Brick & Mortar
     

Brick & Mortar

Cambridge, Massachusetts

It doesn't have a sign, it boasts exposed brick walls (hence the name), it's dimly lit, and you can't tell it's a bar from the street — because it's on the second floor. But despite these speakeasy qualities, Brick & Mortar is much closer to a friendly neighborhood bar than a hush-hush hall of mixology. It does serve damn tasty cocktails, but alongside a handful of beers on tap, Pacifico and Budweiser in bottles, and a selection of shots — and by shots, we mean "drink this whole thing in one gulp". Not exactly speakeasy fare, and neither is the above average food, which includes duck fries, waffle chips, and other tasty fried goods.

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Concepts
     

Concepts

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Founded in 1995, Concepts has been helping Beantown-area chaps connect with killer sneakers and upscale streetwear since before it was cool. From their brick-and-mortar operation in Harvard Square, they offer all manner of limited-release, hard-to-find sneakers, as well as stylish clothing and accessories from the likes of Visim, Come de Garcons, APC, Lacoste, and more. They also play host to frequent in-store events, and frequently pair with companies to produce co-branded product collaborations that are often only available at the store. In other words, even if you're just browsing, it's worth a stop.

Photos: Achim Hepp
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Yume Wo Katare
     

Yume Wo Katare

Cambridge, Massachusetts

We've seen some simple menus before, but nothing quite like the offerings at Yume Wo Katare. As a matter of fact, this Porter Square establishment doesn't offer a menu at all. Your options? Ramen with pork, or ramen with more pork — and with extra garlic, if you'd like. Finish every last drop and you'll get a "perfect!" from the staff, who also shout "good job!" if eat nearly everything, and a "next time" if you don't make a dent. It's no frills, for sure, but for tasty, affordable ramen, it's tough to beat.

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Red Lantern
     

Red Lantern

Boston, Massachusetts

We could take the easy way out and simply say that Red Lantern is much like a more upscale P.F. Chang's, but that'd be doing this Back Bay spot a serious disservice. The Asian fusion menu runs the gamut from chicken lettuce wraps and duck buns to noodles, fried rice, sushi, surf & turf, and wagyu beef served up on a 600º hot stone. Equally enticing is the bar menu, which offers up oversized "sharing" cocktails, traditional tiki drinks, Asian cocktails, a solid beer selection, and a list of house-made creations, including a fresh citrus-infused take on the Vesper.

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Hungry Mother
     

Hungry Mother

Cambridge, Massachusetts

What do you get when you mix a background in fine French cuisine with a seasonal, local menu and a love of Southern cooking? Something resembling Hungry Mother, that's what. Named after a state park near Chef Berry Maiden's birthplace of Marion, Virginia, this eatery's menu is constantly changing, but almost always includes delectable fried foods, fish, grits, and game, with house-made cured meats and sausage making frequent appearances. Rounding out the offerings is a solid selection of craft beers and wines, a full bar, and fantastic desserts.

Photos: Sushiesque
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Copley Square Farmers Market
     

Copley Square Farmers Market

Boston, Massachusetts

Fall is approaching quickly, so you'd best enjoy your seasonal markets while you can. The Copley Square Farmers Market is a great example. Situated in the Back Bay, this picturesque market is open from May through November, and features several dozen vendors offering the usual suspects of fresh, local fruits and vegetables, as well as meat, fish, baked goods, sandwiches, cheeses, honey, and flowers. It's open Tuesdays and Fridays, so grab your reusable bags and get going — and don't forget to grab an Apple Cider Doughnut on your way out.

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The Hawthorne
     

The Hawthorne

Boston, Massachusetts

Forget the fact that it's a hotel bar — not many hotel bars are like The Hawthorne. Located in the Hotel Commonwealth, this upscale bar features an eclectic interior, a relaxed vibe, friendly bartenders, and good food. And drinks, of course — fantastic cocktails, sorted by type, along with the wide range of spirits required to make them. Just be sure to dress appropriately — cut-off khakis and house shoes aren't going to cut it here.

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Oona's Experienced Clothing
     

Oona's Experienced Clothing

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Don't you dare call it vintage. Okay, so maybe Oona's Experienced Clothing does sell reused clothing, but "experienced" just has such a better ring to it. While the shop offers women's duds as well, it has a dedicated mens section, set in a fittingly swank area outfitted with old-timey light fixtures, ornate red seating, and a rug that really ties the room together. Obviously all of that eye candy goes only so far, but luckily the selection is solid as well, boasting everything from button-ups and jackets to old-school tees, ties, and shoes.

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The Boxer
     

The Boxer

Boston, Massachusetts

Formerly known as the Bullfinch Hotel, The Boxer is a newly renovated hotel that mixes historic charm with modern amenities. Each of the 80 custom-designed rooms feature slate blue walls, open frame wardrobes, ergonomic work areas, and Calcutta marble bathrooms, and range in size from traditional full-size to junior suites. Also on site is an updated fitness center and the Finch restaurant, which serves up modern American fare as well as refreshing libations. And when you're ready to venture out, you'll find the the TD garden, the North End, and Beacon Hill all just steps away.

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Roxy's Gourmet Grilled Cheese
     

Roxy's Gourmet Grilled Cheese

Boston, Massachusetts

"Taking it to the next level" has become a rather trite cliché over the last few years, but when it comes to Roxy's Gourmet Grilled Cheese, it really does apply. This Beantown-area food truck serves up inventive takes on the classic comfort food, adding ingredients like guacamole, braised short ribs, roasted summer vegetables, grilled and caramelized onions, and, of course, bacon. They also serve handcut truffle fries and roasted tomato soup, the latter only in cold weather, as well as lemonade and water. That's not a lot of options, but after the first few bites you'll realize anything else would be unnecessary.

Photos: Zac Wolf Photography
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Gem Boston
     

Gem Boston

Boston, Massachusetts

Is it a restaurant? A bar? A club? Actually, GEM Boston is a bit of all three. This unique Financial District gastro-lounge/supper club features a swank interior inspired by Hotel Costes in Paris, with an intimate dining room and a charming bar. The drink menu includes its fair share of carefully balanced martinis and cocktails, while the food menu — handled by Chef Kevin Long and described as American tapas — is far beyond what you'd find at most bars, to the point that many show up here just for dinner. With the ambiance switching from lounge to dance club at night, this is one spot where you can come for a late dinner and not need to leave until closing time.

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Grolier Poetry Bookshop
     

Grolier Poetry Bookshop

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Practically every bookstore in the country offers a selection of poetry — but if you're serious about the form, there's really only one place to go. Opened in 1927, Grolier Poetry Bookshop is the oldest continuously-operating poetry shop in the U.S. This Harvard Square institution has welcomed a number of notable authors over the years, including E.E. Cummings, T.S. Eliot, Allen Ginsberg, and Robert Creeley, and currently offers over 15,000 volumes of trade, small press, and university publications, as well as tomes on prosody, poetry markets, and spoken word CDs.

Photos: Eunice Chang
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