Be My Guest: Boston
"Boston is small enough to walk from one end to another,
but large enough to get nice and lost on the way. It's
a perfect mix of old and new." —Kristine Irving
Kristine Irving, born and raised in Boston, owns an interior-design studio and a shop, both named Koo de Kir.
My sister moved here two years ago from New York, and after a day of looking at apartments in the North End, we ended up at Neptune Oyster. Now we go at least once a month for oysters and Prosecco. You have to arrive by 5 p.m. to get a seat, but that's one of my favorite tricks no matter what town I'm in: Go somewhere popular early, and then don't leave (63 Salem St., 617/742-3474, neptuneoyster.com).
On weekends, the North End is a mix of tourists and people who were born there and never left. It's gritty and authentic, with grandmothers hanging out in their lawn chairs in the middle of the night. Have dinner at Pomodoro. The restaurant has about 22 seats and only takes cash, and the food is killer. I like going with friends and getting an antipasto platter and this incredible pasta with tiger shrimp and salt cod (319 Hanover St., 617/367-4348, pomodoroboston.com). Afterward, cab over to the South End to The Beehive, which has live jazz. At 38, I'm on the upper end of the crowd's age range, but there are definitely some older people there, too (541 Tremont St., 617/423-0069, beehiveboston.com).
If you're willing to go upscale, dine at Scampo, run by a chef named Lydia Shire. It opened only a few months ago, but I've been a lot because it's on my way home from work (The Liberty Hotel, 215 Charles St., 617/536-2100, libertyhotel.com).
When I was in art school, I'd sketch for hours in the sculpture garden at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The museum is a monument to this amazing Victorian-era woman who didn't take no for an answer (280 The Fenway, 617/566-1401, gardnermuseum.org). Then walk around the corner to the Museum of Fine Arts to see the Egyptian collection. The museum also has a cool café on the main level of the West Wing designed by I. M. Pei (465 Huntington Ave., 617/267-9300, mfa.org).
The HarborWalk, where you follow signs through the waterfront neighborhoods, is a great way to explore Boston. It feels like a private tour because it's not well-known (bostonharborwalk.com). Start at The Institute of Contemporary Art, rebuilt two years ago (100 Northern Ave., 617/478-3100, icaboston.org). Then walk a couple of miles toward Charlestown, which takes you by the Northern Avenue Bridge and the wharves—now high-end condos—and into the Charlestown Navy Yard. March straight to the Tavern on the Water and sit on the top level overlooking the harbor. On Saturdays, local guys dock their boats at the Tavern and stop for a beer (1 Eighth St., Pier Six, 617/242-8040, tavernonthewater.com).
I've trained for two half marathons in the past two years and love running along the Charles River. I'd definitely walk along the river on a Sunday morning to Harvard Square and stop for brunch at Harvest, which is hard to find but filled with locals (44 Brattle St., 617/868-2255, harvestcambridge.com). Then duck across the street to Colonial Drug. The woman who owns it is very serious about fragrance, and she has the best selection at reasonable prices. I stock up on Creed there (49 Brattle St., 617/864-2222).
For window-shopping, don't miss Charles Street in Beacon Hill, which is one of the oldest shopping streets in the country. And I'm not just saying that because it's where my store is located! The street was especially designed for people to promenade, with narrow sidewalks so the stores are right in front of you. I like Good, which has jewelry and eclectic accessories (88 Charles St., 617/722-9200, shopatgood.com). I shop for clothing at Holiday, which has the kind of stuff you'd find in Barneys (53 Charles St., 617/973-9730, holidayboutique.net).
Around the corner is my absolute favorite watering hole, 75 Chestnut. It's owned by the guy who owns the Cheers bar, and when you walk in, everyone really does know you. My friend Paul and I meet there on Sunday nights to have a burger and a beer and read the paper. It's the best way to end the week (75 Chestnut St., 617/227-2175, 75chestnut.com).
Kristine's store, Koo de Kir, is located at 65 Chestnut St., 617/723-8111; shop online at koodekir.com.