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Are There Any Brewpubs with Good Food?

Hi all - my parents are coming for a visit, and my dad's a huge fan of brewpubs with good food. Unfortunately, from reading the boards it seems like I can have only have one or the other. :( Cambridge Brewing Company sounds great for beer and not-so-great for food, and I know from experience that John Harvard's is the same; Cambridge Commons and Redbones seem better for food and have good beer selections, but aren't "brewpubs" per se. So far I'm leaning towards Redbones, where I've always enjoyed both the food and beer in the past, but would be happy to be steered elsewhere (anywhere on the Red Line is a plus!)

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  1. CBC has good food...it's not amazing, but coupled with their beer (especially after drinking a lot of different ones at their 20th anniversary thing) - it's where I would take someone who wants fresh (brewed on site) beer.

    3 Replies
    1. re: rknrll

      I agree--CBC may be your best bet, as the beer is outstanding at times, and the food is mostly ok.

      1. re: rknrll

        I think CBC is fine for food. Definitely better than John Harvard's, in my opinion.

        1. re: rknrll

          I would have to disagree. I've had really sub-par food on the last 3 occasions I've been there and simply won't eat there anymore. For beers, though they are fantastic. Their recent 20th anniversary celebration included a cornucopia of interesting well-crafted brews.

        2. Watch City in Waltham is the best I have been to. My husband loves brewpubs and I love food but the two seldom meet.

          Watch City has great burgers, the lamb burger is excellent, great mac-n-cheese, great fish and chips.

          3 Replies
          1. re: lola22

            I had a really decent steak salad there a few weeks ago, though I wouldn't say the food is great. Just OK pub food. The beers were excellent, though.

            1. re: Eatin in Woostah

              My impression of the food at WC has always been so so, but been a while since I've been. In fact I'd go just for beer and then hit Kebab and Tandoor, Beijing Star, or Tuscan Grill.

              1. re: StriperGuy

                Agreed - there is much better food to be had in Waltham just steps away.

          2. I would suggest starting at Rebones for a couple of beers and some food then head on down to CBC. You certainly could eat at CBC. The food isn't terrible, but I find it to be really bland and lacking flavor. Their beers are great and Will does a phenomenal job.

            1. I think The Druid Pub might fit the bill. The food is excellent and they do have a bottled beer that they brew or have brewed for them. I'm not sold on the name, but hey, I didn't pick it - Druid Fluid

              6 Replies
              1. re: Snowflake

                The Druid is an Irish bar and NOT a brewpub so I don't think that it fits with what the OP is looking for. BTW, Druid Fluid is a beer brewed by Middle Ages out of Syracuse NY, not for the Druid in Inman Sq.

                1. re: Snowflake

                  the food at cbc is way better than at the druid.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    Whoa. Must respectfully, though seriously disagree. The food at CBC is very pedestrian pub food. It is fine but nothing special. The Druid is quite inventive; I would put their burger or their veggie burger against any other in the city. They make great fish and chips and chicken soup, and many on this board compliment their steak too, which I have not tried.

                    1. re: hckybg

                      lol, i certainly don't consider veggie burgers and chicken soup inventive. i eat at cbc a few times a month. you're right, it's fine. that's all we're all saying. :) but the beer selections rock.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        I understand your skepticism, but run--don't walk--to this veggie burger (or their regular burger). They are truly inventive! :)

                        1. re: hckybg

                          lol, i don't eat burgers and have had the veggie burger at the druid. while i like the atmosphere, the food was very ok to me every time. unless i'm in a rush for a show at the somerville theater, i'll pass. even the food at johnny d's is better.

                          <<shrugs>>

                          it's not a brewpub anyway, which is the point of the op.

                2. If you want to make a trip of it (sounds like you'd rather not, but just in case) I ate once at The Tap in Haverhill (aka Haverhill Brewery, who make Leatherlips, Haverale and lots of others) and it was pretty solid. Mind you I just had nachos, but they were definitely good for what it was (a LOT better than food I've had at Cambridge Common) and a nice space. I do love their beers.

                  I also had a slice of a friend's pizza at CBC and thought it was decent, and that's coming from someone with pretty strong feelings about pizza.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: celeriac

                    i do Love the beers at The Tap, especially their APA, but i've never had anything decent there to eat except the burger and club sandwich.

                    1. re: ScubaSteve

                      Hm. Too bad, consider my comment refuted.

                    2. re: celeriac

                      I live in Andover, and hit the Tap every couple of months. It's a bit uneven, but generally pretty tasty. I haven't had anything bad there, but my wife, a creature of habit, reports that her burgers have been from "pretty good" to "mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!" The beers are good, but have a definite house style that might not be to everyone's liking.

                    3. I'd say Cambridge Commons is the best bet for visitors, the beer is good, the food isn't bad, the patio is nice (the overall atmosphere is good), and it's by MIT and so is interesting for visitors. Visitors also might like the Boston Beerworks next to Fenway Park and John Harvards in Harvard Square -- both more for the beer and locale than the food or atmosphere. I wasn't impressed by Watch City.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: steinpilz

                        I actually really like Beer Works' steak tips and greek salad, though I don't really think salad is what one would be shooting for when they're hunting pub grub. Steak tips with mashed potatoes and really perfect crisp haricots verts, on the other hand...

                        1. re: katrinkala

                          Salem Beer Works and Boston Beah are the same company. But for some reason the food in Salem is generally more pleasing to me. Can't say why that should be, since the menus are the same.

                        2. re: steinpilz

                          Do you mean Cambridge Brewing Company? Cambridge Common is not close to MIT.

                          1. re: chickendhansak

                            Sorry, I meant CBC. Thanks.

                        3. john harvard's in framingham is decent.

                          1. I think someone mentioned once - try BOSTON BEAH WORKS, there's three, but two in the city. one across from Fenway, and one across for the Garden, both have affordable delicious food, and the brew their own delicious beers, people go crazy for the pumkin ale, watermelon ale, blueberry ale...they have special seasonal brews. I actually used to work there like 7 years ago and haven't visited in several years so the menu might have changed, but when i worked there, i'd always eat the food and everything was really good, and working in the kitchen, i know they use a lot of fresh ingredients and homemade stuff.

                            also, someone mentioned cambridge commons...amazing food i think, also try Grafton st in havahd sq, not a brewery but they have loads of great beers and even better food! brunch there is off the hizzle.

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: gibberisimo

                              OK, I referred to this above, but I have to strongly disagree on Cambridge Common's food. I've eaten there and Christophers (owned by the same people, very similar menus) a few times and most things I've tried have been pretty bad. Fish and chips has decent fish but the fries were cold, soggy and bland, and the coleslaw was preposterously bitter--inedible.

                              I've heard they have good wings, which I'm tempted to try, but are they the same as the wings at Christophers? I had those and found them sorely lacking. I also had the lauded veggie burger at Christophers and thought it was pretty lousy, no better than a gardenburger and served on a fridge-cold bun.

                              What do people like at the Common? And am I wrong to conflate it with Christophers? I will say that both have very good beer.

                              1. re: celeriac

                                I think the food at CC is better than Christopher's usually. They have buffalo chicken tenders which are often great, but the portions got smaller last year and so became less of a worthwhile buy.

                                I think nearly everything I've had there is usually decent -- sandwiches, burgers, nachos, and more -- but sometimes carelessly prepared.

                                You'll note I keep using words that imply the preparation at CC is variable. The overall quality of what they are going for is MOR, but that's fine by me, especially given the beer.

                                1. re: celeriac

                                  I was just there yesterday for lunch and ordered the same thing I always get - English burger with tater tots. Burger was cooked exactly how I wanted it and was delicious as always - a few more tots for the upcharge would be the only thing that would make it better.

                                  1. re: LStaff

                                    Yum, the English burger. So good with their sweet potatoe fries.

                                2. re: gibberisimo

                                  sorry, but i'm going to dis grafton here too. was there last week, and yeah, the beer selection is good, but both the calamari and chicken panini were inedible. may have been the worst chicken sandwich i've ever had in my life.

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    Grafton's food has been consistently lousy for so long I just gave up years ago.

                                  2. re: gibberisimo

                                    While I love BBW's beers- I am not a fan of their food at all. To me its nothing above pretty average, to below average pub grub. Their sweet potato french fries are their only redeeming quality food wise I think

                                    1. re: gibberisimo

                                      I have been to Beer Works numerous times although only before Bruins or Celtics games. I ate there the first few times and was continually disappointed so gave up on the food and now just get beers. I don't love any of their regular beers but think some of the seasonal beers are ok. I haven't been to all of the options listed, but would recommend almost any bar food (brewpub food) above the food here.

                                      1. re: thegirlwholovestoeat

                                        i used to live in salem. food at thatbeer works was consistently better than at the north station location. have only been to the fenway one for beer and to the one in lowell a few times right after they had a very rocky opening.

                                        i like the beers and the food is serviceable.

                                        does the op really want to haul from cambridge to portsmouth with his parents for burgers and beer?

                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                          I will also say that the food and service at the Boston Beer Works on Canal Street is very good. Miles above the food and service at the Fenway location.

                                      2. re: gibberisimo

                                        I like Cambridge Common well enough (and it is certainly a good place to grab a beer after work), but neither CC nor Grafton St are brewpubs (in that they don't make their own beer). CC does have a great beer list, but if the OP just wants pub food and good beer there are certainly better places out there, IMO.

                                      3. If the venue doesn't have to be a brew pub, there is Coda on Columbus Avenue in the South End. They have a good beer selection and the food is outstanding for what is essentially a bar. They serve things like burgers, mac and cheese, calamari, brick chicken, wings, etc. but done exceptionally well. I don't know if you would call it a gastro pub, but pretty darn close.

                                        1. the Cellar! Best pub food in Boston, and on the red line. The Publick house in Brookline is amazing for beer selection and has good food. Atwood's Tavern in East Cambridge is a bit off the T path, but also very good.

                                          1. Although not a brewpub in the literal sense, but for beer and food many like the Publick House in Brookline. Great beer for sure focusing on Belgian styles, but I have never been all that impressed with the food or service myself.

                                            For a brewpub with good food I would recommend taking a trip up to the Porstmouth brewery. I was there on Mother's Day weekend and they had a delicious pan seared scallop small plate that was so delicious, I was tempted to come back for dinner and order two more plates.

                                            CBC can be hit or miss foodwise, so I usually just stick to the sandwiches to minimize the risk to price ratio.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: LStaff

                                              Oh, yeah, forgot about them. I second the Portsmouth rec. Might be the best riced brewpub in the area, and the quality is high for both food and beer.

                                            2. If you are willing to travel a bit, I also recommend Martha's Exchange in Nashua. The beer is very good to excellent, and the food is much more creative/interesting than the usual brewpub fare. The prep is a bit unusual sometimes, but tasty. For instance, I once had a flank steak entree that was creatively prepared and perfectly coked. But they cut it in 1/3" slices, which made it very, very unnecessarily chewy.

                                              1. We have tried Watch City in Waltham and it was pretty good. The beer was very good and food was a step or two above regular pub food.
                                                I will have to try Martha's Exchange though.
                                                ANYTHING good up on the North Shore or in those New Hampshire beach towns??

                                                1. www.atwoodstavern.com

                                                  This is the www for Atwoods in Cambridge. I've never had a bad meal here and its a bit more creative and upscale for pub food. There's a nice table at the front window by a gas fireplace if you can score it. Fabulous tap, bottled and import beer selection. Check the menu...Lobster quesedilla, burgers, oysters, brisket, lamb tips, veggie burgers, and a great mac & cheese with smoked bacon. I much prefer it to the food at most of the aforementioned spots here. I love a good brewpub, but I would pick this tavern anyday. One note....If you must have brewpub, Watch City is the one with the best food IMHO !

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Buddernut

                                                    Atwoods is very good. I always found the previous incarnation at that spot, The Overdraught, to be very good as well.

                                                    1. re: TomH

                                                      any of the beer works (boston, cambridge or salem) are great. The beer is awesome and the food has always been great. Never had a bad steak tip dinner there. good buffalo wings. so so nachos. the other food I have had has been great too, but I usually stick to the steak tips because they rival any place in town. yes, even the Newbridge cafe. If you do go to the boston beer works, however, be weary for red sox games or events at the fleet center. because the place fills up fast.

                                                    2. re: Buddernut

                                                      agreed on Watch City.