Boston Bars & Nightlife
20 Prospect St., Cambridge
The sheer volume of Irish-Americans in Boston means one very distinct thing: This city has great pubs. And the Field leads the pack.
2 Winter Pl., Downtown Crossing
Located in the same building that was once Locke-Ober (one of Boston’s oldest restaurants dating to the 1870s), Yvonne's is a supper club and whiskey bar with the most glamorous, over-the-top opulent decor in the city. The walls are done in dark Dominican mahogany and jewel-toned wallpaper, the bar—a long marble slab—is tricked out in crystal, brass, and gold accessories, decadent chandeliers hanging from the ceilings. The menu has a Mediterranean bent with giant bean hummus, chicken & quinoa meatballs, and crispy tuna. Reservations are necessary, but the pro move is to come for a nightcap on a weeknight, when the crowds are thin, leaving more room to sip a whiskey at the bar or in the library room.
541 Tremont St., South End
Beehive is the kind of place you’re more likely to find in New Orleans than Boston—a haven for live jazz and good cocktails. Think of it as an ode to bohemia. Full of random curiosities, the bar attracts top-notch bartenders who enjoy the challenge of crafting off-the-menu drinks for patrons. The nibbles are tasty, but you really come here for the music and the scene. The interior is a riot of lights, colored drapes, and old brick walls that make for surprisingly good acoustics. Take a detour on the way home from dinner and meander in for a nightcap and to catch the final set.
Frenchie Wine Bistro
560 Tremont St., South End
Modeled after those wine bars tucked into alleyways or down flights of stairs in Paris, Frenchie’s is where you go to for, well…French food. The white-painted brick walls, soft grey seating, marble floors, and elegant stucco cornicing make for a seriously elegant setting. Platters are heaped high with cheese and charcuterie, but no meal is complete without an escargot toast or the perfectly executed omelette with a soothing glass of Pouilly-Fuissé. As the night grows darker and the winters colder, mop up the last few drops of French onion soup with crusty corners of bread and wash it down with a glass of Bordeaux. Come Saturday, a frothy café au lait and croque madame is an epic way to kick off the weekend.
348 Congress St., Fort Point
Barbara Lynch, the long-reigning queen of the Boston culinary landscape, has, with Drink, entered the competitive world of craft cocktails. And she hit it out of the park. Every detail has been considered here. It’s common knowledge that the bar seats are always the best seats, and thus the entire room is framed by the bar, with dozens of bar seats up for grabs. Trying to decide what to drink from a menu is a good way to kill a conversation, so at Drink there are no menus. Instead, the mixologists will create something entirely custom, based on what you’re feeling—or they will simply mix up a perfect Negroni if that’s your standing order. Given that this is a Barbara Lynch spot, expect the snacks to be top-notch—the humble grilled cheese is dressed up with confit garlic, while the apple pie empanadas are filled with just the right amount of caramel.
2 Bennett St., Cambridge
Les Sablons may be the prettiest dining room in Boston, set within the narrow confines of an old railway conductor’s building from 1912, in Harvard Square. Start with cocktail at the bar and enjoy the elegant brick and marble interior before sliding into a mustard-yellow booth for three courses of French cuisine. Seared scallops with white asparagus and a lemony parsnip purée or a retro brioche-crusted cod makes an excellent main course. If you’re looking for something less formal but equally tasty, head downstairs to the oyster bar. Given that this is the same team behind Row 34 and Island Creek Oyster Bar, it's unsurprising that the place is a hit. Some advice: If you’ve reached peak oyster consumption, the equally briny Spanish sardines on crackers with whipped goat's butter (a little sour), radishes, and sea salt are a great alternative.
Spoke Wine Bar
89 Holland St., Somerville
Sometimes we patronize a bar just as much for the owner as we do for the drinks. Felisha “Flea” Foster was one of those beloved neighborhood figures, synonymous with her bar, Spoke, which had to close last year. But a former bartender has stepped in and rescued the place, staying true to Spoke’s down-to-earth Bostonian vibe and stringently curated biodynamic and small-producer-led wine list. The room is long and narrow, with a bar countertop that resembles speckled duck eggs, the odd geometric print brightening up the bricks, and specials scrawled in marker on the mirror-paneled walls. It’s a space to linger in, to decide that actually, you do need a bowl of smoked butter bean dip and fried oysters with parsnip mayo to soak up all the wine.