Elyse Etling is Boston's hottest caterer, and for good reason. Her presentation is sublime, her service is flawless, and her fare is serendipitous, tapping into ethnic dishes and unusual spices. 301 Reservoir Street, Needham, MA .
Owner Meredyth Hyatt Moses's consistently accurate eye for Boston's best emerging painters and sculptors make the trip so far from Newbury Street worth the effort. The Mall at Lincoln Station, Lincoln, MA .
If we could dream up a 2020 all-star squad of heroes, champions, and advocates, it would look a lot like this: Community organizer Gladys Vega (1) of the Chelsea Collaborative, who has spent the past two decades fighting for social justice but swiveled her focus to feeding 11,000 residents each week as the coronavirus ravaged her city. Public health advocate and Harvard professor of epidemiology Marc Lipsitch (2) would also make the team, in no small part due to his consistent and clear message, whether speaking to us in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, or the Boston Globe: Never underestimate COVID-19. Our best city politician is Julia Mejia (3), the first immigrant and Latina on the Boston City Council, who fought back against racist harassment after taking office in early 2020. She has also worked to improve bilingual communications in Boston and even made a series of TikTok videos with her daughter to liven up the mood at City Hall during the early days of the pandemic. Ibram X. Kendi (4), meanwhile, is the man of the hour and our hope for humanity. A bestselling author, the 2019 Guggenheim Fellow recently became a history professor and the founding director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, where he’ll lead many of the country’s brightest minds to solve problems of racial inequity. His books, including How to Be an Antiracist, are already required reading among those in the know around town. As for the best social justice advocate in Boston? That’s Monica Cannon-Grant (5), a Roxbury mother of six children who rallied tens of thousands of residents to Franklin Park to peacefully protest police brutality. She also runs a victim-assistance program that supports men, women, and children of color through her organization Violence in Boston. And though he’s best known for his moves on the court, Celtics star Jaylen Brown (6) is our clear choice for celebrity ambassador—he’s peacefully protested, regularly speaks about race in America, and was honored at the State House this year for his charity work with children. We’re proud to have him on our home team.
Trained by color superstar Michael Albor, Rachel Graham has earned her stripes through intensive off-site workshops and time spent crafting the proper hues for Boston's graying glitterati. She understands the delicate balance between highlights and lowlights required to achieve a head of rich, luscious locks without brassy overtones. 253 Newbury St., Boston, MA 02116, theloftsalonboston.com.
There are plenty of high-end shops in town to satisfy sophisticated tastes, but we keep coming back to Circle, Boston's source for New England-built beds, chairs, and more. You can furnish your entire home here. Just remember: This is custom stuff. It takes time to build, but it's worth the wait. 31 St. James Ave., Boston, MA 2116, circlefurniture.com.
The number 1 bus (Dudley) takes you through a cross section of the Hub from Harvard Yard to Dudley Square, and offers breathtaking views of the Charles Basin. It's a social experience, too: Boston's neighborhoods may be segregated, but on the number 1, everyone's in the same bus.
Why single out what is already probably Boston's only Turkish restaurant? Because there are some who work downtown and still haven't had one of their kebab sandwiches for lunch. Give 'em a shot: only your breath will suffer. 72 Broad St., Boston, MA .
With such a powerfully aromatic taste of the Mediterranean, you'll find it hard to believe you're still in Boston's hectic financial district. Try the Patlican Imam Bayildi or Chicken Durum, a heavenly mixture of spiced grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, and deliciously tender roasted eggplant. Major drawback: Open for lunch only. 72 Broad St., Boston, MA .
Follow Boston's Best chefs, both professional and amateur, to Dewar's. 753 Beacon St., Newton Center, MA .
There is something to be said for dependability. In Steve Johnson's case, it's knowing that every time you visit his restaurant, you'll be served a meal that is simply outstanding. Johnson's food is neither overwrought nor overly ambitious—it's honest and easygoing, just like him. As a founding member of Chefs Collaborative and chairman of the Boston chapter, he continues to be one of the guiding forces in Boston's restaurant scene, serving as a mentor and inspiration in the industry. But most important, since he bought the place five years ago from pal Chris Schlesinger, the Blue Room has flourished—so much so that this year the James Beard Foundation recognized Johnson with a prestigious nomination for chef in the Northeast. So whether it's his morel mushroom lasagna, sautéed halibut with fennel and fava, or our favorite appetizer, "one perfect cheese" served with fruit and dried almonds, we'll keep coming back for more. Johnson is just that good. One Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA theblueroom.net/.
Now starting its third year, plush and stately Clio has clearly made its mark on Boston's culinary landscape, mixing a refined and elegant atmosphere with chef Ken Oringer's Asian-influenced cuisine married to the finest in French culinary techniques. Clio's velveteen banquettes, its luxurious spacing between tables, and its fine service make for as sophisticated a dining experience as you'll find in Boston. As for the food, Oringer has been known to take seafood beloved by the Japanese—the sea urchin for example—and give it the French treatment. Among his standout dishes have been a memorable swordfish au poivre with lentils and shallots, and a garlic-rubbed chicken with a fabulous crispy skin. Perfect for an intimate evening or a night on the town with a group of friends. 370 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA .
With sandwiches created by Boston's best chefs (Jasper White, Lydia Shire, Jody Adams), how can you go wrong? 361 Boylston Street, Boston, MA .
One of the Marketplace's best, in a North Shore waterfront location that doesn't yet have Boston's crowds. East India Square Mall, Salem, MA .
Great working-class food in one of Boston's last great working-class suburb. 300 Beacon St., Somerville, MA .
Head of the Spotlight Team, he's one of the best investigators in journalism. Boston's lucky to have him.