46 Waltham St, South End
An outdoor market in New York City led John Joss and Don Carney into a love affair with buttons and wool. Inspired by vintage flea-market finds and a simple desire for good old craftsmanship, the two began making delicately embroidered-hats embellished with those vintage, flea-market-find buttons. New Yorkers developed quite an appetite for these distinctive hats, and Joss and Carney’s success only grew from there. They went big with scarves, bags, fashion items, and, eventually, home décor, forming what is now a full lifestyle design studio, appropriately named Patch NYC, in homage to their made-from-scratch origins.
Barcelona Wine Bar
525 Tremont St., South End
Barcelona is a convivial, lively wine and tapas bar in trendy South End, an area that's also home to the long-established Toro. But clearly the neighborhood’s appetite for Spanish food has spiked—both spots are perpetually full. There are a few other Barcelonas, and all are good, but here, it’s the atmosphere as much as the food that keeps guests planted in the wooden seats well past bedtime. Given that Spanish food is designed to be shared, going with hungry friends—and therefore an excuse to order half the menu—is entirely sensible. A heavy, steaming pan of saffron-flecked paella is made for many spoons, while garlicky gambas (prawns) al ajillo, boquerones (anchovies) slick with oil, and a platter of jamón sit firmly in the dig-in-with-your fingers category. Linger at the table with a last glass of sweet sherry, and mop up every remaining morsel with hunks of crusty bread.
53 Dartmouth St., South End
In Irish, “follain” means wholesome, and this word is certainly an apt descriptor for Tara Foley’s beauty emporium. The legal professional turned clean-beauty entrepreneur has turned her frustrations—the dearth of nontoxic beauty products—into a brick-and-mortar business with two locations in Boston and seasonal pop-ups all over. The store itself, with its rustic farmhouse vibe, is the kind of place you instantly feel comfortable. Bright and beautifully merchandized with white subway-tile walls, deep sinks stacked with cotton towels for trying and washing off products, and shelves lined with plants and products by the likes of goop-approved Tata Harper, May Lindstrom, Pai, and True Botanicals to name a few of the over fifty lines Follain stocks. More often than not, Foley herself is on hand to offer advice and point you and your skin concerns in the right direction.
541 Tremont St, South End
Beehive is the kind of place you’re more likely to find in New Orleans than Boston—a haven for live jazz and good cocktails. Think of it as an ode to bohemia. Full of random curiosities, the bar attracts top-notch bartenders who enjoy the challenge of crafting off-the-menu drinks for patrons. The nibbles are tasty, but you really come here for the music and the scene. The interior is a riot of lights, colored drapes, and old brick walls that make for surprisingly good acoustics. Take a detour on the way home from dinner and meander in for a nightcap and to catch the final set.
Frenchie Wine Bistro
560 Tremont St, South End
Modeled after those wine bars tucked into alleyways or down flights of stairs in Paris, Frenchie’s is where you go to for, well…French food. The white-painted brick walls, soft grey seating, marble floors, and elegant stucco cornicing make for a seriously elegant setting. Platters are heaped high with cheese and charcuterie, but no meal is complete without an escargot toast or the perfectly executed omelette with a soothing glass of Pouilly-Fuissé. As the night grows darker and the winters colder, mop up the last few drops of French onion soup with crusty corners of bread and wash it down with a glass of Bordeaux. Come Saturday, a frothy café au lait and croque madame is an epic way to kick off the weekend.
Myers + Chang
1145 Washington St, South End
South End has come into its own, and local restaurateurs are racing to set up shop. Myers + Chang (operated by a husband-and-wife team) was one of the first in. It’s like a South Asian diner with great street food. And don’t be fooled by the casual, graffiti-laden setting. The food is incredible. The menu is laid out by dietary restriction—nut-free dinner, gluten-free dinner, shellfish-free dinner—to address how many of us eat today. It can be tough to eat in Boston without pasta or fish taking center stage, but the vegetable dishes at Myers + Chang put to rest the notion that meals need animal meat (although the chicken wings and pork belly buns are heaven). Try the red-miso-glazed carrots or any of the noodle dishes. Spice- and herb-soaked vegetables sautéed in a piping hot pan and twirled with noodles is possibly the perfect meal. And the dim sum brunch on weekends is a welcome change of pace from eggs and bacon.
383 Congress St, South End
Whether you're dining in or grabbing an order to go, this Fort Point spot is unapologetically pro oysters and beer. However, we’d be remiss not to mention that the menu does take into account that we can’t all live on mollusks alone. The eye-wateringly hot fried chicken and bacon burger (with fried oysters, if you must) are stellar options, too. The beer menu is one of the best in town and the high-ceilinged, unpretentious industrial room is casual enough to never make diners feel rushed. Spend a slow afternoon working through the chowders, the Old Bay–spiced onion rings, the buttery lobster rolls, and, of course, a dozen or so Massachusetts oysters with a full sampling of craft beers on the side.
513 Tremont St., South End
Pizza and ice cream play equal starring roles at Picco in the South End, although it should be noted that they have a great draft beer list, as well. The pizza is wood-fired with Picco's signature well-done crust, and the ice cream list covers all the essentials from plain dishes and cones to brownie sundaes, plus some desserts geared specifically to the 21-and-over crowd, like The "Adult" Ice Cream Soda: raspberry Belgian Lambic poured over vanilla ice cream. There's a casual outdoor patio, along with a small interior that reads like a cozy bistro.
1704 Washington St., South End
While Boston isn’t known for its tapas scene (though there is more than one option in the South End), Toro serves truly good Barcelona-style dishes using locally sourced ingredients. A collaboration between noteworthy Boston chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette, Toro is open for dinner every night (no reservations), weekday lunches, and Sunday brunch. Big on sustainability, the restaurant composts all biodegradable waste, makes its takeout products from renewable or biodegradable materials, and serves organic, biodynamic wines and spirits.
FoMu Ice Cream
655 Tremont St., South End
FoMu (pronounced like “faux moo”) is made from a coconut milk base, making it completely vegan and allergy friendly in addition to being non-GMO. If you can't visit one of their three cozy shops, you’ll also find it on the menu at most of the vegan restaurants in town. Besides this new outpost, there are locations in Allston and Jamaica Plain.
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