Apr 7, 2023 - Food and Drink

5 Boston area bars to visit when you don't want to watch the big game

A crowded bar room

People conversing with one another and not staring at the idiot box. Photo: Mike Deehan/Axios

Sometimes, you just want to have a drink or a meal in peace, without a TV blaring whatever's on ESPN 8 that evening.

Yes, but: It's surprisingly hard to find bars around Boston that aren't absorbed in sports culture, especially during baseball season.

Sports broadcasts, with loud commercials and announcers screaming every 45 seconds, are even more annoying than the dad-rock Spotify stations most bars leave playing on the speakers.

  • And nothing kills the mood of a nice dimly lit bar more than seven 60-inch TVs shining obnoxious blue light all over everything.

That's why you need this handy guide to a handful of bars in and around Boston that don't have TVs (or at least have one very small, out of the way one).

Delux Cafe

100 Chandler St., South End

The retro boozer's paradise. There's one small CRT in the corner, but it's usually playing a VHS of some forgotten Italian B-movie or something just as obscure.

Grendel’s Den

89 Winthrop St., Cambridge

You're more likely to hear some barstool philosophers arguing about Kant than the Red Sox at this Harvard Square classic.

Mr. Dooley's

77 Broad St., downtown

Possibly the best Irish pub in Boston, Mr. Dooley's concentrates on providing a scene for pleasant company and good craic – not for sports.

Brendan Behan

378 Centre St., Jamaica Plain

The Behan is what all neighborhood pubs should be: cozy and dark with plentiful beers on tap.


7 Sanborn Court, Somerville

Somervillians know to go to this Union Square hidden gem for the craft cocktails and not to check the score.

Honorable mention: A special shoutout goes to the recently departed Atwood's. Let's hope whoever takes over the space leaves the wall-mounted OLEDs at the store.


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