There’s a lot of nightlife in Cambridge, particularly around the Red Line-accessible squares of Kendall, Central and Harvard. But there’s more to the People’s Republic than aging hippies and brainiacs. Though the following bars might not be next door to the T, these gems are the unsung heroes of Cambridge.
While sadly not named after literary luminary and former Cambridge resident Margaret Atwood, Atwood’s Tavern instead offers the consolation prize of weekly bluegrass nights every Monday and the best outdoor seating in the city. The East Cambridge location means it’s just far enough out of the way that you won’t be competing with a crowd over its impressive craft beer selection, but Atwood’s is also close enough to the Green Line (about a ten-minute walk to Lechmere) that you won’t find yourself stranded come midnight.
877 Cambridge St.
Courtside Bar and Grill
Use Atwood’s as a warm-up to the comparatively dive bar atmosphere of Courtside, located a few blocks down the street and even closer to the T. Of course, you don’t go to Courtside for the beer (which comes in pitchers, and is cheap) or the food (which is greasy, and yet oddly satisfying). No, you come to Courtside for the karaoke, which occurs Thursday through Saturday nights and features an inexplicable emphasis on ’80s British indie classics, ranging from the Smiths to Orange Juice to Siouxsie and the Banshees. Embrace your inner Morrissey.
299 Cambridge St.
Inman Square’s The Druid is a traditional Irish pub with Tuesday night Irish flute performances, a full Irish breakfast on Sundays and bartenders who actually are from the country it’s themed after. For those interested in dinner alongside their drinks, The Druid also happens to be the purveyor of the best fish and chips in Cambridge. Afterwards, go next door to the Lilypad, a performing arts space which hosts DJ dance sets, jazz performances, and a weekly residency for that guy who was in Apollo Sunshine.
1357 Cambridge St.
Located in the odd no-man’s land between Kendall, Central, and Inman Squares, Lord Hobo is fairly easy to get to and yet a complete surprise to walk by in this residential neighborhood. With over 40 craft beers on tap, a lengthy cocktail list, and a menu that features some interesting variations on French fries, it’s a good bar for a date night – cozy, loud enough as to not be awkward when the conversation stalls and a ten-minute walk away from Kendall Square Cinemas.
92 Hampshire St.
Trina’s Starlite Lounge
Okay, okay, so this is technically in Somerville. It also technically straddles the line between the two cities, and technically is a stone’s throw from the heart of Inman Square. So if you’re going to split hairs, go ahead – but you’ll be missing out on an ever-changing (hot) “dog of the day,” a bar playlist heavy on the ’90s hip-hop, and a Monday “industry brunch” that features both an outstanding Bloody Mary and the Matt’s Quickie, a drink that is essentially just alcoholic chocolate milk. What more could you want?
3 Beacon St., Somerville