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 and Hot Mess Sundays at Candibar. 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.
Headed to P'town? Also check out the Provincetown Gay Nightlife and Dining Guide.
Boston Gay Bar Guide - continued on Page 2
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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.
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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.
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A casual and friendly gay sports bar on Washington Street in the South End, Cathedral Station (1222 Washington St., 617-338-6060) is a laid-back venue for getting to know fellow LGBT baseball, football, basketball, and other sports fans. Although, of course, you really don't have to be a huge fan to enjoy this spot with a nice-size patio, tasty brunches on weekends and Monday holidays (much good has been said about the salmon eggs Benedict), and similarly nosh-worthy pub fare each evening. The food here is a few cuts above what you'll typically find at gay bars, which is perhaps one reason the crowd here is so eclectic - it's as nice a place to eat as to drink.
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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 Trophy Room gay sports bar at the Chandler Inn Hotel.Continue to 5 of 15 below.
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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.
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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 Trophy Room.
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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 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 Trophy Room, and it's not far from other excellent restaurants in the South End.
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Produced by the LGBT social group the Welcoming Committee, Guerilla Queer Bar is a concept rather than a specific venue. Typically the first Friday of every month, the group chooses different typically mainstream bars and venues in Boston and then holds friendly and very fun "takeovers," during which LGBT folks of all stripes show up, drink up, meet up, and - in some cases - eventually hook up. There's a $5 cover, and the name of the venue is announced the day before the event. Additional special parties, such as during Gay Pride, are also sometimes offered. The Welcoming Committee operates additional queer bar takeovers in a number of other major cities, including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, and several others - here's a full list.Continue to 9 of 15 below.
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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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Adjacent to Ramrod leather bar, the pulsing Machine nightclub (1254 Boylston St., 617-536-1950) is the top gay dance venue in Boston's Fenway neighborhood, just around the corner from Fenway Park (home of the Boston Red Sox) and a handful of mixed gay/straight establishments in that area. This sleek spot brings in talented DJs for dancing on weekends, plus special weekly events like free pool on Tuesdays, drag shows on Wednesdays, and karaoke on Thursdays.
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Boston's diverse Jamaica Plain, long a favorite part of town to live among lesbians and - increasingly - gay men, has several mixed bars and restaurants of interest, with the renowned Midway Cafe (3496 Washington St., 617-524-9038) at the forefront. This rollicking club presents live bands nightly, and also hosts Women's Dance Night on Thursdays, followed later that evening by Queeraoke. In a city without a full-time lesbian venue, the Midway is a welcoming, festive, and fun hangout.
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Cambridge may be the erudite neighbor of Boston, but it's also home to the cruisiest gay bar in the metro area (yes, it's even saltier than Ramrod and The Eagle), Paradise (180 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-868-3000), a two-level space with toned and tiger-y male go-go dancers every night of the week. The downstairs area tends to be more about cruising, but there's gay porn showing late into the evening on both levels. The crowd is predictably social, and draws from a surprising range of ages, styles, and sensibilities, from preppy college kids to blue-collar daddy's to regular 30-something guys in jeans and Ts. It's a short cab ride or easy trip on the T (subway) from Boston.Continue to 13 of 15 below.
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Although the name of this trendy Irish pub and restaurant in the swanky Loews Boston Hotel may sound a bit like a leather-and-uniform gay bar, Precinct Bar (154 Berkeley St., 617-266-7200) is actually named for its having once served as a police station (it used to be called Cuffs, as pictured here, when the Loews was known as the Back Bay Hotel). 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.
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The long-running Ramrod leather bar (1254 Boylston St., 617-266-2986), which is beside the thumping and more dance-driven Machine Nightclub, has been a fixture for years in Boston's Fenway neighborhood - it's right by Fenway Park (home of the Boston Red Sox) and a few mainstream nightclubs. Ramrod has been around for years, serving Boston's leather-and-Levi's set with its laid-back yet cruisy bar. The Backroom is where a dress code is enforced on Saturday nights.
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On the ground floor of the economical and gay-popular Chandler Inn Hotel, Trophy Room (26 Chandler St., 617-482-4428) was for years Boston's convivial gay sports bar, Fritz (as pictured here). In 2014, the space underwent a gorgeous makeover and became the Trophy Room, a bistro and bar, still with a nod to gay sports fans - in fact, you'll find the wall lined with trophies earned by the many sports teams that Fritz sponsored over many years. There are still a few TV monitors showing games, too, but this is a great place to visit for any number of reasons, for a delicious and sceney weekend brunch to evening drinks from a terrific cocktail and craft-beer list to terrific burgers, steak-frites, flatbread pizzas, and other classic bistro treats at dinner. 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.