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Impossible to find dive bars downtown?

In town for a conference, staying at the Sheraton on Dalton Street downtown. Looking for a place or places within walking distance to take a different group of 20-30 people per night for a few beers. A dive bar would be fantastic, but I know that's unlikely downtown, right? So just somewhere that isn't a chain and has a fun atmosphere and a good beer selection (lots of beer aficionados in the bunch).

Thanks everybody!

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  1. I think Bukowski is right at your doorstep - maybe not *quite* as divey as you might want, but it should more than fit the bill, particularly since it is within stumbling distance.
    Oh, and do they have a beer selection - they have a wheel of beer selections. Go there and see. You'll be set.
    I believe there are some divey places along Mass. Ave. too.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Bob Dobalina

      Bukowski's is kinda tiny for 20-30, no?
      I say hop in a cab and head over to the Beacon Hill Pub if you want a real dive.

      1. re: CityPork

        It's not that small, I don't think. Anyway, they can just take over the place.

      2. re: Bob Dobalina

        TC's Lounge is about a block away on Haviland Street and definitely fits the bill as divey. Not exactly a great beer selection but DEFINITELY worth a visit!

      3. FYI, we think of that area as Back Bay vs. downtown - not sure about the size, but Bukowski across the street may fit the bill for a dive bar with good beer selection, Kings Bowling across the street is not a chain and fun atmosphere (even if not bowling) and Summer Shack is another possible spot also across the street (probably the smallest beer selection). The latter two will both easily accomodate a group that size.

        There are lots of bars on Boylston St that may work as well but I haven't been to them in a long time - I'm thinking of the Pour House and Whiskey's specifically.

        2 Replies
        1. re: rlh

          If right downtown is an option, I must also nominate Biddy Early's on Pearl St as a divey option supreme.

          1. re: rlh

            I second Biddy Early's if you're heading downtown. I stopped by there before a Playin Dead harbor cruise last month and was blown away when the total for 3 bottles of Bud and a Makers on the rocks only came to $9. I thought I was in a time warp. It's definitely a place where your drinking problem doesn't seem so bad when compared to those around you.

        2. J.J. Foleys is a great choice, plenty of room for your party and right around the corner on Kingston St. The jukebox there is one of the better ones in town and the old school Irish pub feel is excellent.

          7 Replies
          1. re: ChickenBrocandZiti

            I love Foley's and it is way old school, but it isn't really a dive.

            1. re: ChickenBrocandZiti

              The downtown Foley's isn't right around the corner from the Sheraton on Dalton St. More like a mile and a half. Not far via the Green Line, but a good 30 minutes on foot. T.C. Haviland's is a good suggestion, since it's really close, plenty divey (if often hosting a youthful crowd) and big enough to accommodate a group that size. Bukowski won't work if it has any kind of a crowd already: too tight. I think the bar at Woody's, a pretty good wood-oven pizza place, might also work, and is pretty close by. Other options include the Last Drop on Mass Ave near Marlborough St, and the Crossroads on Beacon St near Mass Ave.

              1. re: MC Slim JB

                Ahhhhh Dalton St. Right. Foley's is about as divey as Downtown gets, unless you want to venture into Chinatown.

                1. re: ChickenBrocandZiti

                  Chinatown has lost a few of it's "dive bars." Both Bernie's and Weggie's have closed.

                  1. re: 9lives

                    Don't forget Playland! That's a bona fide dive bar with its sketchy clientele.

                    1. re: nasilemak

                      lol, playland is long gone.

                      the tam is over there though and that fits. about a 15 minute walk from the sheraton.

                      1. re: nasilemak

                        Playland is long gone...definitely sketchy crowd...could meet the nicest women there..:)

              2. Can't think of too many right around the corner from there, but if you don't mind walking a bit, there are a lot of options.

                In addition to the already-mentioned Pour House, Whiskey's, JJ Foley's, Bukowski's, and TC's Lounge, there is also the Red Hat on Bowdoin Street (Beacon Hill--about a 20-minute walk), the Sevens on Charles Street (Beacon Hill), the Bell in Hand (Union Street near Quincy Market), the Green Dragon (Marshall Street, near the Bell in Hand), Ames Plow (Quincy Market), the Elephant and Castle on Devonshire Street (Financial District), Jacob Wirth (Stuart Street, downtown--not quite a dive, but lots of fun), and the Intermission Tavern (around the corner from Jacob Wirth).

                And those are just the places I hit last night (KIDDING). :-D

                1. Dive bar closest to the Sheraton would be Daisy Buchanan's on Newbury @ Fairfield. The places along Boylston in that area are a bit more upscale.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: BBHound

                    Daisy Buchanan's def fits the bill and is always a good time. Also Beacon Hill Pub and the Sail Loft around Government Center (give or take) are good as well.

                    1. re: duxdubai

                      Sail Loft on the waterfront isn't a dive bar..mostly suits and polo shirts.

                      eta...Tam ..on Tremont is a dive bar..not a great beer selection but a few..and Jacob Wirth around the corner has a great beer selection.

                      1. re: 9lives

                        The Sail Loft is dirty and grimey but the clientele most definetly a Vineyard Vines, madras shorts, polo shirt going on thursday b/c we'll be in Nantucket on Friday crowd.

                        The beer selection and dive bar is tough as I can't come up with great suggestions but Conor Larkin's on Huntington Ave not too far away is college/divey ish and I would concur with Last Drop and Crossroads.

                        1. re: 9lives

                          I was waiting for someone to mention the Tam. Love that place. It is a major dive bar.

                      2. re: BBHound

                        Daisy's isn't a dive....it's a meat market. Big difference.

                          1. re: kate used to be 50

                            ok, don't know what happened to this post! the previous one was very pithy.

                            o well

                        1. re: BBHound

                          Daisy Buchanans is not really a "dive bar" IMO at night. It turns into a packed meat market full of the college and barely post-college types dancing on the bar, etc.

                        2. Loving all these awesome suggestions -- thanks and keep them coming! Any suggestions for a mid-priced restaurant within a short cab ride of the Sheraton to take about 15 people for GREAT (not good) seafood? Need not be a dive, but dive is fine.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: doublecure

                            You will not find GREAT (not good) seafood in a mid-priced restaurant. Right next to the hotel is Summer Shack, where you'll find GOOD (not great) seafood at slightly-above-mid prices.

                            1. re: Blumie

                              Summer Shack is overpriced. Great seafood a short walk away would be Clio or Uni at the Eliot Hotel on Comm Ave or Great Bay at the Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore Square. Non divey bar next door is Eastern Standard Kitchen. Some of the best bartending in town, but stay away from Kenmore Square if the Red Sox are in Town.

                              1. re: kate used to be 50

                                I agree with you complete, kate, except that these places are not "mid priced."

                                1. re: Blumie

                                  hmm, you have a point, but they are good eating!

                                2. re: kate used to be 50

                                  Atlantic Seafood Co. is generally recommended on the board - within walking distance to your hotel, on Boylston Street. Cannot personally vouch but check the board. May only be in the "good" rather than "great" category.

                                  Some other folks would recommend Peach Farm in Chinatown for seafood in the great but cheap category.

                                  EDIT: Given your explanation below, also consider Great Bay, Neptune Oysters, B&G Oysters, East Coast Grill.

                                  Avoid No Name Restaurant and Union Oyster House, which will come up in your tourist guides, but 'hounds do not endorse.

                            2. 9lives mentioned The Tam which I would second. Right off the Boylston stop on Tremont. Very legit dive bar. Should probably be big enough. If it's not, Jacob Wirth is a great suggestion too -- not a dive, but not at all pretentious. It feels like a saloon out of the turn of the century, and they supposedly have killer sausages. And they do have good beer.

                              But seriously, if you can cram into Bukowski's with your crew, do it. It's awesome and legendary and has a lot of character and about a million beers. And a burger with peanut butter. It's that kinda place. Also, you never know who you'll run into there. I once ran into Kori Gardner from Mates of State and Kevin Barnes from Of Montreal on the same night there.

                              Other than the Pour House, I'd stay away from Boylston and Newbury Street. They are full of what my friend and I would call "doucheries". Popped collar spots. Peeps lining up to get into mediocre bars. Save yourself the trouble.

                              Also, seconded on Summer Shack. Legal Seafoods is a local New England chain down the way in Park Plaza - they're known for very fresh fish and they seem to handle groups with more grace than your average seafood place. Great Bay near Kenmore is good but pricey. You could also try Eastern Standard, which has a large back room for which they don't charge anything so you could take that space - they have more than just seafood but their oyster bar is delicious.

                              If you can sneak away from your group for REALLY good seafood, go to Neptune Oyster. It's teeny tiny but has the best seafood in town.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: desertrose5418

                                If the tam is full of shitheads (it seems to happen) try the intermission next door. I don't remember the beer list, but it was good people.

                                If you are dive bar afficionados, it may be worth the cab--er, cabs-- to the Model Cafe in allston, or the Cantab Lounge in cambridge

                              2. Hey 2 things. First for the original poster, Downtown means the Financial District to most Bostonians, you are staying in Back Bay. Many of the responses you got were for the downtown neighborhood (not far by any means, but 20 - 30 people on foot while drinking could be messy). Also Wally's is only 8 or so blocks away (really small, but awesome live jazz and its a real dive.)

                                1. You guys rock with these great suggestions; thanks so much!

                                  To clarify on the restaurant question, when I say "mid-range" I'm talking about under $30 or so for most entrees. And when I say it can be within a short cab ride, I mean up to a 10-15 minute cab ride. So maybe that opens it up a bit?

                                  Seriously, you guys are awesome. If you're ever headed to Atlanta, New Orleans, or Seattle, email me at doublecure@lycos.com and I will definitely have great suggestions for you.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: doublecure

                                    What about Punter's Pub over on Huntington by Northeastern?

                                    1. re: pemma

                                      Holy cr*p - I've not been in years, but Punter's is easiest the divey-est (sp?) place I've been; I used to live next door when I went to NU, so I went there a lot :-) Assuming they haven't renovated, it makes Mary Ann's look up-scale by comparison. I'm not sure I'd actually send anyone to Punter's on purpose.

                                  2. If you want...

                                    - huge beer selection (15 on tap/99 on the wall), good burgers and fries go to bukowski's ... like others mentioned, you will definitely not have your 3 ft of personal space there.

                                    - a place where everyone is sure to get hammered and sing karaoke even if it is entirely uncharacteristic of them go to sissy k's (karaoke is best on wednesday nights IMO - $1 bud/bud light - do not go on the weekends)

                                    - no frills, space to move around, few games to keep you occupied (basketball etc), laid back crowd, cheap drinks go to beacon hill pub (bhp) - dive, could be considered grimey, smallest bathrooms you will ever see, cash only, better on week nights than weekends, local/college/young professional crowd

                                    - to be outside:

                                    - tia's - huge outdoor area, favorite among the typical boston young professional crowd, on the water

                                    - central 37's roof deck - haven't seen a huge crowd there, but a nice place to go with a large group of people where you can be outside and make your own party

                                    - baseball tavern's roof deck - draws a good crowd, can view stadium lights if there is a game

                                    * can walk from bukowski's to pour house (only two i would recommend in that area though whiskey's which is next to pour house is a touristy boston bar). can also pop into king's next door to bukowski's for some bowling action.

                                    * bhp is by its lonesome as is baseball tavern (though other sports bars are close by)

                                    * can walk from central 37 to sissy k's to tia's to sail loft (good bar, very very small outdoor patio) - 5 min from central 37 to sissy k's, 7 from sissy k's to tia's (walking thru faneuil hall/quincy market on the way), 5 from tia's to sail loft (walking along the water on the way)

                                    1. You could go to Crossroads on Beacon St. right after the intersection at Mass Ave. It was the big Emerson College hangout back in the day and it's definitely a dive.