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The best of Boston

Another little end-of-the-year list of cultural goodness

'Twas a big year for cultural highs in Boston, and we spent a long time figuring out what was the creme de la creme. What made our lives and our city more interesting, more convenient, more beautiful, more delicious and more fun? Here's our list of the best things that we liked best about Boston in 2015.

The city's ongoing dedication to public art has been admirable, and we'll never forget artist Janet Echelman's stunning aerial rope sculpture that swooped over the Rose Kennedy Greenway in May. The installation piece — spanning 600-feet of shimmering, flexible polyethylene rope — was suspended from Financial District skyscrapers and lit with LEDs. The sculpture gently swayed and changed colors in the wind and inspired Instagram photo shoots all summer long.

And the Lawn on D? Don't get us started.

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There was enough buzz surrounding Johnny Depp's performance as notorious Boston mobster Whitey Bulger in "Black Mass" to keep the city in the pop culture public eye all year, but it was really"Spotlight"that stole its thunder. While not glamorous by any means, the journalism tour du force paints our city in a light that's not grim and gritty, but real, respectable and conversation-changing. We'll just pretend "Ted 2" never happened.

While not a new notion by any means, it was still a big year for Asian small plates with many already noted culinary names opening spin-off joints in the category. Among them: Tiffani Faison'sTiger Mamaand Tim and Nancy Cushman'sHojokoin Fenway, and the South End'sBanyan, by the crew that brought us Blackbird Donuts and The Gallows. Pass the dumplings, please.

And as we said goodbye to some beloved classics — So long, "Clio." We'll always love you, "West Bridge!"— shared communal concepts reigned king. Non-stuffy raw bars (Select), West Coast-passable tacos (Loco) updated mezze (Committee) and the delightfully experimental (Cafe ArtScience)won us over again and again. We'd like to forecast the culinary shift as one that puts young urbanites with open-minded tastebuds and risk-taking chefs on the same page, but that's just us spitballing.

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Meanwhile shopping to dine at home for city dwellers has never been better. TheBoston Public Marketbrought local farm stands from around the state to Haymarket, while Stop & Shop's Millennial-focused concept,Bfresh, stockpiled organic produce and freshly prepared meals for the youngsters of Allston.Roche Brothers'behemoth new store in Downtown Crossing also marked a change in the air for the work-in-progress retail neighborhood when it opened doors in April. Oh, and did we mentionCityTarget?

Ireland'sPrimark, Canda's AritziaandJapan'sUniqloopened flagships in the city this year, meaning low-cost, contemporary international retailers are finally noticing Boston's always growing younger demo with cash to burn as a profitable draw. No word on Topshop, but consider this our humble and encouraging plea.

It was a lovely year at the theater for Boston's many stages, but theA.R.T. production of "Waitress,"featuring the tunes and lyrics of Sara Bareilles, is the one still stuck in our heads. Literally. Based on the film by the late Adrienne Shelly, it hits Broadway in the spring.

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