This is the kind of place where Harry might have stopped to buy a bunch for Sally. The look and feel of Charles Street Flowers is old Boston, as is much of the clientele—but the shop serves its share of young lovers too. Strolling by on Charles Street, you'll be lured into this secret garden by its floor-to-ceiling windows, which are filled with hanging ivy and artfully arranged pots of flora. The small interior is packed with everything from daisies and sunflowers to lilies and orchids; it is clean, bright, and a pleasure to navigate. A vase of crisp cut flowers starts at $40 (it's a small financial jump to a $50 arrangement, but worth it). There's also a bookcase filled with glorious pots of hand-arranged dried roses. 115 Charles Street, Boston, MA .
Tight fairways, manicured greens, and well-marked tee boxes make this inner-city gem a pleasure and a challenge. Nestled in the middle of a residential neighborhood, this par 7 course designed by Donald Ross attracts weekend duffers and irksome weekday sneak-ons (where did that threesome in front of us come from?!). So be prepared to cool your heels and your temper: This is urban golf in the Age of Tiger, after all. Still, it's easier than you'd think to get a tee time. Love the Tudor clubhouse, and the reduced fees when you flip a Boston ID ($21 weekdays, $24 weekends). 420 West St., Hyde Park, MA .
Posh boutique hotels have been sprouting up with Starbucks-like ferocity. But for the ultimate experience in luxury and style, nothing in Boston compares to Nine Zero. Credit the staff's unerring and gracious service, a sleek, funky design, and luxury amenities including Frette linens, custom request minibars, and personal shoppers. From Spire, the stunning second-floor restaurant and bar, to the sleek marbled showers in each room, every inch of this unique locale is designed to relax and entice. A study in soft contemporary living, the accommodations are even reasonably priced; rooms average $239. 90 Tremont St., Boston, MA ninezero.com/.
What makes a great waiter? At a restaurant like the Fed, it's one who is friendly but not intrusive, informative but not obsequious. Mark Edwards has these admirable qualities and more, which is why he's not just the best waiter at the Federalist: He's the best waiter in Boston. With his easy smile and gracious hospitality, the dapper Edwards guides the diners at his tables through their meals, from the moment their napkins are placed in their laps to the last sip of coffee and the final nibble of crème brûlée. In a town where service can so often go wrong, it's refreshing to find a place where it's so right. 15 Beacon St., Boston, MA .
North East brewmeister Dan Paquette is one to watch, mainly because his Grampus Trippel is one to drink. Served up in a 10-ounce brandy snifter that lets you see its clear amber color and appreciate its aroma, the trippel is fermented with a yeast strain from Belgium's Westmalle, one of only six Trapist breweries in the world. And while this Belgian-style ale may be the of Paquette's lot so far, keep an eye on the horizon. He's churning out brews that no one else in New England—let alone Boston—is concocting. 1314 Commonwealth Ave., Allston, MA .
Most outdoor dining in Boston consists of nothing more than a few cramped, wobbly tables set up hastily on the sidewalk along a traffic-choked street. But not at Oleana, a Cambridge oasis with a lovely brick patio out back where blooming vines and flowers snake lazily along the wooden-fence walls. What better environment for enjoying chef-owner Ana Sortun's creative Mediterranean cooking, with dishes such as tuna and olive deviled eggs to evoke nostalgia for the of summer picnics? Don't be surprised if Sortun joins you during dinner service on the patio, where she can often be seen snipping herbs from the adjacent vegetable patch. 134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA oleanarestaurant.com/.
Never mind the tourists; come for the wine. This is not only the greatest wine list in Boston, it's one of the greatest wine lists anywhere in America. Old, old bottles abound— and at astonishing prices. For only $40 you can choose between two wonderful, mature Sauternes from Chateux. Nairac, 1975 or 1976. For $85, you can drink a magnificent, minerally white Burgundy, the 1993 Corton Charlemagne from Domaine Louis Latour. For less than half that price ($40), you will be shocked at just how good a "mere" bourgeois Margaux— Ch. Angludet— can be when it's from a year like 1978. Northern Ave., Boston, MA .
Boston is blessed with a bumper crop of young culinary talent injecting our food scene with energy and enthusiasm. But while many seem to spend as much time on the party circuit as they do in the kitchen, Robert Sisca has retained a singular focus: turning out exacting Provencial fare. The deceptively simple plates he creates at Bistro du Midi—pan-roasted cod with golden raisins and chorizo; grilled Mediterranean sea bass with slow-cooked fennel—employ the meticulous French technique he honed under chef Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin in New York. 272 Boylston St., Boston, MA 2116, bistrodumidi.com.
We Bostonians didn't need Frank Bruni to tell us that O Ya is extraordinary. But when the New York Times food critic named it the best new U.S. restaurant outside New York City, he shined a klieg light on just how good the place is—and repositioned our fair city as a worthy dining destination in the bargain. Husband-wife team Tim and Nancy Cushman have created a gastronomic jewel box full of dazzling innovations like ivory salmon with red curry and toasted garlic, and foie gras with chocolate-balsamic sauce. And Boston is richer for it. 9 East St., Boston, MA 2111, oyarestaurantboston.com.
The low-key town of Duxbury is better known for bivalves than brioche, but that doesn't keep this café's Paris-born bakers (the same artistes behind Café Vanille in Boston and Chestnut Hill) from turning out the most decadent pastries on the South Shore. Flaky napoleons, rich éclairs, petite financiers, elegant pear tarts, all types of crusty loaves, and other French classics beckon from the shelves, but it's the enormous croissants—especially apricot and chocolate—and the chewy-moist coconut macaroons (a.k.a. congolais) that really convince pastry lovers that the world's their oyster. 459 Washington St., Duxbury, MA 2332, frenchmemories.com.
There's no shortage of French technique in Boston, but few restaurants can effectively transport you to Paris for the night. Aquitaine, in the lovely old St. Cloud building (master architect Nathaniel J. Bradlee's 1869 homage to the French flat), feels like a real 11th-arrondissement brasserie. Gold-stenciled mirrors, an oversize chalkboard, and voluptuous floral arrangements (courtesy of Spruce) look the part. But it's the buttery, bouquet garni-rich classics—mussels en cassoulette, escargots de Bourgogne—that keep us coming back again and again. 569 Tremont St., Boston, MA aquitaineboston.com.
In the traditional-furniture smackdown, the allure of an artisan hunched over his work right here in Massachusetts always wins out. So in Dovetail, a 20-year-old family-owned company based in Holden, just 50 miles from Boston, it was clear that we had our champ. Using hand-selected hardwoods, these folks turn out masterfully crafted, individually signed Shaker, Mission, Arts and Crafts, and Prairie furnishings, as well as custom work fit for any Ivy League reading room. Which, since Dovetail counts Harvard, Yale, and Princeton among its customers, only stands to reason. 2284 Washington St., Newton Lower Falls, MA 2462, furniturebydovetail.com.
Here's the secret every Boston queen already knows: The best gay club in the city isn't a place at all—it's a moving target. Enter the Welcoming Committee, a group of party boys who pick a bar/pub/club for the Guerrilla Queer Bar one-night bash, spread the word via social media and e-mail, then set out a few times each month to have "an inappropriately good time." And now the crew is expanding beyond its famous one-night stands, offering organized workout events, fundraisers, and more.
Tracy Bonham began her career in music playing violin at age 9. Originally from Oregon, Bonham came to Boston to attend Berklee, and paid her tuition by recording jingles for radio airplay. But true success came when she picked up a guitar and began writing her own songs. She was discovered quickly and hyped madly until, after a bidding war, she landed on Island Records (home of U2 and PJ Harvey). But Tracy has not forsaken her fiddle—her violin is still omnipresent in her first CD, The Burdens of Being Upright.
Originally established as a fine menswear store, this Boston institution is now run by fourth-generation purveyor Debi Greenberg, who continues the family tradition by offering made-to-measure suits, ties, and shoes from Kiton, Belvest, Massimo Bizzocchi, and Valentini. (Designers from these iconic brands and others previewed their fall collections at a two-day Louis event in May.) And yet the selection here is ever-changing and always-eevolving, with refined pieces from sartorial up-and-comers like Ami and recent CFDA Fashion Award winner Tim Coppens. 60 Northern Ave., Boston, MA 2210, louisboston.com.