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Love Local: Support the independent businesses that make Boston tick

As our city reopens, we need to keep buying from our unique shops, makers and food and drink outlets

Olivia Vanni
Written by
Olivia Vanni
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Boston has basically returned to normalcy (minus those persisting indoor mask mandates) and many of us have transitioned back to life as we know it. However, local businesses are still struggling to make up for lost time and they may still need a helping hand from all of us Hub-dwellers.

That's why Time Out has launched our Love Local Awards this month to support all of our local Boston institutions. The nominations are in, and you can now vote for your favorite spots in town right here.

As we’ve shown time and time again at Time Out, small businesses are the backbone of our community. Boston thrives off the energy from our best restaurants, bars, cafés, clubs, music venues, theaters and galleries. They’re where we gather to celebrate and commiserate. They fuel our bodies, our minds and our connections. They give us places to go, things to do and people to see.

So as the city continues to reawaken, Time Out will continue to Love Local. We’ll keep striving to champion these daring faces and places—the ones that we know make Boston really Boston.

The latest on Love Local

  • Shopping
  • Pop-up shops
  • Back Bay

We’ve all seen Black Owned Bos. bring its series of curated markets to a whole slew of places throughout the city—and now, it’s setting up shop on Newbury Street for the holiday season. As of Black Friday, folks can visit its brick-and-mortar pop-up store in the Back Bay and find an entire boutique filled with goods from local, black-owned businesses. The Holiday Bos. Shop will feature more than 30 brands, with products—spanning everything from provisions to beauty products—that promise to please even the hardest of people to shop for.

  • Shopping

Shopping small and shopping local have come a long way in the last decade—and these New England vendors offer their products as proof. From practical to pampering, our list covers presents for even the hardest people to buy for, including culinary delights, beauty products and even biophilic gifts (who doesn’t love a flourishing plant to add life to the long dreary Northern winters?). Keep reading for our best holiday gift finds in and around Boston. And if somehow nothing here strikes your fancy, you can always consider a gift card to one of the best restaurants in Boston or a membership to one of the best museums in Boston. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Boston

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

Sure, Boston’s got sky-high rent prices, insane winters and hellish traffic—but other than that what’s not to love here? Our city and its surrounding neighborhoods are home to so many places that are—for lack of a better term—wicked awesome. Take, for instance, that Elvis-plastered dive bar in the South End. Or maybe that waterfront art studio in East Boston. Or even that French bakery pedaling the most perfect patisserie in Medford. Whichever places in Boston you love, we now want to hear about them all. Time Out is launching its annual Love Local Awards today. This is your chance to tell us about your favorite theater, gallery, bar, restaurant or anything, to give it the exposure it deserves and to show it a little love. You can nominate as many venues as you’d like, of whatever type. Once the nominations are in, you’ll get a chance to vote on the spots you think are the real shining stars of Boston. We’ll feature the most loved places in Time Out, and those outstanding small businesses—the Time Out Love Local Award Winners of 2021—will also get a valuable, free marketing and advertising package to help them thrive. After all, they did have a rough go over the last 18 months or so.  Launching simultaneously in 14 cities across Europe and North America this year, the Love Local Awards are part of Time Out’s commitment to inspiring connection and joy, capturing the soul of the world’s greatest cities and supporting independent businesses, while offering them a platform for th

  • Things to do

It’s time for the annual Time Out Love Local Awards: your chance to vote for your favorite local small businesses and independent venues. If you have questions about how the process works, how to nominate a place, how to vote for it, when the nominations and voting close, or anything else about it, read on. If you have any additional questions that aren't addressed below, reach out to awards@timeout.com.

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  • Things to do

Hey, Boston: We want you to choose that one local place that you love the most. (Besides our beloved Time Out Market Boston, of course). You've sent us all of your nominees and now, it's time to determine the winner. Maybe it's that little corner coffee shop in the North End where Italian men gather to yell over soccer. Or that fantastic independent art gallery in Brookline, with clean lines and quirky vibes. It could be that wine bar in Back Bay that only offers Greek-made libations. Or even that sweet spot in Harvard Square known for its live music and patio drinks.  If you love it, show it. Cast your vote for the winner of this year's Time Out Love Local Awards. And because it’s been a rough 18 months for all of us, we’ll offer your most-loved spot—the Time Out Love Local Award Winner of 2021—a free marketing and advertising package to help it thrive. Let’s share the love! Olivia Vanni, Boston Food + Culture Editor  // window.beOpAsyncInit = function() { BeOpSDK.init({ account: "5f69f55f46e0fb0001fde886" }); BeOpSDK.watch(); }; //

  • Restaurants

Whether it’s window shopping along ritzy Newbury Street or navigating the hustle and bustle around Copley Square, the Back Bay is one of Boston’s most vibrant neighborhoods. Nestled among the charming brownstones and Brahmin history, you’ll find eateries aplenty, with everything from buzzy newcomer joints and high-quality fast-casuals to iconic and formal standbys. Looking for more than just a place to nosh? Check out our Back Bay neighborhood guide for more tips on enjoying this historical community, plus our list of the best bars in Boston and the best things to do in Boston.  RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Boston

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  • Things to do

Boston has basically returned to normalcy (minus those persisting indoor mask mandates) and many of us have transitioned back to life as we know it. However, local businesses are still struggling to make up for lost time and they may still need a helping hand from all of us Hub-dwellers. That's why Time Out has launched our Love Local Awards this month to support all of our local Boston institutions. The nominations are in, and you can now vote for your favorite spots in town right here. As we’ve shown time and time again at Time Out, small businesses are the backbone of our community. Boston thrives off the energy from our best restaurants, bars, cafés, clubs, music venues, theaters and galleries. They’re where we gather to celebrate and commiserate. They fuel our bodies, our minds and our connections. They give us places to go, things to do and people to see. So as the city continues to reawaken, Time Out will continue to Love Local. We’ll keep striving to champion these daring faces and places—the ones that we know make Boston really Boston.

  • Things to do
  • City Life

It took many years—and one career detour—for Erica Hagler to rediscover her love for the arts. The Boston-based artist known as Blind Fox first started drawing back in high school. Her talent didn't go unnoticed, and before long, she was enrolled in competitive art programs that took over her life. By the time Hagler graduated high school, she was burnt out and ready to take a break from drawing. "I didn't get to enjoy my high school years," she says. "I wish they had just let me be a kid and let me grow in my own artistic abilities."  It didn't take long for Hagler to move from her native San Diego to New York to pursue a new passion: managing celebrity-fueled night clubs and restaurants. But in her free time, she was still drawing and doodling any chance she got. It wasn't until her now-husband told her that she should get back into art that she gave it much thought. They say if you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life, and I’m just cruising right now. That's when Hagler realized she needed to make art on her own terms—and she was finally ready to dive back in. When the couple moved to Boston, Hagler quit her job and started carving out a new career for herself, which came with a new moniker, too: Blind Fox. "People started hiring me and it grew a lot faster than I thought," Hagler says. "I’m so thankful for everything I get to do. They say if you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life, and I’m just cruising right now. I’m really, re

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  • Restaurants
  • Eating

Boston, to say we've missed you would be the understatement of the century. Thankfully, we'll be reunited soon. Like, really, really soon. We're thrilled to announce that we're flinging open the doors at Time Out Market Boston on Thursday, May 13. You'll want to clear your schedule to visit us during opening weekend because we have tons of fun stuff planned—from live music and an oyster bar pop-up to kid-friendly programming. Of course, the main attraction continues to be our all-star lineup of chefs. Time Out Market Boston will reopen with a smorgasbord of local concepts, with additional names joining us in the coming months. Here's your first look at our reopening roster: anoush’ella: Enjoy Eastern Mediterranean cuisine made with fresh, authentic ingredients inspired by the Armenian-Lebanese heritage of owners Nina and Raffi Festekjian. BISq: In addition to an eclectic mix of stacked sandwiches, this Cambridge favorite offers an expanded selection of big and bold new dishes from chef Alex Saenz. Cusser's Roast Beef & Seafood: Choose between the lauded lobster rolls and mouth-watering roast beef sandwiches at Cusser’s, which began as a street-side takeout window at the Back Bay’s upscale Mooncusser Fish House. Gelato & Chill: Gelato master Vincent Turco applies authentic and traditional Italian recipes to produce small batch, handmade gelato using organic and additive free local ingredients. Gogo ya (opening this summer): Decorated chefs Tim and Nancy Cushman want to change

  • Things to do
  • City Life

Hey Boston, this might be the last chance we have to salute you in 2020, and given the year it has been, each and every one of you deserves our heartiest congratulations for making it through the most challenging year The Hub has seen in ages. Now that we're squarely in the run-up to New Year's Eve, the mood in Boston is, how should we put it, just a tad uncertain. To celebrate alone or as safely-as-possible with friends and family? To go out or stay in? (If it's the former, check out one of the best New Year's Eve events in Boston, or make a ressie for one of the best restaurants open on New Year's Eve in Boston.) We also wanted to take the time to share our admiration one more time and say thanks to the heroes, artists, performers, restaurants and communities that banded together to help us all get through 2020. You kept us nourished, entertained and inspired in a year like no other. This being The Hub of the Universe—no city has as many smart, funny, strong-willed denizens—many of us have already turned our attention to 2021 and beyond. Every chance we get, we want to shout out the creatives and communities that make Boston the best city in the land. Speaking of, in case you missed it, our Future Cities spotlight took a look at 10 people, places and things that are working towards making a better future for Boston. We're talking about the urban planner working on Boston’s 10-year cultural plan, a culinary visionary who wants you to dream about vegetables, a fashionista usi

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