Ten Tables? Too refined. Doyle’s? Too political. As much as we like those places, a neighborhood restaurant should, above all, represent its character—and characters. Which is why Centre Street Café is the definitive J.P. choice. The surreal, high-voltage wall art and diverse clientele set the scene for low-key cool. The servers—most of them willing and able to advise on everything from the dessert selection to John Kerry’s prospects in the presidential primary—are genuinely witty. But it’s the equally unpretentious and eclectic food that really sets the lock: fragrant and heaping bowls of saffron-laced shrimp, scallops, and cod; meaty crab cakes; and a killer brunch that seems to pull in everyone living within a two-mile radius.