As you sit down on one of the The Red Hat's green vinyl barstools and lift a mug of lager to your lips, you might be replicating the movements of a patron from more than 100 years ago. Except that he or she would have snuck a nervous glance at the back door between every sip. The historic establishment survived the Prohibition era in Scollay Square—an area known for its bawdy vaudeville theater and risqué entertainment—by functioning as a reputable restaurant by day and a speakeasy by night.
Though the taps now flow freely in the daylight, some things at The Red Hat haven't changed. The menu still provides sailors, dockworkers, and local shoppers with hearty, comforting dishes of wings, fried fish, and other pub snacks. As Mike Dunphy of Beacon Hill Patch put it, "The Red Hat is a rare reminder of Boston's yesteryear, bringing an earthy spice to the more refined palate of Beacon Hill—an unpretentious watering hole to gain some courage for the climb." The exposed brick, wood-paneled walls, and old-timey memorabilia also give the space a turn-of-the-century feel. So do the nostalgic street-scene murals depicting the days when Saturns were Studebakers and people walked their Electrolux vacuums instead of pet dogs.
A past winner of Boston magazine's Best Pool Hall award, Flat Top Johnny's complements its felt-topped tables with home-cooked food and a laid-back atmosphere. Games of billiards ($12 an hour/table) at any of a dozen tournament-size pool tables send balls bouncing while several old-school pinball machines mutter nervously nearby. Fuel a rousing game of eight-ball with an appetizing bowl ($3) or cup ($5) of homemade chili, complemented by Johnny's house-made corn bread, or with a crew of sandwiches, wraps, and snacks from Flat Top Johnny's menu. Johnny's can stuff grilled chicken and feta cheese into a corner pocket of ciabatta bread ($6), or mix pork, beef, or veggie sliders with two other identical sliders (three for $7). Toast an evening of trick shots and twisted dough by hoisting a beer mug filled with pretzels ($3), chased by a shot of mustard.
Called an "easygoing joint" by the The Boston Phoenix, the family-owned Corner Pub of Chinatown lavishes savory seekers with its menu of fresh, made-from-scratch comfort fare. Sink smiles into Monterrey cheese-infused nachos grande ($5.75), or share a starter of chicken fingers doused in teriyaki, barbecue, or buffalo sauce ($5.95). The hand-packed pub burger boasts a half pound of beefy sustenance ($8), and two quarter-pound hot dogs come lovingly cradled in grilled buns ($5.50). Those craving marinated eats can park pincers in the chicken kabobs ($8) while simmering down in the recently refurbished lounge, allowing diners to forget about their day job working as secretary for Emperor Garth Vicious of the Eighth Dimension.
From karaoke nights and dart team bouts to DJs spinning every Wednesday–Saturday, The Cellar Tavern keeps diners constantly amused with nightly entertainment. As sports scores flicker across the pub's five flat-screen TVs and the television on its outdoor patio, chefs in the kitchen keep revelry in session with a wealth of pub classics. They crown burgers with ingredients such as chipotle mayo and homemade chili, or sprinkle build-your-own pizzas with toppings such as feta cheese and scallops. Diners can tuck into pub favorites, such as a pastrami and swiss sandwich, fish ‘n’ chips with deep-fried haddock, and craft homemade onion rings.