When a restaurant and watering hole names itself "Tavern at the End of the World," one can only assume that the spot isn't located on Newbury Street in the Back Bay or Hanover Street in the North End. Indeed, this homey little Irish pub and restaurant on the Charlestown/Somerville border is located in a rather out-of-the-way spot that is often mistaken for Somerville (it resides in a tiny part of the Boston neighborhood that isn't actually on the Charlestown peninsula). And from the outside, it can easily be mistaken for a sketchy dive bar, with its small windows, unassuming sign out front, and location within a residential building near an area filled with old factory buildings and warehouses. But Tavern at the End of the World (whose name seems to be a play on Tavern on the Water, another drinking spot in Charlestown) is definitely located in Charlestown, and it is anything but a dive, with inventive dishes, an impressive beer list, and an eclectic clientele that includes construction workers, Irish immigrants, artists, college students, and businesspeople.
Tavern at the End of the World recently went through an ownership change and with it, some minor changes to both the space and the menu, but not enough to make it feel unfamiliar. The place isn't all that big of a spot, with the front room including a bar with a handful of stools, a few tables for dining, and a jukebox, while the back room has several more tables including some large, communal-style tables for big groups. The back room also is where some entertainment takes place, with live music and comedy being held on some nights. Both rooms are well-lit and clean-looking, giving the place a noticeably less dive-y feel than one might expect upon seeing it from the outside.
The beer list at Tavern at the End of the World might be the most impressive part of the place, with such well-regarded names as Chimay, Allagash, Jack's Abby, Elysian, New Belgium, Night Shift, and more featured here. But the food served at the restaurant is also worth noting, with many dishes being a cut above your basic Irish fare and pub grub. A few food items that you might not find at your typical watering spot include (depending on the season and the specials) mussels with curry and garlic; a beet salad with arugula and goat cheese; a delectable plate of handcut Tuscan fries complete with parmesan cheese and a robust black truffle oil; and a turkey, bacon, and Swiss sandwich on ciabatta. Tavern at the End of the World also features some familiar pub food and Irish fare is also offered, including curry fries that rival some of the best in the Boston area; a wonderfully juicy burger with BBQ sauce (the meat has a high fat content, imparting a ton of flavor); shepherd's pie with both lamb and beef used; a Cubano with pork loin, ham, relish, Swiss cheese, and mustard, all stuffed into bread from Iggy's; fish and chips that have little in the way of grease and lots in the way of flaky, mild-tasting fish; and a classic Guinness beef stew. For those looking for dessert, you may be able to order an over-the-top Mars Bar toastie with bananas, Belgian waffles, strawberries, and cream if it happens to be available on any given night. In addition to lunch and dinner, it is worth noting that Tavern at the End of the World also serves a traditional Irish breakfast as part of a weekend brunch menu.
Tavern at the End of the World seems to have a following among food and beer nerds who discovered it shortly after its opening. This makes sense, as the place features food and drink that tend to be higher in quality than that of your average drinking spot. Its location in a little-known corner of Charlestown is a bit odd, and its name might leave people scratching their heads, but Tavern at the End of the World really is a terrific little watering hole that pretty much defines what a hidden gem is.
Copyright © 2009-2019, Boston's Hidden Restaurants (www.hiddenboston.com).