Category Archives: South End

SoWa Health + Wellness free pop-up

SoWa Health + Wellness

SoWa Health + Wellness free pop-up will take place at the SoWa Power Station on Saturday June 11th, from 7:30 am – 12 pm.

SoWa Health + Wellness will be opening in the space formerly known as the Boston Sports Club South End later this fall but in June there will be a free pop-up at the SoWa Power Station located at 550 Harrison Avenue for members of the community interested in learning more about the programming that will be available when it opens. Free parking will be offered to all who come to check out one of the fitness classes offered on Saturday, June 11th.

8:00 am – 8:45 am – MoveStudios HIIT Bootcamp with Andrew LaCombe –  @movestudios_boston
A high intensity bootcamp powered by MoveStudios, one of Boston’s premier personal training groups!

9:00 am – 9:45 am – Yoga with Gina Molinari –  @ginamolinari
This is a flow class perfect for all levels. You will find this class is a wonderful way to begin your day while building flexibility and strength of body with calmness of mind.

10:00 am – 10:45 am – 305 Dance with Jessica Edwards –  @miss_jeds
305 is an addictively fun dance cardio class that works you head to toe! Drop it low, tone it up, and shake it out to a fire beat!

11:00 am – 11:45 am – Kickboxing with Alejandra Bethermyt –  @alebfitness
Kick, punch, and move to the beat of a fun electrifying workout that will help you leave it all out there on the workout floor!

Space is limited so register today!

A DJ will provide music to keep you going and healthy snacks and beverages will be available, as well as lockers for storage. Attendees are asked to bring their own mat and towel.

SOLD! Giacomo’s South End

After 27 years in business, Jackie Taglieri has sold Giacomo’s South End. The neighborhood restaurant, which has other locations (notably the original in Boston’s North End), has a reputation for making consistently delicious Italian-American cuisine.

While it can be sad to see a much loved restaurant change hands, that isn’t the case here. The new owners (Irakli Gogitidze, George Axiotis, and Jesus Preciado) are familiar with the South End, and are the team behind the much loved Kava Neo Taverna and Ilona.

When I spoke to Irakli about the change in ownership, he was candid about how much the team respects Taglieri and their commitment to the restaurant and its patrons. Later this year they plan to make some much needed renovations and to rebrand the restaurant as Casa Giacomo’s to pay homage to its past while helping to distinguish it from the other Giacomo’s locations, which are under different ownership. 

I’m very excited to see some much needed investment in this space and look forward to what this creative team will do. If you haven’t been to Giacomo’s South End in a while, perhaps it is time to make plans and check out the restaurant.

I want to wish Irakli, George, and Jesus much luck and success with their new restaurant as they help breathe new life into this neighborhood gem.

Boston neighborhoods

Boston is comprised of 23 neighborhoods. Many of the downtown neighborhoods span less than a square mile, but they are full of interesting sites and places of interest. To that end, this month I selected four downtown neighborhoods and shared my thoughts about what make them worth visiting.

South End

I started this series with the neighborhood I know best, the South End. I’ve lived here for nearly twenty years now but have been visiting since I moved back to Boston in the late 1990s.

The South End is incredibly charming. Built on landfill in the mid-19th century as a residential district for Boston’s growing upper middle-class, hundreds of Victorian Bow Fronts were built and today it’s the largest enclave of urban Victorian residential architecture in the country. The picturesque neighborhood is full of parks, unique shops and restaurants and cafes. While only a few gay bars remain in the South End, this was an enclave for Boston’s LGBTQ+ community from the 1970s – 2000s. While most of the businesses that catered to the gay community have closed or moved online, it’s where many in Boston’s gay community come out for dinner or to meet up with friends for drinks. Read my full profile of the South End here.

Back Bay

I moved into the Back Bay in the late 1990s after living in Atlanta for a few years. I thought I’d live in my apartment on Commonwealth Avenue for a year maybe two but ultimately, I stayed in the Back Bay for six years. I still consider it a homebase and love this neighborhood for all that it has to offer.

If you’ve visited Boston, you’ve probably spent time in the Back Bay. It is a centrally located, afluent neighborhood with some of Boston’s most iconic buildings, busiest streets, best restaurants, bars and shops. It is chock-full of office buildings, hotels, retailers, restaurants and of course residents. Tourists will love the parks (my favorite is The Esplanade) that run through this neighborhood, but Back Bay also has amazing architecture ranging from the modern I.M. Pei design of The Hancock Tower built in the 1970s to the beautiful McKim Building of the Boston Public Library and its hidden Italianate Courtyard that dates back to the late 1800s. In addition, this neighborhood has no shortage of restaurants, bars and shopping so there is plenty to see and do when here. Read my full profile of the Back Bay here.

christopher sherman

Beacon Hill

I never lived in Beacon Hill but one of my best friends went to Suffolk University which is located here. I also spent many hours at bars in this neighborhood in my late 20s and early 30s.

Beacon Hill is a popular destination for visitors due to its many historical sites, with some dating back to the 1600s. While this neighborhood is less than a square quarter mile in size it contains a lot to see and enjoy with its pretty as a postcard streets to its many Freedom Trail sites of interest to great restaurants and good pubs. While the neighborhood’s stodgy image is well deserved there is still plenty of fun to be had here and my favorite time of year to visit is in the summer when you can sit outside and enjoy the people watching along Charles Street. For more information about this historic and interesting neighborhood, read my full profile of Beacon Hill here.

North End

The North End is where my maternal grandmother grew up as a kid. My brother briefly lived here and at the moment one of my cousins call the North End home. While I’ve never lived here, it is this familial connection to this tiny neighborhood that makes me feel connected to it.

The North End is charming unless you’re driving then it is a nightmare. The neighborhood is comprised of a maze of narrow, meandering streets that are chock-full of Italian restaurants, bakeries and cafes. The tiny neighborhood is hemmed in between Boston’s inner harbor to the North and East and The Rose Kennedy Greenway (a.k.a. The Greenway) to the West and South. This neighborhood is for those who love American History (esp. American Revolution) and for those who love food. For more information about Boston’s “Little Italy”, read my full profile of the North End here.

BSC South End closes tomorrow

Earlier this month I posted the lease for the BSC South End would not be renewed by the landlord, GTI Properites, and tomorrow will be the last day the gym will be open.

It seems to me that the BSC South End has been the gym everyone has loved to hate, but in retrospect, despite the issues (and there were many), I will miss this gym. It is a large space with many windows and high ceilings, has a great indoor pool, large free weights and cardio sections, and when it first opened they had many great classes (I still miss Melany’s lunchtime abs classes).

Over the years, I met and made many friends there. Perhaps that is what I will miss the most with the gym’s closing. However, rather than leave BSC altogether like many have opted, I’ve decided to remain and will now work out at the Downtown Crossing location so perhaps I’ll see you there.

Former bar, Boston Eagle, will become The KARTAL

Last March I shared that The Boston Eagle had closed. Since then a lot has happened and about 8 weeks ago the owners, who are listed as Two Greeks and a Persian, LLC, petitioned the Boston Licensing Board to make changes to the exterior of 520 Tremont Street for a bar called, Kartal.

Kartal is eyeing a late April / early May opening, but considering the amount of work to be done that seems aggressive. Shahrokh Reza was listed as the manager in the petition and is affiliated with local nightclub group, Pasha Entertainment. Much progress has been made since my post last fall (see here), but much more needs to be done.

A lot of clean up has happened since last fall. From this photo taken earlier this week you can see the bathrooms are (thankfully) being expanded and improved and a small kitchen will be added to serve light appetizers for the cocktail bar. It appears the original tile flooring and bar will remain.

In the coming month you’ll see changes to the exterior, including new lighting fixtures, the removal of the ugly metal grates over the windows, a fresh paint job, and a new tiled entry with the dates 1981 and 2021, noting the 40 years the Boston Eagle operated at 520 Tremont Street.

As more information becomes available, I’ll be sure to share with you what I learn. If you have more information, please reach out to me.

CORRECTION: Shahrokh Reza is not affiliated with Ilona as initially shared in this post, but is directly involved with Pasha Entertainment.

Boston Sports Club South End to close

BSC

Earlier this morning The Boston Sports Club notified members that they have “made the difficult decision to close our South End location permanently. The last day to work out inside this club will be March 31st.”

I first wrote about this possibility in January in my post Is the Boston Sports Club South End closing? What remains to be seen is what happens next? In my January post I speculated one of two likely options. The first would be for another fitness chain to come in and rent the space, but the other option which I think is likely would be for the landlord, GTI Properties to overtake and manage it much like they are doing with two former Aquitaine Group restaurant spaces (Gaslight and Cinquecento).

Stay tuned for more details.  

UPDATED March 2, 2022 at 5:00PM: GTI Properties announces they will reopen this space in the fall as a health and wellness facility that will have at least 5 studios and offer a variety of classes. The facility will be eliminating the pool and reusing the space for group fitness classes. More details about rates, membership and opening dates will be forthcoming in the summer.

Is the Boston Sports Club South End closing?

The BSC South End lease will expire this spring

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of chatter about the future of the Boston Sports Club South End. Current and former employees have confirmed that the BSC would like to sign a new lease and the manager has indicated that negotiations with the landlord, GTI Properties are ongoing.

The current lease is set to expire this spring. If the BSC lease expires, it’s not clear if the space would be re-purposed, another chain would takeover, or if GTI would takeover the gym. While managing a gym would be a stretch for GTI, anything is possible. Last year, GTI Properties formed the SoWa Hospitality Group and hired Jeff Gates (former partner of Aquitaine Group) to manage food and beverage operations at the SoWa Powerstation, Brasserie, and Roma 500 (slated to open later this year). I hope the BSC and GTI come to some agreement. The uncertainty is frustrating, because it disincentivizes BSC from making any further investments or to improve the facility.

UPDATE: March 2, 2022 Boston Sports Club South End to close

National gym chains vs boutique studios

Regardless of the fate of the BSC South End, if the space remains a fitness center, the gym will need to do more to fend off competition from the many boutique studios that have opened. While these smaller studios are more expensive, their popularity increased during the pandemic.

During the pandemic two gyms opened blocks from the BSC SE, Elite Training Group (operated by former BSC SE trainers) and Epoc Studios. But these are hardly the only boutique studios to open. A quick Google search will show a dozen such gyms within blocks of the BSC SE — several of them owned and opened by former BSC South End trainers who’s clients followed them.

Boston’s South End cafes

handsome, hunk, man drinking coffee
Current locally-owned & independent coffee houses in the South End

During these cold months, the many small, independent coffee houses in the South End become a great place to meet up with someone or to get out.

I wanted to update my 2015 post, Boston’s many South End coffee houses. For the purpose of this post, I have intentionally omitted the large, national chains (2 Dunkin’, 1 Starbucks, 1 Peets Coffee, and 1 Caffè Nero) in the South End. I want to showcase local coffee houses that brew different coffees and have far more personality. I hope this post encourages you to find a local coffee house and make it your own. Save the chains for when you’re on the road or at an airport.

Below is a map of independent coffee houses in the South End. All of these places have space to sitdown and enjoy your coffee. I’ve also included the price for a small cup of coffee, the coffee they serve and details about the coffee house.

  1. Render Coffee House – Price for a small coffee is $3.00. Render serves their own brand of coffee and is best known for their pour-over brew method. The first coffee house was in the South End but this coffee house now has a location in the Financial District and Seaport.
  2. Café Madeleine – Price for a small coffee is $2.00. The cafe serves La Colombe coffee. This tiny cafe has limited seating (and none during the pandemic). Aside from having good coffee they have the best croissants, according to this blind croissant tasting I hosted.
  3. Jaho Coffee & Tea House – Price for a small coffee is $2.80. They serve their own brand of coffee and in some of their other locations they also serve wine in the evenings. Originally, based in Salem, MA Jaho now has three locations in Boston.
  4. Flour Bakery and Cafe – Price for a small coffee is $3.25. Flour serves Fazenda coffee (a local coffee roaster). This is the first Flour Bakery and Cafe (opening in 2000). Now the popular cafe has nine locations in Boston and Cambridge.
  5. Greystone Café – Price for a small coffee is $3.00. The cafe serves Proud Mary Coffee. This location was formerly the Appleton Bakery but a mother / daughter team opened Greystone in September 2020 with a beautiful walk-up window.
  6. Kohi Café – Price for a small coffee is $3.00. They serve Tandem coffee and are best known for their pour-over brew method. The first cafe opened in Provincetown but there are now three locations in Boston.
  7. Berkeley Perk Café – Price for a small coffee is $2.50. “The Perk” as I call it serves its own brand of coffee and is the longest continually running coffee house in the South End. It first opened its doors in the late 1990s (I believe 1998).
  8. South End Buttery – Price for a small coffee is $2.60. The coffee house serves Equator coffee. Richard first opened this space in 2005 and transformed this corner of the South End. In 2014 I conducted a blind chocolate chip cookie tasting and the Buttery’s cookie took top honors. Maybe I should do this again. The Buttery has a sister location at 37 Clarendon St. that remains unmarked above because its status since the pandemic remains uncertain.
  9. Tatte Bakery & Café – Price for a small coffee is $3.00. Tatte serves Stumptown Coffee. The South End location is teh largest coffee / cafe in the neighborhood yet this giant space does fill up (especially in the morning). In recent years, Tatte has expanded rapidly and now there are approximately 20 locations in Boston, Cambridge, and Brookline.
  10. Cuppacoffee – Price for a small coffee is $2.36. The Australian coffee house serves Abbotsford Road (an Australian roaster now in the US). If you go, I recommend ordering a Long Black (an Australian version of an Americano). This coffee house has one other location in Boston.
  11. Mod Espresso – Price for a small coffee is $4.00. They serve La Colombe coffee. I enjoy the staff at this coffee house inside the high end furniture store Modern Relik.
  12. Blunch – Price for a small coffee is $2.01. They serve karma Coffee. Better known for their delicious sandwiches, cookies and treats, the space is well loved and has a strong loyal customer base.

Blackbird Doughnuts (Not on the map – my bad) – Price for a small (16oz – yikes) coffee is $2.50 and is from Fazenda Coffee (a local coffee roaster). While no indoor seating is available, they do have a popular bench which makes for good people watching if you can snag the space with a friend. The shop is located near Tremont & Berkeley Street.

1395 Washington Street in South End

Georgantis Design + Development recently filed their Small Project Review application with the city of Boston, outlining their plans to replace the existing one story building and commercial space at 1395 – 1405 Washington Street in the South End with a new $23 million, seven-story condominium that includes 35 units. You can read their application, 1395 Washington Street.

The single story building, which was formerly the home for Harry O’s, Morse Fish and The Gallows is now mostly vacant with Union Pizza now the only operating restaurant in this space. The other commercial spaces are now empty. The plans call for retail space to be reserved for the ground floor, and include studio, 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom units. The building design does not include on-site parking.

Wednesday October 27th from 6:00 – 7:30PM the Boston Planning & Development Agency will host a virtual public meeting to discuss and take public comment on this Small Project Review Application. The meeting will include a presentation followed by Q&A and comments from the general public.

All are welcome but you must register, here.
Webinar ID: 160 753 6365 || Toll-Free Call-in Number: 833.568.8864

The former home of The Eagle will reopen as a bar in 2022

Back in March, I shared that the Boston gay bar, The Eagle, had officially closed. If you happened to walk by the space last week you would’ve seen it was being cleared out. It appears that a handsome, young couple have decided to reopen the space as a bar.

Fortunate timing allowed me a brief meeting outside the bar with the couple who were excited about reopening the space as a bar. I was not able to get details, but they indicated they are targeting an opening for early 2022.

My guess is the space will not reopen as a gay bar but the location makes it an ideal space. The loss of bars like Stella, Tremont 647 and Sister Sorel presents an opportunity for this space to become an ‘honorary’ gay bar and it is my hope that the newly reimagined space becomes a favorite destination for our community – time will tell. Stay tuned.

Kohi Coffee Company opens in South End

Those of you who travel to Provincetown will likely recognize Kohi Coffee Company which is tucked away next to Cafe Heaven on Commercial Street and at street level at Spindler’s in the East End. The tiny coffee shop has recently expanded and opened in The Revolution Hotel. The photo shared above was posted on the coffee company’s Instagram at the start of this month.

This is their newest location in Boston (they previously opened in Brighton and downtown Boston). The location includes a walk-up window for ordering and take-out on Berkeley Street, which yhou can also see in the photograph. If you’ve never tried their coffee or visited The Revolution Hotel, now is your chance.

Kohi Coffee Company
40 Berkeley Street
kohicoffee.com

Boston neighborhoods

The city of Boston is comprised of 23 neighborhoods. Many of the downtown neighborhoods span less than a square mile, but they are full of interesting sites and places of interest. To that end, this month I selected four downtown neighborhoods and shared my thoughts about what make them worth visiting.

South End

I started this series with the neighborhood I know best, the South End. I’ve lived here for nearly twenty years now but have been visiting since I moved back to Boston in the late 1990s.

The South End is incredibly charming. Built on landfill in the mid-19th century as a residential district for Boston’s growing upper middle-class, hundreds of Victorian Bow Fronts were built and today it’s the largest enclave of urban Victorian residential architecture in the country. The picturesque neighborhood is full of parks, unique shops and restaurants and cafes. While only a few gay bars remain in the South End, this was once upon a time an enclave for Boston’s LGBTQ+ community and while most of those businesses have closed or moved online, this is still where many in Boston’s gay community come out for dinner or to meet up with friends for drinks. Read my full profile of the South End here.

Back Bay

I moved into the Back Bay in the late 1990s after living in Atlanta for a few years. I thought I’d live in my apartment on Commonwealth Avenue for a year maybe two but ultimately, I stayed in the Back Bay for six years. I still consider it a homebase and love this neighborhood for all that it has to offer.

If you’ve visited Boston, you’ve probably spent time in the Back Bay. It is a centrally located, afluent neighborhood with some of Boston’s most iconic buildings, busiest streets, best restaurants, bars and shops. It is chock-full of office buildings, hotels, retailers, restaurants and of course residents. Tourists will love the parks (my favorite is The Esplanade) that run through this neighborhood, but Back Bay also has amazing architecture ranging from the modern I.M. Pei design of The Hancock Tower built in the 1970s to the beautiful McKim Building of the Boston Public Library and its hidden Italianate Courtyard that dates back to the late 1800s. In addition, this neighborhood has no shortage of restaurants, bars and shopping so there is plenty to see and do when here. Read my full profile of the Back Bay here.

christopher sherman

Beacon Hill

I never lived in Beacon Hill but one of my best friends went to Suffolk University which is located here. I also spent many hours at bars in this neighborhood in my late 20s and early 30s.

Beacon Hill is a popular destination for visitors due to its many historical sites, with some dating back to the 1600s. While this neighborhood is less than a square quarter mile in size it contains a lot to see and enjoy with its pretty as a postcard streets to its many Freedom Trail sites of interest to great restaurants and good pubs. While the neighborhood’s stodgy image is well deserved there is still plenty of fun to be had here and my favorite time of year to visit is in the summer when you can sit outside and enjoy the people watching along Charles Street. For more information about this historic and interesting neighborhood, read my full profile of Beacon Hill here.

North End

The North End is where my maternal grandmother grew up as a kid. My brother briefly lived here and at the moment one of my cousins call the North End home. While I’ve never lived here, it is this familial connection to this tiny neighborhood that makes me feel connected to it.

The North End is charming unless you’re driving then it is a nightmare. The neighborhood is comprised of a maze of narrow, meandering streets that are chock-full of Italian restaurants, bakeries and cafes. The tiny neighborhood is hemmed in between Boston’s inner harbor to the North and East and The Rose Kennedy Greenway (a.k.a. The Greenway) to the West and South. This neighborhood is for those who love American History (esp. American Revolution) and for those who love food. For more information about Boston’s “Little Italy”, read my full profile of the North End here.

Boston neighborhood profile: South End

Boston is where I live, but the South End is home. If you visit Boston, you’ll understand this city is defined by its neighborhoods. Each have their own history, architecture and personality. The South End was one of America’s earliest large-scale residential developments and much of that pre- and post-Civil War architecture remains. A good example is Boston’s Union Park in the South End, which was built in the late 1850s.

In the first half of the 20th Century, the South End would become the home for many immigrant groups notably Greek, Lebanese, Africans, and Caribbean/West Indies. It also became home for many in the city’s Black population (e.g., 395-397 Massachusetts Ave was home to Martin Luther King Jr. in the early 1950s). In the early 1970s many artists and gay men moved here for the cheap rent. By then the neighborhood had a well-deserved seedy reputation and was afflicted by urban blight and crime. It wasn’t until the 1990s that Boston’s population started to rebound and places like the South End started to flourish again. That gentrification would also result in Boston’s gay population moving out to Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Davis Square and elsewhere.

Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston’s South End

About The South End: The South End is a contradiction. It has some of the most affluent properties and toniest addresses in the city. Yet, it’s home to the city’s largest soup kitchen, Pine Street Inn, large public housing complexes, Boston’s safety net hospital Boston Medical Center and its neighboring Healthcare for the Homeless. Despite its affluence, these institutions (thankfully) aren’t going anywhere. It is this socio-economic mix that has saved the South End from becoming one-dimensional and gives it personality.

The South End is incredibly charming. Built on landfill in the mid-19th century as a residential district for Boston’s growing upper middle-class, hundreds of Victorian Bow Fronts were built and today it’s the largest enclave of urban Victorian residential architecture in the country. However, one of the most beautiful buildings in the South End isn’t Victorian, it’s Gothic Revival architecture. The Cathedral of the Holy Cross (est.1875) made from nearby Roxbury puddingstone and gray limestone stands in stark contrast to the Victorian and newer glass and steel residential buildings in the SoWa district of the South End. If you get a chance, look inside. The Cathedral was recently lovingly cleaned and restored and it is beautiful inside and out.

For more information about this beautiful neighborhood, I recommend reading the Boston’s South End: The Clash of Ideas in a Historic Neighborhood, by longtime South End resident, friend, and neighbor, Russ Lopez.

What to do in the South End: The South End is a picturesque, residential neighborhood with many parks to enjoy. If you spend any time here, you’ll likely find yourself walking through some of these green spaces. Some of our favorite parks are The Underground, Peter’s Park, Blackstone & Franklin Squares, and the Southwest Corridor, which divides the South End and Back Bay.

Aside from strolling through the parks and streets of the South End, I love the local theater companies that (when there isn’t a pandemic) perform at the Black Box Theater and Calderwood Pavilion. I think of the South End as a mini-theater district with The Huntington, SpeakEasy Stage and Company One all providing entertaining shows. Additionally, the First Friday of each month from 5-9PM is SoWa First Fridays where scores of art galleries and artisans open their studios to the public. The theater companies and First Fridays bring many people here for a fun date night or evening out with friends – especially when followed by drinks and dinner (but more about that later).

In addition to window shopping (there are many unique shops, complete listing here), enjoying the parks, or checking out the local arts scene, the South End hosts several markets and events. One of my favorites is the SoWa Open Market, which runs each Sunday (May thru October). It includes an artisan and farmer’s market, food trucks and a vintage market (this runs year round). There are also many interesting exhibits and events hosted at the BCA Cyclorama and at the new events and exhibition venue, The South End Power Station, but if all that sounds exhausting, don’t worry there are many places to relax.

Photo from @southendbuttery

Cafes in the South End: One of the things I love about this neighborhood is its many cafes and restaurants. Visitors may feel lost with very few national chains present (which by the way is a good thing), but it adds personality and allows local chains and sole proprietorships to thrive. In 2015, I wrote about the cafes in the South End. Since then a few have closed and a few have opened but the point is there are many places to meet a friend to enjoy a good cup of coffee and tempting treat or two. A favorite new coffee shop is MOD Espresso on Harrison Ave. If you’re in the n’hood, stop by and let me know what you think.

In 2014, I hosted a blind tasting to find out who made the best chocolate chip cookies in the South End. Should I write a new post about the many cafes or host another blind tasting to find the best chocolate chip cookies in the n’hood? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

Aquitaine Group Boston
Source: Aquitaine Group

Restaurants in the South End: Every restaurant I wrote about in my 2018 post, Best Places to Eat in the South End, have weathered the pandemic and remain open. If we can set the current pandemic aside, dining out in the South End has changed for the better in recent years. There are more affordable and casual dining options, and a greater variety of cuisines to enjoy.

The neighborhood has some of the best Italian and French restaurants Boston has to offer (too many to list). It also has great Asian restaurants (personal favorites include Elephant Walk and Myer’s + Chang), Eastern Mediterranean cuisine (Kava and it’s sister restaurant, Ilona as well as the fast casual, Anoush’ella are superb). Several excellent Spanish restaurants are home to the South End but Toro is my favorite. For sushi, I prefer the unpretentious Seiyo near Mass Ave. or Red Lantern. There are many options for pizza, but my favorites are Union Park Pizza (take out only) and PICCO (which stands for Pizza & Ice Cream Co.). In recent years, several Mexican and Latin restaurants have opened but my favorites are the relatively new Burro Bar and the longstanding Orinoco. I still blush thinking about my first time at Orinoco. In my haste to get inside, I accidentally knocked over Keith Lockhart. We fell into each other’s arms as we crashed into the wall so I suppose I can say I’ve hugged the famous conductor of the Boston Pops.

The list of great places to eat in the South End is long, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. If you’re looking for a suggestion, ask me, and I’ll be happy to make recommendations based on your preferences.

On The Bar
Boston Chops South End bar is a personal favorite for drinks and a bite

Favorite Bars in the South End: There are many places to enjoy a cocktail or drink, but if you want to enjoy live music go to the tiny and quite famous, Wally’s. It is one of the oldest jazz bars in America (opened in 1947) and has hosted some of America’s greatest jazz musicians. A few blocks over from Wally’s is Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen, and in the opposite direction, up Tremont Street is the Beehive. All three locations have excellent live music and are places worth visiting. Darryl’s and the Beehive also have kitchens that crank out consistently good food if you’re hungry.

If you’re a beer drinker, go to JJ Foley’s, an Irish pub that has been operating in the South End since 1909. This place has a lot of character and serves a mean shepard’s pie. On the other end of the neighborhood, is a relative newcomer by comparison, Five Horses Tavern, which opened in 2013. Both places will make any beer drinker feel at home.

If you’re looking for something more kitsch, check out the subterranean, Polynesian bar and restaurant with great tiki drinks Shore Leave or longtime neighborhood favorite, Delux Cafe with its ticky-tacky decor and quirky staff. The bars you’ll mostly likely find Sergio and me at is the gorgeous 20+ seat bar at Boston Chops and the welcoming lounge at Burro Bar South End (if you like spicy drinks order the el Diablo). However, I also love the gorgeous U-shaped bar at Barcelona Wine Bar and the cozy wine bar at Aquitaine (they have an excellent Sancerre rosé by the glass).

gay boston

Gay Bars in the South End: Only a few gay bars remain in the South End. Cathedral Station is located on Washington Street and is the only downtown gay bar with a patio. They cater to the gay sports leagues and the bear community. You’ll usually find an older crowd here, but all are welcome at this friendly bar. The other gay bar in the South End is Club Cafe. Over the years it has become increasingly mixed but they still market themselves as a gay bar. Club Cafe has the Napoleon Lounge where cabaret music is performed, a dance floor in the back and a dining room and bar at the front of the house. If you’re gay and in Boston, you’ll eventually end up at Club Cafe.

While it’s true that Boston has very few gay bars, Boston’s LGBTQ+ community is redefining what is a gay bar and claiming space to meet, have a drink, gossip, watch a game, etc… whether the establishment is marketed as a “gay bar” or not. Good examples would be Boston Chops South End, Burro Bar South End, Trophy Room, Anchovies, and Elephant Walk. On any given night you will see gay friends meeting for drinks and as a result the local LGBTQ+ community has come to think of these places as ‘unofficial’ gay bars. While they are no longer around, virtually every gay man in Boston thought of Pho Republique, Rocca, Tremont 647, Sister Sorel, and Stella as some of Boston’s best gay bars, yet none were marketed as such.

If you happen to be new to Boston or planning a visit, feel free to reach out with questions. If you’re familiar with Boston’s South End, your recommendations are welcome in the comments section.

SoWa Market returns on Sunday

New England Market

SoWa Open Market is each Sunday, 11:00a.m. – 3:00p.m. at 500 Harrison Ave.

After a 6-mos hiatus, the SoWa Open Market returns to 500 Harrison Avenue this Sunday. This year’s market includes the artisan, farmer’s and vintage markets. Spring Brook Farms, The Herb Lyceum, When Pig’s Fly Bakery, and Blackbird Doughnuts are a few of the 20 vendors who will be there every week. Here is a full list of vendors participating in this year’s Farmer’s Market.

In addition to the markets, many of the galleries and studios along Thayer Street will be open to the public. However, due to health and safety regulations, the market will initially open without the beer garden and food trucks but check back for updates later in the season.

The 2021 SoWa Open Market hours are Sunday from 11am – 3pm (Vintage Market 11am – 4pm) Sunday, May 2, 2021 through October 31, 2021.

SoWa Open Market returns, COVID-19 safety protocols will be enforced

For more information about the individual markets and safety protocols put in place to ensure everyone’s health and safety, visit their website, sowaboston.com/sowa-open-market.

South End Restaurant Brasserie readies to open

Earlier this month it was reported on the Boston Restaurant Talk blog that SOWA Hospitality Group (a division of GTI, Inc.) would be opening a new French restaurant in the space formerly known as Gaslight.

The new restaurant called, Brasserie, will likely open the second weekend of May. Today, signage is being added to the 560 Harrison Avenue building and the parking lot is being freshly paved. Friends & Family events are scheduled for next week to get the staff and kitchen ready for a full opening and daily meetings are taking place with staff as the team readies to open.

I’m optimistic Brasserie will be successful because veteran restauranteur, Jeff Gates, has been overseeing the opening. SOWA Hospitality Group made the decision to make no discernable modifications to the space so Brasserie looks like a Gaslight reboot rather than a new restaurant, but perhaps that was the intention all along. Regardless, it will be good to see the lights come back on and the patio once again full of people.

For more information visit their website at brasserieboston.com or you can follow the restaurant by liking their Facebook page.

Brasserie, bienvenue au South End. Je vous souhaite beaucoup de succès.