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20 Bars in Cambridge I would go to BEFORE Cuchi Cuchi

This came up on another thread. I am not a fan of any of the places owned by folks related to Dali, and Cuchi Cuchi is on that list. The whole vibe is too, well Cuchi Cuchi...

20 Bars in Cambridge I would go to BEFORE Cuchi Cuchi (in no particular order) and I am sure I am forgetting a few.... By the way, quite a few of these have decent to excellent food.

Temple Bar
Grafton St (pours are skimpy, food is lame, but the location can't be beat)
Charlie's Garden
Plough and Starrs
The Cellar
Miracle of Science
Chez Henri
West Side Lounge
Hungry Mother Cambridge
East Coast Grill
Flat Top Johnny's
Craigie on Main
Thirsty Scholar
The Muddy Charles
Green Street
The Cantab
Rendezvous (more about the food, but what a nice mellow bar)
Middle East
Phoenix Landing
The Enormous Room
The Field
Tavern on the Square
The Peoples' Republic
The Bar in the Lower Part of the Charles Hotel (name?)
Cambridge Common
Frog Bar or whatever it's called in Porter Sq.

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  1. I hate how you always hold back your true feelings.... ;)

    1. You really must hate Cuchi Cuchi if you would go to Grafton Street, The Cellar, Flat Top Johnny's, The Thirsty Scholar, Asgard, Tavern on the Square, or Peoples' Republik first. I dislike all of those places as bars (FTJ's is not a terrible pool hall). My big complaint with Cuchi Cuchi is that the bar is generally too crowded to be comfortable.

      Toad and Noir are the two places whose names you missed, or as I like to say, Toad's and Noir's. I'm glad you didn't include Tommy Doyle's on that list.


      5 Replies
      1. re: MC Slim JB

        What don't you like about the Cellar?

        1. re: Joanie

          I love Garden at the Cellar: great food, strong bartending. I do not like the downstairs bar, mainly the crowd. Reminds me of a bad college bar. I had a friend who loved it, dragged me there often. I haven't been back since he moved away.


          1. re: MC Slim JB

            The Cellar is another place which varies wildly depending on the day/time of day. I tend to prefer quiet townie kind of spots - both the Peoples Republik & Cellar are like that at some times, but at other times of the week turn into jam packed college type hangouts.

            1. re: jgg13

              I have never had a bad experience at the Cellar and certainly never thought of it as a collegey bar. I have a severe negative reaction to fratty bars and would never classify it as such. It does have its share of grad students, but hey, I am a grad student. I wouldn't mind if the TV wasn't so large, but otherwise it isn't a bad place to get a relatively cheap drink (though nothing comes close to the Druid, which might be the perfect bar).

              1. re: hckybg

                Have to agree, hckybg. Aside from the TV, which could go altogether, it is not a bad joint.

                And they do a mean pour of Guinness.

      2. Noir and Toad are the names. Christopher's is related to the toad but does have a bar too.

        You don't have Newtowne or Paddy's Lunch. Cambridge Brewing Company should be included although food is never a given. Asgard is hitting pretty low! Some that you didn't mention are Spirit and Friendly Toast (its a bit early to tell but they were planning on extending the hours). Also the Courtside (karaoke and cheap plates), East Side Bar & Grill (ok food, but inconsistent grilling and skimpy pizza toppings, cosmos, furry creatures, and harpoon), plus a no-food dive bar on Warren with a classic bar name (Mac's, Jimmie's???).

        A few bars which have decent food and beer. Atwood's on Cambridge St. The bar at Portugalia is worth a big mention (Sunset also has a bar side, but its more basic). I am mixed on Midwest Grill, but you can get less expensive plates in the bar (chopped churrasco with fried yucca, or chicken hearts with yucca) and its a decent place to watch games, I just wish they kept the Buzzards' Bay lager. Also on Cambridge street Pug's has decent food at lunch time and sometimes on weekends, but does not have a full kitchen.

        2 Replies
        1. re: itaunas

          Itaunas you never fail to come up with 3-4 places for me to try out. Dang.

          1. It would have been fine with you just saying you despise Cuchi Cuchi. You didn't have to struggle to come up with a long list of bars just to name 20 others. Especially since you must not be a regular at the Frog Bar...

            And the Thirsty Scholar is in Somerville. So you can replace that with the patio bar at Legal Sea Foods in Harvard Sq. or Whitney's or Daedalus or the Lizard Lounge (if you don't want to count that with the Common) or Harvest or Pug's or...

            Is it noon yet, because listing all of Cambridge's bars is making me thirsty.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

              There were actually 31 on my list.

              OK confession time, maybe I'd go to Cuchi Cuchi BEFORE Asgard (nevermind the name makes me think of some strange medieval armor for protecting my tuchas).

              To MCSlim above of the one's you mentioned I actually kind of like: Grafton Street, The Thirsty Scholar, and Peoples' Republik all three strictly as bars. I will add that the bar tenders at Grafton are mostly soul-less twits who short pour you every single time.

              1. re: StriperGuy

                With the Peoples Republik, it is good to keep in mind that it changes drastically based on the day/time of day. midnight on a weekend is a much different vibe than 7:30pm on a weeknight.

                1. re: jgg13

                  It is actually a great place to drink during the day time, before the descent of the d-bags.

                  1. re: elbev

                    Agreed 100%. Will note though that this time of year the descent happens more frequently. Once school starts really cranking up it goes back to normal.

            2. I love River Gods in Cambridge.

              1 Reply
                1. Since I prompted this thread in another discussion, at least I should defend Cuchi Cuchi's honor.

                  It is over the top and obviously not for some people, but when not ridiculously packed the bar area in particular can be a warm and beautiful space. And I find it unique for the area, meaning that it is not simply a lot of heavy wood in the classic pub style or sparse and metallic in the Miracle of Science/Cambridge 1/Drink style. You may hate it, but it has its own character.

                  While the bartending skills can be hit or miss, they were serving classic cocktails alongside the fruit muddled ones back when Green Street still had live Latin music and the B-Side was pretty much the only other such game in town. And even their fruity drinks were often classically inspired. The "Sugar Daddy from Miami" was described to me by a bartender as a cross between a Godfather and a Bronx--again, long before the cocktail scene took off in this area.

                  And the small plates provide bar food options beyond the fried and greasy.

                  I'm not saying it is the best bar in Cambridge, but I certainly would rank it higher than many on that list.

                  6 Replies
                    1. re: StriperGuy

                      Let us agree on disagreeing about Cuchi Cuchi. But perhaps we can agree that the state of drinking in Cambridge is good?

                      Looking at your list, I have to think that if I had to choose only one neighborhood/city in the area to drink in, Cambridge would be it.

                        1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

                          But Cambridge isn't a neighborhood as Boston isn't. I think we could come up with a great list of 20 all over Boston. But if you narrow it down to Central Sq. you get a ton of options.

                          1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

                            I do have fun being a curmudgeon and Cuchi Cuchi is such an easy target ;-).

                        2. re: Canadian Tuxedo

                          I am glad that you posted, as I was going to suggest that you bring over you comments from the other thread. Striper isn't necessarily saying the other bars are better, just he would rather go to 20 others than Cuchi and that was what he was challenged on.

                          Cuchi Cuchi turns me off as an evening destination (even at Dali the hostess doesn't accost you when going to the bar, but here instead of arranging seats with the bartender they made me go through them -- God forbid one couple scoot down one stool w/o permission of the hostess! :-), but when Green Street was in limbo I went several times for drinks only after closing/cleanup elsewhere. In that situation the bartenders were unobtrusive, but knowlegeable (and the hostess gone), plus you could sit and actually chat. I wouldn't put it in the same league as classic after-closing places like Charlies or Casablanca, but it was a lot better than the alternatives -- the Asgard is lame,Grafton good but no chance of talking, ditto Middle East.

                        3. What's wrong, pumpkin, go on a bad date there?

                          There's actually nothing wrong with their food or their cocktails, except for being overpriced. Plus, their muddled drinks are actually quite tasty. I can't say the same for some of the places on this list.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: gini

                            It's the vibe, it's all about the vibe.

                            Date, what's a date? I am huddled here in the priory with the the other Trappist monks making jam, weaving linen from flax, and solemnly contemplating my spiritual path...

                            1. re: StriperGuy

                              Nice tonsure. Why don't you work on some fine Belgian brews for the rest of us then?

                          2. Didn't see Central Kitchen on there

                            1. Having never been to Asgard, I have noticed some hating going on by multiple posters. What's the source of the suckage? Food? Crowd? Bartendering? Specifics people!

                              5 Replies
                                1. re: jgg13

                                  I would say food, and decor and overall vibe, place is just kinda big and lame.

                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                    It always struck me as the sort of place that goes out it's way to be mediocre. "We're just gonna slap some stuff together that won't offend anyone, make it a big space so we can pack in some large groups, and you know they'll come". Tavern in the Square suffers the same problem, but ends up being better than Asgard.

                                    I actually kind of liked the Austin Whateveritis that the Asgard replaced. Yeah, it wasn't very good, but at least it provided a niche that's not super common around here (chi-chis style crappy tex-mex) as opposed to a niche that *is* super common around here (crappy, mediocre faux irish bar)

                                    1. re: jgg13

                                      Well said across the board and with regard to TITS (yeoch) and the Asgard pre-incarnation.

                                      1. re: jgg13

                                        Gawd don't bring up a sore subject with B - he bemoans the loss of Austin Grill every time we are in the area (which is quite often since I work over there). He went to UT-Austin for grad school.

                                        That aside, I find the beer lines at the Asgard really nasty. But, man, they do pour their wines generously (we hold many company beer hours there since it's a big enough space). Food is positively forgettable.

                                2. Y'all forgot to add The Thirsty Ear to yer list of dives.

                                  1. SG, is there anywhere in Cambridge you would *not* rather go to before CC?

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: elbev

                                      Hmmmm, good question. I am not particularly fond of the following:

                                      The bar at Henrietta's Table
                                      John Harvard
                                      Red Line
                                      Forest Cafe (not sure why but just not my vibe).

                                      Whew, I came up with a couple. ;-)

                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                        Red Line is a place on my list as well
                                        I would go to Cuchi Cuchi before Middlesex

                                        (There are others, but that would require thinking, middlesex just popped in my head)