Located on the intersection of Massachusetts and Columbus Avenues, Wally’s Café is all that remains from the area’s once thriving jazz scene of the 1940s and 50s. In fact, Joseph L Walcott, the club’s founder, was the first African-American man to own a club in all of New England. Today, the cafe is a popular spot where Berklee College of Music students can be found taking advantage of the many open mic jam sessions throughout the week. The no-cover policy makes the establishment one of the best destinations for live music in the South End. Reasonably priced drinks ensure every night at Wally’s is a good one.
Named after a long-established department store in Dublin, Ireland (whose two-faced clock is said to be a catalyst for romance) is Clerys. However, it is yet to be determined if Clerys in Boston, MA arouses the same admiration in its patrons’ eyes. Still, located on Columbus Avenue, one of the most travelled streets of the South End, Clerys is a neighborhood bar where hard-working Bostonians stop for a quick beer after work, or for some award-winning chicken wings. A true local joint, Clerys sports a beautiful mahogany bar with a spacious dining room, featuring a graceful, hand-painted ceiling mural.
The Beehive serves up a variety of comfort foods | Courtesy of The Beehive
As a part of The Boston Center for the Arts complex, The Beehive derives its charm from the decor’s forlorn elegance and nostalgic tribute to the jazz age. The downstairs bar features authentic brick walls and a truly impressive wine list, while the dining room contains beautiful red satin curtains, glowing chandeliers, and intimate cabaret seating on hardwood floors. The eclectic ambiance of The Beehive continues to draw people in, especially when the food and wine provide such a perfect pair. Enjoy rustic fare from the Middle East, Eastern Europe and America with a drink to match, while jazz buzzes in the background of this veritable South End landmark.
The Brahmin offers a trendy combination of swanky interiors, delicious American-inspired pub food, and a popular basement dance floor. The first floor features elegant leather armchairs and couches that blend in with the red brick walls and hardwood ceiling. This bar is noteworthy for its interpretations of classic cocktails, including an Endicott Sidecar with Remy Martin VSOP, Cointreau, a sugared rim, and a lemon wedge. That said, The Brahmin’s small plates, including the beef short rib grilled cheese, have developed a real following among locals, too. Still, the live music draws the biggest crowds on Friday and Saturday nights; perfect for those in search of a buzzing dance floor experience.
If you’re looking for a dance club or music venue complete with multi-level platforms, balcony VIP sections, and some of the latest EDM music around, look no further than Royale. This is the perfect venue to see your favorite DJ perform a set, or to even watch an acrobatic silk performer swing in the air above your head as you stand dancing below. Royale has proven itself as one of the most frequented dance clubs in the South End by offering a diverse set of acts that keep its patrons coming back week after week. EDM is big here, so if you like artists like Dada Life, Above and Beyond, and Dash Berlin, you will certainly enjoy your stay.
While the newly completed Wink & Nod may have only opened its doors in 2014, its ambiance transports patrons straight to the prohibition era of the early 20th century via dim lighting and plush decor. This bar brings the speakeasies of the past to life, with tux-clad bouncers and plush couches. Delicious tapas-styled plates are served as well; perfect for a date or a large group. Wink & Nod’s seasonal cocktails come highly recommended, like the popular ‘Indian summer’, consisting of Nolet’s Silver gin, St. Germain, grapefruit, and a dash of in-house ginger beer. Don’t be alarmed if you visit on a Monday night, Wink & Nod does a Tiki event when all staff don gaudy Hawaiian shirts.
Far from the typical American gastropub, The Gallows offers an eclectic environment to enjoy highly original cocktails and contemporary American plates. Located on the ground where colonial Bostonians used to hang their criminals, The Gallows pays tribute to the South End’s morbid history by name and by its dimly lit interior, black chairs and couches. Popular drinks include the Grave Robber and the Scavenger’s Daughter, made of cucumber-infused gin, Campari, lemon, rosemary, and peppercorn bitters. In short, The Gallows is a hip pub where locals enjoy drinks and some seriously off-the-hook poutine dishes.
Towards the west of the South End neighborhood lies the Northeastern University campus, and not far from there lies Conor Larkin’s Grill and Tap: the quintessential college bar of the South End. The weekend starts early for the college crowd, so expect this one to get busy from Thursday onwards. Happy hour starts early too (at 3pm), coinciding neatly with the end of lectures at Northeastern. On your way in look for beer specials redolent of your own college days, and New England pub food to match.
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Nicely tucked away on Chandler Street lies Delux Café, a casual neighborhood bar renowned for its Elvis memorabilia and stained wooden walls. A hip establishment born out of converging retro and contemporary styles, this one offers a diverse tap list that’s complemented by fresh takes on American classics. For example, there’s the lamburger with fear cheese, pickled onions, and arugula. Look to the Delux Café for a small slice of quirky, local charm.
With its recent renovation, Club Café is a destination for all touring Boston’s South End. While primarily a LGBT hotspot, any and all are sure to have a good time. Being divided into three sections, consisting of a main bar and lounge, a back room with a separate bar, dance floor and a piano room, Club Café is well on its way to becoming one of the premier bars of the area. Look for their extensive seasonal cocktail list, which includes their own rendition of the South End Sidecar, using Hennessy VS, Grand Marnier, bitters, and a squeeze of orange.