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A&E: Cambridge Pub Crawl 2

Last week this column provided a simple route for a pub-crawl that took the crawlers along Mass Ave and a variety of bars and pubs. This week, we’ll cover a different route, one that explores some of the area’s newest and trendiest bars.

The section of Mass Ave between Harvard and Porter Squares is one that has seen a major transition in the past few years. It used to be lined with simple eateries and shops that catered to the everyday shopper or tight-budgeted student. Then the economy improved, and the area became popular with young professionals and graduate students. Cocktails and foie gras took over where Bud and burgers once reigned supreme. Though many miss the old days, the current lineup of bars and restaurants is hard to resist.

Like last week’s crawl, this one begins by taking the T just one stop from Harvard. Go outbound to Porter and head upstairs to find yourself on the corner of Mass Ave and Somerville Ave. Across Mass Ave and to the right, you’ll see a bar called Christopher’s. This will be the first stop of the night’s tour.

Christopher’s is a cozy room with a good bar, friendly staff and a good selection of beers and drinks. It is a good start to a long night, as you needn’t fear big crowds or long lines. Right next door is Toad; a tiny bar owned by the Christopher’s people that features free live music every night. If you like what you hear while passing by, feel free to step in for a few songs if you can squeeze yourself in.

At this point, the tour takes an upscale turn as you turn right, cross Mass Ave and head for Metro, a new bistro with a long bar and European sense of hospitality. Though not exceptional, the bar does feature a few good Belgian beers and French wines that you don’t often see on a night out like this.

Once you’ve had your fill, say au revoir, turn left on Mass Ave and head to the next destination, Temple Bar, located across the avenue and 3-4 blocks south. Though named after a section of Dublin, Temple Bar in no way resembles the typical Irish pub. Temple Bar is about as trendy as you can get with an opulent menu, modern d‚cor, and good-looking wait staff.

Typically, they serve good cocktails and have a decent winelist to match the atmosphere. The bar area gets packed on weekends, and the layout of the tables leaves little standing room. If you can find a table or some open space, enjoy a couple of drinks. If the place is too crowded, exercise the “one and done” rule and get out before your foot gets stepped on again.

A mere stone’s throw further along Mass Ave you’ll find West Side Lounge, a dark but inviting bar and restaurant. Normally less crowded than Temple Bar, West Side is a better place to stay for a couple of rounds, sit for a while and have a conversation without having to shout.

Fans of clever, well-made cocktails will find happiness here. They do standards well and take pride in their original and tasty house drinks.

At this point in the pub-crawl all that’s left is Harvard Sq. You can take your pick for a final destination based on location or prior visits. Grafton Street is to your left on Mass Ave. Daedalus sits on Mt. Auburn and the Red Line lies on JFK. All three spots are in the same vein as what you’ve seen all night, so stop in for a nightcap if you’re feeling up to it.

In contrast to the Central to Harvard pub-crawl highlighted last week, this one features a number of bars that share similar attributes. All serve fine cocktails and offer higher quality food than the average bar. You could call it the Yuppie Pub Crawl compared to last week’s variety pack.

Porter Sq. is a nice neighborhood, and these bars are ones that you may want to visit again when the crowds of Harvard Sq. become too crowded. As always, be careful with your intake and be sure to pace yourself, especially since you may be drinking harder stuff. Cheers!

September 23, 2002
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