Boston may not be home to a huge number of gay bars, but it does have a nice variety, including a mix of neighborhood pubs, dance bars, and inviting lounges tucked inside trendy restaurants (mostly in the South End).
Boston also has a number of mainstream clubs that have weekly or monthly gay nights, such as Epic Saturdays at House of Blues and Hot Mess Sundays at Candibar. You can also find a number of other inviting gay bars just an hour south of Boston in Providence, Rhode Island. Provincetown, on the tip of Cape Cod, is worth the road trip as it's one of the most gay-friendly places in the state.
As 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 has bear parties every Saturday (including "UnderBear" the first Saturday of the month), and there's also pool and karaoke some evenings. It is located on a little pedestrian lane and can be a bit tricky to find.
The South End's own delightfully raffish, uncomfortably cozy, yet undeniably festive Boston Eagle 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.
A casual and friendly gay sports bar on Washington Street in the South End, Cathedral Station is a laid-back venue for getting to know fellow LGBTQ 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.
Perhaps no gay bar in Boston is more popular than Club Cafe Lounge & Video Bar, 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 ambiance. 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.
You'll need to drive a few miles south to Dorchester to reach swanky DBar, 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. The transformation of what had been an old-school Irish bar into DBar 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.
Tiny, offbeat, and easily missed, Delux Cafe 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 a.m.). It's a short walk from such South End gay nightspots as the Boston Eagle, Club Cafe, and Trophy Room.
Franklin Cafe is a quintessential South End restaurant with a huge gay following and contemporary American fare with Asian influences. It's one of the few full-service restaurants in Boston where you can dine after midnight (the full menu is served until 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.
Produced by the LGBTQ social group the Welcoming Committee, Guerrilla Queer Bar is a concept rather than a specific venue. Typically the first Friday of every month, the group chooses different mainstream bars and venues in Boston and then holds friendly "takeovers," during which LGBTQ folks of all stripes show up, drink up, meet up, and—in some cases—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, and Seattle.
One of the oldest continuously operating gay bars in New England, Jacque's is the only LGBTQ establishment remaining in the tiny Bay Village district. The venerable drag bar has been presenting much-loved female impersonators for decades. There are shows, usually with different themes, each night of the week, and a cover charge of $6 to $10 most nights (Tuesdays are sans admission).
Adjacent to Ramrod leather bar, the pulsing Machine nightclub 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. 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.
Boston's diverse Jamaica Plain, long a favorite part of town to live among lesbians, has several mixed bars and restaurants of interest, with the renowned Midway Cafe 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.
Although the name of this Irish pub in the swanky Loews Boston Hotel may sound a bit like a leather-and-uniform gay bar, Precinct Bar is actually named for it's 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 LGBTQ-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.
The long-running Ramrod leather bar, 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 serves 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.
On the ground floor of the economical and gay-popular Chandler Inn Hotel, Trophy Room 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 walls lined with trophies earned by the many sports teams that Fritz sponsored over the years. There are still a few TVs 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. 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.