Where to Watch Hockey in Boston

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 TapJust 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?

Sullivan's Tap™

from twitter

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 toAnd 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 

www.twitter.com/sullivanstap

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

www.thefours.com

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

www.mcgreevys.com

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

www.bansheeboston.com/

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

www.jerryremys.com

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.

outside the avenue bar

from website

1249 Commonwealth Ave Allston, MA 02134

www.avenuebar.com

What other good spots are out there for watching hockey?  Let me know.  And save me a seat.

@seanbeh3

 

A Grumpy Local’s Guide to Moving to Boston

You got the job, the internship, the coveted spot at your dream school, and you are moving to Boston the first of the month.  Congratulations.  Welcome.  

Your first day here will probably suck.  Boston is a funny town, in some ways, but it’s a good town. Here are a few tips to make it suck a little less, if not for you, than for me and my fellow locals. 

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  1. You can not drive your Uhaul on Storrow Drive.  You might think this is one of our funny rules, it really isn’t.  Every year, a few people ignore the signs and get their trucks stuck under a bridge on Storrow Drive.  It will be someone, if it is you the whole commuting world will hate you, and you will most certainly be mocked and humiliated, probably on local TV, most certainly on social media.
  2. There will be no parking. There is a good chance you will be sitting in your car with all of your belongings for a while waiting for a parking spot.  Try to be accepting of this.
  3. The traffic will suck.  One of the things about Boston that you will not realize until you drive here is that the streets don’t always make since.  Some streets change names. People park in the streets, people double park.  You share the lanes with bicycles (which may be moving faster than you).  Oh, and mind the city buses.  And try not to get hit by a green line trolley.
  4. People will drive like idiots.  Some will be lost, confused, or overly aggravated.  Many are foreign students who have never driven in the US before. Others are just idiots.  Please, please, please drive defensively, knowing you are in the right will not rebuild your fender. 
  5. If there is a no parking sign, DO NOT park there.  The tow truck  drivers wake up early.  They are ruthlessly efficient. We call it Allston Christmas, for these guys it really is like Christmas morning. Don’t mess with them.
  6. Don’t pick up a mattress off the street. Bedbugs.  Better to sleep on the floor for a couple of nights.  If you think that’s common sense, you are probably right, but it doesn’t stop people.

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     8. Finally, Be nice to the locals. We are not really as mean and scary as we seem, but we go through this sh*t storm every year. 

And welcome, one and all, to my city. 

The Tail End of Summer

Just the other day, one of my favorite local spots sent out a tweet that they were changing the taps.  This is, for a beernerd like me, good enough reason to stop by a bar in the middle of the week. 

Then I saw it, standing tall amongst the Belgian Whites and Double IPAs.  It was a skinny orange tap.  Slightly round at the top.

It was a pumpkin beer. 

Summer, I was reminded, was almost over.  I checked the calendar.  Yes, it seems there is only a week left. 

I live in Boston.  In Brighton, to be exact, and the signs of the end of summer are everywhere.  Uhaul trucks clog the streets, abandoned furniture fills the sidewalks. Around here we call it Allston Christmas, as much of the furniture is picked up as soon as it hits the sidewalk.  If you are into old lamps, this is the place to be.  And surely as New Years follows Christmas, Moving Day follows Allston Christmas.  Leases all turn over on the same day in this town.  Nobody is sure exactly why, aside from that the colleges are coming back, but that’s how things work around here.  Everyone moves on September 1.

I’m a local here.  There aren’t many of us in the Allston-Brighton are, but we are here.  In the summer, we have the run of the town.  There are seats at the bar, there are easy tables at the nice restaurants, there shorter waits at the deli.  Service people are more relaxed and chattier.  Even the cops are nicer.  We are like the night watchmen of the neighborhood, keeping an eye on things until the neighborhood comes alive again.  It’s a nice way to live for a while, and, like summer, it can’t last.

Soon the students will return.  They will have too much money and too few manners. Those that are newly legal will puke in the streets.  They will hassle the bouncers who don’t take their IDs.  Someone will fall off a porch.  At least one idiot will get their truck stuck under a bridge on Storrow Drive. 

Locals pretty much have two strategies for dealing with the madness.  We get out of town, or we hunker.  It’s best to treat the weekend like a coming snowstorm, buy your bread and milk, park your car, and wait it out.  This year, I am hunkering down. 

I have a plan.  I will be at a favorite pub, sitting with the regulars, enjoying a summer saison while I can, and watching the madness of moving day.  The inexperienced Uhaulers.  The semi-terrified foreign student.  The frustrated parents.  The many, many license plates from New Jersey.  All will be navigating the confusing streets of my town, fighting for a space at the curd.  Tired, angry, dealing with whatever weather New England throws at them.  And I will be sitting on my stool, laughing with the crowd, watching it go down, and lamenting the end of summer.

Welcome to Boston.  You can’t park there.

Where I’m Drinking – Lulu’s, Allston MA

Lulu’s hasn’t been open too long.  I think they were counting on having the slow Allston summer to work out the kinks, but, alas, the World Cup happened, which spared no bar, so they had to get running quickly.

lulusoutsidesmall

Lulu’s is yet another sign of the ongoing “upscaling” of Allston.  It is a very nice place, bright, big windows, sort of an industrial lounge kind of look.  An afternoon lunch found parents and students, business people in shirts and ties, and a grad student reading Joyce.  They have quite an impressive beer selection, and the bartender knew her stuff, she was happy to talk beer and give out samples. I chose a Port Brewing Summer Pale Ale, which was quite light and tasty.  Lulu’s is most certainly beer-nerd friendly.

They have gotten very good press locally for their food, which could be described as upscale comfort food.  I went with the Lulu’s Burger, made with local cheddar and a secret sauce.  The secret sauce tasted like a mild aioli and was quite good.  The entire burger was very good, actually, one of the best in the neighborhood, perfectly cooked and a nice quality meat.  It was, however, too small for the bun.  The fries were fresh and good, nothing too special about them though.

It was a good lunch, and a fun experience, thanks mostly to the friendly staff.  It seems to be marketing to the business crowd that drifts over from Harvard and down from BU, but the beer selection and reasonable (though not cheap) prices should be enough to lure a bit of the Allston hipster crowd.  For now, I think they have a decent spot on the Allston scene.

Go For: Good food and a fun menu, good craft beer selection, friendly staff.

Lulu’s Allston

421 Cambridge St
Boston, MA 02134

*picture from website