Union Square is an area we don’t get to as much as we should. It’s a little out of the way (although that will change with the impending Green Line extension), but it’s an area that has a concentration of really great bars. Every time we go, we wonder why we don’t go more often!
We started off with the reason for being in the area. We had a Gilt City voucher for a tasting at Bantam Tap room. This is a small but fun space with interesting ciders. The tap room looks into the production facility, so you get a peek at the tanks and equipment. They have quite a variety, ranging from sweet to dry to hoppy. The staff is knowledgeable and efficient, especially since it was fairly crowded when we were there. After our tasting was complete, we took a short walk down Somerville Ave to The Independent.
The Independent is a causal pub filled with dark wood. It has good cocktails and a nice beer list. It was recently renovated, so it’s a spruced up version than the less polished version we visited years ago, but it’s a great place to hang out.
Next we headed to Back Bar. This is hidden down a small driveway and is easy to miss, but you really shouldn’t! This is a smallish, eclectic space filled with tchotchkes with an emphasis on Star Wars and cats (if you want to make friends with your bartender/server, ask for some cat pictures!). The staff here is so friendly, and they have extremely creative cocktails. They will also go off book and make something tailored to your particular taste. To balance our cocktails, we had some bar snacks here, including an insanely good buttermilk ranch popcorn, cheese puffs, and olives. These were great accompaniments for liquor-forward drinks. One drink that stood out in particular was a drink special for the day, a Fluff milk punch. We ordered this since it was seasonally appropriate (Easter weekend), and it was fantastic. Not too sweet, and clarified so it wasn’t as heavy as a normal milk punch, with a touch of toasted Fluff on the glass. This place can fill up quickly, especially on May 4th, when they have Star Wars themed night, so go early or prepare to wait. Overall this is just a fun, comfortable place with great staff, great drinks, and great ambiance. Put this on your must-visit list if you haven’t been.
Our next stop was next door to Bronwyn. This is a German restaurant with outstanding food, and we never miss it on a trip to Union. The space is cozy and comfortable, and in the summer they have a small outdoor beer garden. The feature a large beer menu focused on Central Europe – Germany, Austria, Poland, and the Czech Republic. They offer flights, a “world tour” (a bucket of beers with a bottle from each region) and a German classic – Das Boot. We can’t skip the food here, so we ordered quite a sampling of the menu, including the Bretzel, the wurst trio, the schnitzel and the potato salad. Everything was delicious, and went well with our beers. We ended the meal with a schnapps tasting, in preparation for our impending trip to Oktoberfest in Munich this fall. This place is another must-visit! German food is pretty hard to come by in Greater Boston, so it’s perfect for a schnitzel fix.
We ended the evening with a nightcap at Brass Union. This is another dark wood pub, with great cocktails and board games. While we didn’t sample any food, they do have an extensive menu.
Overall, Union Square is a great neighborhood filled with amazing gems. If it’s not in your rotation, it should be. Go check it out!
It had been awhile since I had ventured out to Davis Square so I made the trek across the river. It was a fun day of new, innovative places, and well as old favorite haunts—and in once case, an interesting melding of the two.
I started at a brunch favorite, The Painted Burro. This is a Mexican restaurant, with delicious food, fun drinks, and cool art to look at while you enjoy them. One of the standout brunch drinks is the Hair of the Dog. It’s based off horchata, which is a Mexican rice drink. This version is an iced coffee horchata with shots of RumChata and espresso liquor. It’s sweet and refreshing and does the job implied by the name. We also got a brunch special, El Montanero “Superbeasto”. It’s a hefty plate with 2 fried eggs, fried plantains, rice, beans, chorizo and chicharron, topped with Baja cream and chipotle mayo. This is not for the faint at heart (and probably not good for your heart), but it’s filling, tasty, and provides a good base for a day of mixological adventuring.
My next stop is a Davis mainstay, Sligo. This is a quintessential dive bar in all the best ways. Dark, kind of dingy, with graffiti on the walls, this is a great place to get a cheap beer and hang out. Their food offering involve a selection of chips, so you’re welcome to bring in your own food (note- we don’t know if this is an official policy, but people were bringing in their own food with abandon and no one said anything, so it seems legit). One note, this place is cash only so hit up the ATM before you head in (they do have one inside in case you forget).
Our next stop was Meju, a new Korean spot on Elm St. It’s a clean, bright space with a bar and a fairly big dining room. The menu features Korean favorites such as bibimbap and bulgolgi, along with dumplings and steamed buns. Here we had a bottle of soju, which is a Korean distilled liquor we had been newly acquainted with. It comes either plain for flavored, and we had grapefruit. You drink it neat from small cups, reminiscent of sake.
We ventured to Orleans, which a little outside the square on Holland St. This is a casual spot with lots of happenings, like Taco Tuesday, forty cent wing night on Thursdays, and live music through out he weekend. It’s a good, casual standby.
Next we went to Sacco’s candlepin bowling alley, or, as it’s now known, Flatbread Company. Flatbread Company took it over several years ago and added a wood fired pizza oven and an expansive bar (made out of the bowling lanes that used to be there. They have an extensive beer and drink list. In addition to beers, we tried the chocolate raspberry martini (which was sort of thick, like a milkshake consistency), and an absolutely delicious warm apple cider with whiskey, served in a koozie-wrapped Mason jar. This place was hopping, and would be a great night out with good food, good drinks, and candle pin bowling.
We continued to Saloon, a speakeasy located under Foundry on Elm. This is a dim, sleek space, with a well though out layout. The bar is small, but the corners are rounded out so small groups can sit comfortably. The drinks here are well crafted and thoughtful, without sacrificing deliciousness. One of the standout drinks we tried was the Cask of Amontillado (we can never pass up a Poe reference), which made with rye, Amontillado sherry, cacao, and pimento. We also had some surprisingly fun bar snacks for such an upscale place, including the tasty fried pickles and the chef’s popcorn of the day, which on this particular day was Cinnamon Toast Crunch. We would highly checking this place out if you’re looking for a great atmosphere and really well made drinks.
Our penultimate stop was Rosebud Café, a well known staple of Davis. Here we had the most whimsical drink of the day, the PB&J, made with Rittenhouse Rye, Peanut Butter Orgeat, Lejay Cassis and lemon, and topped off with a mini PB&J sandwich. Drinks with a snack area always a plus, but this was a very adult take on the childhood staple.
Our final stop was another classic Davis establishment, The Burren. This is a classic pub with live music. It’s a spirited, fun atmosphere. It’s a staple for a reason, and it’s hard not to enjoy yourself when you’re there. On this stop, we enjoyed some good beers and some fun Irish music up front, while the line built up in anticipation of the opening of the back room.
Our day in Davis was lively and full of great drinks with good friends, and we hardly scratched the surface. There are scores of other great places in the area that are worth checking out. If you don’t get to Davis very much, make the effort to get there, it has a lot of fun to offer!