Sometimes, you love the snow. Typically, this happens when winter has just started, the holiday ads have you convinced that snow is a pre-requisite to getting a new Lexus, and the sight of a dusting on Boston Common makes you want to drop whatever you’re doing to sip on something warm and alcoholic next to a fire. But things change by mid-January, when the holiday spirit wears off and the snow on the Common turns into an abstract ice sculpture made of frozen mud and discarded hot dog wrappers.
So whether it’s the first snowstorm of the year or the 50th, here are 16 places that’ll keep you from booking a one-way ticket to Southern California.
Where To go when you're not sick of the Snow yet
Between the wood-burning fireplace in the lounge area (which they actually use for cooking sometimes) and dishes like candy roaster pumpkin, Bondir is basically the cozy Berkshires cabin that would fall out of the sky if Martha Stewart were struck by a bolt of lighting while cross-country skiing. The menu changes frequently, but expect lots of high-end, hyper-local stuff, like skate wing with brown butter and foie gras.
When it comes to storm-preparedness, bread and water are overrated. All you really need is a fireplace, a drink, and some oysters. The Red House in Harvard Square has all of those things in a building that looks like a 19th-century farmhouse. It doesn’t hurt that the oysters are 2-for-$1 every day between 6 and 9pm, either.
Publico in Southie is normally a Mexican-ish restaurant that does a decent brunch on the weekend, but during the winter they turn their atrium into an apres-ski themed lounge called “The Lodge.” You can sit on Adirondack chairs in front of a gas fire and hope that you didn’t just contract mono from the ski shot you and your friends just downed.
Every four years you watch curling at the Olympics and tell everyone that you would be a terrific curler if you really tried. Well, now it’s time to prove it, because the Yard At The Liberty Hotel puts in a curling rink every winter. It’s not actually made of ice, but you’ll still get an idea of whether it’s time to get outfitted in some Roots gear for the opening ceremonies. The Yard only has drinks and some small bites, but if you somehow manage to work up an appetite while playing the least athletic sport in human history, you can head instead to Scampo.
When George Washington and Paul Revere got stuck in snowstorms, they didn’t have the internet to tell them where to get a decent snifter of mead. But they were probably smart enough to head to the Warren Tavern in Charlestown anyway. This place is exactly as cozy as a 238-year-old tavern with a fireplace sounds like it would be.
Lookout Rooftop and Bar
While all the seasonal skating rinks popping up all over town are nice, what we’d really like to see on every corner from December through March are pop-up igloos serving duck confit poutine. Until the mayor gets on that, your only option for those is at the Lookout Rooftop Bar in the Seaport. Each igloo fits 10 people and you can reserve them for up to two hours.
We’re not 100% sure what a Scottish moor is, but we suspect it’s cold, windswept, and possibly haunted. The Haven, a Jamaica Plain Scottish pub with a fireplace, throw pillows, and lots of antlers hanging from the ceiling, provides a perfect antidote to all that. Their scotch selection is, unsurprisingly, one of the best in the city. And since scotch is the ultimate regain-feeling-in-your-face drink, get yourself a glass to go with an above-average pub burger made with bacon-onion marmalade, and you’ll be feeling good no matter how cold it is outside.
Café Du Pays
Maple syrup is, indisputably, the best cold-weather condiment known to man. Canadians know this, which is why Cafe Du Pays, a French-Canadian restaurant in Kendall Square, uses it in at least four of its cocktails. But even if you stick to non-tree-based drinks, this is a great place to go during a storm since it feels like a dark, candle-lit little cabin in the woods. Unsurprisingly, the poutine is great here (and simple - they don’t mess around with any distracting high-end ingredients) but the whole menu is filled with things that will keep you warm, like venison, braised cabbage, and cranberry foie gras terrine.
Where To Go When you Can't remember what sun feels like
With fruity drinks, Asian fusion bar snacks like Filipino BBQ ribs and Rohan duck, and tropical decor, this South End tiki bar is a great place to help you pretend you don’t live in Boston. Beyond the bamboo and palms, Shore Leave also has the advantage of being underground without a single window, so you can completely forget about the fact that the weather outside is literally trying to kill you.
Do they have to deal with snow in Tokyo street markets? We have no idea - go ask Harvey Leonard. Regardless, they definitely don’t have to deal with snow inside this colorful, loud, sensory-assaulting Fenway izakaya that feels like a Tokyo street market. Grab a bowl of ramen or the wagyu short rib burger and try to ignore the fact that the ballpark across the street is still going to be shuttered for a few more months.
Tiger Mama is a Southeast Asian restaurant that looks like a jungle, which goes nicely with its menu of colorful curries and tiki drinks. And even more important than the Indonesian fried chicken that will warm you up when the outside is a frozen hellscape, is the fact that Tiger Mama has two different bars (one in the front and one in the back) so you can barhop without having to put your 10-pound down parka back on.
You know who doesn’t have to deal with snow? People who are smart enough to live in New Orleans. Pretend you’re one of them at this Cajun seafood place in the South End. With chandeliers, wrought-iron balconies, and things like cherry coke-glazed ribs and crawfish mac and cheese, it’s the closest thing Boston has to the French Quarter.
With hanging cafe lights, Day Of The Dead murals, and tables that look like they were made out of driftwood, Citrus & Salt looks like a destination wedding venue in Cozumel. So if none of your friends are having one of those in the dreary dead of February, head here for some ceviche and so many margaritas that you won’t even feel it when you slip on black ice later. (You’ll definitely feel it the next morning, though, which just means you’ll have to go back for more margaritas and a braised brisket taco.)
There are so many hanging plants at Field & Vine in Union Square, that it kind of feels like eating on the set of Bio-Dome, that terrible ’90s movie starring Pauly Shore and one of the more embarrassing Baldwin Brothers. The food here is way better than whatever you’d get at the craft services table, though. The menu is filled with highly seasonal small plates, and if you know what you’re doing, you’ll start with the cast iron cheddar cornbread made with slow-roasted pork shoulder, maple, and chili flakes, because it’s significantly better than any cornbread you’ve ever had before.
We’d like some MIT researchers to conduct a double-blind study to determine if merely humming The Girl From Ipanama makes you warmer. Because we definitely think that’s true every time we walk into Muqueca, a Brazilian beach shack of a restaurant in Inman Square. If nothing else, the big, flavorful fish stews will warm you up. But be sure to start with either the namesake moqueca or the shrimp bobo.
Escaping to Cuba in the middle of the winter would be a great way to forget about the fact that your car is buried under a foot of ice and frozen trash. But since we can’t advocate you breaking the law to do so, we suggest going to Mariel instead. This Cuban spot is covered with Havana-inspired street murals and filled with flaming cocktails, which you can use to regain movement in your left hand after battling the wind in Downtown Boston to get here. If you don’t know where to start, split the yuca cheese puffs and lamb belly.