One of the best-known roads for dining in the Greater Boston area is Moody Street in Waltham, which is also known to many as "Restaurant Row." And while this busy street between Route 20 and the Newton line indeed has a number of dining spots, it is also a bit on the rough side in some ways, with adult shops and dive bars mixed in among the eateries. One of the drinking spots on Moody--a tiny spot called The Gaff--looks like it could be one of those dives upon first glance, but looks can be deceiving, as it is closer to a beer bar than anything, with one of the best beer lists you will find anywhere in the western suburbs of Boston.
As previously mentioned, The Gaff looks a bit more like a dive bar from the outside than a beer bar or a gastropub, and the fact that it is literally next door to one of those aforementioned adult shops doesn't help all that much, either. But once inside, you will find a small but comfortable place that has couches in the front, several high-top tables along the left wall, and a long bar with seating along the right wall. The abundance of dark woods and old-fashioned lights gives The Gaff a bit of a speakeasy feel to it, not unlike such Boston-area spots as Deep Ellum in Allston or Joe Sent Me in North Cambridge (minus the extra dining areas in the latter).
The Gaff is, in a way, a serious beer bar, with a few food items also included on its menu (more on that in a bit), but the main thing here is definitely the beer; here you will find a large number of brews on tap, including some excellent local ones from such brewers as Pretty Things and Jack's Abby, others from elsewhere in the country such as Left Hand and Victory, and beers from overseas including Weihenstephaner and Lefebvre (cask beer is also offered, and samplers are available). Many more bottled and canned beers can be found at The Gaff as well, with some top ones coming from Maine Beer Company, Chimay, Spencer Brewery, and Unibroue. For those who would rather have something other than beer, The Gaff also serves a variety of cocktails and martinis, with both old-school and modern concoctions included. Some very good food options are offered on the menu here, by the way, including a hummus plate with rich house-made roasted red pepper hummus, reuben fritters that are deep-fried and served with 1000 island dressing, "frickles," or sharp-tasting deep-fried pickles with ranch dressing, aromatic parmesan truffle fries, a beefy house-made quarter-pound hot dog with pineapple, candied bacon, and caramelized onions on an Iggy's roll, a juicy burger made with a blend of chuck, brisket, and sirloin, and an Irish BLT with multi-grain bread. Food prices are reasonable, with items tending to be under $10, while drink prices run the gamut from cheap to very expensive, depending on what you order (some beers have higher prices than anything on the food menu).
There are hidden gems, and then there are hidden gems, and The Gaff is certainly one of the more "hidden" spots featured on this site. It may be on a near-legendary Boston-area street for dining out, but somehow it remains a place that no one seems to know about, perhaps because some assume it's a sketchy dive bar. Nothing could be further from the truth, however, as The Gaff is a friendly, laid-back watering hole that is a true beer-lover's dream.
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