Ahh, O'Sullivan's. This charming little Somerville restaurant is many things to many people; it is a sanctuary on snowy nights, an escape after a long day at work, and simply a comfortable place to discuss the news of the day over a beer and a burger (or a few beers and burger). RF O'Sullivan is an institution of sorts, though in a limited way, as it is not all that well-known a restaurant outside of the communities just northwest of Boston. Indeed, this dining and drinking spot, located on a mostly residential street where Somerville borders Cambridge, continues to be one of Metro Boston's great hidden gems after all these years.
O'Sullivan's could not be laid out any simpler; a wraparound bar with a few tables along the walls, a couple of TVs showing mostly sports, and a back wall made of stone with an electric fireplace built into it. Yet the eating is the thing at RF O'Sullivan. The burgers at this restaurant are award-winning (literally) and have no real competition. Imagine thick hunks of ground beef grilled like those at a summer barbecue, served with steak fries nearly half the size of a potato. Add a cold bottle of brew, and you have a perfect meal. Burger toppings, by the way, run the gamut from feta and cheddar to ham to gouda to three cheese jalapenos to mushrooms (including the Swissroom Burger) to fried eggs, the latter of which is a fairly recent addition to the menu. Another new-ish item is one that bacon lovers might want to try; it's called the Baconattor Burger, which is a mix of ground bacon and ground beef. Finally, two of the oldest (and best) burgers at the place are the blackjack burger, which comes with a zingy mayo and Cajun spices, and the J.D. Burger, which is smothered in house-made BBQ sauce.
O'Sullivan's has more than just burgers, however; their chili nachos are decadent, enormous, and quite tasty (and sometimes the nacho plates come with less cheese), their buffalo chicken tenders come with an excellent (and not-too-hot) sauce, their potato skins are substantial enough to be made into a meal, their chicken sandwiches are fresh and hearty, their oversized grilled hot dogs are decent, their steak and cheese rollup is overstuffed with thinly-sliced meat, and their nicely marinated steak tips, while not quite up there with the best in the Boston area, are certainly worth getting. So if you're not looking for a burger, O'Sullivan's is still a great option for lunch or dinner.
Yes, Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage in nearby Cambridge still has pretty amazing burgers after all these years, and it's true that Flat Patties in Cambridge and a handful of other Boston-area restaurants and bars serve some delicious patties as well. But no one makes juicy half-pound burgers quite like RF O'Sullivan. If you're skeptical of this claim, head over to this cozy little Somerville dining spot midway between Porter, Union, Harvard, and Inman Squares, and see for yourself. Beware, though; you might just forget about all the others very quickly. [Ed note: A second location of O'Sullivan's can be found in Lynn.]
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