The “Best of Boston” in Harvard Square

Finale – Whoopie Pie

Inevitably, most whoopee pies fall victim to one of the two disaster
scenarios: The cookie is too hard (demanding a Herculean biting effort that
causes most of the frosting to get squeezed out the sides) or it’s too soft
(resulting in a cakelike pie that fails to satisfy). Finale, thankfully,
offers up just-right chocolatey bookends for the real star of the show: the
heaping helping of cool, gooey cream cheese bliss.
Finale Desserterie & Bakery, 30 Dunster St., (617) 441-9797,

Savenor’s – Butcher Shop

A selection of fresh meat and a knowledgeable staff are all you really need
to get your carnivore on. Unless, that is, you’ve been spoiled by Savenor’s
Cambridge location, where grass-fed, organic, and free-range animals of all
stripes (even rattlesnake) are readily available to the discerning meat
eater. And thanks to the shop’s new sandwich counter, now you can get those
quality comestibles – from duck confit to house-roasted beef – nestled in a
bun to go.
Savenor’s Market, 92 Kirkland St., (617) 576-6328,

Russell House Tavern – Neighborhood Eats

Just as good for a boisterous brunch as it is for an evening gabfest over
Moscow Mules, Russell House Tavern is an ideal spot for every social
objective. There are late-night $1 oysters, a patio, a choice of two bars,
and a welcoming basement dining room. Plus, the staff is remarkably
child-friendly, even to infants. Oh, and the food? Executive chef Michael
Scelfo offers the diverse menu you’d expect, from a sloppy pork-loin
sandwich to a silky foie gras-Laphroaig terrine.
Russell House Tavern, 14 JFK St., (617) 500-3055,

Mint Julep – Clothing, Women’s Casual

We feel pretty – and fizzy and funny and fine – every time we enter Brooke
Garber and Stephanie Nist’s boutiques. They stock the fete-ready dresses
we’ve come to expect, plus pieces from favorite brands like Yumi Kim, Myne
and Milly that inject style into our workaday and the weekend wardrobes,
too. The fact that we can build whole outfits here, from foundations (neon
Hanky Panky thongs) to finishing touches (flirty JoJo earrings), makes Mint
Julep worth toasting.
Mint Julep, 6 Church St., (617) 576-6468,

The COOP – Books

With independent bookstores (and even national chains) falling by the
wayside, it’s all the more impressive that this classic soldiers on. The
four story Harvard Square behemoth peddles both bestsellers and literary
classics, as well as arcane treatises on history, philosophy, music and
science – precisely what you’d expect from a store founded by Crimson
Scholars in 1882.
The Harvard Coop, 18 Palmer St., (617) 499-2000,

City Sports – Clothing, Men’s Fitness

Whatever your passion – volleyball, basketball, yoga, even bocce – City
Sports has the gear you need, including high-performance pieces from its in
–house CS line. Ask one of the sporty employees to help you browse the
Gore-Tex jackets, or find cleats or sneakers that’ll let you hit the field,
court or track running.
City Sports, 44 Brattle St., (617) 492-6000,

The Tannery – Shoes, Men’s

With more leather than an S&M shop, the Tannery has everything you need to
shod your feet, including boat shoes, wingtips, and sandals, many displayed
like high-end fashion pieces. If choosing between Prada loafers and the
latest Lacoste trainers feels a lot like retail masochism, go ahead and
treat yourself to both, you’re worth it.
The Tannery, 39 Brattle St., (617) 491-0810,

Raven Used Books – Books, Used

When Raven opened an outpost on Newbury Street in 2010, a good deal of
head-scratching ensued: a secondhand book store on Newbury? Two years
later, the well-organized, sunny location is thriving, offering shoppers a
wide selection of used books – from recent titles to esoteric tomes – in
great shape. (By the way, we love that a Back Bay shop has such a
well-stocked section on “Anarchism”)
Raven Used Books, 52 JFK St., (617) 441-6999,

Lush – Bath Products

Here’s where you’ll find the perfect impromptu pick-me-up between spa
visits. All of Lush’s products are handmade with earth-friendly ingredients
– think: organic bananas, avocados, and ground almonds – so you can fully
relax in a Bath Bomb’d tub, knowing that you’re doing your body and the
environment good.
Lush, 30 JFK St., (617) 497-5874,

Dickson Brothers True Value – Hardware

This Harvard Square institution is 50 years old, and thankfully still has
creaky floors, ancient fluorescent lights, and friendly handy types who’ll
steer you to that can of paint, snow shovel, or faucet aerator. Good thing