Arts & EntertainmentCity LifeFood & DrinkShopping   
Readers' PicksEditors' Picks  

READERS' PICKS - CITY LIFE

Best place to people-watch
There were some other contenders, but Phoenix readers have spoken: given its people-to-space ratio, Newbury Street offers the most bang for the buck. Come watch the fashionistas mingle with the tattooed and the pierced. Stroll past Armani Café and take in the Europhiles and their shiny cars on your way to Condom World to buy edible panties. Readers agree that visually, at least, you'll leave sated.

We see you, pretending to read a copy of British GQ at Out Of Town News while peeking outside to catch a glimpse of the woman in the red scarf running to the T. North of the Charles, would you really expect any other place to rank higher than Harvard Square as the best place to ogle the locals? With real street performers mingling with unintentional sidewalk theatrics, the Square always offers something to catch the eye.

Best local nonprofit
What could be as good as supporting a valuable social cause and getting a massage at the same time? Pathways to Wellness's mission is to provide equal access to holistic care for people from all income levels. Pathways has a "share the care" policy in which full-priced treatments help to offset the cost of a low- or no-cost treatment for someone in need. Those with incomes that fall below $45,000 per year are eligible for the sliding-scale fees. And even those who don't qualify for the reduced rates can still get a deal - cheaper rates are offered in the intern clinics where students perform treatments under the supervision of licensed technicians. Good karma.

Pathways to Wellness | 142 Berkeley Street, 2nd floor, Boston | 617.859.3036

Best local politician
Hailing from a family he describes as "Roosevelt Democrats," state senator, chair of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, and state district-attorney candidate Jarrett Barrios fights for everyday women and men in the Bay State. From supporting anti-bullying initiatives to filing a bill that would require companies to inform consumers about security breaches involving their financial information, Barrios gives his constituents the cozy feeling that a watchdog is looking out for their best interests.

www.barrios.org

Best place to steal Wi-Fi
Any apartment in the city was your overwhelming response. Something free in one of the most expensive cities in America!? That's right. Sitting in your apartment, flipping open your laptop, and noticing five different networks to connect to (all for the price of nada) is kind of liberating. But if pirating your neighbors' Wi-Fi isn't your thing, a couple of businesses seem to have a vibe excess, including Lorem Ipsum, Harvard, and MIT. And if you get the urge to have some ice cream while stealing Wi-Fi, you're in luck. Word on the street is that Emack & Bolio's in JP is a hot spot.

Best health club
The ladies have spoken, and the women-only Healthworks pummeled the competition. It has more than 500 weekly exercise classes, strength-training and cardio equipment, plus all the fun, random balls and bands that women use to work out. It has spas and cafés that sell healthy food, and cookies and brownies. It has a very friendly staff and endless motivational programs to help members reach their goals. What doesn't it have? Meatheads. In fact, they have a very firm "no boys allowed" policy, which means that the days of inexplicably being ogled by boys while you work up a smell are over.

Healthworks | multiple locations | www.healthworksfitness.com

Best parking lot
The Boston Common garage has a few things going for it - the biggest being that you can't even see it. Tucked away under the Common, it's centrally located - near the Theater District and The Alley, close to Beacon Hill, and across from the Four Seasons (should you be rich or lucky enough to hit the lottery). People tend to forget that it's there, so your chances of getting a space are better than usual. And rates are $25 for 24 hours. Beats the deadly orange love notes we've all gotten.

Boston Common Garage | Charles Street, directly across from the Public Garden | 617.954.2098

Best pick-up spot
Also voted the "Best-kept secret" in the city, the Tribe Theater clearly has something that you want to be a part of. An artists' collaborative, the Tribe creates theater, music, film, and comedy. With so many artistic mediums being served there, you're bound to find someone you've got something in common with, even if it is only that you're both drunk. North of the River, you declared Diesel Café the place to prowl. Owned by three friends and coffee lovers, the joint has a friendly, non-corporate vibe. From photos on the fridge to an annual prom for its employees, Diesel offers something blissfully different for everyone.

The Tribe Theater | 67 Stuart Street, Boston | 617.510.4447 | Diesel Café | 257 Elm Street, Somerville | 617.629.8717

Best place to get a haircut
A little whimsy never hurt anyone, which is why readers cast aside a slew of uninspired and predictable salons in favor of Liquid Hair Studios. With its wall murals, its elaborate tribute to Elvis, and an altar to an abstract painting of its owners, this place is not typical. The ceiling is black, the chairs are leopard print, and you're just a phone call away from having some fun. Haircuts start at $25.

The name is unforgettable, and you say that the cuts are, too. Judy Jetson has again made it to The Best list, and your testimonials about the salon's inspired haircuts get only stronger. Here's something you didn't know: Judy Jetson is opening a spa. Now the rest of your body can get the same godly treatment as your hair has all the time. Haircuts start at $40.

Liquid Hair Studios | 640 Tremont Street, Boston | 617.425.1949 | Judy Jetson | 1765 Mass Ave, Cambridge | 617.354.2628

Best place to get a manicure/pedicure
Giuliano Day Spa is not for the faint-of-wallet. But apparently you are saving your hard-earned dollars, or perhaps foregoing a night on the town in favor of exfoliations, masks, massages, and paraffin wraps at Giuliano. For the guys, the place also offers a sports manicure that ends with simply buffing your nails, instead of painting them your favorite shade of coral.

Giuliano Day Spa | 338 Newbury Street, Boston | 617.262.2220

Best place to get a massage
We Westerners are catching on to all that Eastern philosophy about the mind/body connection, Phoenix readers included. Pathways to Wellness is not just some drive-through massage parlor, as the name might suggest, but believes that treatment results can only be seen over time. Looks like you'll just have to keep going back for more. North of the River, the Carriage House Salon sits in the middle of bustling Harvard Square. Sneaky devils duck in for a massage, have a snack, sip some tea, and veg out for a while on extended lunch breaks. There are certain sacrifices made by city dwellers, but relaxation apparently isn't one of them.

Pathways to Wellness | 142 Berkley Street, 2nd floor, Boston | 617.859.3036 | Carriage House Salon | 33 Church Street, Cambridge | 617.868.7800

Best urban bike route
Our readers go around in circles with this question and always come back to the same place. As far as urban bike routes go, The Esplanade simply cannot be beat. With 17 miles of paths and parks to explore, you don't feel cheated out of a long ride - even if you are within city limits.

Across the River, readers couldn't make up their minds. Memorial Drive offers fantastic views of Boston, and is closed to drivers on Sundays. But the Minuteman Bikeway, an 11-mile trail that extends from Bedford to Cambridge, passing through Arlington and Lexington, is key to getting away and getting back home without getting clipped by a semi. Our suggestion? Alternate with your mood.

Best-kept secret
Not only is it the city's best pick-up spot, it's also our readers' best-kept secret (go figure). With its improv format, the Tribe Theater is made up of five ensembles and its shows are broken down into 30-minute segments. Friday nights feature local emerging talent, and admission to the show includes admission to the Limelight, the Tribe's weekly karaoke party. They are also planning to offer classes at the theater. Between finding yourself a honey for the night, laughing at the show, and really laughing at the people who try to sing karaoke, what else do our readers have to tell you before you give this place a shot?

The Tribe Theater | 67 Stuart Street, Boston | 617.510.4447

   thephoenix.comstuffatnight.com