Baseball lovers flock to Boston looking to get a glimpse of Fenway Park, the enduring edifice that has housed the storied and beloved Boston Red Sox franchise since 1912. Unfortunately, for many of those starry-eyed hardball lovers, a glimpse is all they’re likely to get, as recent years have found the Sox saddled with a greater curse than anything “the Bambino” could’ve dreamed up: the curse of popularity. Securing a ticket for one of Fenway’s 38,800-some odd seats is no easy task, and if the idea of bartering your firstborn to a ticket scalper doesn’t appeal to you, you’ll likely be looking for someplace else to watch the Sox take on their latest opponent. Fortunately, in the ever-growing, rejuvenated Fenway neighborhood, baseball is king, and there’s a large number of quality options where you can get your Sox on.
82 Lansdowne St., 617-351-7001 You can’t get much closer to seeing a game at Fenway then at Game On!, which is actually in Fenway—or at least attached to the front of it. Opened in 2005, Game On! is the new kid on the block, and is a departure from the wood-paneled, meat-and-potatoes sports bar of Boston’s past. With its light, airy and open upstairs dining room and its sleek, dark downstairs that resembles a nightclub, the environments at Game On! offer different appeals to the ever-diversifying demographics of Red Sox Nation. During big series, it’s nearly as hard to get into as the park itself, with a line outside that sometimes stretches around to the Fenway ticket office. But once you’re in, Game On! boasts yummy upscale takes on ballpark food (hot dogs, sandwiches, brick oven pizzas) and pretty much unlimited views of the game—seriously, just try and find a place other than the bathrooms without a TV in plain view (and even the bathrooms have the game audio pumped in!). After the game—when Sox fans finally stop fixating on the game and start checking out members of the opposite sex—it’s a prime spot for Sox fans to find the ideal partner for their own double-play combination.
1270 Boylston St., 617-867-6526 Inside Fenway Park, the seats high above the action atop the famed Green Monster are the most coveted vantage points for checking out the Sox. Outside Fenway, the Baseball Tavern’s roofdeck has to take the prize—located just a couple of blocks from Fenway, the roofdeck (complete with Fenway scoreboard replica) is the pride and joy of the tavern’s new location, which it moved into this year. The spacious new digs (multiple levels, including a game-room basement) mean that more Sox fans can check out the Sox here than they ever could at the old location—which achieved local fame in 2003 when Sox players including Kevin Millar and Derek Lowe sprinted in (in full uniform) moments after clinching a playoff spot and proceeded to pour drinks for happy Sox fans. Atop the Baseball Tavern, you can’t quite see into Fenway Park, but it’s the best way we know to feel close to the game while you sip a cocktail and cheer on the team.
62 Brookline Ave., 617-536-4840 Few Fenway area hotspots can boast that they not only hosted fans rooting for David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez when the Sox won the World Series in 2004, but also fans cheering on Pedro Martinez’s one-hitter against the Yankees in 1999, or Roger Clemens’ first 20-strikeout game in 1986, or Carlton Fisk’s famed foul pole homer in 1975. “The Cask” has seen all those moments and more since opening in 1969 (as Oliver’s). Owned by the Van Fleet family for decades, this classic neighborhood bar has been Ground Zero for generations of the most fervent Sox fans thanks to its close proximity to the park and its unabashed spirit of homerism. This year, the former delightfully divey saloon got a big-time facelift—including outdoor seating, raised ceilings, massive top-to-bottom bay windows opening up a view of Fenway Park and bustling Lansdowne Street, more tables and a lot more TVs (more than 50, including six 12-foot projection TVs, 42 and 50-inch plasmas, and even TVs in the bathrooms—take that, Game On!). It’s consistently packed on game days, so if you want to settle in for the long haul and watch a game, get there at about 5 p.m. for a 7:05 start. For those who aren’t into baseball… well, we question why you’re at the Cask in the first place, but there is a new back room complete with dance floor, DJs and the occasional live band, making Cask N’ Flagon a hit with just about anyone—with the possible exception, of course, of Yankees fans.
528 Commonwealth Ave., 617-532-9100 A decade ago, planning to meet someone for dinner in Kenmore Square probably meant 1 a.m. bacon and eggs at the late, great Deli Haus. Now, however, Kenmore Square is more than just a subway stop for the Fenway faithful—it’s home to a growing number of trendy bars and restaurants, with Eastern Standard setting, well, the standard in that regard. The restaurant—which boasts a fancy dining room anchored by a central 46-foot marble bar and outdoor patio seating that puts you in the middle of pre-game excitement—serves a diverse menu of gourmet dishes and simpler sandwiches, and attracts a refined rather than rowdy crowd. Still, if you show up with your party hoping to watch the Sox game, you won’t be disappointed—two 40-inch HDTVs can make even an upscale spot like ES seem as close to the action as being in the bleachers. (But without the guy spilling beer down your back.)
61 Brookline Ave., 617-536-BEER Enjoying a beer at the ballpark is a tried-and-true baseball tradition. But even a one-of-a-kind hardball haven like Fenway Park tends to be somewhat limited and unimaginative in its brew offerings. If your’re a beer connoisseur, getting shut out of Fenway could be the best thing that ever happened to you—if you have the presence of mind to stroll across Brookline Avenue to the Boston Beer Works, where you can sample any of more than a dozen specialty beers brewed on the premises. For the summer, BBW breaks out its Watermelon Ale, medium-bodied Summerworks Ale, the crisp Patriot Pilsner and others to complement an extensive and delicious food menu (try any of the eight different varieties of French fries—you can’t go wrong). Best of all, it’s equal parts restaurant and bar, and low on the drunken fanboy contingent, so it’s one of the better options for families visiting the Fenway. One word of warning: you may want to take a page from the old folks and “early-bird special” it if you want to get a table (think 4:30 or 5 p.m. for a 7:05 night game), or you can expect a table wait of more than an hour.
81 Kilmarnock St., 617-247-8099 Bostonians generally omit the “grill” when talking about this hangout tucked comfortably a few streets away from Fenway Park—it’s just “The Linwood,” thanks very much. The crowd here is a bit older and more laid-back than the throngs found at establishments closer to the park—folks who actually live in the Fenway or are season ticketholders who know they can stroll right into the park after they enjoy a pre-game nosh on delicious barbecue and eclectic appetizers like fried stuffed olives or crawfish gumbo. The Linwood is also popular with the rock ’n’ roll crowd because of its intimate club side where raucous local acts kick out the jams well after the bottom of the ninth.
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