Boston's Fenway Park Bars
Where People Party Before And After Red Sox Games
One of America's grandest ballparks, just being at Fenway Park is a great experience.
In a city with historic buildings dating back to the American Revolution, a stadium exists that dates back almost to the beginning of baseball.
Fenway Park is just four years younger than Jack Norworth's "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," which was penned in 1908. When Fenway was built, there were only eight teams in the American League.
The Fenway Park pre-game crowd on Yawkey Way.
Fenway Park Facts & Fan Information
• 4 Yawkey Way, (617) 267-1700. Web Site.
• Opened in 1912. Capacity is 33,871.
• The Green Monster is 37 feet high.
• Single-game tickets, $12-165 (atop the Green Monster).
• Yawkey Way opens two hours before gametime for ticket holders only; no re-entry.
• Yawkey Way food vendors sell Italian sausage, Fenway Franks, Monster Dogs, Philly Cheesesteaks, Luis Tiant Cuban sandwiches and pizza slices, plus domestic and imported beer
• Food inside Fenway includes Polish sausage Hamburger/cheeseburgers and chowder (let it cool first).
• Domestic beers are $7.25 for 12 ounces, the highest per-ounce price in the game. Imported Irish beers are available at the Irish Pub Company between Grandstands 17-20), and wine, frozen margaritas and daiquiris are sold at Grandstands 25-27)
• The manual scoreboard is still used.
• Located approximately two miles east of Boston Common and a short walk from Newberry Street. [MAP]
• Public Transportation (T) stop at Kenmore; any Green Line train except the "E" car ($1.25 one-way; last train at 12:30 p.m.)
• ATMs are located around and within the stadium.
It's a unique design – the outfield seats cut into centerfield at a strange angle and a huge 37-foot-high wall known as the Green Monster dominates left field. And it has a history as great as Boston itself.
The names who have played here and the moments they created make attending a game at Fenway Park a moving experience. It's a step back in time.
The old red brick exterior, compact concession areas and the sight-restricting metal pillars supporting the upper deck invite thoughts of what it was like in the days of Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, Jim Lonborg, Rico Petrocelli, Fred Lynn, Jim Rice and Yaz. Even Bill "Spaceman" Lee.
The great Ted Williams has a statue at Yawkey and Van Ness.
Yet much as the Pesky Pole, the Green Monster, Carlton Fisk's homer and even Bucky Dent's dinger have defined this park so, too has the legendary atmosphere surrounding it before and after games.
People just don't attend Red Sox games, they experience them. It starts nearly three hours before the first pitch and it continues well beyond the last out. Bar-heavy Lansdowne Street and the near-carnival experience of Yawkey Way give the games an atmosphere of a college football game. But instead of occurring on a half-dozen Saturdays in the fall, it happens 81 times a year in spring, summer and fall. (In good years, it extends into October; in great years, it goes deep into the month.)
Fenway Park Bars – Before The Game
The first pitch, to to speak, of pre-Red Sox bars is the Clask & Flagon.
The first pitch, so to speak, is at the corner of Lansdowne and Brookline Ave. The Cask 'N Flagon is a tradition that goes as deep as the outfield. It's the first bar on the first corner approaching the stadium and going inside is as automatic as the infield fly rule. Like Fenway itself, the Cask is a crazy, casual tavern for beer drinkers. This is not to say it's a haven for aging Sox fans. Instead, it's overwhelmed with younger fans, many of them in their 20s and 30s, making for a rather peppy singles scene.
There are two sections, the original in the front that has most of the action and a "wow there's elbow room after all" larger, more open area in the rear. The front is basic, steamy and has that true tavern flavor. The rear has a huge-screen TV, soothing air-conditioning and a large bar hugging two of the walls. Eventually, just about everyone wanders in to keep track of the Yankees. There is a kitchen and tables protect the walls from the standing drinkers.
Across Brookline, an active two-lane street with cars and cabs zooming to a halt in front of Fenway or the Clask, is Boston Beer Works. A pristine microbrewery and restaurant, it is bright, clean and proudly displays steel beer kettles behind a see-through wall, almost as if they are in a glass case. Compared to its aged surroundings it looks like a modern edifice, almost like a museum. With a dozen or so self-brewed beers on tap, it pretty much is for beer lovers. While people crowd around the long beer counter in the back, Boston Beer Works is primarily for the a sit-down-for-diners as opposed to the all-out cocktail sluggers.
Diners also touch home at Tequila Rain and the Tiki Room. Tequila Rain is a nice sit-down restaurant with windows that open to a streetside patio and great plasma TVs (no true Red Sox fan orders the slushy drinks). The Tiki Room is famous for its pupu platters and 64-ounce drinks served in a huge margarita glass. Both bars are at the end of Lansdowne. There are a few street vendors selling Italian sausages on Lansdowne. Go for the peppers and onions; it's the Fenway way.
The atmosphere on Yawkey Way is like a college tailgate barbecue.
A band provides live entertainment on Yawkey Way on this day.
One of the many vendors on Yawkey Way before a Red Sox game.
There are lots and flags, giving Fenway Park a roarin' 20's feel.
Here's the backside view of the Green Monster from outside Fenway.
While the bars are lively, no trip to Fenway is complete without a walk down Yawkey Way. On the opposite side of Fenway from Lansdowne, famous Yawkey Way is where to find that college ambiance. There's an old-time band playing, the local TV show is broadcasting its live pregame show and a guy on stilts plays catch with youngsters. Up against Fenway's old brick wall are vendors grilling up hot dogs, Italian sausages, Philly Cheesesteaks, even Cuban sandwiches (a Fenway "tradition" started by pinwheeling former pitcher Luis Tiant from Cuba). Despite these temptations, the pizza has the longest line. (We recommend the Italian sausages.)
Yawkey Way is largely a family scene, which makes sense because part of baseball's tradition calls for dads taking their sons to games.
The only catch is that in order to enjoy this experience, fans have to, in essence, give up their tickets. Or at least their freedom of movement. In 2003, the Red Sox made Yawkey part of Fenway Park so there's a gate at each end with attendants scanning tickets. There is no in-out policy so it's impossible to wander over to Yawkey and back to the bars. The advantage here is that beer is available.
There is one bar, a large dive that's popular on weekends with the college crowd, Who's On First. Ticket-holders can round this base again and again. Some people just go there for the cheap beer ($7 pitchers some nights) and not the game. They enter from the back door but are not allowed on Yawkey.
A statue of Ted Williams is at Yawkey and Van Ness.
Enjoying The Game
For sucn ahold ballpark, there's hardly a bad seat in the house.
One of the best things about Fenway Park is that it has amazing site lines. Unless you're behind one of those support beams, there's hardly a bad seat in the house. The manual scoreboard at the base of the Green Monster adds to the throwback feel of Fenway.
The concession areas are a bit tight but restrooms are plentiful. There are abundant consumption choices – food ranges from cheeseburgers to chowder – and even frozen margaritas. An Irish "pub" has imported Irish brews; they are moe expensive beer the is quicker. The chowder leaves a bit to be desired. As they say here, "all the clams jumped out!"
The most famous wall in sports is the Green Monster.
The fans are uniquely Red Sox. They expect the worst to happen and complain about the tiniest lack of perfection in a player. Sometimes, something will happen that causes an instant flashback to a past team failure – it could have happened 40 years ago – and you can hear them gripe about it.
We'll give 'em this, though: They know their team, anticipate a manager's moves and know not only the players on both sides, but their strengths, weaknesses and even tendencies. Do these people work or spend all day keeping up with the Sox? And, in proof patience does indeed (eventually) pays off, their team won it all in 2004.
Fenway Park Bar – After The Game
After games, the Cask fills up like an empty beer glass under a tap.
Win or lose, celebrate or drown those sorrows, Red Sox fans stream out of Fenway and back to the Cask. It's not long after the final out that it begins to fill up so those looking to get inside quickly are advised to move fast. Again, it's the front bar that offers the best pitches for those swinging for the social fences.
It can be an intoxicating scene but people looking to really cut loose must do so elsewhere. Bartenders are not allowed to serve shots after the games for fear people will get too out of hand. (We understand if the Yankees are playing but the same rule applies when Devil Rays are in town.) Instead, a pleasantly attractive if not slightly persistent shot girl offering sugary mixes in a tube circles the bar like a home run hitter circling the bases. Gamers seeking to get grand slammed are best advised to get torched at the Tiki Room.
The other big spot – and we mean big – is Jillian's. The place is longer than a tape-measure home run and taller than the Green Monster. Around the corner from the Tiki Room on Ipswitch, it's an elegant sports lounge with pool tables, ping-pong, an arcade, even a bowling alley. This multi-level sports-and-bar complex is best on the second level, with its spacious bar area, comfortable couches, big-screen plasmas and Vegas-quality waitresses.
After big games, there can be long lines, even at a place as spacious as Jillian's. It can also go on until closing at 2 a.m. The last T train is at 12:30; on weekends buses pick up the slack.