Saturday, May 22, 2010

Neighborhood Bars

A week ago, I had the honor of witnessing the marriage vows of Mercedes Fereck and Jason Carrasco. Following the ceremony, I had some time to kill. A few of Mercedes' family's friends from Maryland and Scranton, Penn. wanted to go visit the bar that inspired Cheers on Beacon Street. I decided to escort them there. One of the guests asked me, "Well since you live nearby, when we enter Cheers, will everyone know your name?"

He thought the answer was yes. As anyone who lives in Boston knows, the answer is definitely "No." The Hampshire House on Beacon Street is primarily a tourist destination (even though its owner is a very, very good neighbor). But when one thinks of Boston, they think of Cheers, and they think of the neighborhood bar. And Boston certainly has them.

I love neighborhood bars. I love going to the counter and simply ordering "a beer." [Side note, why can't one just go to a bar and get served when simply ordering "a beer"? They do it in the movies all the time, but when I try, the bartenders get rather agitated.]

A neighborhood bar should not be part of a chain. It should be friendly and be staffed by people that live at least nearby, if not in the same neighborhood. It's owners should be concerned about the quality of life on the streets around the establishment. The beer should always be cold.

The neighborhood bar on Beacon Hill that I like the best is "The Hill Tavern" on Cambridge Street. I went there first when I didn't even live in Boston. On New Year's Eve, 1998, a group of high school friends and I traversed into the city from Arlington, and we landed at The Hill.

The Hill is friendly, has a nice menu, and it offers outdoor seating. I often go there after community meetings.

However, my favorite neighborhood bar in Boston is "The Mission" over on Mission Hill (in Roxbury Crossing). I am not sure why I like the bar so much; maybe it's because there is always a good deal of activity there by people who actually live in Mission Hill.

Of course, I have not been to too many neighborhood bars in Boston, and I am always open to visiting new ones. So if you see some guy who says simply "I will have a beer" at a watering hole near you, it's probably me.

Side note: A friend told me last night that if you step up to the bar in Pennsylvania and order "a lager," you get a Yuengling. I guess that's getting close to my ideal.

1 comment:

ben said...

Like you, i am a big fan of the neighborhood bar. Ubiquitous in NY and quite a few in Philly, Chicago and SF as well. Unfortunately Boston has few because of neighborhood groups like yours and my compadres at the BHCS fight them so fiercely (NIMBY).