Like all things on this island, Nantucket’s bike paths were designed with aesthetics in mind—think: rolling hills, unspoiled harbor vistas, and, best of all, the safety of being tucked away from traffic, occasionally meandering through forests and other preservation land. If you must pick one direction, head west to Madaket, where at the end of the road you’ll find Madaket Beach, a favorite for families to while the day away under rainbow umbrellas. Before heading back into town, stop by Millie’s Market for a scoop of s’mores ice cream and savor the sweetness of summer. Nantucket, MA nantucket-ma.gov/985/Bike-Paths.
With its harbor vistas and wide sidewalks, Front Street always had the potential to be a South Shore destination—all it needed was a little pep. This year, we're finally seeing that potential fulfilled, with brand-new hot spots (Galley Kitchen & Bar, Lucky Finn Café); neighborhood stalwarts (T.K. O'Malley's, Mill Wharf); and high-end restaurants (Oro, Riva) all playing nicely along the charming half-mile strip. Day-trippers and locals alike enjoy movies at the Mill Wharf Cinemas, ice cream at Nona's, and browsing at sweet shops like the Welch Company and the Roman Table. The best part? It's right on the water. MA
This neighborhood favorite may be the kind of place where passersby tap the window to greet friends and family inside, but it also draws diners from far beyond Newton Centre thanks to chefs David Punch and Lydia Reichert. Rich sweet-potato muhammara with pillowy grilled pita, and suckling pig confit with bright fennel purée and blood-orange marmalade share menu real estate with those duck, lamb, and pig boards that everyone's always raving about. It's also home to the most satisfying vegetarian entrée we've ever tried: spiced leek pancakes with local squash and crispy Brussels sprouts. 755 Beacon St., Newton Centre, MA 02459, sycamorenewton.com.
Kristen Repa has seen (and made) a lot of wedding cakes: Before launching her own bakery more than a decade ago, she honed her sweet skills at local institutions like Konditor Meister and the Catered Affair, and even trained at the renowned Konditorei Gerstner, in Austria. Whether you want your cake to match your theme, your personality, or your gorgeous gown, Repa and her team of pastry chefs will turn out an exquisite confection that tastes as good as it looks (dulce de leche or lemonsummer berry, anyone?). 302 Providence Hwy., Westwood, MA 2090, dessertworks.net.
The frills are few at the humble but festively colorful Tu y Yo, but none of that matters once you experience the authenticity of the expertly prepared food. Traditional family recipes are executed to perfection, from the shredded chicken breast slow cooked in chipotle peppers and tomatoes to the jumbo shrimp grilled in bay leaves, garlic, oranges, and chipotle sweet-sour sauce. The friendly staff tries hard to make every visitor here feel at home (a quality we're sure, like the recipes, has been passed down for generations) and is adept at guiding diners through the almost shamefully inexpensive entrées (all well under $20) and intriguing wine selection. 858 Broadway, Somerville, MA tuyyo2.com.
You have 20 minutes to eat. And you have taste. What to do? Head to Campo de' Fiori in Harvard Square's Holyoke Center Aracade (a Financial District outpost is slated for a year-end opening), where fresh Pane Romano—a moist-yet-crispy flatbread—is spread with Nutella for breakfast, topped pizzalike for lunch, and made into luscious sandwiches, like the Parma (with prosciutto and fontina). It rivals its namesake in Rome. Fat-free fruit gelati and fresh pastries add a sweet finale. And with Combo meals priced between $2 and $5, all we can say is Brava! Holyoke Center Arcade, 1350 Massacusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA .
Isla (Spanish for "island," for you monoglots) is no misnomer. This tranquil enclave of adorable designer pieces and accessories is smack in the middle of the North Shore's predominantly fusty fashion offerings. And who wouldn't want to be stranded with pretty pieces from the likes of Milly, Trina Turk, and Sigrid Olsen? Toss on any of the bold Tracy Reese tops, dally over the Chaiken trousers, or mill around in the Nanette Lepore collection. You'll find dainty and charming lingerie, plus plenty of sweet shoes and handbags. Such a prime selection, ample fitting rooms, and an easygoing sales staff cement Isla's status as the area's shore bet. 29 West St., Beverly Farms, MA .
It's easy—and frankly quite enjoyable—to overstuff yourself at this all-you-can-eat churrascaria. Enthusiastic protein purveyors circle the dining rooms brandishing skewers with steak, kielbasa, smoky linguiça, and tender pork with crackly skin. They all but slap you on the back when you agree to another slice of meat (especially the chicken heart), and look rather downcast when you send them away. While you're keeping them happy, make sure to save room for the buffet of sweet plantains and prepared salads, which has just enough options to satisfy any vegetarian tagging along with you. 1124 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA midwestgrillrestaurant.com.
Anatomy of a Winner: Whether you're shopping for an elegant dinner party or a simple weeknight meal, you're sure to find a bevy of options at this Somerville meat specialist. That's because the butchers here break down whole animals to create a variety of tasty cuts. Here's how they carved up a Berkshire/Yorkshire hybrid pig. 1. Pig head, for an adventurous crowd. 2. Boneless pork loin, which is perfect for roasts. 3. House-ground sweet Italian sausage. 4. Garlic-and-thyme sausage farce, for making stuffing. 5. Pig skin, for frying into cracklings. 6. Rolled porchetta, filled with garlic and herbs. 201A Highland Ave., Somerville, MA mfdulock.com.
Tony Maws has made a name for himself with the meaty inventiveness of his dinner menu, and his brunch menu reflects that same ethos. Oft-changing dishes include rabbit ragout layered with smooth, creamy grits; tender roasted veal and cheese pressed into a gooey sandwich; and beef cheek, brisket, and tongue tossed into a savory hash and served alongside onion rings. Equal attention is paid to items bubbly and sweet, like the ever-changing "Sunday Sparkler" cocktail and the luxurious house-made doughnuts drizzled with thick caramel sauce. 853 Main St., Cambridge, MA craigieonmain.com.
How do we love thee, Dok Bua? We love the Thai-American comfort food you so expertly turn out (the gloriously delicious pad see ew; the rich, spicy-sweet pineapple curry). We also can't get enough of your more-authentic dishes, like the miang kum—an ultraflavorful combination of dried shrimp, toasted coconut, peanuts, lime, ginger, and tamarind sauce served with spinach leaves for wrapping—and the wonderfully dense steamed egg with ground pork, which comes topped with loads of cilantro. But most of all we love that we can always expect everything to taste as fresh as can be. 411 Harvard St., Brookline, MA 2446, dokbua-thai.com.
The sheer size of Brown Sugar's menu and the sizzling tease of the plates that come flying out of its always-busy kitchen can turn the most decisive diners into covetous rubberneckers. Fortunately, it's hard to go wrong here, whatever the choice. Chili addicts swear by the Old Lady Spicy, a mélange of roasted Thai eggplant, peppers, green beans, and sweet basil; meeker palates shouldn't miss the beef macadamia on gingery watercress. Need further guidance? An advance look at the restaurant's comprehensive online menu is the smart way to winnow the possibilities. 1033 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 2215, brownsugarcafe.com.
Go ahead and gobble up those cookies sans guilt: Registered dietitian nutritionist Kara Lydon encourages her clients to eschew fad diets in favor of intuitive eating, which means enjoying satisfying meals filled with carbs, proteins, and fats (and, yes, the occasional sweet treat) whenever hunger strikes. Not sure how to begin? Lydon’s blog (a.k.a. “the Foodie Dietician”) and e-book offer countless recipes so you can get a jump-start on your health before you even book an appointment. 399 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02116, karalydon.com.
If shoes are the ultimate in therapeutic fixes, then Saks's fitting area could double as a women's support group. Just slide on a pair of gleaming Prada Mary Janes or Michael Kors laser-cut pumps, and watch your mood improve. Buckle up some strappy and teetering Jimmy Choo stilettos, or take a turn in Kate Spade flower-adorned slides—suddenly, you're a new woman. Sculpted Sergio Rossis, sweet Burberry espadrilles, and Vera Wang satin slingbacks all beckon from the shelves, promising immediate gratification, head to toe. Did we mention the Chanel fuchsia wedges? The Blahnik leopard print mules or the Marc Jacobs kitten heels? They're all here, offering true satisfaction for the sole. Prudential Center, Boston, MA saksfifthavenue.com/.
It's a good thing they make such a sweet mango lassi</em in this softly lit space just off Harvard Square. A cool yogurt drink is just what's needed after the unusual Indian dishes here, which can set afire even the most tolerant tongue. Named after a city in southern India, Tanjore is the third oldest of four restaurants run by Bombay-born Samir Majmudar, with a mouthwatering menu that covers the country's north and south regions. The dosas are melt-in-your mouth, made of rice and lentil flours and filled with potatoes, chicken, or lamb, then served with coconut chutney and sambhar. For the adventurous, konkan xacuti is a blend of coconut and tamarind curry, while the more traditional kashmir rogan josh, a lamb curry cooked with cloves and cardamom, practically dissolves on the tongue. Like to stick with the familiar? The tikka and tandoori are divine. But with reasonable prices and exceptional service, this is the place to test your limits. Just keep the mango lassi handy. 18 Eliot St., Cambridge, MA tanjoreharvardsq.com/.