Jamaica Plain neighborhood guide: Drink
Bella Luna Restaurant & The Milky Way Lounge
What used to be JP's beloved bowling alley/dance club/restaurant three-for-one relocated to the Brewery Complex a few years back, losing some of its underground cred but none of its charm. The worlds of Bella Luna Restaurant and the Milky Way Lounge & Lanes have combined to form—wait for it—Bella Luna Restaurant & The Milky Way Lounge. Conspicuously absent are the lanes, but the new space does boast the same familiarly kooky decor, a pool table and a rad patio on which to sip craft beers and nibble on gourmet pizza.
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Brendan Behan Pub
In a town lousy with Irish pubs, Brendan Behan is one of the very best. Named for the hard-drinking Dublin playwright, it once hosted standing-room-only seisiúns attended by the likes of Patrick McCabe and JP Donleavy. Behan’s is not a fancy place—it’s small and dimly lit, with no food on offer—but that’s part of its charm. Locals love it because they are encouraged to bring their own food—usually from the various take-out joints that dot Centre Street—to nibble on in between pints from the incredible beer selection. The bar is also dog-friendly, so expect a few friendly mutts skittering around your feet.
In business for more than a century, this old Irish charmer has long been popular with politicos. Times have changed, however; the room once named afer JFK’s grandfather "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, is now named after Mayor Menino—of Italian descent. In more recent times, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow even taped a show here. The ceilings are lofty and the rooms capacious. Murals high on the walls, portraying scenes from colonial Massachusetts, are gorgeous. The generous portions of comfort food and wide selection of ales and scotches are a bonus. If you’re lucky, you may even get to taste a brand new brew from Samuel Adams—the brewery is just down the road, afterall, and sometimes tests out recipes at Doyle’s.
Boston's most authentic (and only!) Scottish pub is right in the heart of JP. This cozy spot boasts a great selection of Scottish and American craft beers, ever-present Glaswegian party music and nifty antler chandeliers. Be sure to try the haggis and neeps if you’re a meat eater. Lads and lasses less enthused by sheep organs will appreciate the tomato birdie or barley risotto, made from locally foraged mushrooms. For dessert, make sure to order something with the Drambuie whipped cream.
Though not officially gay, this tiny, noisy, divey rock bar has always been popular with local queer folk. The mood is groovy, the drinks are cheap and the atmosphere is friendly as can be. On Thursdays, a rowdy, all-ladies crowd takes over the bumping dance floor and postage-stamp stage for Queeraoke.
Samuel Adams Brewery
The beer company whose name is all but synonymous with Boston brews its famous lager, and many other varieties, right here in JP. Brewery tours (held Monday through Saturday) allow you to follow the beer-making process from the selection of ingredients to the finished product—which, of course, you’re welcome to sample. You can try beers here that are brewed for local taps only, like Boston Brick Red. Somewhere, a certain beer-loving patriot is smiling in his grave.
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