HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >

Discussion

Unending hunt for the perfect birthday venue

I know there are lots of posts asking about birthday dinner/party recs, but I guess everyone's looking for something specific and for me that specific something has been elusive...I am hoping the Chowhound gods can help!

I'm looking for a place to have dinner and drinks with friends for my birthday next saturday. Emphasis on the drinks, as some people will just come for that, whereas a few of us will come earlier for dinner too (so preferably a place that does both well). There'll be about 10 of us. We all live in Cambridge, so I want to go some over the river and new, and somewhere I can make a reservation because I hate the stress of waiting around hoping that your friends won't get pissed off you invited them to celebrate your birthday by standing in a line for an hour and a half...

More specifically I am looking for somewhere fun, interesting and most important not corporate seeming! We will be a motley crowd - some of whom only feel comfortable in dive bars, others of whom only feel comfortable in swanky cocktail lounges. As it's my birthday I am putting my tastes first (!) but what I like is, I fear, difficult to find - I like dive-y places that actually serve great drinks, somewhere hip but not what I consider boring hip (ie I do not want to be anywhere one could fit in in a suit...) and somewhere with good food. I know, hard! If anyone has any ideas that would be great. We are willing to go anywhere downtown, South End, North End, even Brookline and Allston. The only place I have regularly been outside Cambridge is Drink, which I like but want something new for my bday.

Oh, and if my above description will really only work for a place in Cambridge (I was thinking Green Street for example) let me know, I can abandon myself to hopefull Cambridge-centricity if absolutely necessary.

Thanks for any tips!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. It sounds like you are describing Silvertone, near Downtown Crossing. Except that they do not accept reservations, they fit basically all of your criteria. Excellent drinks, very good food, an atmosphere that is classy but still a little divey (in which you could dress up or dress more casually and still feel comfortable). Their prices are also very good for some of the better cocktails I have had in the city. Perhaps if you call they could reserve a table for you or at least give you a good sense of when you can expect a table without a long wait. And if you do have a little wait, there is plenty of space to start enjoying your drink.

    1. Drink has plenty of suits, depending when you go, so if you like Drink, just about any bar (except for some upscale hotel bars) will be divey enough...for example, Eastern Standard

      1. Gaslight in the south end would be fun, easy to make a res for 10 people, parking, menu not too pricey. Not sure what their cocktail culture is tho. Kingston Station downtown could accommodate you and has the right vibe but again, not sure of their cocktail making. Your divey friends could bop over to Foley's too.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Joanie

          Tried Kingston Station for cocktails and apps about 10p on a recent Friday night - the truffle-flavored fries with gruyere were awesome, however, the bartender was slow and pretty clueless - my request for a Sazerac was met with a $13 glass of absinthe, which apparently was branded Sazerac - come on, he should have clairfied that when I ordered and commented on the rye and Peychaud's bitters behind the bar upon arrival. I had lost hope in his skills and just kept, and enjoyed, the absinthe but it's not what I wanted upon entering...

          It was also pretty dead then - seems to be more of a downtown lunch/ happy hour kind of spot.

          Silvertone (always good, always crowded), Gaslight (basic cocktails and the special drinks were good the one time I went to the bar there), or Eastern Standard all might fit the needs best (if you don't want to stick with Green Street, which seems most perfect on all fronts except geography).

        2. It doesn't involve crossing the river, but maybe Trina's Starlite Lounge in Somerville? Cocktails for you, a bucket of beers for your more dive-geared friends, a fun atmosphere and pretty much anything goes for attire (though can't say I see too many suits in there).

          3 Replies
          1. re: LeoLioness

            Hungry Mother takes reservations don't they? And are known for some good cocktails, all sorts of people there so that might work too on the Cambridge side (and as the OP mentioned, Green St. would be good for that and take reservations).

            1. re: Joanie

              I think Eastern Standard Kitchen would work pretty well. Bar is great, food choices range from excellent burgers to upscale choices, funky clothes fit in fine even though there are lots of suits, and they'll take reservations for 10. A totally different vibe and funkier might be Privus Lounge in Brighton: the best korean fried chicken in town, very fun bar, and the Kells next door can serve as a spill-over for more bar stuff after dinner.

              1. re: teezeetoo

                Not sure I'd recommend the Kells, and when will it no longer be known as the Kells? Common Ground is more fun, Model and Silhouette for divey.

          2. I love the Union Bar and Grill in the South End. It has such a cool vibe! Drinks are pricey, but inventive and very delicious! For a special birthday celebration, its perfect!

            1 Reply
            1. re: ts44

              Agree with positive comments on Union. Ended up having dinner there this past Sunday (ate at the bar) as Coppa was closed for a private party. Had not been there in a while. The food was very good and the bartender & waitstaff were great. The drink prices were not bad (a martini was $10 if I remember correctly).

            2. I agree with the Gaslight recs. It's not a dive, but it's dark, with lots of wood. I like Eastern Standard a lot, too, but it might be fancier than what you're looking for, and I actually think they make better cocktails at Gaslight than at Eastern Standard as long as you stick to what's on their cocktail menu. It's a perfect place for having dinner in the dining room (they also serve the full menu in the bar area which even has some booths), then moving to the bar area for drinks/snacks/dessert.

              2 Replies
              1. re: pollystyrene

                At a recent trip to Gaslight we thought the cocktails outstanding, the oysters very fresh, rest of the food solid though somewhat boring and the service inattentive and a tad snooty. Except the manager was great when someone had to send something back. The waiter was unsure if anything could be done but the manager made everything right. The room is fantastic -- feels great.

                1. re: Duster17

                  Bummer about the snoot. When I ate at the bar last weekend, our server, Drew, was one of the best I've had anywhere (and the place was slammed), so much so that I complimented him on it. Another bartender that night was aloof, but good. The time before that, our waiter was overly solicitous, but did find my friend a cigarette she was jonesin' for so she could have a smoke outside.

              2. It may be a little out of the way but Reagle Beagle in Brookline just opened a few months ago and it sounds just like what you're looking for. Great, funky cocktails, very good food, hipster scene (no suits), but all in all pretty casual. I'm not sure if they take reservations byt check out their website, I would think they would.

                1 Reply
                1. re: erak01

                  They take a few reservations by phone. That's what they told me when I called and inquired. They want to save some tables for walk-ins.