Exploring Boston’s Historic Taverns: Part 2

Ed Greable Blogger October 12, 2017

Boston is home to a number of historic taverns offering great brews, food and a historic past. In this second of a two-part series, we will explore more of these

Bell in Hand

Built in 1795, Bell in Hand is the oldest continuously operating tavern in the country, having only been shut down during Prohibition when every legitimate bar in the United States was shut down. The tavern was built by Boston’s last Town Crier, Jimmy Wilson, when he retired. The name of the tavern refers to the bell that he used to carry on the job.

Famous Bell in Hand patrons have included Paul Revere and Daniel Webster. In those days, the tavern only served Smith’s Philadelphia Cream Ale and none of the “hard stuff.” This tradition continued until 1919. Today, the tavern features live music and DJs every night of the week, while Tuesdays place a spotlight on karaoke music. Mondays are trivia nights. The building boasts two floors, five bars and large plasma televisions. The tavern also offers full restaurant service for lunch and dinner.

Bell in Hand is located around the corner from the Green Dragon, which was explored in Part 1 of this two-part series, in the historic downtown area at 45-55 Union Street. To get a quiet look at the bar, go early in the day. At night, the bar is considered to be one of the hottest nightspots in the Faneuil Hall area. Most nights charge a cover charge.

Union Oyster House

The Union Oyster House holds the title of being the oldest restaurant in Boston as well as the oldest restaurant in continuous service in the United States. Occupying a building that dates back to pre-revolutionary days, the restaurant has been serving customers since 1826. Since that time, its dining rooms have changed very little aside from incorporating electric lights.

Boasting post-colonial décor, Union Oyster House is known for its oyster bar and perfectly cooked fresh seafood. Enjoy drinks along with whole steamed lobsters, seafood pie or a New England shore dinner. Union Oyster House is located at 41 Union Street.

See Them All with a Pub Crawl

If you are short on time and you want to check out several historic pubs, here is an itinerary that will help you see them all in just one night:

  • Make reservations for 7:00 pm at Union Oyster House. Be sure to get oysters while you are there and consider a cup of fish chowder.
  • Go next door to Bell in Hand and stick around until 10:00 for the DJs and music.
  • Head around the corner to the Green Dragon Tavern, which will likely be relatively quiet compared to Bell in Hand at this time of night. Order a medium rare steak and listen to the music.

On your way back to your hotel, enjoy wandering through Boston’s historic downtown core.

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