Nautical-themed oasis in Boston’s downtown

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Barracuda Tavern overlooks old Governor’s Alley, off of Tremont Street. Photos courtesy of

Up a flight of stairs just off Tremont Street, near Downtown Crossing, you’ll find one of Boston’s most uniquely decorated bars—what one writer hailed as “Moby Dick meets Pottery Barn.” Barracuda Tavern’s distinctly nautical theme is anchored by a stranded rowboat, and sea creatures, including a few mermaids, are scattered throughout.

We stopped by on a recent Thursday to find customers of several stripes clustered at the bar and tables. This is the kind of place popular with the after-work crowd and those seeking a casual, inexpensive dinner. The cozy one-room bar has several high-top tables as well as larger ones along the windows, making it a great stop for any size group.

Barracuda Tavern’s menu is simple: beer, wine, small tapas plates, and a handful of entrées. There is no hard liquor, so if you’re looking for mixed drinks, keep looking. What the tavern does offer is a wide array of beers and ciders, both draft and bottled—nearly 50 choices. Choose from lagers, ales, pilsners, wheat beers, IPAs, porters, and stouts. We opted for a bottle of Wells Banana Bread beer ($6), which was served with a chilled signature glass and tasted startlingly like a fresh loaf of bread.

places to eat drink near Boston University BU, Barracuda Tavern, ocean themed pub, beers, appetizers, tapas

Barracuda Tavern offers almost 50 different beers and hard ciders.

We decided to order mostly from the tapas menu, which features a unique selection of plates ($4, $5, and $6). The word “tapas” is used rather liberally—the menu has appetizers not ordinarily considered classic tapas, such as calamari ($5), blackened catfish skewers ($5), and fish tacos ($6). We ordered the Disco Fries ($4), a mixture of hand-cut fries, cheddar cheese, scallions, bacon bits, and gravy. The dish had a smoky flavor and left you wanting more. Although the fries were messy to eat, the flavors were so delicious that you didn’t mind licking your fingers.

Since tapas servings are small and meant to be shared, we also ordered a plate of five small meatballs, which came drenched in marinara sauce and covered with parmesan cheese, pepper flakes, and oregano ($4), savory cheese and tomato pierogies in a tomato garlic and herb sauce ($4), spicy scallops in a sweet chili sauce ($5), calamari with cherry peppers, garlic, and chipotle aioli ($5), and two fried haddock tacos stuffed with a spicy slaw and chipotle sauce ($6).

It was the sauces that made each tapas dish unique. The pierogies’ tomato garlic and herb sauce highlighted the dumplings’ cheesy taste without making them overly heavy. The spicy scallops more than lived up to their name, with the chili sauce a little overwhelming, but the scallops were plump and fresh. The fish taco seasoning balanced well with the grilled corn tortillas and the crispy haddock, but like the chili sauce, packed some heat.

places to eat drink near Boston University BU, Barracuda Tavern, ocean themed pub, beers, appetizers, tapas

Disco Fries: hand-cut fries covered in melted cheddar cheese, pieces of bacon, gravy, and scallions, one of Barracuda’s most popular tapas dishes.

We tried one of Barracuda’s entrées, as well. The tavern serves soups and salads, steak tips ($17), fish and chips ($16), and several other seafood dishes. We ordered a Tavern Burger ($9), which came topped with Boursin cheese, sautéed mushrooms, and bacon. The burger was well cooked and flavorful, but was beat by the tapas plates.

Through the week, Barracuda offers great food specials, making it ideal for anyone on a budget. On offer all day Monday are pork or beef sliders ($2), on Taco Tuesdays it’s a choice of chicken, beef, pork, or fish tacos ($2), and on Wednesdays, it’s wings ($.25).

If you’re looking to dance, Barracuda Tavern is not where you want to spend your Friday night. The night we stopped by, the music was great, with an eclectic selection of popular songs from every era, but there’s almost no space to dance. This is a place instead for friends to share a meal, have a few drinks, and meet friendly people.

Barracuda Tavern is at 15 Bosworth St., second floor, in the old Governor’s Alley, off Tremont Street, Boston; phone: 617-482-0301; hours: Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The tavern accepts all major credit cards. By public transportation, take any inbound Green Line trolley to Park Street, walk up Tremont Street, and take a right onto Bosworth.

This is part of a series featuring Boston nightlife venues of interest to the BU community. If you have any suggestions for places we should feature, leave them in the Comment section below.

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