139, bondircambridge.com.
On any given night you can find crowds gathered on the sidewalk outside this cramped, noisy, hole-in-the-wall North Ender, jostling for the chance to dive into some of the freshest homestyle Italian cooking in Boston. Pomodoro is not fancy; it's cash only, and offers only two wine choices, house red and white. But it is damn good. Our advice: While you wait for a table, nibble from a plate of crisp, lightly fried calamari with tomato sauce, and save room for pastas, seafood, and veal dishes that sing with simple bold flavors. Ever-present properietor Siobhan Carew makes this place a gem. 319 Hanover Street, Boston, MA .
O'Connor's men (he's got two crews) dress in the traditional top hats (tails optional in summer) to do your chimney. And now's the time to get an appointment: fully three quarters of the company's business is done between September and December—and we're talking about thousands of chimneys. O'Connor started in Stowe, Vermont, in 1973, and moved here five years later. He's good, and very neat, too. "We make sure we keep our customer's homes clean by taking along an industrial vacuum cleaner to every job." Ah, progress. Cambridge, MA
Equal-rights couturier Rouleau specializes in flattering, custom-fit formalwear for either gender, but is especially skilled at creating sexy tuxedos for girls. 73 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, alanrouleau.com.