When the weather turns colder, the days get shorter, and the leaves fall off the trees, hockey comes back to me. I don’t really play anymore (the body doesn’t work like it used to), but I still do love watching the game. I find hockey, like baseball, to be a wonderful social game. I enjoy taking a seat at the bar, talking about lineups, complaining about the referees, all that fun stuff. Alas, hockey country ain’t what it used to be here in Boston, where half the people come from someplace else, be it Texas or California or India, and are much more interested in watching European soccer (I’m an American, I say soccer, deal with it) than the Rangers/Kings matchup. Therefore, I thought it might be helpful to publish a short list of good spots to sit at the bar, and watch a game with a like-minded few who enjoy a good beverage as well as a good penalty kill.
Sullivan’s Tap – Just steps away from the TD Garden, Sullivan’s has a very long bar. It has a very long bar. It serves beer and has a pool table and dartboard. Any questions?
They also have a very honest advertising pitch: “Where Real Fans Meet, Your Grandfather Drank here.” Both are pretty true. Yes, Sullivan’s is divey, but not hipster divey. People come here to drink beer and watch hockey. Just like my Grandfather used to. And like my Grandpa, they only accept cash. What to eat: Bring a bag of chips, they don’t serve food here.
168 Canal St. Boston, MA 02114
The Fours – The Fours is right next to Sullivan’s, but only in terms of geography. It’s everything Sullivan’s isn’t, bright, cheery, with good food and a decent if not terribly creative beer selection. Sports Illustrated says it’s one of the best sports bars in America. The atmosphere can be a bit touristy and pink-hatish, but overall there is a good, somewhat upscale crowd. What to eat: Forgo a bit of your dignity and try the Buffalo Chicken Nachos. They are so good.
166 Canal St Boston, MA 02114
McGreevy’s – McGreevy’s is a sports bar that gets just about everything right, good food, good beer, great staff, and a very good TV setup for watching a game. The crowd comes early here, and can get loud at times. Although it’s in the toney Back Bay, McGreevy’s is unpretentious and reasonably priced. And yes, this is the place owned by one of the guys from the Dropkick Murphy’s. What to eat: Try the Guinness Braised Short Rib Poutine, because poutine is good hockey food.
911 Boylston St. Boston, MA 02115
The Banshee – I don’t get to the Banshee often enough, but when I do I always have a good time. The Banshee is a well known place to watch European soccer, but they do all sports right there. The crowd gets into it, but the nature of the place keeps the rowdiness down to a minimum. The Banshee is something of an old-school Irish bar, where people talk to their barmates. Tweeting from the bar won’t get you kicked out, but it is bad form. Pretty good beer selection, always includes a couple of small local brews. What to eat: People swear by the Mac and Cheese, I really like the potato skins.
934 Dorchester Ave Dorchester, MA 02125
Jerry Remy’s – Fenway – yes, it’s a bit of a tourist trap, it’s a bit overpriced, and the food is just plain average, but boy did they got the TV setup right. It’s a nice big bar, with a huge screen in the middle and a whole bunch of smaller ones around, so you can keep an eye on every game playing. Beer selection is pretty average, but they do keep the seasonals from Harpoon, Wachusett, and Sam Adams. You will find something you like here, but it’s not a place to test your beer palate. Or your food palate for that matter. Menu is standard pub food served in a standard way. The staff here has always been friendly and fun, and the crowd does bring in a good share of hockey fans. What to eat: Try the Kobe beef sliders, can’t go wrong.
1265 Boylston St Boston, MA 02215
Avenue – Allston – A smaller place, and a bit hidden away. Nice TV setup over the bar, and a surprising number of hockey fans find their way here. Given the transient nature of the Allston neighborhood, there are a good number of people who follow teams other than the Bruins, but it’s a pretty good natured crowd. They have a nice beer selection here, and they rotate taps, so it’s a good spot try something new. The staff, like the crowd and the place itself, are unpretentious but not unfriendly, and always willing to help you out with choosing a beer. While they do get a bit of the Allston Hipster crowd, this is not the “cool place to be” in the neighborhood, and it doesn’t particularly try to be. It is, however, a good place to drink a few beers and watch a game with like-minded fans, and isn’t that the point? What to eat: Try the Cry-Baby burger, possibly the best cheap burger in town, and don’t miss the sweet potato tots.
1249 Commonwealth Ave Allston, MA 02134
What other good spots are out there for watching hockey? Let me know. And save me a seat.