See and Be Seen

A guide to Boston’s most elite hangouts

Now that tanned bodies litter patches of green grass from Harvard Yard to the Charles, people-watching has emerged as more than a casual pastime. This blood sport is highly competitive. What to wear? How to wear it? Where to wear it?

These questions are far too complicated to conquer. Instead, take our advice and up your style quotient without even changing your underwear.

Three Boston bar/restaurants that will make you cooler just by seating you.

Millionaire minglers

Name: Excelsior

Address: 272 Boylston St., Boston

Telephone: 617-426-7878

At Excelsior, you can’t get any richer, but you can rest assured that not all of the patrons have just stepped off the runway.

With its sleek design and utterly pretentious three-story wine tower, Excelsior has some of the best food, wine, and views in the Boston area. Overlooking the Boston Public Garden, the restaurant is sandwiched between two high-end retail stores: the edgy androgynous designs of Sonia Rykiel and the sexy luxe lingerie of La Perla.

On the first floor is a younger, more stylish jet-set crowd that likes to munch on oysters ($14-21) and lobster pizza ($25) by the bar. House cocktails include $12 Ginger Cosmos and “Bajitos” (Mojitos with a basil twist). The upstairs restaurant is where Boston’s older elite dines on Porcini Crusted Sea Scallops ($16) and Organic Amish Free-Range Chicken ($28).

Sidewalk Chic

Name: Armani Caffé

Address: 214 Newbury St., Boston

Telephone: 617-437-0909

Fittingly adjoined to Emporio Armani, the Armani Caffé is located on prime real estate on the Newbury strip. As a member of a global chain of Armani Caffé’s, the Boston location holds its own. The Armani Caffé is an excellent end to a day of high-end retail shopping at Louis of Boston and other Newbury landmarks. Or, for those on a budget, an excellent end to a day of pretending you were high-end retail shopping and then slipping into Payless when no one was looking.

The café’s sidewalk patio boasts an unrivaled locale to see and be seen. From ladies who lunch to European tourists dressed exclusively in black, the Armani Caffé serves up great people-watching as well as great Italian food.

Try the Bucatini alla Carbonara ($15) or the Scaloppine con Avocado e Tartufo ($22). Save room for dessert and enjoy the sumptuous Panna Cotta di Vaniglia ($7). Don’t forget to tip the attractive wait staff.

Boston’s Left Bank

Name: Sonsie

Address: 327 Newbury St., Boston

Telephone: 617-351-2500

There are not many places in Boston that will make you feel like you just stepped off Boulevard Saint-Germain, but Sonsie just might.

This Boston staple serves up a double espresso of glam and good food. The top floor eatery is a prime spot for people-watching, especially when the weather permits the opening of the French doors over Newbury Street.

Enjoy Flash Fried Calamari with Chic Peas & Tahini Mayonnaise ($10.25) along with a main course of Charcoal Duck Breast and Roasted Leg with Rhubarb Coulis & Quinoa Grains ($21.50). After your meal head downstairs to the Red Room, where hipster crowds sip cocktails. Sonsie is a classic choice, so grab your camel hair blazer or your Balenciaga bag and head over.