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BROOKLINE

A quick, straight shot away from Back Bay, Brookline is a hybrid of all that's best about living in Boston: An ideal mix of culture and urbane resources, it has all the perks of the city fused with the breathing space (and in many neighborhoods, the expansive lawns) of suburbia.

You won’t spot the same designer outfits or rushed crowds here as you will in downtown neighborhoods, but the overall ethos is no less sophisticated. The main commercial centers of Coolidge Corner, Washington Square and Brookline Village bustle with medical residents from the nearby Longwood area, hip young parents, graduate students and single yuppies alike. They form a diverse and unusually dedicated community — Brookline was one of the first towns in the country to issue a comprehensive, public smoking ban, for example — and they all play here and stay here for assets like excellent schools (some of the best in the country), cultural history (J.F.K. grew up just blocks outside Coolidge Corner), and access to terrific stores and restaurants.

On weekends in Coolidge Corner, they browse the well-stocked shelves of the proudly independent Brookline Booksmith and get in line at The Coolidge Theatre for indie films and cutting-edge stage productions. They sup on just-caught seafood at Lineage Restaurant, adventurous sushi at Fugakyu, nouveau Jewish deli at Zaftigs...order off of the elegant French-Cambodian menu at Elephant Walk and tuck into modern New England comfort foods at The Fireplace.

There's plenty afoot in the slightly quieter, more casual Brookline Village, too: For kids, family puppet shows go down at Puppet Showplace Theatre (followed by trips to The Children’s Book Shop); nearby, grown-ups can snag lofty trinkets like Cesare Paciotti stilettos at La Strada Shoes, fashions by a local designer at Calla Zae Boutique, or statements for the home at any of several top-notch antiques stores. Eating is still high on the agenda in this neighborhood, too — thanks to casually stylish spots like Russian Bistro Stoli, homey Italian outposts La Morra and Pomodoro, and straight-out-of Dublin pub-restaurants like Matt Murphy's. Better still, all of Brookline's diversions are condensed into centralized neighborhoods, making them easy to meander and discover.


CHOOSE A RESTAURANT

Elephant Walk

The Fireplace

Fugakyu

La Morra

Lineage

Taberna de Haro

The Upper Crust

The Washington
Square Tavern

Zaftigs

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