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5 Harvard Square bars for true locals

Posted by Alex Pearlman  November 19, 2011 04:23 PM

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harvard square.jpgBy Christine Varriale

Head down the Red Line or hop on the 66 Bus to Harvard Square, home of prestigious Harvard University and some of the most interesting homeless people, and you’ll find a great variety of bars, shops, and theaters to have an enjoyable evening out.

Here are five of our favorite locals-only bars in Harvard Square, all a short walk from "The Pit."

Charlie’s Kitchen (10 Eliot St.). Charlie’s is best known for its cheap double cheeseburger and classic beer selection. You'll think you're in a diner when you first walk in: This is where most of the dinner crowd hangs out. Find the small staircase next to the bar, and head upstairs for a unique experience. Surprise! -- Charlie’s harkens back to Harvard Square's hardcore and punk roots. Hard-hitting music plays through the speakers, and there’s a jukebox I don’t think anyone ever uses. My favorite night to go is Sunday, when they host trivia. Beware of the massive crowd in the Beer Garden in the summer.

Whitney’s Café (37 JFK St.). Whitney’s is a lonely and dark-looking bar/café across the street from The Garage, so stop by for a cheap pint after a day of shopping. It’s a classic dive, featuring the usual darts and Big Buck Hunter. You'll feel at home if you're used to the dive bar scene elsewhere in Boston and Cambridge.

Shay’s Pub & Wine Bar (58 JFK St.). This quaint wine bar is perfect for an afternoon drink or casual dinner. There's an excellent but small outdoor seating area that reminds me of the bars I frequented in France. It fills up quite fast, though, so allow yourself some extra time to eat if you have plans to head out to a film at the Brattle or a show at ART later on.

Grendel’s Den (89 Winthrop St.). Grendel’s holds a special place in my heart; it’s one of my favorite restaurants/pubs in the Boston area. Upon entering, the cavernous and dark atmosphere makes you feel like you've left Harvard Square and entered medieval times. The best feature of Grendel’s Den is their half-off food deal, so try to come between 5 p.m. and 7:30p.m. every day, or 9 p.m. to 11:30p.m. Sunday-Thursday.

Russell House Tavern (14 JFK St.). Right in the center of Harvard Square, Russell House is a gorgeous, New American-style tavern along a short alleyway off JFK Street. They have an excellent beer selection of both local and national favorites and an extensive tavern menu for delicious appetizers at the bar. The crowd is mostly young professionals and older individuals, so it's the place to go if you're looking to avoid the college scene.

What's your favorite spot in Harvard Square?

If you'd prefer to stay on the other side of the Charles, why not try one of our recommended Fenway/Kenmore-area bars?

Photo by lumierefl (Flickr)

About Christine -- I'm a music blogger with passions for photography and movies. You can usually find me at Paradise Rock Club or The Avenue. My goal in life is to become Lindsay Lohan's best friend. Twitter: @certaintragedy

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