The Inman Square sister restaurant to Somerville’s Bergamot, BISq is unabashed in its love of wine, which reveals itself in both the decor (check the wine bottle chandelier in the backroom) and the extensive, French- and German-focused list. Its small plates menu features hearty fare like Slow-braised lamb neck and even a double cheeseburger, alongside lighter bites like Maine sea urchin and grilled squid served with “tiger’s milks”—aka ceviche juice. The dark wood dining room provides many fine vantage points to relax over a Riesling, but a spot at the marble charcuterie bar that overlooks its open kitchen is hard to beat.
Cheese, charcuterie, a long countertop, and lively conversation with friends and strangers: The common element that rounds it all out is wine. Boston has no shortage of fine wine bars, and these are just a few of our favorites.
Set in Union Square’s Bow Market and named for a Bowie song, Rebel Rebel is an all-female-run natural wine bar with an unabashed attitude. Expect fierce competition for the 40 seats—20 indoors, 20 outdoors—and a list curated by a former Oleana somm filled with labels you may not recognize but won’t hesitate to order again. Snacking is limited to a cheese plate with Spanish potato chips, olives, and beef jerky, but you’re free to bring in food from any of Bow Market’s many vendors.
Tasting Counter, the micro-sized, ticketed tasting menu restaurant within Aeronaut Brewery, turns into Natural Wine Bar five nights a week. During select hours Tuesday through Saturday, the bar serves some of the same international natural wines paired with their dinner menus, with no reservations required. The definition of “natural wine” can be murky, but Tasting Counter has applied their own criteria: each is made from either organic or biodynamic grapes that have been harvested by hand and fermented with wild yeast. Just don’t think that the kitchen has closed up shop; small bites priced as low as $5 are served, making it one of the best deals in the city.
Spoke is that rarest of restaurant stories: the establishment that closes, only to re-emerge as an authentic but updated version of its former self. This Davis Square wine bar shuttered in December 2016 after three years in service, but was resurrected six months later by former employees. Now you can return to the small, narrow dining room enlivened by vibrant jungle-print wallpaper and select from dozens of by-the-glass offerings with a European concentration. Farm-focused small plates cooked up by Uni alums provide sustenance, and cocktail lovers should appreciate an innovative drink list featuring plenty of amari.
Cheese, charcuterie, and tinned fish demand to be washed down with wine, and tiny haley.henry in Downtown Crossing has all of it in spades. The shoebox-sized wine bar, made up primarily of bar and counter seating, nudges quaffers to try something new via a list focusing on naturally made, small-production wines sourced throughout the world. The option to order any by the half-bottle may further incentivize exploration.