An October 2005 trip
to Boston by notso62
Quote: This journal is for the party animals, highlighting the best (and worst) watering holes Boston has to offer.
Younger crowds tend to gravitate toward areas around Landsdowne Street and Faneiul Hall. Landsdowne Street is home to Avalon, Aria, and Jillian's, three very popular clubs that let in a limited number of people under the age of 21 on most nights. Consequently, these places are usually overrun with underage drinkers and a crowd that frequently binge drinks until obliterated. Faneuil Hall bars that cater to this crowd include The Purple Shamrock and Boston Rocks. These bars should be avoided by all who crave a morsel of maturity in their social scenes.
Of course, when tourists think of Boston bars, they automatically think, “Cheers!” Truth is, the two bars that have the Cheers title (the original in Beacon Hill and the reproduction in Faneuil Hall) are not at all at the top of local scene-maker’s hit lists. These bars fit the definition of “tourist traps” to a T. Tourists should ask themselves if they really need the pint glasses they are often inclined to purchase here.
Most neighborhoods in Boston have their own outstanding bars that have been in business for a few years. In the North End, there is the Sail Loft and The Living Room. Copley Square has Saint and Whiskey Park. Beacon Hill has the Beacon Hill Pub and Faneuil Hall has The Bell in Hand. All the bars that I have listed can be counted on for a good time and cool crowd, and are on the list of favorite standbys.
Irish pubs are very popular in Boston, and visitors can find a variety, ranging from upscale to downright dirty. The newer crop, owned by a common management company, have a clean and corporate feel. These include Dillon’s, McFadden's, and several other popular locations. Those looking for a bar that is a little rough around the edges should head to a location like JJ Foley's. All are popular with the native Bostonians, and you’re bound to hear one or two people reminiscing about the “Old Country” in these locations.
Boston is a great place to explore some nightlife and kick up your heels. You should definitely check it out if you visit!
Boston bars close around 1am, so don't plan on arriving too late; otherwise, you may have already missed last call. Several spots stay open a little later, but they are few and far between and can vary as to when closing time actually is.
Driving is not ever advisable if you are to be tossing a few back, but if you have been designated as the sober party, be aware that street parking near Boston hot spots is hard to come by. Most garages offer a reduced night rate, but you're probably better off leaving your car behind than dealing with the hassle.
Restaurant | "33"
The crowd at 33 is mostly mid-late twenties, with the occasional thirtysomething thrown in for good measure. Most of the patrons are executives-in-the-making, or at the very least professional-looking. Khakis and button-downs are aplenty here among the male crowd; the females tend to be a little more varied, but no one is too outrageous or underdressed. If you want to wear vinyl or something outlandish to go out, this is probably not the place for you.
The interior of 33 has a strange layout, but overall, it works pretty well. The upstairs has a lot of tables and areas for dining with a huge bar. Singles and their friends typically mingle up here before heading downstairs. Downstairs, there is a cushy lounge and cramped dance floor with a tiny bar. The downstairs almost seems disproportionate to the grand scale of the upstairs, but this is only a minor criticism.
Drink prices at 33 lean towards the more expensive side, with a simple glass of the house chardonnay setting you back $10. The service is on top of its game, though, so nary a person typically complains about the bill.
33 offers excellent bar food for those in need of a late-night snack or light dinner. The upstairs dining area has lots of comfortable seating so that you aren't forced to eat your meal standing up at the bar.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 3, 2005
33 Restaurant and Lounge
33 Stanhope Street
Attraction | "Tia's"
Tia's is extremely popular on nice spring and summer days and attracts many people who are leaving work from the downtown area. If you go around 6 or 7pm on a day when the weather is exceptional, expect to wait on a pretty lengthy line to gain admittance to the bar.
Tia's offers private outdoor patio parties that can be booked ahead of time to accommodate both large and small groups. These parties are popular with area companies and often play a part of the crowd on Wednesday or Thursday nights.
The crowd at Tia's is mostly of the professional after-work set in their late 20s to early 30s. For the most part, they don the same clothes they wore to work, or perhaps something a little more casual. This isn't really a bar where the younger set who wears too little of clothing hangs out.
The view of the water and marina from Tia's is exceptional. It borders the very nice Columbus Park in the North End for even more scenery, including flowers and nice brick pathways. This location cannot be beat.
The service at Tia's is always friendly, and they often have some sort of promotion going on to encourage patrons to drink more. The bartenders are always on top of their game and do not act put out to help someone even on their busiest nights.
Tia's offers an excellent sit-down restaurant section as well as the bar and outdoor patio. The dishes here are pretty good and tend to be focused on seafood.
For an excellent place to head after work on a nice day, head over to Tia's on the Waterfront. You won't be sorry that you did.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 7, 2005
Tia's on the Waterfront
200 Atlantic Ave.
Boston, Massachusetts 02110
On most nights the draw to Cosmopolitan's is mostly that they offer $1 draft beers during a 4-hour happy hour. This is probably one of the best drink bargains in Boston. It's a great place to get your night started if you're heading out early. However, the scene at Cosmopolitan's dies a little bit after 8pm. The crowds tend to float out the doors in an attempt to find more of an interesting scene (though more expensive drinks) elsewhere.
The interior at Cosmopolitan's is nothing much to speak of, a long dark-wood bar decorates an entire wall, and white stools and small tables seem to get lost in the expansive rest of the room. There isn't much in the way of nice seating or decor, so don't expect your typical Boston swankiness here.
The service at Cosmopolitan's is fairly efficient, but though the namesake of the bar is a fairly common drink, this is mostly a beer-only watering hole. If you order anything more complicated than that, expect the bartender to have to get out his recipe book. It's a good thing this place doesn't have much in a way of a crowd; otherwise it would take forever to get served.
Go to Cosmopolitan's if you're looking for a nice casual spot to begin your evening. Do not expect to stay there all evening, as you will be incredibly bored at the lacking scene.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 7, 2005
35 Batterymarch St.
Boston, Massachusetts 02110
Attraction | "The Bell in Hand"
The crowd at the Bell in Hand tends to be in their early to late 20s, with a few 30-somethings interspersed for good humor. Unlike the other bars in this area that cater to the drunk college crowd, the Bell doesn't seem to cater to underage drinkers at all, which adds to its cool atmosphere.
Typically on Friday or Saturday nights, a band will play on the first level of the Bell and a DJ will spin more current hits on the second level. Some of my guy friends once informed me that they thought of the upstairs at the Bell as a "pickup bar," but I have seen little evidence of this during my visits. The crowds seem friendly but very relaxed and docile. There is a lack of retarded drunk guys sucker-punching anyone in their path here, which is nice.
Service at the Bell is great. During the happy hours, when appetizers are offered, the waitresses are quick to bring around menus and food like nachos or wings. The bartenders are very friendly and offer a generous pour of the alcohol when they mix a drink. The waitresses are also very attentive when it comes to refills.
When the weather is nicer outside, the downstairs windows of the Bell are opened and offer a nice breeze to the patrons inside. It is one of the best bars in Boston to try anytime, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great scene when visiting.
Bell in Hand
45 Union St.
Boston, Massachusetts 02108
The first thing I noticed about Paddy O's was it's lack of a snotty door person. All too often, the bars in this area will not be at capacity, but have the line to get in stretched around the block to create the illusion of being "the place to be". Paddy O's does not create this illusion, as though it is packed on the inside, the bouncers are quick to ID and obtain the cover efficiently. This is a much better way to do business in my opinion.
Once inside, patrons are greeted by a chic and warm decor- no dingy rundown Irish pub here. There are tall columns, cool lighting schemes, and a lovely wooden bar that stretches until the eye can see upon entering.
The bartenders here are extremely friendly and most have an authentic Irish accent (which is not always the case at the newer Irish pubs). Bartenders are also extremely efficient and knowledgeable of their craft. Drink prices are pretty much average for the area, but Paddy O's does put on a good occasional happy hour with drink and appetizer specials.
For those looking for a little more out of their bar/pub experience, Paddy O's has a large dance floor area and is often host to a live band or good DJ. Though it's extremely busy, the clients are typically laid-back and not your typical Faneiul Hall underage ruffians. A good time can be had here especially if you're looking for a nice scene and you're in your late 20s to early 30s. Paddy O's might be a newer bar, but it's staff and feel make it one of Boston's best-- a classic.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 11, 2005
Hennessey's is a typical Irish pub in the tourist-center of Boston. The interior is quite plain with the unfinished planks on the floors, woodwork and bar. There is nothing spectacular to draw one into this bar besides the lack of line (as opposed to the more crowded area bars) and occasional drink deals.
Hennessey's should be avoided by anyone looking for a cool scene or great Boston Irish pub experience. It seems to me that a mostly older crowd frequents this bar that does not necessarily make a fun scene. The last time I went, it seemed like a crowd of 30-something women had taken over and were acting like complete hooligans on the dance floor during a night out away from their husbands. It makes for an interesting scene, but not one that is especially appealing to the mostly 20-something crowd that frequents the rest of bars in the area.
Hennessey's often has a live band, but this is not necessarily a good thing. It is often much too loud and plays cheesy cover tunes. Not exactly a quality scene.
The bartenders at Hennessey's are friendly enough and are quite efficient. The drink deals here are mostly beer-centric and there isn't much creativity beyond the standard draft.
Hennessey's is a good bar to try out if you don't have other options due to the crowds, but do not expect it to be the best time ever. It is what it is- an Irish watering hole. It serves it's purpose well in this area and has been a fixture for years.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on December 12, 2005
Saint today is still an upscale cocktail bar catering to 20- and 30-something clientele in the higher-class Back Bay section of Boston. If you drive by on a Friday or Saturday night, expect to see a line formed outside by would-be patrons wearing their nicer clothes. As I said before, the customers here are well-to-do and classically well-dressed. However, I find it a tad boring seeing everyone dressed the same- especially the women.
Once inside, the dimly lit interior of Saint (it’s subterranean so gets no outside light) offers several different options for mingling. There’s a mod vodka bar in the first room; a cushy, Indian-inspired lounge in the second; and a dark, classic bar and lounge in the third. I preferred the music and atmosphere in the Indian-inspired red room.
Drinks at Saint are a bit expensive and most of the bartenders are pretty icy on the attitude. Martinis are about $15 and up, mixed drinks $12. I personally don’t like paying that much money to people that are not customer-aware, but some people love the atmosphere and the bartenders here.
You typically won’t find people acting wild or out of control at Saint. I have yet to see any dancing on the tables or drunken spectacles. This is the one good thing I could always count on this bar for–well-behaved patrons. Given Boston’s other bar scenes that are geared toward college binge drinkers, Saint has a more mature (yet not much older) crowd that in my opinion makes for a better scene than most.Saint offers valet parking on most nights, but if you’re imbibing there, it is probably best to "cab it". There is a nearby T stop (Back Bay station on the orange line), but the subway typically stops running an hour before the bar closes.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 19, 2007
90 Exeter St.
Boston, Massachusetts 02116
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 30, 2007
61 Exeter St.
Boston, Massachusetts 02116