Time was, getting sushi in Boston was a black-and-white proposition: You either went for the simple and efficient or the luxurious and, ahem, pricey. Chef Seizi Imura’s unassuming Cambridge spot, however, threads the needle with both respectable rollssuch as the pressed oshi-zushi, draped with transparent kombuand flavor revelations, in the form of wasabi-laced raw octopus (a highlight from the oft-changing omakase tasting) and torched avocado nigiri with truffle salt. 1105 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 2138, cafesushicambridge.com.
A stalwart in Boston since 1959, the gallery managed to not just survive but thrive this past year thanks to live and online shows that brought legends and locals together. See: works from modern-art icon Josef Albers, contemporary star Jenny Holzer, and Mike Glier, whose paintings are inspired by birdsong in the Public Garden. The gallery even hosted its annual AIDS Benefit Auction around the holidays virtually, with all proceeds going to the Dimock Center’s pediatric and family programs 10 Newbury St., Back Bay, MA 02116, krakowwitkingallery.com.
Get your sea legs ready: Reaching this hidden-gem hike requires two boat rides, first on the Georges Island ferry, then on a tiny boat that runs (for free) to Lovells. What a payoff you’ll get, though: a glimpse of Boston Light and the city skyline, a chance to explore the ruins of a deactivated military fort, and solitude in the fresh ocean air. You can trace the outer edges of the quiet island in just over an hour, but you’ll likely find yourself lingering for much, much longer. Boston, MA bostonharborislands.org.
If the thought of contorting your body into yoga sleep pose or sitting still for extended periods of time seems anything but relaxing, do yourself a favor and download Ten Percent Happier, the Boston-based spinoff of journalist Dan Harris’s self-help book. Dubbed a “meditation app for fidgety skeptics,” the program helps newbies and Zen masters alike regularly practice mindfulness with 500-plus guided sessions. And with plenty of shorter clips, it ensures you can get in the right headspace just about anywhere (really). tenpercent.com.
Roxbury natives Muyi Fre$co and Noma Nomz live by the mantra “get your vibes right” — and that’s exactly what the DJ/producer duo have accomplished with their latest project, which celebrates the diversity of the city with feel-good rhythms and soulful Caribbean melodies infused with mesmeric Afrobeats. Cameos from other Boston artists are the proverbial cherry on top. supersmashbroz.com.
After 65 years of bringing movie magic to Harvard Square, this repertory theater has left us with memories as cinematic as any scene projected onto the screen: Where else could we see John Hodgman introduce The Dead Zone, snicker at Trash Night’s grade-Z dreck, and experience David Lynch’s Lost Highway in 35mm—all in the same month? Harvard alum Natalie Portman must feel the same way, given that she chose the Brattle to stage her Boston Calling Film Festival. 40 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 02138, brattlefilm.org.
Hipsters, locals, and industry folk mingle at this Inman hangout, where stiff drinks and retro vibes accompany seriously good late-night eats, cranked out by the kitchen staff till midnight on weekends. The crisp tots with rosemary-garlic aioli pair well with a Green Goblin (a neon mezcal-based tipple), as does the beefy Starlite chili with a side of cornbread—a butter-soaked masterpiece so good, you might as well order an extra slice to take home for breakfast. Correction, June 26, 11 a.m.: In the July issue of Boston, we misstated how late Trina's serves (midnight). We regret the error. 3 Beacon St., Somerville, MA 02143, trinastarlitelounge.com.
All of Milton (and a good chunk of Boston) flock to chef Chris Parsons's sprawling fiefdom in a former car showroom and ambulance garage. They come for creative craft cocktails and local beer on draft. They come for the rustic-meets-sophisticated ambiance. Most of all, they come for Parsons's whimsical, honest-to-goodness American fare—spaghetti with green garlic, broccoli rabe, bacon, and a poached egg; grilled smoked-chicken flatbread with homemade ricotta; and a juicy Niman Ranch burger on brioche, presented with a side of house pickles and potato chips in an adorable metal box. 95 Eliot St., Milton, MA 02186, steelandrye.com.
Editor's Note, July 13, 1 p.m.: Ames Street—which merged with its neighbor Study for a combined concept called "Study at Ames" in late June, after press time for our Best of Boston issue—closed July 12.
After creating a top-tier nightlife enclave at Somerville’s Backbar, Sam Treadway and team are now schooling the country’s smartest city in cocktail-making. Here, they offer an ever-changing matrix organized by liquor, breaking down off-center sips (purple-cabbage gin, anyone?) to make even foreign flavors feel approachable. 73 Ames St., Cambridge, MA 02142, amesstreetdeli.com.
Boston has a long, rapturous history of genius buskers, from Susan Dietrich Schneider, the infamous "Space Lady" of the ’80s, to such future stars as Tracy Chapman, Mary Lou Lord, and Amanda Palmer. But none has so captured the soul of the city as Keytar Bear, our unofficial musical mascot. Yes, our funky spirit animal—the furry king of costume-core—has been twice attacked by thugs. But he's now back in action, appearing with Guster in January and welcoming the Fenway faithful with slinky grooves on Opening Day.
When Tim Maslow arrived in Boston from New York a few years ago to overhaul his father’s Watertown café, he made waves with his brash flavors and witty presentationsso much so that local food fiends fretted that his success might take him back to the Big Apple. Then came the August 2013 debut of the modern-Italian Ribelle, with its dry-aged meats, hand-rolled pastas, and clever panelle sliders. In short? It seems Maslow is in it for the long hauland our dining scene is all the better for it. Strip-T's, 93 School St., Watertown; Ribelle, 1665 Beacon St., Brookline, stripts.com.
To say that owner Leslee Shupe is dialed into the European fashion scene is an understatement: She first heard about rising Italian star Marco de Vincenzo from her friend Silvia Fendi (yes, that Fendi). As expected, the neat racks of Shupe’s shops on Newbury Street and Nantucket are flush with buzzy designers from abroad, including Cédric Charlier, Hervé L. Leroux, and Marni (even the German-made floral Birkenstocks Shupe had this summer were impossibly chic). If you need further proof of Serenella’s " it" factor, consider the fact that it’s the only Boston store featured on FarFetch, a curated online marketplace for independent high-end boutiques. 134 Newbury St., Boston; and 9B S. Beach St., Nantucket, serenella-boston.com.
Nationally recognized for her diverse portfolio, Dana Tavares has cemented herself in the highest tier of wedding photographers. The UMass grad—who runs Henry + Mac alongside her husband, Zak—pulls no punches with her documentarian style and approach, favoring gorgeously framed, naturally lit moments over gimmicky filters and poses at every event she photographs. A traditional black-tie fete at the Boston Public Library? An intimate, winter-night ceremony? A sun-soaked destination celebration in Mexico? If there’s love to capture, Henry + Mac’s photography is always the answer. henryandmac.com.
Sticking it to the corporate chains is most satisfying when you can do so without, you know, sacrificing anything. Seventy-five years after Boston native Mark Kramer opened a bookstore in Harvard Square, the supersize word-maven haven is still family-owned (by Kramer's son, Frank) and still doing everything right, with a public library's worth of used tomes, and new releases to rival Barnes and Borders. In a particularly Cantabrigian touch, the shop vows to go to court before disclosing your purchases to the government or anyone else, should they for some reason ask. Take that, Patriot Act! 1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA harvard.com.
The era of the mass-hyped, massively obvious It-bag is over (Arrivederci, Fendi baguette! Au revoir, Vuitton bowling bag!), clearing the way for the kinds of expertly crafted, anti-status designs that are Sari Brown's stock in trade. Having built a global clientele with her LuxCouture website, she opened a shop in Newton Highlands last year so that local fans could skip the shipping and go straight to shelves loaded with uncommon Sang A clutches, JT Italia baguettes, and Elena Ghisellini totes. Unlike at competitors Gretta Luxe and Luna Boston, the labels here trend unique, not ubiquitous, and the service is far more personalized than at the department stores. Balenciaga? Bah! 21 Lincoln Road, Newton Highlands, MA 2461, .