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5 Washington Square bars for true locals

Posted by Alex Pearlman  January 27, 2012 06:11 PM

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publick house beers.jpgBy Bethany O'Meara

Smack-dab between Coolidge Corner and Cleveland Circle, Washington Square is, admittedly, not the first place you might think of going for a wild night out -- that is, if you even know where Washington Square is at all. The quiet, cheery Brookline neighborhood is home to families, young professionals, and grad students, many of whom enjoy catching up with friends over craft beers and quality pub food.

Maybe I'm spilling some of Brookline's secrets, but everyone should know about the cozy -- and, yes, a little pricey -- bars in Washington Square.

Washington Square Tavern (714 Washington St.). The aptly named Washington Square Tavern is located right near the C Line's Washington Square T stop, but keep your eyes peeled for subtle signage on its dark windows or you'll walk right by. The interior feels like a wine cellar -- a very, very dark wine cellar. The low lighting and dark wooden bar make a great backdrop for intimate discussions, but not first dates (especially not blind dates!). Once your eyes adjust, you'll be able to read the list of intriguing drinks; their wine and cocktails lists are most impressive. If you think sipping house-made grenadine and organic gin in a Strip Martini sounds pretentious, then my advice is to enjoy feigning pretentiousness for an evening.

Publick House (1648 Beacon St.). I can't vouch for the authenticity of the Publick House's interior decor compared to real Belgian pubs, but the old-world interior and great background music make for a fun atmosphere. Unless you're lucky enough to snag a seat at the bar, you'll be shuffling around in very little standing space, but there's lots of seating available if you want to sit down for a meal with friends and/or family. Their beer menu highlights Belgian and Belgian-style beers, but they've got the whole shebang, including a pricey reserve list. I suggest you order food before drinking, or you may end up spending more than you expected on add-ins to your mac & cheese.

The Abbey (1657 Beacon St.). If Publick House and Washington Square Tavern had a baby, it would be The Abbey. Inside, it's dark, but not too dark for a first date (and they have candles -- how romantic!). The Abbey's beer list features a decent mix of international brews, and yet, of all the bars in Washington Square, it's the only place you'll find a Budweiser. If you're feeling dapper, their fun, old-fashioned cocktails are worth a swig.

Golden Temple (1651 Beacon St.). Golden Temple is an elegant Chinese restaurant by day, but go there late on a weekend night, and it's kind of like going to prom: The venue is gorgeous, the DJ booth overwhelms the tiny dance floor, and everyone is dancing awkwardly. Described by friends on a recent night out as a "Chinese Bar Mitzvah rave in the D.C. Metro" (due to the curved ceiling) and "the weirdest place I've ever been -- but it's a good weird," anything goes at Golden Temple. You'll see cougars spinning around with college kids to Top 40 music and '80s rock, friends sharing gigantic scorpion bowls and egg rolls at the bar, and maybe even a guy dressed up in a banana costume.

American Craft (formerly at 1700 Beacon St.). It is with a heavy heart that I announce the recent closure of American Craft, a laid-back bar and restaurant that specialized in -- you guessed it! -- American craft beers. For me, American Craft was the go-to place for catching up with long-lost friends and trying beers with funny names that turned out to be delicious. The bartenders patiently offered great advice and didn't mind if you occupied the same seat for hours. If you didn't get a chance to visit before this place closed (like I did, to watch Tom Brady take down Tim Tebow), well, that stinks for you! In order to round out this list, you'll have to order a drink from a plain ol' restaurant bar or grab a bottle of wine from Vino Divino.

What Washington Square-area bars would you recommend?

If you're looking for a drink in a different part of the city, check out our suggestions for local bars in Jamaica Plain, Somerville, Harvard Square, Fenway/Kenmore Square, or Allston/Brighton.

Photo taken at Publick House by Travlr (Flickr)

About Bethany -- I graduated from Northeastern not too long ago and decided to stick around Boston, but I'd like to continue traveling the world. In the meantime, I'll be checking out local bars, markets, and festivals. My expertise lies in Trader Joe's products and MBTA survival skills, among other things. Plaid catches my eye, French catches my ear, and videos of baby animals capture my heart. Twitter: @bethopolis

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