Concierge.com's insider take:
What Newbury is to fashion, and Charles is to antiques, the South End is to home decor. This perennially up-and-coming neighborhood still has some rough edges, but they are being smoothed out more and more each day as the historic brick-lined blocks welcome high-end boutiques and restaurants—and residents to frequent them. The main action takes place on three streets that run parallel to each other: Tremont, Shawmut, and Washington. Stop at Lekker if you are in the mood for some Dutch porcelain (1317 Washington St.; 617-542-6464; www.lekkerhome.com; closed Mondays). Around the corner from Lekker, the diminutive Hudson sources its fine and vintage home accents a little closer to home—expect to see the latest from Oly and Shabby Chic by Rachel Ashwell in addition to throw pillows designed by the store's owner, Jill Goldberg (312 Shawmut Ave.; 617-292-0900; www.hudsonboston.com; closed Mondays). Fuel up at South End Formaggio, which stocks an immaculate selection of wines, cheeses, charcuterie, and gourmet sandwiches (268 Shawmut Ave.; 617-350-6996; www.southendformaggio.com) before heading to Turtle, Storey Hieronymus Hauck's outlet for showing off her favorite under-the-radar fashion designers from near—Boston's own Cheng Lin—and far—Elm of Iceland (619a Tremont St.; 617-266-2610; www.turtleboston.com; closed Mondays). If you happen to be in town on the first Friday of the month, head a little west of the beaten path to SOWA Artists Guild, where over 50 emerging artists open their cubby hole-sized studios to give the public an unobtrusive glimpse into their hearts and souls (450 Harrison Ave.; 978-337-4191; www.sowaartists.com).