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Free Bar Snacks

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I was hired to write a short bit on "The Best Free Bar Snacks" for a local publication, a tiny piece of a much bigger story. I've already got a notebook full of good contenders (I'm an...an enthusiastic social drinker, after all), but I was curious if anyone knew of any cool/obscure/especially-tasty/quirky ones in the Boston area I should go check out.

What bars are worth sitting at for the free snacks alone? Any bowls of free squid jerky I've missed?

Thanks in advance.

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  1. :) boiled eggs at the best bar in Cambridge -- the B-Side

    1 Reply
    1. re: MaineRed

      I'm a huge fan of those!

      But I wonder if it was just the six drinks talking. Or the six eggs.

    2. Noir and the Oak Room have a decent nut mix. And the bar in the Meritage restaurant itself did have the best homemade chips (not just potato), not sure if they still do.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Joanie

        Oh, that reminds me. The lobby bar at the Seaport Hotel used to serve great homemade chips. They don't do it automatically anymore, and we haven't been since last year, but we always ask and they still bring them out. And the upstairs bar at Aujourd'hui has a nice bar mix, I love those wasabi peas.

        1. re: Joanie

          I can report that Meritage does still have the great homemade veg chips. I stopped in for a glass of wine a couple of weeks back and my friend and I managed to down nearly a whole meal's worth.

          1. re: Joanie

            Yes, the Noir nuts are pretty good. And while it's not all free, the Noir 5-4-3-2-1-0 menu -- M-F, 5-7 pm -- is a deal I just learned about and hope to make use of more often. $5 sandwiches, $4 flatbreads, $3 salads, $2 skewers, and $1 sweets (plus the free nuts). I split an asiago, fig, and prosciutto pizza with a friend -- and I seem to recall that it was good enough to have been about worth the full price tag ($10).

          2. The bar at No. 9 Park always offers some delectable free morsel to drinkers. Most recently I got some homemade potato chips topped with crème fraîche and caviar. They do fresh-from-the-oven gougères on occasion, probably my favorite bar snack in town. It doesn't hurt that their bartending is superb.

            The Bar at the Taj has a nice salty mix: almonds, rice crackers, mixed nuts on a silver tray. This is generally true at the luxury hotel bars like the Bristol.

            I love the hardboiled egg thing, which I've enjoyed at the B-Side and the bar at Brasserie Jo. Brasserie Jo also offers a lovely complimentary crudité of lightly-marinated julienned carrots, but I think that only comes out once you've ordered some food.

            Taberna de Haro often sends out a plate of its wonderful garlicky potato salad, and sometimes a very nice olive mix if you're standing at their sherry bar.

            The bar at Union sometimes serves gratis homemade garlic potato chips, very nice.

            The best free bar snacks are at places where you're a regular, and the kitchen sends out free stuff it wants you to try, or just to thank you for showing up on slow weeknights.

            2 Replies
            1. re: MC Slim JB

              Amen to that last point.

              You just reminded me of the gougères and truffled popcorn at Aujourd'hui.

              1. re: MC Slim JB

                Believe the bar at Union generally has the chips but sometimes you have to ask for them.

              2. Went to Smith & Wollensky last Friday and sat at bar while we waited for our friends to show up. They had big bowls of really nice potato chips (regular and BBQ) and also put out a big platter of mini cheese burgers! (Didn't post on the S&W dinner because it was uneventful, but the food and service were very good, and I like their house wine and they give you a generous pour).

                1. bristol lounge and downstairs at the *new* ritz have yummy nut mixes. at the bristol, they are warm. capital grille does house-made chips, but only before the kitchen opens.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    "downstairs at the new ritz"--are you referring to Jerne, or a different spot?

                  2. I have not been in awhile, but Mortons had free mini prime rib sandwiches the last time I was there for happy hour. It goes a bit beyond the realm of a snack, but is the best damn (free) bar food I have ever had.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Gabatta

                      they are no longer free.. sadly.

                    2. Decent bar snack mix at Dunn Gahrin in Newton and X & O in Stoughton. Love dat cheese wheel @ Abe & Louis but hard to get at because people surround it at the bar.

                      1. Jarne in the ritz towers has the very best snack bowl... Smoked almonds, dried wasabi peas, macadamians, pretzels, etc And they keep coming and coming, I've never been 'shut off' ;-)