Among up-scale pool halls, the original Jillian's gets bonus points for being there first. But what sets it apart from the competition is all the stuff beneath the third-floor pool tables: hundreds of high-tech video games on the second floor and a decent restaurant/mental amusement park called the Atlas Grill at street level. Which means there's lots of things to do on a Friday night while you wait hours for a pool table. 145 Ipswich St., Boston, MA .
Once you experience the personal touch of Darlene and her crew, you'll never go back to a corporate cleaning outfit. Would they pick up your kids at the airport, wash your dog, do your laundry, go grocery shopping, and even prepare dinner for you? Well, Darlene will. Not only that, she hand-scrubs your floors and even makes that black city grime on the window ledges disappear. 28 Smart Street, Waltham, MA .
When you need to provision aperitivo hour, head to one of Formaggio’s three local shops (pictured) to chat up staffers overflowing with cheese-world facts. The original location in Cambridge’s Huron Village is the real mothership, though, thanks to the widest assortment of accoutrements, as well as America’s first basement cheese-aging cave, where globe-spanning wheels, from rare imported blues to New England–made craft Camembert, are tended daily to ensure a perfectly ripe taste. 244 Huron Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138, formaggiokitchen.com.
It’s the little details that make Zoom happy hours seem like the real thing. (Kind of.) Beyond its quirky collection of tiki mugs—because a daiquiri always tastes better in a porcelain seahorse—this Somerville shop stocks glasses for drinks big and small, from highballs and juleps to martinis. And because no mint shall go unmuddled, lemon unpeeled, or olive unpicked on the Shaker’s watch, you’ll also find all of the tools to go with them. 69 Holland St., Somerville, MA 02144, thebostonshaker.com.
Warm sun streams into this Charles Street bakery-cum-café's expansive windows, where the clientele kicks back (sometimes for hours) over high-octane lattes, crumbly slices of walnut bread, and the daily papers. And while you can clearly witness the hustle and bustle outside, it fades as you sink deeper into the shop's meditative momentum. 144 Charles St., Boston, MA panificioboston.com/.
While brides spend hours hemming and hawing over lace and tulle, most guys just want a smart-looking tux that requires as little fuss as possible. Classic Tuxedo offers a comprehensive online catalog of suiting by Calvin Klein, Jean Yves, and Ralph Lauren, so grooms can narrow down the choices before trekking to the store. And once they do come in, fittings and alterations are a snap. 223 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
In Grace Kinahan's hands, pore cleansing and zit zapping are somehow rendered relaxing. It might have something to do with her plush, blanketed bed and brief initial skin consultation, followed by an hour-long steam, mask, and Jurlique hydration therapy. Clients walk away smoother ;and smarter, thanks to insider tips like 'flouride toothpaste can cause chin breakouts' and 'switch to an oil-based lotion for glowing skin.' 4 Avery St., Boston, MA 2111, thesportsclubla.com.
Since New England puts a limit on the weight of lobster's caught, the place to find oversized crustaceans is the Lobster Shanty in Point Pleasant, N.J. If you balk at a seven-hour ride, try Crusti's in North Kingston, R.I., where you can eat all the chicken lobsters you have the appetite and patience for, Wednesday through Sunday, for $15.95. Route 1, Kingston, RI .
Chasen likes to compare eyebrow grooming to the art of bonsai, and her disciplined approach to creating perfect shapes is why skin-care pro Brad Duncan tapped this standout makeup artist and clinical aesthetician to join his staff last fall. After deploying the gentlest of hard waxes, she draws on a decade's worth of eyebrow-refining experience to tweeze away strays and smooth contours. All this in less than half an hour. 530 Tremont St., Boston, MA 2116, bradduncanskincare.com.
It's a bold statement for a city mag to give the stellar-cellar nod to a restaurant located a couple of hours (and several modes of transportation) from downtown. But for those willing to roll with the car-ferry-taxi shuffle, the reward is Orla Murphy-LaScola's gem of a wine list at American Seasons, packed with off-the-beaten-vine vintages from the States. Even jaded sommeliers—stuck tending to creaky libraries of 'important' quaffs from Burgundy and Bordeaux—scratch their heads in amazement at theeccentric yet impeccable collection of small-production wines. 80 Centre St., Nantucket Island, MA 2554, americanseasons.com.
At Eastie red-sauce palace Rino's Place, patrons can get stuck waiting two hours for huge portions of baked rigatoni and chicken Parm. To accommodate the throngs, the owners opened Prima E Dopo across the street, offering balsamic-glazed wings and $6 cocktails. Now we just skip Rino's altogether and hang here, dining on sausage-and-broccoli-rabe pizza, crispy bruschetta, and perhaps the most flavorful meatballs we've ever had. 300 Saratoga St., East Boston, MA 2128, .
Chef Frank McClelland's celebrated dining room offers not one, but two extravagant tasting options. There's the "Seasonal Degustation"—a six-course meal headlined by dishes like Hudson Valley foie gras (take that, California!) with angelica and oatmeal-nut tuile, or lamb alongside roasted figs and caramelized fennel, both featuring ingredients sourced from the chef's own Essex farm. Not lavish enough for you? Then choose the $200 "Chef's Tasting Journey," and you'll be treated to an hours-long repast replete with caviar and truffles. 774 Boylston St., Boston, MA 2199, lespalier.com.
The Goldilocks Principle is perfectly apt when applied to early-morning eats: Go too big and you’re ready for a nap before 10 a.m., go too small and you’ll be hungry within the hour. Henrietta’s gets it just right, balancing out hearty staples like red flannel hash with lighter fare like smoothies and fresh-baked pumpkin bread. One Bennett St., Cambridge, MA 2138, henriettastable.com.
Kids? Reading? Ha. Pass the remote. Fortunately this Porter Square independent publisher and bookshop still emphasizes literacy and creative storytelling, matching up unequaled illustrations with cross-cultural tales to create award-winning titles such as The Gigantic Turnip and the celebrated My Daddy Is a Pretzel. In-store craft sessions, sing-alongs, and community store hours further the case for imagination—no batteries required. 1771 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA barefootbooks.com/.
Some men like to shop. Then there are the rest of them. At Barneys New York, the breadth of merchandise—a bounty of socks, cuff links, wallets, watches, duffels, and other assorted man-bags—offers something for both kinds of fellows. Dandies can spend hours deliberating over the perfect pocket square, while the guy who just needs a tie can get in and out before the sweat starts to bead. 100 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 2116, barneys.com.