The Drunkard’s Guide to Davis Square

I’ve lived in or near Davis Square for seven years or so now. People tell me it’s the place to be. I don’t really see it any more, but I guess that’s ok. I’m still here more because I’m lazy than because I particularly like it.

You, however, are likely one of those people who hear about Davis and think it’s an exciting place to go out for food and drinks. You’re mostly wrong, but whatever. I know the scene and I’m about to school your ass on Somerville’s hippest (hey, it’s relative) neighborhood. Finally, my alcoholism and laziness have joined forces for the greater good!

Save It for the Third Date

Posto has easily the best food in the square. Pizza, pasta, a supposedly impressive wine collection–it’s a great date spot, but it doesn’t have much of a bar scene.

Spoke Wine Bar is small, cozy, and oddly classy in a way that isn’t obnoxiously pretentious. I mean, yeah, it’s still kind of pretentious, but it’s tolerable. Spoke’s solid menu of small plates and surprisingly decent beer list make it a good place to stop for a snack. If you’re a single dude, don’t go there by yourself unless you’re in the mood to have an array of yuppie couples look down at you and lonely cat ladies ogle you like you’re their latest knitting project.

Too Nice for You

Everything at Saloon just flat out costs too much. You won’t have a bad meal, but it’s not the sort of place you just drop into randomly. Lack of cellular service (it’s in the basement) is a huge negative.

The Rosebud American Kitchen and Grill is a place I typically avoid on principle. It fills a space that used to be a diner and a semi-attached dive bar. A recent remodel turned it into just another cookie-cutter “nice” restaurant with overpriced entrees and $12 cocktails that just happens to have an interesting front facade–in other words, it’s a total waste of a perfectly good diner car. The food’s good, though, and it’s worth stopping in for the pie alone.

Only If You’re Watching the Game

The Joshua Tree is the neighborhood’s premiere sports bar. Granted, choosing the best sports bar in Davis is kind of like picking out your favorite toenail, but whatever. It does the job. Just make sure you’re out of there before the Tufts rush around 10 on Friday and Saturday nights.

Just Right

Do yourself a favor and hit the Painted Burro. Some of the entrees are a little expensive for what they are, but you can’t go wrong with a couple tacos and a margarita. They’ve also got quality karaoke on Tuesday nights.

Five Horses fills the neighborhood’s beer bar niche. The food can be very hit or miss, but they’ve got good tater tots and a bigger beer list than anywhere else in town. Their regular door guy might just be the nicest person in Somerville.

Just Don’t

Orleans is that place you go when you’re over thirty and want to hang out with other people your own age. Then you go to Orleans and realize it sucks so you head to Sligo Pub and hope everybody in there thinks you’re 24.

Avoid The Foundry unless you’re an attractive lady who can get both the bartenders’ attention and a few bucks off the inflated tab. The service sucks otherwise and the food and drinks don’t make up for it. They have good bread and butter, if that’s any consolation. Please don’t go just for the bread and butter.

The King

Want some cheap booze with no bullshit? Itching to play some Buck Hunter? Don’t care about the quality of the pisser? Sligo Pub is perfect for you. Don’t bank on food unless you grab a burrito at Anna’s on your way. Rising rent prices and an ongoing invasion of stuck up douche bags is ruining the neighborhood, but there’s still one last bastion of High Life-pounding,  Fireball-shooting sanity in Davis Square.

Update: The Places I Missed in My First Draft

Guess you know how I feel about this spots, huh?

The Burren can be fun if you really, really want to slum it with a room full of Tufts kids dancing to reasonably well-covered hits of the 80s and 90s. Otherwise it’s nothing special.

Redbones and specifically its basement level, Underbones, would’ve been in consideration for the Just Right section but probably wouldn’t have made it. The beer selection’s top notch, but it’s a dark, cramped space that tends to get a little too crowded with the sort of amateurs who don’t do well in dark, cramped spaces. Most people like the food, but I’ve never been a fan.

Flatbread Company belongs in the date spot category with an asterisk. The food’s solid and it’s all made from locally sourced ingredients. The beer list is loaded with brews from the area and they make some fun cocktails. And there’s bowling! Two things hold it back a bit for me, though, both related to said bowling. First off, it’s  far too loud. Secondly, nothing is more disappointing than gearing up for an evening of candlepin and finding out there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get a lane before closing time. When this place gets busy–which is often–it’s not worth the wait.

Scott Colby’s Guide to Online Dating, Part 1: Choosing a Site

I’ve done a lot of online dating on and off over the course of the last five years, to varying degrees of success.  I’ve been around the block a few times, son, and I’ve taken it upon myself to drop some knowledge on your ass in this however-many-parts-I-feel-like series.

Every online dating service is a little different. Any semi-literate bonehead can read an FAQ section to learn about a service’s feature set, but none of that carefully cultivated marketing copy will provide even the slightest clue about the most important thing to know about what you’re about to get into: the crowd, and specifically their expectations of the sort of people they’re going to meet. It doesn’t matter how many lines of code go into a matching algorithm if the people with whom it’s trying to pair you just ain’t your scene and vice versa.

So here’s the skinny. Start at the top of this list and work your way down until you find a fit.

  • Tinder is all you need if you’re really, really ridiculously good looking and capable of pulling compelling, humorous conversation out of your ass with little in the way of context to assist you. Fuck you.
  • Hinge works by attempting to match you with friends of your Facebook friends. It works well if you’re good looking and have lots of reputable pals. If all of your friends are scumbags and they’re friends with more scumbags, guess what happens. Although you’re probably a scumbag too in that scenario, so maybe this one’s perfect.
  • Do you like paying too much money to talk to spoiled Cape girls via a website with a UX design built by some intern who wasn’t invited back for a second semester? Match.com is definitely for you, especially if you like people who don’t roll their eyes at you when you talk about your “work hard, play hard!” lifestyle. I used to think I wanted to find a girl with a boat. Thanks to this service, I’ve had dates with several nautically inclined women. Now I know I really don’t want to go out with a girl with a boat. Thanks, Match.com!
  • eHarmony is great if you like paying out the ass to make lists of things. It has no other redeeming features, unless maybe you really like forest green.
  • Specialist sites like Christian Mingle, JDate, and Ashley Madison belong in this tier. I like to think this is the first time in Internet history that Jesus, Hannukah, and marital infidelity have been lumped together in one group, but I guarantee there’s erotic fan fiction about JC spinning the ol’ dreidel with some hot housewife from Aramithea out there somewhere. Don’t worry: my spot in hell was guaranteed long before I ever thought of this paragraph.
  • If you’ve made it this far, congratulations: you’re stuck with OkCupid, that hive of scum and villainy that makes Mos Eisley spaceport look like a bastion of learning and culture. It’s Faneuil Hall on a Saturday night except surrounded by a weird circle of crunchy hippies endlessly debating whether they want to dive into the debauchery.

Now that you’ve got a site, sign your ass up, build a profile, and watch the potential sweet lovin’ roll on into your inbox. What’s that? You don’t know how to build a profile? I can help with that too! Stay tuned for part two of this series, Building the Perfect Profile, coming next time or whenever the fuck I feel like it. Whichever comes first.

I Hope The Red Sox Don’t Sign Pablo Sandoval Because Then We’ll Have To Deal With Shit Like This

The Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants are reportedly the favorites to sign slugging third baseman Pablo Sandoval. I love Pablo Sandoval. He’s built like a fire hydrant that eats a box of donuts every four hours, but he’s surprisingly deft with the glove, he’s got a bazooka for an arm, and he’ll swing at pretty much anything–and usually hit it. Plus, he’s got a fantastic nickname: Kung Fu Panda.

It’s that nickname that makes me wary. Sure, it’s funky and cool and kind of cute…but just imagine what would happen if the chuckleheads at NESN got a hold of it. We’re talking about the evil masterminds behind the Wally Wave and those graphics that tell everybody Daniel Nava’s favorite restaurant is the Cheesecake Factory. Giving them a player nicknamed Kung Fu Panda is like handing them an incantation that’ll open up a portal to the deepest realms of hell. It’d probably go something like this…

Don Orsillo: Coming up to the plate…the Kung Fu Panda.
Jerry Remy: What did you say, Don? Something about Chinese food?
Orsillo: That’s Pablo Sandoval’s nickname: Kung Fu Panda.
Remy: Really? When I was playing guys had nicknames like Spike or Smoky.
Orsillo: It’s a new day, Jerry. Second basemen standing in right field, instant replay, players named for cartoons.
Remy: What cahtoon?
Orsillo: It’s called Kung Fu Panda. Your grandchildren haven’t made you watch it?
RemyI don’t know. I usually fall asleep. Is that the one with the fish?
Orsillo: No. He’s a panda, and he learns kung fu.
Remy: That’s like karate, right?
Orsillo: Kind of, Jerry. They’re both martial arts.
Remy: So why do they call him Kung Fu Panda?
Orsillo: Well, I bet it’s because he eats a lot of eucalyptus, like a panda. But now, let’s throw it down to Gary Striewski with a special report. Gary?
Gary: Thanks, Don. Panda-monium is sweeping Red Sox Nation. Today, NESN and Pablo Sandoval…well, we helped him make a new friend. Check this out!

Cue footage of Pablo Sandoval and Wally at Franklin Park Zoo with an actual panda. Wally offers the panda a high five and it stares at him blankly in response. Sandoval smiles awkwardly like he thinks he shorted.

Gary: Looks like the pandas had a great time! Back to you, Don!
Orsillo: Thanks, Gary. I almost couldn’t tell them apart!
Remy: The green one was Wally, Don.
Orsillo: I’ve just been told we made an error earlier. Pandas do not eat eucalyptus. They eat bamboo. Thanks to Twitter user @RedSoxSweetie for helping us out. Who knew?
Remy: Bamboo? I had that in a salad once out in Pittsburgh. You think Joseph Abboud’s ever dressed a panda, Don?

…and so on and so forth until your humble narrator hangs himself from the back porch with his David Ortiz jersey. So please, Mr. Sandoval, stay in San Francisco.

The Top Four Places in the Boston Area to Get Loaded Fast

Maybe you had a bad day at work. Maybe you’re having relationship or lack-of-a-relationship issues. Maybe it’s just Tuesday. Maybe all those Avril Lavigne songs you downloaded aren’t cheering you up like you used. Maybe–like your handsome narrator–you refuse to go to the God damn grocery store sober. Whatever the reason, sometimes you just need to get shithoused as quickly as possible. If you’re in the Boston area, I can help with that.

4. The Newtowne Grill
Order a mixed drink. Make it a double. Gaze in slack jawed wonder–and a little bit of fear–as the no-nonsense bartender fills your glass three quarters of the way up with booze and spritzes it with a mixer or two. Settle back, buy a Keno ticket, and discuss whatever game’s on the TV with some crusty drunk. Pray to whatever deity, force, or spirit you think might be listening that you don’t wake up next to any of the clientele the next morning.  Fun facts: the food here’s pretty good for the price and this may be the only bar in the 617 where it’s socially acceptable to wear your favorite Looney Tunes sweatshirt.

3. Rudy’s
If you really want to get trashed, don’t waste your time or your money in Davis Square. Walk the extra ten minutes to this old standby in Teele and bomb a couple margaritas. The majority of their house margs are under ten dollars. If you want to pace yourself a little, the hearty food will easily absorb about a margarita and a half.

2. Zuma
Let’s face it: going out for an after work drink downtown absolutely sucks, especially on a Thursday or Friday night. Seems like you’re going to be surrounded by business casual douche bags with portfolios and plastic skanks trying to get into those portfolios regardless of where you go. Luckily, there’s one fantastic exception to this rule: Zuma. Located in the basement of a building beside Faneuil Hall, most people don’t even realize it’s there. Hope you don’t mind tasting the tequila in your margaritas.

1. The Friendly Toast
Take two Deaths on the Installment Plan and thank me later. It tastes like a chocolate milkshake. It kicks like you’ve got an intravenous feed pouring liquor straight into your bloodstream. If you get a table, make sure you ask not to sit next to the creepy moving baby on the rocking horse.

Top Chef’s Boston Season Could Be A Lot Better

Top Chef’s latest season takes place in Boston, Massachusetts. Challenges so far have involved all sorts of touristy garbage, like cooking in Cheers and using “One if by land, two if by sea” as a means of determining ingredients.

I am not impressed. We need to fix this atrocity immediately and use the power of televised cooking competitions to show off the real Boston with the following challenges:

  • Cooking in a Dunkin’ Donuts using only the ingredients and equipment inside. It worked for Fred the Baker, so some sous chef with years of training should have no problem whipping up a delicious coq au vain in there. Winner gets $500 in Dunkin gift cards.
  • Cooking using only the ingredients the competitors can find on the Orange Line. No, I don’t mean in stores near Orange Line stops. I mean in the damn trains themselves. Winner gets to abandon one other competitor outside the station of his or her choice.
  • Each chef gets assigned a theme based on one of Route 1’s lovely establishments. Because nothing says fine cuisine like the Kowloon, Hooters, or the Golden Banana. Winner gets a mai tai and a Keno quick pick.
  • The cast is divided into teams of three. Each team gets a sausage cart and spot in Faneuil Hall at two A.M on a Saturday night. Winning team gets a private party at Coogan’s with bottomless Sam Light.
  • Cooking using only the ingredients Donnie Wahlberg was able to steal from Market Basket. Winner gets a parking spot in Southie.

Get Me Out of Here

Normally I have no problem being in a bar by myself. In fact, I quite enjoy it. Reading while nursing a beer or a cocktail with the hum of a busy pub around me is one of my favorite things. Yeah, I’m strange.

Saturday night, though, I encountered a solo bar situation that made me downright uncomfortable. I’d been sick for a few days, and I was tired of being sick so I pretended I wasn’t and headed for the closest pub, P.J. Ryan’s. The place was packed. I decided to walk back along Holland toward Davis Square until I found a place that wasn’t.

The next place I passed wound up being my ultimate destination: Spoke. It’s a classy little wine and tapas bar I’ve heard nothing but good things about. I hadn’t been in for food before because I tend to forget that entire block exists.

The hostess gave me a bit of a stink eye when I walked in. I wasn’t exactly dressed for the occasion – I might be the first person who’s ever strolled in there wearing a Patriots hat and a pair of sneakers. I ignored her, found a spot at the bar, and settled in with a cocktail, an order of duck meatballs, and my Kindle. Everything was very good and the service was attentive, but I couldn’t shake the feeling I didn’t belong.

The clientele consisted entirely of couples on dates or lonely middle-aged women with three cats and several knitting projects sheepishly looking for dates. I scanned the room and saw nothing but people who looked back at me in confusion. I don’t have a vagina or any knitting needles, so my presence made no sense. I’ve never been so cognizant of not fitting in somewhere.

I bailed after one drink.  I’ll probably try Spoke again on some random Monday or Tuesday, sans hat and with nicer shoes. The food alone is worth giving it another chance. I can’t believe this is what Somerville is turning into.

I Love the Royals/I Hate the Royals

The Kansas City Royals are headed to the World Series. Had you told me that at the beginning of the season, I probably would’ve asked you if you knew they weren’t in the National League. They had the look of a good-but-not-great ball club, the sort that might sneak into the Wild Card and then get swept in the first round. Except that didn’t happen, and the entire Kansas City metroplex (you know, all the way out to Farmer Johnson’s grain silo) is busy singing that song Lorde wrote about George Brett. Yeah, that’s a thing.

I don’t remember the last time I was this conflicted about a baseball team. Normally I’m quick to lump every club into the league into one of two easy to define bins: They’re Fucking Awesome! and Shit, They Suck!  The Royals are somewhere in the middle for me. Why am I overthinking this so badly? Well…

I love the Royals because they’re a small market team that built a championship caliber squad The Right Way: by developing talent from within, by making smart trades, and by not breaking the bank in free agency.

I hate the Royals because their manager is basically a humanoid cauliflower who blew more important decisions this year than your average drunk girl on Tinder.

I love the Royals because their designated hitter is nicknamed Country Breakfast.

I hate the Royals because they rely so heavily on base running and small ball.

I love the Royals because Alex Gordon is basically what a bunch of brilliant scientists would cook up if they were told “make the perfect left fielder.”

I hate the Royals because Alex Gordon bats sixth.  He racked up a .286 Tav and 5.5 WARP in the regular season. The five guys hitting ahead of him right now, in order: .255 and 2.5, .267 and 1.0, .269 and 2.9, .262 and 1.4, .256 and 0.0. Remember what I said about that humanoid cauliflower?

I love the Royals because third baseman Mike Moustakas,  a supposed washout of a former top prospect, has completely revitalized himself and started cranking homers like it’s going out of style.

I hate the Royals because I own Mike Moustakas in a keeper fantasy baseball league and he’s totally going to go bust after I spend too much of my budget to keep him around.

I love the Royals because Yordano Ventura reminds me of a young Pedro Martinez and they have waterfalls in centerfield.

I hate the Royals because  I can’t help wondering how they would’ve dealt with an Athletics team with its rotation intact and Yoenis Cespedes in the middle of its batting order, a Tigers squad that still had Doug Fister, Drew Smyly, Austin Jackson, and Jose Iglesias, and an Orioles club not playing a bunch of ham-n-eggers where Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, and Manny Machado should’ve been.

I love the Royals because they’re making this tough for me.

I hate the Royals because they’re making this tough for me.

So fuck the Royals. This is too hard. Go National League.

 

Stop Messing with Chicken and Waffles

Seriously. All you have to do is take some goddamn fried chicken, put it on a great big motherfucking waffle, and cover those bitches in enough syrup and butter to make a lumberjack cry. That’s it. Maybe you put some hot sauce on the side. If you try to do more than this, you are doing it wrong. Ergo, lots of restaurants are doing it wrong and their villainy must be stopped.

If you’re trying to “make it your own,” you obviously need to learn humility and how to recognize perfection. You’re probably one of those people who’s never satisfied. Stop it.

If you’re trying to “jazz it up,” I can tell you don’t have much luck on Tinder and no one’s responded to your ad in the casual encounters section of Craig’s List.

If you’re trying to “put a new spin on an old favorite,” you need to put down the pomegranate puree and back away slowly so no one gets hurt.

If you’re “reinventing a classic,” you’re messing with the balance of the Force and the Jedi will be arriving soon to stop your Dark Side nonsense before it spreads. The last thing the galaxy needs is the return of Darth Waffles.

Waffles. Fried chicken. Syrup. Butter. That’s all it takes. And for chrissakes put a wet nap on the damn plate.

 

 

 

I Want to Like the New Rosebud

Davis Square’s got a new place to eat and get loaded. The Rosebud American Kitchen opened a week and a half and ago in the space formerly occupied by the Rosebud Diner and the Rosebud Bar & Grill, merging the dining car out front with the bigger room in the back. It’s owned and operated by the same crew responsible for the square’s two best establishments, Posto and the Painted Burro.

It’s a nice place. The food and drinks are perfectly fine and the beer list is moderately interesting.  Entrees and cocktails are a little on the pricy side but not out of line for the neighborhood and the sandwiches are surprisingly affordable. The pisser’s nice and clean. There’s just one thing keeping me from giving the place the Scott Colby Seal of Alcoholic Approval: the location.

The problem here that I can’t quite get over is the fact that despite its interesting exterior, the Rosebud really isn’t any different from the other restaurants in Davis Square. It’s like someone shoved Orleans, Five Horses, Saloon, or the Foundry into an old diner. It makes no sense. With an exterior that cool, the inside really ought to be the most fun, kitschy place in the neighborhood. Instead, it’s just boring like everything else in the square.

This is a missed opportunity, doubly so given that Davis Square’s nightlife absolutely sucks. I know; I live there. When Sligo’s your neighborhood’s best option for an entertaining Saturday night adult beverage, your neighborhood has issues. Davis is supposed to be one of the most eclectic, fun parts of the greater Boston area – so why do Somerville residents have to go all the way into Cambridge to get to bars that fit that description? Why isn’t there a Charlie’s or a Friendly Toast or a State Park in Davis Square?

I’ll probably end up hanging out in the Rosebud regularly anyway, but I don’t have to like it. There’s a pie list. And it’s good. But that’s small consolation.

Report on MBTA Savings Missed a Few Things

According to the American Public Transportation Association’s August Transit Savings Report, an individual in a two-person Boston household can save $13,045 a year by using the MBTA and living with one less car. These numbers are based on savings in gas, parking, insurance, and the like.

This is obviously shoddy science and flat out wrong. The savings were calculated primarily using the price of a monthly transit pass. This math obviously fails to account for the hidden costs of riding the MBTA:

  • $722 a year in dry cleaning bills. Because you sat in gum. Or the air conditioner broke on a 90 degree day in July. Or some wildebeest wedged himself into the seat beside you and the thigh fat that wound up in your lap oozed cottage cheese all over your khakis.
  • $513 a year in soap and hand sanitizer. See above. Plus the fact that you never know what the hobos and BU kids have excreted all over the hand holds.
  • $2549 a year in additional liquor. Because the goddamn red line was late for the third time this week. Or there was a switching problem at Park Street and hitting up the Beantown Pub for a few pints sounded more fun than standing on a platform jammed with angry people in their business casual best.
  • $827.87 a year in entertainment costs. You’ll want to have a book with you for when you inevitably get stuck between Central and Harvard for half a fucking hour.
  • $1200 a year in medical costs. Because packed buses and trains are basically big metal petri dishes on wheels during flu season. Plus you never know when some jerk is going to use a baby carriage as a battering ram.
  • Fuck it, tack on yet another $1000 for booze. Because you never know when regular service is going to be replaced by a fucking shuttle bus. Make sure you budget for it.
  • $623 a year in taxi costs. Because sometimes you don’t want to have to take a bus to a train to another fucking bus. And sometimes you have to get to Jamaica Plain. And sometimes the bus just doesn’t show up.
  • $45 a year in shoe laces. It touched the floor of the orange line? Burn it.
  • $26.33 a year to give to Keytar Bear. Face it, we all get sucked in eventually.

Well, well, well – doesn’t that put a serious dent in our supposed savings? Those additional costs total $7506.20, which knocks the real savings down to $5538.80. I can’t believe they screwed this one up. It’s just basic math.