Feb 2011 02

by Laurelin

Boston is one of the oldest cities in the entire United States. Boasting such a long history one can’t help but feel proud as a resident to be a part of something that just feels… bigger. But let’s focus on what’s really important. Take a seat Tea Party, because Boston is also home to some of the best dive bars on the East Coast. There are really too many to name, but these are my favorites: Boston’s Top Five. I wish I didn’t have to choose, but let’s be honest, no one wants to read a novel dictated by my liver, and man, mine is really starting to hurt. If there is any special mention to be had, it’s to my research team: Lindsay, Meg, Dave and Sara, this is for you guys.

1. The Tam– Downtown/Central Boston
22 Tremont Street, Boston

Despite the fact that the whole bar smells like urine, I will be returning to The Tam. There was a certain divey charm that you pick up on right as you walk in, and the sincerity of the smiles from the older couple behind the bar was certainly something to warm even the coldest heart. We made our way to the bar and snagged the diner style stools, ordering up a round of super cheap drinks and then taking off to go play a few games of Big Buck Hunter.

In between games I looked around. TV’s were set to the Bruins and Family Guy, not too loud. The walls looked like they might be worth some cash, being adorned with antique beer signs and photos. Strange lanterns hung from the brown paneled ceiling, which had a turn of the century feel to it. The crowd was right up my alley; it looked like a combination of graduate students and late 20s and early 30s young professionals. Everyone chattered with one another and no one got out of hand after a few drinks. It almost reminded me of Thanksgiving dinner at a relatives. I felt at home.

I give The Tam my number one spot because of the atmosphere and because of this: you can bring in outside food at any time, as long as you buy a drink (cash only.) We were told that they don’t have a kitchen, and people get hungry, so go for it! Here’s my suggestion: Next door at the absolutely amazing Intermission Tavern there is a burger that will change your life – the It’s Always Sunny in Boston. Go get that burger and a side of sweet potato fries and nestle in at The Tam. You won’t regret it, although your arteries and liver might have something to say about it a few years down the line.

2. TC’s Lounge– Back Bay
1 Haviland Street, Boston

TC’s is in many ways, the perfect dive. My breath was taken away the second I walked through the door. I was greeted by one of those claw game machines you see at the movie theatres, but instead of being filled with stuffed animals, it was filled with porno DVDs and sex toys. I wanted them all. We must have made it clear that we had never been there before, because the bartender was wildly unfriendly, but it kind of fit the atmosphere and the drinks were moderately priced. Every inch of wall and ceiling were covered. Not a bare spot was to be found, every poster, photo, beer sign or advertisement ever put on this earth was stuck there. I imagine it would be a great spot for an awkward date, there was just so much to take in – I don’t think any of us spoke for about five minutes.

Feeling as thought I was turned red from all the neon signs, my friends and I cozied up in the back room, warmed by the crackling fake fireplace and nestled in by another Buck Hunter and Terminator: Salvation. It was a perfect place for drinks and conversation, away from the music and TV’s that dominated the front. We were tucked under the stairs, Harry Potter style. Up the stairs was the bathroom: “Don’t go in there,” my friend said. “You won’t fit.”

I didn’t. Ducking my head, I found myself in a 1950’s pink powder room. A vanity mirror with three pink chairs beckoned to me and I found myself wishing I had something with which to powder my nose and some bright red lipstick to apply. It was really amazing, especially after the spell broke, and I half walked half crouched down the stairs back towards the porno claw.

3. Old Sully’s– Charlestown
56 Union Street, Boston

Have you guys seen The Town ? I haven’t. But I’m from here, so I guess it’s okay. It’s my town, and I don’t care if Ben Affleck’s been sitting in it. But the bar from the scenes in The Town is absolutely enchanting and a little creepy, so if you have the chance, check it out. Walking into Old Sully’s you feel like you’re stepping back in time to a clubhouse your older brother belonged to that you weren’t allowed into. The air is thick with something– I can’t be sure if it was history or mildew. Maybe it was Ben Affleck.

The bar itself is set up diner style, with round stools like you might be able to order a cup of coffee and some pie, but all that’s on draft is Bud and Michelob Ultra. There are a few square tables set up in the corner against the window complete with the hard tan chairs with metal legs that could have been stolen from an elementary school. A 90’s country music radio station playing in the background added to the ambience.

We ordered a round of Miller Lites because it seemed only appropriate to order domestic or whisky, and I was supposed to be remembering this trip. There were only two other people in the bar – both older men, a regular and the bartender. Both looked horrified when we walked in the door, as though we had just stormed their “No Girls Allowed” treehouse fort. I thought I would offer up some information and let them know why we were there. The regular coughed a dry sick sounding cough and barked “this isn’t a dive,” before turning back to the other man and exchanging glares. I kept my mouth shut.

Old Sully’s was a Boston classic old school bar with a really great view of the city if you look just past the highway. I can’t wait to go back.

4. Silhouette Lounge– Allston/Brighton
200 Brighton Ave, Allston

This place has always been one of my favorites. How can you go wrong with a bar that has $7 pitchers of PBR and free baskets of extra salty popcorn with every order? The Sil has a pool table, Big Buck Hunter, and most notably, a separate room with five or so dart boards. The bartender is an older woman who always has a smile on her face – god knows how she does it with the people that come in and out of that bar! She’s a saint.

The bathroom, in typical dive fashion, is small and creepy with the normal Allston cocaine residue on the toilet paper holder and vulgar sharpie marker graffiti on the walls. This is one of the greatest places to get the real in your face Allston experience. Don’t expect eye contact, or acknowledgment of any kind, even when some drunk girl accidentally spills her PBR on your jacket. It wasn’t me. I swear.

5. Beacon Hill Pub– Beacon Hill
149 Charles Street, Boston

The Beacon Hill pub first caught my attention with a sign that proclaimed that they were Boston’s worst dive: “A bar scene straight out of Star Wars.” I was instantly intrigued. Located in Boston’s historical Beacon Hill area, the Beacon Hill Pub is actually fairly large, with two separate rooms each with their own full bar and the second outfitted with a game area. This bar, like pretty much every other dive, comes complete with Big Buck Hunter and Terminator: Salvation – but this bar stood out with Hoop Fever, a game that I haven’t seen since the days of Chuck E Cheese.

We grabbed our $5 beers in our plastic cups and played a few games giggling like little kids as my friend Lindsay missed shot after shot. We must really be the only tall girls in the entire city that can’t play basketball to save our lives. The bar itself had a fair mix of people, from old men who looked glued to the stools to college sports guys rooting for the Bruins, to a table of a few well dressed girls who looked like they might have just got off work at The Cheesecake Factory. I don’t know if it was exactly like the bar scene from Star Wars, but The Beacon Hill Pub is definitely worth checking out.


you forgot to mention that Centerfolds and the Glass Slipper ( 2 strip clubs in Boston ) are right around the corner of the Tam 


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