Breaking into the sneaker market in a town like Boston is no easy feat. We’re already home to the global headquarters of New Balance, Converse, and Reebok, not to mention Rockport and Saucony, which have offices in the suburbs. But York Athletics’ founders weren’t daunted. Even in Sneaker Town USA, they saw a gaping hole in the market, and an underserved consumer group of independent thinkers they could claim as their own. Read more yorkathleticsmfg.com/.
Happy birthday to this multimedia pioneer, who turns 83 this month with plenty to celebrate. After decades of medium-defining work—not to mention a Tate Modern retrospective in London and a Kyoto Prize last year— the MIT arts professor emerita continues to leave her mark on Boston. Between her recent light-and-crystal installation Ice Drawing at the MFA and her Isabella Stewart Gardner exhibit of evocative animal drawings, Jonas just may be having her best run yet.
Hitching your sense of self to a big ol' oil company's logo might seem like a manifestation of corporate personhood, but the sign advertising the Venezuelan energy outfit Citgo, which towers over Kenmore Square, provides a quick way for people to situate themselves in Boston. Not only does its design make it one of those rare neon signs that looks good when the sun's shining, Fenway Park and its Instagram-ready tableaux are just a stroll away. Kenmore Square, Boston, MA 02215, .
The only bead store in Boston specializes in the rare, bright, and shiny variety, sourced from around the world by owner and self-styled " personal bead shopper" Andrea Garr, who will happily hunt down that ultra-specific bauble you’ve seen in your mind (but nowhere else). There’s also a dizzying range of classes taught by local artists for novice and advanced crafters, including clay, Tunisian crocheting, bead-weaving, and metalwork, as well as introductory courses for kids. 460 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA 2118, beadandfiber.net.
Now with four locations in Greater Boston—Natick, Burlington, Peabody, and a new outpost in Braintree—Nordstrom has the area's most exhaustive supply of dress shoes, boots, sneakers, and sandals. If this sounds overwhelming, know that staffers here are adept at recognizing the clueless shopper. These special agents can solve nearly any footwear dilemma and help you navigate brand names like Converse, John Varvatos, Ferragamo, and Santoni. 290 Speen St., Natick, MA 1760, nordstrom.com.
The wall of New Balance, Nike, Brooks, and Saucony sneakers is just for starters. Marathon Sports also stocks running maps, reflective vests, fuel belts, and fun gadgets. But what really keeps us coming back to this repeat Best of Boston winner is the service. Staffers here will analyze your stride—after you take a self-conscious sprint down the sidewalk—before slipping your foot into the perfect shoe. 671 Boylston St., Boston, MA marathonsports.com/.
Thirty years is a long time in the music business, particularly when you're still vending vinyl in the age of iTunes. But with hundreds of thousands of records, CDs, and eight-tracks stacked in a subterranean space, In Your Ear's Boston location has flourished since 1982. You can search the inventory online—albums are graded by condition—but trust us: It's more fun to dig through the crates. 957 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 2215, iye.com.
Boston has long had a stormy relationship with tea, but this Alice in Wonderland-inspired joint puts all bad memories to rest with its 80-plus flavor selections. The menu offers authentic choices—black, green, white teas—and otherworldly flavors, including Russian Caravan and Madagascar Vanilla. Tea-Tray's innovative tendencies extend to brewed edibles including Earl Grey truffles and Jasmine tea tarts. 1796 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA .
For the absolute best in seasonal vegetables—think asparagus in May, strawberries in June, and carrots and potatoes through February—Verrill Farm can't be beat. Just ask Hamersley's Bistro, Chez Henri, Salamander, and every other fine Boston restaurant that purchases Varrill's produce. When you add homebaked country desserts, grass-fed beef that's raised and frozen on the farm, and backwoods family fun like strawberry "feastivals," hayrides, bands, and barbeques, you may never go home. 11 Wheeler Rd., Concord, MA .
Craving a tangy taste of ash-coated chevre? A mouthful of manchega? A genuine Gorgonzola? Proceed directly to Formaggio Kitchen, the closest you'll come to a European cheesemonger on these shores. A recent addition to what is already a mecca for Boston chefs and epicures is an innovative cheese-ripening cave, the first of its kind in a retail store in this country. A 100-pound wheel of Beaufort, still not quite ready, has been down there for two years. 244 Huron Ave., Cambridge, MA .
He wants the Boston Cream Pie, she likes the Lemon Custard cake, their dinner guests are partial to mousse cakes and fruit tarts. How to make everybody happy? Order little individual cakes for each person in his or her favorite flavor. They're all so good, you'll be tempted to swap samples. 8 Elm Street, Braintree, MA .
Who knows pizza better than teenagers? We sent four teenagers who had trained on a field trip to Italy to sample pies in the North End and East Boston. Their pick: Santarpio's, with caveats. The wait staff is surly, the dining room is grungy, and the location is convenient only if you're heading to Logan. But the pizza is still the best. We suggest takeout. 111 Chelsea St., East Boston, MA .
In a one-week period in September 1985, Florence then CEO of Towle Manufacturing, sold 43,600 shares of the East Boston silverware manufacturer at prices ranging from $8.37 to $9 a share. Two months later, the 54-year-old Florence was asked to resign. Last March the 296-year-old company filed for protection from its creditors under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code. The company's stock is currently hovering around $3.50 a share.
Faithful followers suggest that perennial Best of Boston winner Oishii serves the best sushi in New England. Rare (and delectably dangerous) options such as blowfish hold court with traditional rolls and sashimi creations. Don't miss the toro tata, Kumamoto oyster sushi, and hamachi torched maki topped with caviar. Note to claustrophobes: The Chestnut Hill location is tiny. 612 Hammond St., Chestnut Hill, MA oishiiboston.com/.
Lynn may be a ways past the city limits, but this 8,000-square-foot lighting nirvana set in a historic mansion proved an irresistible beacon to our Best of Boston judges. The brainchild of spunky Salem State College grad Lucy Dearborn, Lucia comprises 12 showrooms with themes like 'The Crystal Room' (sparkles galore) and 'The Loft' (sleek and funky). With approximately 1,000 fixtures to choose from, and the guidance of in-house designers, customers are bound to find something here that turns them on, and vice versa. 311 Western Ave., Lynn, MA 1904, lucialighting.com.