Magic Beans is a wonderful toy store but it's real attraction is the baby gear section. They sell high-end strollers, car seats and furniture, as well as basic baby accessories. It is terrific to have this resource in Coolidge Corner, so you don't have to schlep out to Natick or Braintree. The toy store carries a good selection of high-quality building toys, puzzles and games. The fenced off play area in the back is great for when you have to bring the kids on a shopping trip.
PROS: Baby gear available in the city!
CONS: Too crowded.
Pho Lemongrass would be a good place to go to try Vietnamese food for the first time, but if you are a fan of this cuisine, you can find much better fare in Allston or Chinatown. The dishes are bland and different sauces are indistinguishable from one another. The room is comfortable and the staff accommodating, but the service can be slow and spotty. They do have a liquor license and an decent wine list. Now that they are established here in Brookline, they should turn up the heat a little!
PROS: Comfortable room. Liquor license
CONS: Food is too bland. Service is spotty.
Kolbo sells a wide selection of exquisite handmade Jewish ritual objects.Pottery, jewelry, artwork and hand-woven textiles fill the half the store, while the other half contains a well-chosen selection of books and music. It's a terrific place to find a bar/bat mitzvah or wedding present; or just something beautiful for your home. The customer service is excellent and the sales team will help you choose the perfect gift. Kolbo can also provide you with everyday Jewish items (candles) and everything you need for your wedding (chuppah, benchers, kippot).
PROS: One-of-a-kind Judaica and great customer service.
Anna's, which has several locations in the Boston area, makes the BEST burritos in town. Inexpensive and exploding with delicious fillings, the burrito is a meal in itself. The salsa has lots of cilantro and the tortillas are steamed with the cheese to make the perfect wrap. The rice is cooked in chicken stock, which I think is the reason that the burritos are so good. However, vegetarians and those keeping Kosher should beware. The service is fast and efficient. The huge line moves right along and the dining room is comfortable and sunny.
PROS: Excellent, inexpensive burritos.
CONS: Chicken stock in the rice makes it off limits for some.
Party Favors makes gorgeously decorated cakes that also happen to be delicious. The buttercream frosting is good too. They keep a full display case of cakes you can buy on the spot or you can order a cake for your big day. They also stock a variety of decorated cupcakes so you can enjoy Party Favors cake even if it's not your birthday.
They can decorate a cake with anything you can imagine and provide large photo albums of past cakes to inspire you. Since the store is also filled to the brim with party supplies, it's one-stop shopping. Just going in there may inspire you to have a party!
PROS: Delicious cake and frosting designed any way you want. Cupcakes too!
CONS: Needs more space.
This wonderful dental practice is focussed on giving children a positive fun experience with dental care. It's not just the toys, stickers, mobiles, sunglasses and 20 flavors of fluoride paste: they have a deep and consistent philosophy of child-centered dental care. Dr. Weiss is brilliant at working with children. The staff is so child-focussed that you may feel ignored! My 3-year-old daughter, who recently had a cavity filled, asks me when she can go back to the dentist and is very displeased that she has to wait a few months. The registration proces is a bit intimidating, since you have to go through a phone-screen to check on your insurance and set up an appointment. But once you are there, it is well worth it.
PROS: Totally child-centered and fear-free environment
CONS: Intimidating registration process
JP Licks has excellent ice cream in a wide variety of flavors (wasabi anyone?) but the big draw is their delicious non-fat frozen yogurt. It tastes just like soft serve but has no fat. They also offer a few flavors each day made with Nutrasweet for a real guilt-free treat. JP Licks also makes excellent sorbets and ice cream cakes. Don't be intimidated by the huge line that go out the door on hot summer nights. The staff is efficient and orders are handled quickly. For a yummy treat with a kick, try the fabulous espresso frappe.
PROS: Nonfat, no sugar frozen yogurt and fun ice cream flavors.
CONS: Portion sizes can be uneven.
Dok Bua serves authentic, spicy, fresh Thai food in a fun environment. The flavors are strong and clear and you can actually get a HOT curry. The staff is friendly and efficient. Try the chef specials and anything with the chili basil sauce. There is a great lunch menu: just $6.50 gets you soup, appetizer and an entree.
Dok Bua was a convenience store that started doing take out. The food was so good, they added a few tables and then a few more. Soon, no more store, just a great restaurant with a funky decor. There are fish tanks and fountains, Buddhas and elephants, a wizard and lots of good luck cats. For that reason, it's a fun, casual place to take children and they are very accomodating of special requests.
PROS: Authentic, flavorful Thai food in a fun environment
The Coolidge, built in 1933, is a restored art deco movie house run by a non-profit foundation. It has a huge screen which makes it a great place to see classic films (ie. Lawrence of Arabia) as well as the new foreign and independent cinema. There is a small theatre upstairs and a video-screening room. In addition to the normal film programming, the Coolidge hosts a childrens' variety show in the winter, concerts, speakers and best of all, Midnight Movies, usually featuring cult favorites. New to the Coolidge is their Box Office Babies program where parents can bring infants and see new releases in a child-friendly environment. You can join the Coolidge Foundation and get discounted tickets for all shows.
PROS: Best screen in Boston. Great schedule of films plus fun extras!
Brookline Booksmith is a neighborhood institution that has won numerous local and national "Best of" awards. Featuring a well-chosen and eclectic selection of books, the store is heaven for browsers. While not very large, it is comfortable and welcoming, with wooden floors and dog-friendly policy. The staff consists of knowledgeable book lovers, who are happy to order something for you if it is not on the shelf. Their childrens' section is comprehensive yet selective and features a table and chairs for small bookworms. They offer discounts for seniors, teachers and members of cultural institutions (ie. public television), a bargain book table where you can find great deals on remaindered hardcovers and a used bookstore in the basement. They host weekly readings by interesting authors and are known for having offbeat promotions (ie. zucchini giveaways). Booksmith is also a one-stop shopping site since it also carries great cards, wrapping paper and a terrific gift department. The store opens early and closes at 11 PM most nights.
PROS: Independent, comfortable, and fun.
CONS: Would be great if it was even larger!