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Boston Gay Bars Guide - Best Boston Gay Nightlife

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Steeped in history, known for its many pedestrian-friendly charming neighborhoods, and packed with college students, Boston may not have a huge number of gay bars, but it does have a nice variety - a mix of neighborhood pubs, dance bars, and inviting lounges tucked inside trendy restaurants (mostly in the South End, and most of these drawing a mixed gay/straight crowd).

In addition to the dedicated gay establishments listed in this section, Boston has a number of usually mainstream clubs that have weekly or monthly gay nights, such as Epic Saturdays at House of Blues, Glamlife Thursdays at Estate, Queer Fridays at Guilt, and Hot Mess Sundays at UnderBar. You'll find a number of other inviting gay bars just an hour south of Boston in Providence - here's the Providence Gay Nightlife Guide.

Boston Gay Bar Guide - continued on Page 2

1. The Alley - gay bar

photo by Andrew Collins
Ostensibly Boston's favorite gay bear hangout, this cozy and friendly spot down a narrow alley tends to draw a somewhat eclectic crowd, in part because it's the only gay bar downtown. The Alley (14 Pi Alley, 617-263-1449) is on the little pedestrian lane between CVS and Dunkin' Donuts, at 275 Washington Street, or if you're coming from Court Street, walk south down Court Square alley, or if you're coming from School Street, turn up the narrow alley beside Starbucks. There are several ways to get here - it can just be a little tricky to find the place. The Alley has bear parties every Saturday (including "UnderBear" the first Saturday of the month), and there's also pool and karaoke some evenings.

2. Boston Eagle - gay bar

photo by Andrew Collins
The South End's own delightfully raffish, uncomfortably cozy, yet undeniably festive Boston Eagle (520 Tremont St., 617-542-4494) could be called the "gay Cheers" of Boston. The smallish space serving cheap (and strong) drinks and with a pool table can get mightily cruisy toward the end of an evening, when both locals and tourists on the make congregate to see who's around. Like other Eagle bars, this one had something of a leather following back in the day, but now it draws a varied, mostly male crowd of all ages. It's just down Tremont a short way from Emilio's Subs, a good bet for a late snack.

3. Club Cafe - gay bar

photo by Andrew Collins
Perhaps no gay bar in Boston is more popular than Club Cafe Lounge & Video Bar (209 Columbus Ave., 617-536-0966), which consists of a loud, popular, cruise-y, and bustling gay club; a more relaxed video lounge; and an adjacent restaurant that's a favorite gay-date venue, serving very tasty contemporary American food. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays tend to be the busiest nights in the video bar, which pulls in a generally preppy, professional bunch of guys. In the lounge, which is open nightly, you'll find a quieter ambience. If you're in town looking to meet locals, and you can stand the occasionally cliquey vibe in the video bar, Club Cafe is a must for gay-bar-hoppers. It's around the corner from the many gay-friendly establishments in the South End, such as Fritz gay sports bar at the Chandler Inn Hotel.

4. Cuffs at the Back Bay Hotel - mixed bar

photo by Andrew Collins
Although the name of this trendy Irish pub and restaurant in the Back Bay Hotel may sound a bit like a leather-and-uniform gay bar, Cuffs (350 Stuart St., 617-266-7200) is actually named for its having once served as a police station. Because it's just around the corner from Club Cafe and near other GLBT-popular hangouts in the nearby South End, this elegant little subterranean lounge warmed by a fireplace and popular for its patio during the warmer months draws its share of gays and lesbians. It's a relaxing, inviting place to knock back a few pints of ale after work, and the kitchen serves first-rate modern Irish and American fare, including fish-and-chips, flatbread pizzas, and cheese and charcuterie platters.

5. DBar - gay bar/restaurant

photo by Andrew Collins
You'll need to drive 3 or 4 miles south to Dorchester to reach swanky DBar (1236 Dorchester Ave., 617-265-4490), a mixed gay-straight supper club and lounge that serves superb French-inspired comfort food at dinner before morphing into chichi cocktail venue later in the evenings. Tuesday, featuring show tunes, are especially popular with the gay set, but there's always a good mix of folks in here, and lesbians and gays of all ages will feel right at home. The transformation of what had been an old-school Irish bar into DBar a few years ago reflects overall changes to this working-class stronghold of Irish immigrants (Dorchester is perhaps most famous in pop culture as the hometown of Marky Mark and New Kids on the Block). In more recent times, Dorchester has seen an influx of African American, Latinos, and Asians, as well as growing numbers of gays and lesbians.

6. Delux Cafe - restaurant

photo by Andrew Collins
Tiny, offbeat, and easily missed if you just happen by its nondescript exterior, Delux Cafe (100 Chandler St., 617-338-5258) has become a stalwart of the South End dining and cocktail scene. Hipsters, both gay and straight, favorite this offbeat spot for its reliably inventive comfort food, buzzing bar scene, and late hours (it's open till 1 am). It's a short walk from such South End gay nightspots as the Boston Eagle, Club Cafe, and Fritz.

7. Franklin Cafe - restaurant

photo by Andrew Collins
A much loved, quintessential South End restaurant with a huge gay following and some of the tastiest contemporary American fare (with some Asian influences) in town, the Franklin Cafe (278 Shawmut Ave., 617-350-0010) is an intimate bar and grill along increasingly trendy Shawmut Avenue. It's one of the few full-service restaurants in Boston where you can dine afternoon midnight (the full menu is served til 1:30 a.m., nightly!), and the sophisticated little bar here is a terrific spot to mingle with cute guys and gals from the neighborhood. The restaurant is a short walk from such popular gay bars as the Boston Eagle and Fritz, and it's not far from other excellent restaurants in the South End.

8. Fritz Lounge - gay bar

photo by Andrew Collins
On the ground floor of the economical and gay-popular Chandler Inn Hotel, Fritz (26 Chandler St., 617-482-4428) is Boston's gay sports bar, a low-keyed neighborhood spot drawing a mostly male, easygoing, and unpretentious bunch to watch televised games on six flat-screen TVs and toss back bottles of beer. It's in the charming South End, a short walk from numerous restaurants and not far from Boston's most popular gay video bar and restaurant, Club Cafe.

9. Geoffrey's Cafe & Bar - restaurant

photo by Andrew Collins
A fixture in the Boston gay community since it was opened by Michael Aplin (who named it for his partner, the now late Geoffrey Seelen) in the early 1990s, Geoffrey's (142 Berkeley St., 617-424-6711) has occupied a few different spaces over the years. In fall 2011, the extremely popular restaurant and bar returned to the neighborhood in which it started, the Back Bay, settling into a handsome spot on Berkeley Street, nearly at the neighborhood's border with the South End. The restaurant is known for its disco brunches in summer, and for tasty American and Italian dining at lunch and dinner - there's a long menu with plenty of affordable options. As a nightlife venue, Geoffrey's is open until midnight on weekdays and 1 am on weekends, and is well-known for creative cocktails, such as the "Ginger Not Mary Ann" with dry English gin, Geoffrey's ginger beer, and lime-soaked fresh ginger.

10. Jacque's Cabaret - gay bar

photo by Andrew Collins
One of the oldest continuously operating gay bars in New England, Jacque's (79 Broadway, 617-426-8902) is the only GLBT establishment remaining in the tiny Bay Village district, which used to have a few such hangouts. The venerable drag bar has been presenting much-loved female impersonators for decades - indeed, a few of the performers have been taking the stage for decades. There are shows, usually with different themes, each night of the week, and a cover charger of $6 to $10 most nights (Tuesdays are sans admission).

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