Being a guy who’s known to hit a bar one or two (or seven) nights a week, I’m always asked which is the best in the city. I usually don’t have an answer. It’s like asking a guy who just ate a fistful of M&Ms which one stood out from the pack. Um, green? There are too many new spots opening every month for me to be able to form a relationship with them, because as soon as our tryst is through, it’s onto the new kid on the block. What I can tell you is which bars I always go back to — the places that make it feel like it’s not work to be there.
West Side Lounge
Quality cocktails done without pretension, a comfortable wooden bar, low snooty bro-potential (despite proximity to Harvard) and one of the cooler soundtracks around. 1680 Mass. Ave., Cambridge, 617-441-5566
Middlesex Lounge and Zuzu
Both of these can be what you make of them. Middlesex leans more toward the deconstructed industrial warehouse vibe and Zuzu toward the incongruous decor of a thrift sale at your hipster grandma’s house. Both become thick with dancing bodies by night. Some are better than others at either place, but almost all of them are better than anywhere else.
Middlesex: 315 Mass. Ave., Cambridge, 617-868-6739
Zuzu: 474 Mass. Ave.,
Could be the low lights, cozy booths or flickering of old movies on the screen in the corner. Could be that they’re open until 2 a.m. every night, and therefore a reliable restaurant industry hang. More likely it’s all of those things, plus some of the friendlier and most spot-on bartenders in Cambridge.
One Bennett St., Cambridge, 617-661-8010
The best little indie rock venue in the city is great for dance nights and usually your last chance to catch bands you don’t know yet before they hit the bigger rooms. By day it’s a quiet place to grab a pint and watch the game.
1222 Comm. Ave., Allston