Thanks to Zoo New England, little patches of wilderness from Africa, South America, Australia, and other parts of the world now dot Massachusetts. The non-profit organization operates both Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo, each full of exotic creatures and their habitats. These microcosms represent an ideal world, one where endangered species thrive and fragile ecosystems last for generations to come.
At Franklin Park Zoo, tigers display their exotic stripes in the Tiger Tales exhibit where guests are educated on the perils these animals face in their natural habitats. Elsewhere, thousands of plants as well as mandrills, ocelots, and a pygmy hippopotamus turn the zoo into a tropical rainforest.
Stone Zoo, meanwhile, places simulations of the world's highlands next to Spot Pond. One area focuses on the Sierra Madre mountain range, which spans Mexico and the Southwestern U.S. The elevated habitat counts jaguars, coyotes, Gila monsters, and cougars among its denizens.
A portion of every admission goes to the organization's conservation efforts, which supports projects both locally and globally. For would-be zookeepers, Zoo New England hosts various adult and kids' educational programs, and lets volunteers help in the care of zoo plants and animals.
At more than a dozen locations throughout the northeast, ScrubaDub Auto Wash Centers' computerized wash tunnels and detailing pros spiff up cars with advanced technology and minimal environmental impact. The robotic wash systems and photoelectric sensors not only clean finishes with a gentle, soft-cloth technique, but they can target white walls, wheels, and chrome with site-specific formulas. The eco-savvy automated systems also consume less water than home washing and recycle the water used to clean the wheels and undercarriage. Biodegradable SuperGlo soap keeps the run-off free of harmful compounds before it is funneled down the proper treatment channels, where it can't pollute neighborhood storm drains or be used to test the resiliency of carnival goldfish.
The centers' innovative equipment and Earth-friendly practices have earned them the title of Best Car Wash from CityVoter for three years running. Some locations also boast separate interior cleaning bays to address filthy dashboards and seats.
A mosaic of metal parts forms a silver metal dog standing on its hind legs as it appears to catch a frisbee, while behind it, a brown dog, also made of various metal parts, stares attentively with ears up. These are just two of the sculptures outside the brick confines of Stonybrook Fine Arts, a celebrated studio where both teachers and students invent their own inimitable creations, whether they be jewelry, stone carvings, sculptures, or models for robot minions. Small group classes pepper the schedule, with rare selections such as foundry classes, which teach students to pour molten bronze into ceramic molds, and welding workshops, which inform all levels how to fuse and cut metals with gas torches and plasma cutters. Within the workshop, students are immersed in the entire metal-casting process, pouring and finishing their pieces under the watchful eyes of professional artists-instructors.
A commitment to traditional Latin flavors is the number-one priority at El Oriental de Cuba, though the kitchen staff isn't afraid to add a touch of New England flair. These bold combinations have been lauded by both local culinary and cultural institutions. Through a large, open window, diners watch as haddock is prepared spicy, garlicky, or coated in a coconut sauce, and lobster is stuffed into empanadas. In creating other dishes, the cooks reach for ingredients such as plantains, yucca, and pigeon peas, and slow-cook their meats to transport minds to Caribbean sunsets.
Though the atmosphere may be casual, the decor in the dining area isn't without touches of refinement. Sage-green walls surround the long space, whose high, peaked ceiling supports hanging lamps and fans. As guests bite into classic cuban sandwiches and fried pork chops, they gaze at colorful paintings and photographs of children playing in the old country.
Lauded by the Rosindale Transcript for its combination of eclectic fare and cozy atmosphere, Masona Grill offers a menu of New American cuisine crafted by owner and executive chef Manuel Sifnugel with an international touch influenced by his Peruvian upbringing. Guests part dark velvet curtains to enter the dining space, which is flanked by chocolate-colored walls adorned with oil paintings and bite marks.
Plates are decorated with sophisticated seafood dishes, such as linguine tossed with local clams and calamari, or land-borne dishes, including a grilled pork tenderloin called out for 2010's Restaurant Week by the Boston Globe as the best entree on the menu: "tender and moist and served a bit pink … It's really, really good." Brazilian jazz music accompanies meals, moving diners to chew in time to the sultry beats.
Bella Luna Restaurant & Milky Way Lounge, a winner of several “Best of Boston” awards from The Improper Bostonian and Boston Magazine, and a 2013 winner of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce's Small Business of the Year award, is renowned for its upscale and creative twist on traditional Italian and American fare. Dig into gourmet pizzas, grilled Angus beef burgers, or flavorful entrees such as adobo chicken, cod picatta, and the signature, Better Than Your Mama's Meatballs. Behind a U-shaped bar, bartenders craft signature cocktails and pour pints of American craft beers, including Allagash White, Harpoon IPA, and Left Hand Milk Stout.
The eatery is decorated with a subdued sci-fi theme, with dangling star lights, sparkly blue barstool cushions, and Martian bouncers. Try your hand at Ms. Pacman or MegaTouch, or listen to live music on select nights.