"What should we do tonight?”
“I don’t know, something.”
They shrug and wind up going to the same old Irish bar around the corner. They see the same people, drink the same drinks, eat the same previously-frozen bar snacks. They’re trapped in a comfort zone, stuck in a routine. Sure they have fun sometimes, but there’s an element of excitement missing from their social lives. Everything just feels a little stale.
This is a common situation amongst young people all over the city. They know that there are unique and exciting experiences out there just waiting for them, but they don’t have the ambition to find out where. From crazy cocktail challenges to obscure trivia nights, Boston’s restaurants and bars are constantly coming up with new themes and weekly traditions that many people are completely unaware of. So, for those of you who are looking for something to do, here is a rundown of some of the city’s most interesting and affordable nights out.
Our week starts on Monday. For most, Monday is a day of mourning for the weekend that passed away far too soon. Well, the best way to get over your beginning of the week sorrows is to drown them in booze. If you don’t have to work or be in school, you can start your day early by hitting up the brunch at Trina’s Starlite Lounge in Inman Square, where you can chase down your biscuits and gravy breakfast with a delicious mango bellini. As you leave the comfort of the retro lounge, greeted by the somewhat uncomfortable rays of the afternoon sun, you squint and decide that you need to rest up for the excitement that awaits you on the rest of your Monday Funday.
On Monday night you have a couple of good options. There’s always the poker night at the Vegas Lounge in Norwood. Yes, we all know that gambling is illegal in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but there are ways around that. Every Monday night, you can find anywhere between fifty to one hundred players congregated around five Hold ‘Em tables in this unassuming stripmall bar in the suburbs. The drinks are incredibly cheap and the owners offer up free pizza to the players, so if you’re feeling lucky, punk, this might be a good remedy to your case of the Mondays.
If you don’t have the disposable income to throw away on games of chance or the inclination to drive out to Norwood, then head up to Beacon Hill, where you’ll find the 6B Martini Lounge Bar & Restaurant. In addition to excellent 25-cent chicken wings, starting at 8:00 pm the 6B offers one of the most fun trivia nights in the city. Hosted by the aptly-named “Trivia Guys,” it takes on a free-form style that is severely lacking from the numerous Stump!-organized trivia nights around the city. The grand prize is a $30 gift certificate that you can use immediately, with different prizes also being offered to second and third place teams. Be sure to say hi to Olive, 6B’s resident Monday night server and DJ if you decide to stop by.
Mondays are also home to the best standing hip-hop date in the area. Mattapan’s very own Big Shug, founding member of the Gang Starr Foundation, takes to the stage every Monday night at the Wonder Bar in Allston. Backed by a live band and featuring a weekly special guest star, Big Shug puts on a different show every week and there’s never a cover!
Come Tuesday, you need to head down to Estragon in the South End for their weekly exploration of classic cocktails. Join their resident mixologist, Eric Cross, on a journey through 100 turn of the century and prohibition-era cocktails that you won’t find anywhere else. There is a grand prize for the first person to make their way through all 100 cocktails, so you should probably hurry up and start drinking. Pad your stomach with some of their authentic Spanish tapas, including the Tocino, Miel y Marconas. That’s pork fat back, spanish honey, and Marcona almonds on toast. I can tell you’re skeptical. You can’t get over the part about the pork fat back. Well, get over it, because it’s one of the tastiest bites you’re sure to experience in the city. Remember, folks, fat equals flavor.
For a less sophisticated night out, you can head back to Allston on Tuesdays for the weekly Beer Pong tournament at the Draft Bar & Grille. Over the past few years, beer pong has exploded in popularity. From a myriad of “official” rulebooks that you can find at Urban Outfitters to the orange ping-pong balls now sold at the counter of your local White Hen Pantry, the game is everywhere. So, you’re invited to bring your skills every Tuesday night, when you can enjoy drafts for $2.50 and pitchers for $9. Compared to other bars in the area, it is relatively low-key and boasts a nice patio, complete with an outdoor bar, where you can enjoy a Pabst and a Parliament when weather permits.
Tuesdays also offer a couple of fantastic weekly comfort food extravaganzas. Check out Taco Tuesdays at Tremont 647, where local celebrity-chef Andy Husbands offers up a menu of $2 tacos each and every week. There are more $2 treats across the river, at dante in Cambridge. Starting at 5:30, every Tuesday night, they will be featuring different grilled cheese sandwiches inspired by the restaurant’s favorite Italian films. Previous offerings have included the Under the Tuscan Sun, with buffalo mozzerella, roasted tomato, and pistachio pesto, and The Godfather, filled with eggplant, mozzerella, tomato, and Sicilian oregano.
On Wednesday, your best bet is to stick to Cambridge. At M.I.T., there is a relatively-unknown establishment doing some relatively awesome things. At the Muddy Charles Pub, you can enjoy all the wings you can eat - for free! That’s right, in addition to their ridiculously low-priced beer list, the fine folks at the Muddy Charles offer up free chicken wings every week! Dealing with the robot-building nerds that make up the clientele is a small price to pay for such deliciousness. Just kidding, we love the nerds and their robots. Where would we be without them?
Just a short walk away from the Muddy Charles is Kendall Square, where Flattop Johnny’s hosts free pool every Wednesday after 9:00 pm. Their bartenders control the iPod, so the music is always as ecclectic as its choice of beers.
Speaking of iPods, each and every Thursday, dBar gives you the chance to show off your musical prowess with their UB the DJ night. Make a playlist and bring your mp3s down to Dorchester for the chance to control the house music. Show off those indie chops by introducing people to new bands they’ve never heard of or stick to the classics and watch as people do the Humpty-Hump upon your command. They feature an extensive and affordable seasonal cocktail list, with unique creations like the Huckleberry-Rhubarb Martini and the Celebration Sangria, a devious mixture of red wine, Jim Beam, and fresh fruits and spices.
By now you’ve drank your week away but you’re entitled to celebrate Clink’s “Finally Friday” anyway. Located in the Liberty Hotel which is actually the old Charles Street Jail, Clink offers modern American cuisine while maintaining the vestiges of original jail cells, which have been retrofitted for casual fine dining. Clink can be pricey, but if you catch them on Friday night, you can enjoy some raw bar and chacruterie bargains while taking in the most unique atmosphere offered by any restaurant in Boston.
Fridays also give you the chance to visit the Boston Globe’s recent Munch Madness winner, The East Coast Grill in Inman Square, where they invite you to “go whole or go home.” Each week in the spring and summer, Chef Chris Schlessinger and his team will be roasting a whole pig in their backyard.
The accompaniments and rubs will change from week to week, so you might want to keep checking back. Wake up early on Saturday to head back to Tremont 647. You tried their tacos on Tuesday and now it’s time to experience their pajama brunch. The service staff remains cool and calm in their robes and kimonos, while you get to munch on the city’s best Huevos Rancheros and sip on the Tremont Tang, an easy-going concotion of vodka and orange juice in a martini glass rimmed with the space-age favorite, Tang.
On Sunday morning, you can trade in your footsies for platform shoes and check out the Disco Brunch at Gargoyle’s on the Square in Somerville, where you can enjoy Pumpkin-Butterfinger pancakes or a Nutella Smoothie with liquid nitrogen and banana. Chef Jason Santos, known around the city as “Blue Jay” on account of his blue-dyed hair, has created the ultimate neighborhood spot in Davis Square and his Disco Brunch is an excellent opportunity to enjoy his creations at an affordable price.
On Sunday nights, Park Square’s Avila hosts a weekly Sabor de Espagne, or Taste of Spain. For only $28, you’ll enjoy a special three-course prix-fixe menu prepared by Chef Rodney Murillo to honor the flavors of Spain. Options include a classic Chilled Tomato Gazpacho and Braised Short Ribs with Brussels Sprouts and Creamy Corn. For dessert, don’t miss out on the Spanish Churros with Chocolate Sauce and Dolce de Leche.
By the time Sunday is over, you will hopefully be ready for a good night’s sleep only to start the process again with a visit to Trina’s in the morning. You’ve heard about those Chicken and Waffles, you’ve spent the whole week regretting the fact that you didn’t order them. You look forwad to defending your trivia title at the 6B, and suddenly you’re stuck in a new routine that makes the city feel just a little bit bigger.
Trina's Starlite Lounge - 3 Beacon Street, Somerville, MA 02143 (617) 576-0006
The Vegas Lounge - 36 Vanderbilt Avenue, Norwood, MA 02062 (781) 769-1888
6B Martini Lounge Bar & Restaurant - 6 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108 (617) 742-0306
Wonder Bar - 186 Harvard Avenue, Allston, MA 02143 (617) 351-2665
Estragon - 700 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02118 (617) 266-0443
The Draft Bar & Grille - 34 Harvard Avenue, Allston, MA 02134 (617) 783-9400
Tremont 647 - 647 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02118 (617) 266-4600
dante - 5 Cambridge Parkway, Cambridge, MA 02142 (617) 497-4200
The Muddy Charles Pub at MIT - 142 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA 02139 (617) 253-2086
Flat Top Johnny's - 1A Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA 02141 (617) 494-9565
dBar - 1236 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester, MA 02125 (617) 265-4490
Clink Restaurant at The Liberty Hotel - 215 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114 (617) 224-4004
East Coast Grill - 1271 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139 (617) 491-6568
Gargoyles on the Square - 219 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02144 (617) 776-5300