Boston's Hidden Restaurants

Eight Cozy Restaurants and Bars for Cool Fall Days

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Where to go when the leaves start to turn and the temperatures start dropping.

photo of Mezzo Mare, Hull, MAAs the summer winds down, thoughts often turn to such things as foliage trips, apple picking, football, and finding dining and drinking spots that may have fireplaces, warm and inviting bar areas, and comfort food. The Greater Boston area and Eastern Massachusetts in general has no shortage of such spots, and while all of the places below are great year around, they tend to have a more special feel to them as the days get shorter and colder.

1) Flann O'Brien's, Boston (Mission Hill)
Irish pubs tend to be perfect spots for cool fall days, and this little-known watering hole on the southern edge of Brigham Circle is a perfect example of this, with its fireplace, pictures of Irish writers on the walls, and long bar that is the centerpiece of the space. The food and drink at Flann's seem to go well with the fall season, with such options as curry fries, beef stew, and pints of Guinness helping warm the soul (and the stomach).

2) Cagney's, Quincy
For some reason, places that are conducive to eating at the bar seem to be good fall options, perhaps because of football on TV or maybe because bars are often physically warmer spots than seats by the window (and it could be the lack of light itself). Whatever the reason, this neighborhood joint just south of Quincy Center is a terrific place to belly up to the bar for food and drink, especially if you like whisky flights, which will definitely warm you up.

3) Atwood's Tavern, Cambridge (Inman Square), MA
Speaking of dark spots, few have dimmer lighting than this warm and inviting place just east of Inman Square, and between its classic American fare, endless beer and whiskey lists, and quirky music (both on the speakers and live), Atwood's almost has the feel of a public house in Britain or Ireland. Its food options such as mac and cheese, pork chops, burgers, and roasted chicken are just what the doctor ordered as those hot summer days continue to disappear in the rear view mirror.

4) 75 Chestnut, Boston (Beacon Hill)
Beacon Hill feels more like a fall or winter place in some ways with its gas lamps, charming old streets, and tiny shops and restaurants, and this neighborhood favorite which is hidden away off Charles Street indeed feels more "right" on those nights when the smell of woodsmoke is in the air. Formerly a high-end restaurant, 75 Chestnut is now a casual upscale place that features old-school favorites such as steak tips, fish and chips, and pork chops, along with retro and modern cocktails.

5) Winthrop Arms, Winthrop
Hotel restaurants have their supporters and their detractors, but what better place to be on a cool fall day then in an historic hotel overlooking the water? That's what you have with this quaint old spot, that's so hidden away that many still don't know about it after so many years in business. If you like unpretentious family-friendly dining places with dishes such as chicken cordon bleu and turkey dinner, definitely check this one out.

6) Mezzo Mare, Hull
While on the topic of seaside restaurants, it may seem that places along a beach may be better suited for the summer, but when you add a wood fireplace and big portions of Italian food, that line of thinking may change a bit. Mezzo Mare is just about the perfect spot when you're trying to get out of the cold (and wind--which you often get at Nantasket Beach), and such dishes as risotto, gnocchi, and lasagna will certainly warm your insides,as will a glass or two of wine.

7) Johnson's Drive-In, Groton
For those who like apple picking, the "apple country" areas northwest of Boston have some great little roadside restaurants to hit after doing some picking, including this rustic old spot built into the side of a hill along Route 119. Johnson's is an instantly familiar restaurant in some ways, with its ice cream window outside, counter service area and old wooden tables inside, and patio and terraced dining area out back. Oh, and the fried chicken, fried scallops, and burgers and hot dogs (and ice cream) will make you head home with a full belly and a smile.

8) The Fieldston, Marshfield
In the fall, it's really tough to beat the old New England-style restaurants with their fireplaces, low ceilings, dark woods throughout, cozy bar areas, and classic regional fare, and this little-known spot has all of this and more. Situated in an old boathouse, The Fieldston has the feel of being in someone's home, and such comforting dishes as grilled sirloin, chicken parm, stuffed cod, and grilled swordfish only help to highlight this.

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