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Quirky Wine Bars

I'm looking for quirky/different places to drink good wine. The traditional wine bars -- Troquet, Vinalia, etc -- all fit the standard concept but why don't we have anything like they do in Texas, the bowling alley with a great wine list? Anyone know of anything? In Boston or anywhere in New England?

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  1. In Boston and Cambridge such places have been limited by the cost of liquor licenses, other towns have been limited by varied local licensing requirements. Occasionally you do find a local restaurant that has a surprisingly varied wine list, especially for certain ethnic varieties (greek wine, portuguese). Also, every year in New Bedford they have a celebration for the island of Madeira where they go to great lengths to import a special barrel of Madeira and serve it to the public.

    Of the Portugese restaurants, I believe the one with the broadest wine list is Casa Portugal (at least it has the most varieties of Port). For "vinho verde" (an inmature white wine) there also is Portugalia which matches it with seafood.

    For quirky Californian wines I have seen places along these lines in Vermont (the cafe that has microbrews and wines), but do not have any specific suggestions.

    I would also think that Providence would be a good spot both for Portugese and Italian wines.

    One small town that seems awash in wine is Dartmouth and So Dartmouth. There are a large number of Portuguese wine importers, but I have also found some unusual Californian wine bargains. Don't have any restaurants offhand, but its a great place to put together a wine picnic. And if you head over to Westport there is Westport Rivers, etc.

    We also once got offered an interesting selection of Californian wines from a couple at Winterhawk (now Greyfox) Bluegrass Festival... which draws people from all over.

    1 Reply
    1. re: itaunas

      I remember Atasca having quite a broad Portuguese wine list as well.

      Campania in Waltham has an excellent winelist; it's all Italian iirc. Lovely rustic bar.

    2. I do love the Butcher shop. These are good starts.

      1. Although not quirky like you describe, Les Zygomates is unique in the city. I find the by the glass list to be unparalleled for value and creativity, plus they offer smaller pours for a couple of bucks so you can try a bunch of wines in a night. Live jazz at one of their bars. And the food is pretty good also.

        1. I can't vouch for their wine list specifically, but I've had enough fun hanging out at King's in Back Bay. They have the DeVille lounge across the room from the bowling lanes and I've had some good cocktails there. I'm usually focused on getting in my bowling zone when I'm there, so take my recommendation for what it's worth.

          1 Reply
          1. re: BroForth

            King's has pretty awful wine. I'm not wild about the cocktails here, either, but it's typical of places catering to youngish drinkers: frozen blender drinks, Tiki cocktails (they have really sugary variant of a Scorpion Bowl), and candy-flavored shaker drinks. It's tough to get excited about their "classic" cocktail making, with so many serious cocktail bars in the neighborhood. The food's pretty standard, pedestrian bar fare (this is a Lyons Group place). If you stick to beer or highballs, it's a fun bowling destination, and the pool tables aren't horrible, but I would not go for the food or wine.

          2. How about Z Wine Bar (next to the Abbey Lounge) on Beacon Street in Somerville?

            1. i also recommend Z Wine Bar. Casual staff and great wine selections. Intimate setting also makes it quirky. the menu isnt mind blowing but the selections are nicely paired for the wines.

              5 Replies
              1. re: bernie71

                Z Bar is indeed a great little place, opened by the owner of the adjacent rock bar who's a wine lover that wanted the kind of place he would patronize in a neighborhood that doesn't have a lot of wine options. Be aware that it's only open Wed-Sat. Speaking of the rock bar, the Abbey Lounge is a treasure, featuring live, mostly local, mostly rock bands on two stages. It's no longer the scary B&B (beer-and-a-beatin') it used to be, but it still has plenty of local color, and when Z Bar is open, they'll serve you food from there in the bar.

                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  I'm not sure this is still the case. The main guy who opened Z Bar moved and I think the food has taken a back seat, if it's even still served. Certainly no one's eating food on the Abbey side of the building.

                  1. re: Joanie

                    I thought the guy that opened Z (J. Gremaldi, the Schnockered guy) was one of the Abbey's owners since it change hands and added the pub stage last year. So he's moved, and presumably sold his stake in the Abbey?

                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      Yeah, he moved to CA I think to be closer to his wife's family. I know people were lamenting that there'd be no more meatball sandwiches. Not sure where things stand.

                      1. re: Waidesworld

                        Well... it's a decent unpretentious place to have a drink if you're in Inman square, but it certainly isn't any longer a wine bar. The atmosphere is a bit weird in my opinion--Z bar's decor remains, except for the addition of a TV. Crowd is 50-50 Z/ Abbey.
                        Beer by draft, and three choices of red and white wine. The best thing is the enormous size of the pours. A place to get drunk rather than to sip...

              2. What about Silvertone? Amazing wine list -- at only bucks over wholesale, not marked up by 100% or more?

                The food's nice... great green salad, though not the best pairing with wine!, sure, it can get busy and noisy... but the wine is AMAZING and you get the fairest deal in town. Sit at the bar, watch the customers, and know you're drinking well. Enough for me ...