Boston brims with fine restaurants and bars that continually top national Best Of lists, but they were all born from the city’s long tradition of great taverns. Here are five of the best New England taverns to try in Boston.
Union Oyster House
Easily Boston’s most famous tavern thanks to its notable history, Union Square Oyster House dates back to 1826, making it one of the country’s oldest restaurants. It’s fittingly a stop on the Freedom Trail, and has hosted generations of Boston diners, including the Kennedys and King Louis Philippe of France, who lived in exile on the second floor between 1830 and 1848. Grab a seat in the wood paneled restaurant and order the chowder, grilled oysters, and a fried clam roll. Photo above courtesy of @unionoysterhouse.
Bell in Hand
Bell in Hand tavern, opened in 1795, has served as a gathering point for every generation since, thanks to its first owner, Jimmy Wilson, who was the town crier for fifty years, announcing the news of the day—the Boston Tea Party, the Declaration of Independence, and the winning of the Revolution, for example—with a ringing of a bell. One of the oldest bars in the city, Bell in Hand’s menu now offers perfect tavern fare, from marinated sirloin steak tips to a Fishermen’s Platter.
Long considered a nearly holy place for Cheers TV show fans, Cheers still acts as the ideal gathering spot due to its location close to the Public Garden and Boston Common. While you might not see Vera, Sam, Norm, and the gang, you’ll still be able to get a cold pint of beer and nibble on bar food like Boston baked beans, pub skins, and hot and spicy buffalo wings. For those up the challenge, try to get through the Norm Burger, two burger patties topped with Muenster cheese, mushrooms, onion rings, lettuce, and tomato.
Green Dragon Tavern
Daniel Webster once called this North End tavern the “Headquarters of the Revolution” due to it being a meeting spot for the Songs of Liberty. It was at the Green Dragon Tavern where they planned the Boston Tea Party and it was from here that Paul Revere left from here for his iconic Midnight Ride. Order the clam chowder, the lobster in the shell, and the pot pie and wash it all down with a draught beer.
Warren Tavern’s namesake, Harvard-educated Dr. Joseph Warren, was a proud member of the Sons of Liberty and died during the Battle of Bunker Hill. George Washington, Paul Revere and Benjamin Franklin were early customers. Today, you can sit where the Founding Fathers sipped ale and talked about the future of the country while you listen to live music and dine on lobster mac n cheese, fresh shucked oysters, and pretzel bites with Samuel Adams beer cheese dip.