What's a good first date bar in Cambridge/Somerville?
October 12, 2010 4:14 PM   Subscribe

What's a good bar to take a first date for a drink in Cambridge/Somerville MA?

Hey, I looked at some earlier threads, which have good suggestions for dates/first dates in general. But in this case we've already agreed on getting a drink together, so I need a place where we can do that and hear each other talk, not get accosted by this city's impressively crazy homeless population, and not be too cramped, either. Relatively cheap, maybe, and nothing especially fancy or romantic; the goal would be to find a decent, cozy place in the Porter/Harvard/Davis area (T or walking accessible). Thanks all! Boy am I nervous.
posted by earlofrochester to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (20 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Daedalus, The Enormous Room (earlyish in the evening is better, and not Friday/Saturday), ZuZu.

And don't knock our homeless population, most harmless homeless population in greater Boston!
posted by Shusha at 4:24 PM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Grendel's Den and the beer garden (not inside!) at Charlie's Kitchen in Harvard Square are unromantic and pubby, but on the cheap side and decent for talking as long as you get there before 10 or so. If the weather's nice, Daedalus (on Mt. Auburn between Harvard and Central) has a pretty nice roof garden, but is a little bit more expensive and they might make you order food. Toad in Porter is a nice little bar, but gets crowded fast due to the small size. Having lived in the area, I can't think of a single place in Davis to recommend (Underbones too crowded, the Irish places too divey, Sagra too pretentious) except for maybe Soundbites in Ball Square, which actually has a decent bar.
posted by oinopaponton at 4:25 PM on October 12, 2010

I'm fond of Grendel's Den. It can get a bit crowded on weekend nights, and sometimes have a bit difficult to get a table. But once you do, I've always felt like it has a nice, warm, and cozy vibe - the fireplace is a nice touch. An especially great place to grab a drink and cozy up in the colder months. Good luck!
posted by raztaj at 4:27 PM on October 12, 2010

grammar, i speak it bad. meant 'and sometimes have a bit of a difficult time getting a table.'
posted by raztaj at 4:29 PM on October 12, 2010

The Cellar was always my go-to for such things.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:32 PM on October 12, 2010

Davis centric advice, because Davis is awesome:

Depends on what you want to drink, really. Beer? Foundry has a great selection on tap and the place itself is nice. They also have good mixed drinks. And oysters. If your main consideration is cozy conversation, I'd avoid Red Bones despite the fact that their beer is great. Posto has great wine by the glass. It's pretty busy, but there is generally room at the bar and I've never found it to be particularly noisy. The food's great if you guys decide to stick around for a snack.

I'd avoid Orleans, the Burren, the Joshua Tree, and Sligo. Loud, rowdy patrons, and their selection is meh though serviceable in a pinch.
posted by lydhre at 4:33 PM on October 12, 2010

Third-ing Daedalus, particularly if the weather is nice enough to sit out on the roof patio.
posted by ewiar at 4:46 PM on October 12, 2010

Definitely the Cellar (if you don't mind walking from Harvard or Central--it's about halfway between). How I miss the Cellar...

Grendel's Den is pretty good for a first-datey kind of thing too, if you want to stay in Harvard Square. If it's nice out, maybe the patio at Shay's (though that can get crowded and it's beer and wine only).
posted by devotion+doubt at 4:46 PM on October 12, 2010

I'll fourth Daedalus, although it's not my first pick. It really matters when the date is...? Friday night at ten o'clock you won't be able to get a table for just drinks at most of the suggestions thus far.... but assuming you wouldn't be going at rush hour I'd strongly recommend River Gods or Green Street (both in Central Square) - with the edge to RG for interesting ambiance (although danger! sometimes there's a DJ and loud music! check ahead!) and GC for interesting drinks.
posted by moxiedoll at 4:53 PM on October 12, 2010

Response by poster: Hey! Thanks for all the great suggestions. The date's this Thursday night. Central's not too far, I should've included that. And while I can't speak for her, I'll be drinking beer.
posted by earlofrochester at 4:56 PM on October 12, 2010

The Cellar, good call. Also seconding the beer garden at Charlie's, but mind the chilly weather in the evening. If you're meeting right after work on a weeknight, People's Republik should be dark and quiet with just the right number of folks at the bar-- right out from Thursday onward, though. Whitney's in Harvard Square is cheap and reliably uncrowded, but is divey (and sometimes theirs drafts are off-tasting; stick to Guiness or bottles to be safe.) Posting this from River Gods just off Central Square, which is cozy and lovely on a weeknight, but is maybe a fourth-date kind of bar....
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 4:59 PM on October 12, 2010

Green Street is one of my favorites. It's two blocks from the Central Square T stop, has good food, awesome cocktails (ask for the six-page A to Z cocktail menu, and you and your date can spend an hour picking drinks from it), an interesting beer selection, and a great atmosphere with friendly bartenders.
posted by dfan at 5:08 PM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Green Street is great (but a little pricier than the others, maybe), The Cellar is good but a bit further from the T, Grendel's Den is nice and cozy and no-frills, and Christopher's in Porter is easy (close to the T) and nice and a good middle-of-the-road place.
posted by ldthomps at 5:26 PM on October 12, 2010

Green Street has been really loud and crowded the last few (weeknights!) that I've been there for drinks. I'd definitely recommend the Cellar -- mmm fries. If you don't mind a 15 minute walk from Central, I'm starting to really like Lord Hobo, but it's not as T-friendly as some of these other ones.

River Gods is definitely another favorite of mine, but you have to get there by like 5:30 to get a table and be able to talk without yelling.
posted by olinerd at 6:52 PM on October 12, 2010

I'm a newb to Cambridge, too. What is the local perspective on Central Kitchen? I thought the food was nice. Kind of intense on the "local flava" spectrum, but as previously mentioned the homeless here are so harmless. As long as they have their can of monitor cleaner to huff, everything's fine (true sighting, approx. 8a). I also like Green Street. Cocktails are superb, and if you can get a little table upstairs, it's rather intimate.
posted by keasby at 7:17 PM on October 12, 2010

Rendezvous in Central Square is a better restaurant than Central Kitchen or Green Street. Craigie on Main is even better for both food and cocktails, but it's also pricier. Cuchi Cuchi has great cocktails and is a lot of fun.
posted by Aethelwer at 8:03 PM on October 12, 2010

In Cambridge River Gods is by far my favorite. It's small, has a really fun atmosphere, and has the best fries in Boston.

If you're willing to cross the river, Number 9 Park is pricey ($12-$15/drink, but you'll only have one or two) and make a ridiculously, fabulously impressive Mint Julep. They are known for it. It's been a date destination of mine for a while. They take like 10 minutes to make the thing, including using a hand ice grinder, and serve it to you in the traditional frozen, pewter mug. They do it all in front of you. It's just awesome.

Green Street is a little uppity, but they make great cocktails. If you know how to order a cool cocktail, that might be the place!

If you want to go upscale, I echo Aethelwer's Craigie on Main. Maybe save that one for the third date. F'ing fantastic. One of the few, truly great restaurants in Boston.
posted by kryptonik at 3:55 AM on October 13, 2010

River Gods is great. I actually like The Field for a casual drink with friends - just a good pub kind of place. Green Street is better if your date is into cocktails, I think, but is impressive in a "I know the area" kind of way. Cuchi Cuchi is fun, but very frilly (in decor).

Thirsty Scholar in Inman is nice, but probably too far out of your way. I just had a lovely drink at the new Russell House in Harvard Square, but it's a bit on the preppy side. Grendel's... well, I think I'd be fine there if I wasn't eating. They always seemed to have flies so I've stopped going there.

Christopher's in Porter might be a good match - down to earth, comfortable.

Foundry in Davis only opened recently and has been pretty crowded.

And then there's always Tavern on the Square in whatever Square you choose but... well, don't. Just don't. She'll think you're a tool.

All these places have different personalities, so it's hard to give a definite recommendation without knowing you or your date.
posted by maryr at 12:21 PM on October 13, 2010

Oh, and I've always heard good things about The Cellar, but never been. Wrong part of the world for me.
posted by maryr at 12:23 PM on October 13, 2010

I second Green Street for impressive classic cocktails that are in the $6.50 (!) - $9.00 range, which feels like they are paying you to drink, coming from Boston, and River Gods is very hip.

I also wanted to mention the Plough and Stars--it is a hair more upscale than the Cellar, so your date might feel more date-like, but it is still super-casual and they have great beer on tap. They only have a few wines, but the sauvignon blanc is great, and even though it isn't listed, they'll give you the bottle for $32. But mostly I am recommending them for the reasonably priced yet surprisingly delicious food. The desserts are amazing (I feel like I remember hearing their pastry chef works full-time at a swanky hotel restaurant), and the fries are seasoned and no joke.
posted by reparata at 11:07 AM on October 14, 2010

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