Surly Johnson Sports Bar & Grill's cooks assemble a menu of hearty pub fare, which diners fork into while cheering on their favorite sports team or battling in trivia. The fried turkey Gobbler piles deep-fried turkey, stuffing, and homemade cranberry sauce pile onto a hoagie roll ($7.99)—a traditional sandwich invented by pilgrims in the 1960s—and asian beef skewers ($6.99) spear char-grilled sirloin steak as lightly pan-fried crab cakes dip into chipotle sour cream ($8.99). Flat-screen TVs broadcast sports games as patrons perched at a long, dark wood counter bite into Surly Johnson’s signature Surly Pizza ($11.99), a pie loaded with bacon, sausage, pepperoni, and bolognese sauce. On Trivia Tuesdays, the 10-ounce Stockyards bistro steak teams up with blue-cheese butter ($13.99) to answer questions such as, "What is the capital of India?" and "Who was the first president to time-travel?"
As guests pass under Lewis' Restaurant and Grille's festive blue marquee, they enter an inviting world of Americana, with a bar that has been in place for generations and a kitchen offering up the appetizing aroma of freshly baked pizzas and Angus beef burgers. Guests share plates of buttermilk pancakes and eggs benedict during Sunday brunches and savor the tastes of inventive burgers and sandwiches, such as caprese-salad burgers or chicken-pesto sandwiches drizzled with balsamic reduction, all week long. Upscale haddock and salmon entrees satisfy refined palates, and a spread of bar food pleases crowds with chicken-finger baskets, tots, and tuna melts.
Though it has welcomed in families and bar regulars for decades, Lewis' has recently updated its interior with new bamboo flooring in the dining room and crisp dollar bills in the bar's cash register. Patrons regularly join in special events hosted by the bar, such as Tuesday-night trivia, where first-placers win a cash prize.
Inside Kings, it can be hard to pinpoint the source of clattering sounds and uproarious cheers. The noise might stem from the bowling section, where glowing squares of abstract, retro wall art bookend the alleys. It might also come from ricocheting billiard balls, a well-aimed skee-ball, or a shuffleboard shot in the game room. Maybe someone spotted a celebrity—Bill Murray, Salma Hayek, and Lady Gaga are all on an extensive list of past famous visitors.
Wherever their origins, the telltale echoes of competition and camaraderie beckon to guests throughout the venue. They're accompanied in the air by the scents of comfort food, from staples such as sesame ginger wings to inventive fusions such as cheeseburger spring rolls. Sweeter aromas waft from multiple bars as the staff flavors martinis with gummy bears, pop rocks, and ice cream instead of the traditional fixings, olives or entire lemons on toothpicks.
As for sights, the surroundings blend vintage flair with luminous technology. More than 30 high-definition televisions line the space, broadcasting sports games and bowling scores. Though the game-room amenities differ slightly based on the town—Boston's Back Bay has six Brunswick Gold Crown pool tables, and Dedham boasts four miniature-roller-ball lanes—each Kings location hosts group events, including parties and corporate getaways where you can finally laugh at your boss's ridiculous shoes. Weekly themed nights for the public also encourage dancing, karaoke, and trivia.
Overtime Tap rejuvenates sports fans with a rich array of bar-fare noshes. Diners can customize carbohydrates with the build-your-own mac 'n' cheese ($6), swaddling penne, spiral, bowtie, or elbow pasta in a choice of aged irish cheddar, smoked gouda, port salut, swiss gruyere, or monterey jack. Fillings such as shitake mushrooms, grilled asparagus, or sliced jalapeños add texture and a pop of flavor to the cheesy concoction, jolting taste buds from their impossible day dreams of becoming professional athletes. The appetizer menu flaunts Atlantic zest with New England crab cakes, a pan-fried cluster of Lump Rhode Island blue crab, red bell peppers, celery, and scallions ($6). Sandwiches and burgers provide classic pub grub, and heartier fare sends diners on a delicious dash from hunger with the marinara-braised short rib of beef accompanied by cheddar mashed potatoes and fennel-spiced grilled asparagus ($19).
Gillian's Ale House follows the American pub tradition of hearty eats, cold beer, and televised sports. The menu takes some culinary cues from Ireland, filling diners' bellies with shepherd's pie, beer-battered fish and chips, and pints of perfectly poured Guinness. Half-pound Angus burgers, grilled Reubens, and loaded nachos also complement domestic and foreign brews at the laid-back eatery, which features HDTVs and occasional guest DJs and karaoke.
Picking a meal at Grid Iron Ale House & Grille is no easy task, but that choice pales in comparison to selecting a beverage. That's because bartenders keep more than 30 craft beers on tap, not to mention many more bottled alongside top-shelf spirits and a dozen wines. The libations complement the culinary team's mostly classic approach to pub food, which includes Angus sliders with chipotle mayo and subs whose meatballs come stuffed with mozzarella. Feasts unfold amid constant entertainment, from live events such as karaoke and poker to games on HDTVs adorning every wall and carefully balanced on each server's head.