Boston’s Best

One of the things I both love and hate about living in a young, highly transient city like Boston is the bars.  Something about people in my generation gravitates towards meeting new people with alcohol in place of traditional means (through family, church, or co-workers).  Perhaps it’s our inability to settle down in a single city – the casualness of a bar smooths the way for new and easy friendships.  Or perhaps we’re fed up with the narrowness of old pools of association, perhaps we’re simply looking for something new.  Whatever it is, it leaves me somewhat uneasy.  I don’t particularly like bars.  It’s difficult to talk in such crowded and noisy environments.  I feel like I never end up really ‘meeting’ people there – I just talk to them and then forget whatever was said.  True, due to legislation in the area, I don’t have to put up with smoke as well, so that’s a plus.  But without sounding like a prohibitionist, I’d like to state that bars probably inhibit meeting rather than aiding it.

Still, in looking over Citysearch’s top ten list of Boston’s best bars, I found that I must be going to quite a few bars – I’ve visited 3 out of 10.  Either I’m hitting all the right ‘hot spots’, or I just go to lots of bars.  Yet all the ones they listed, I was not particularly satisfied with.  One, the Foundation Lounge, Mike and I went to after dinner on our first date.  The decor was nice, and the seating comfortable and intimate, but otherwise it was nothing special.   Service wasn’t great, it was pricey, and they had no beers on tap.  Wait, we’re in a bar, right?  Two, the Oak Bar, may have been colored by the unfortunate first date I had there.  Again, a bit pricey (and old-looking), but nothing really bad, per se.  Third, Sidney’s Grille at the Hotel @ MIT.  I went to this one for a work function, so we were in a reserved space.  The food and drinks were good, but I didn’t think they deserved special rating.

So, just what am I looking for in my bar of bars?  Perhaps it has something to do with the clientele I’m likely to meet, or the people I visit the bar with.   Or maybe it’s some other unexplained phenomenon.  Below is my top 5 list.

1) Alibi – This is the only ritzy/pricey bar I’m going to list.  It wins in this category because it it is cute and just a little different.  Cocktails, decor, and menu are all jail-themed.  I’ve been there with work people, and it’s always fun.   Plus, you get a postcard with the bill.  Someday soon, some lucky person will be getting the mug shot of a young Jane Fonda, and it’s all because of Alibi.

2) Harry’s Bar and Grill – Although this is pretty much a standard local bar (and has the downfall of being in a college neighborhood, making its patrons sometimes annoying and rude), I still have a special space for it in my heart.  Pool + Trivia + Gina + Cobb salad + Sirloin skewers = always fun.

3) Burren – Yes, this is a somewhat cheesy ‘Irish’ pub.  But at least they know they’re cheesy – read, ridiculous cover bands at least once a weekend.  The food’s not bad, there’s often a group playing Irish-type jiggy music in the front, and I’ve had good times there.  So they win.

4) Rosebud Diner – Yes, they are a diner.  A small little trolley-car diner that serves beer.  So, perhaps not the classiest place.  Perhaps not a first-date establishment.  But the service is always friendly (and usually funny).  And I ask you, where else can you get beer and pie at 11:30 at night?

5) Halfway Cafe – I cannot say how disappointed I am that the Cobb salad is no longer on their menu.  But, for the Parmesan peppercorn dressing alone, they win.  Besides, anyplace that can come up with something like the Safari dog deserves and extra self-esteem boost.  I just have one question – halfway to where?

I have just now realized that many of these places specialize in food, rather than drink.  I guess that should tell you something – I can make a fancy cocktail at home.  Other urges are not so easy to satisfy.

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