The Gallows

By Molly McDonough   South End · New American · $$

A bar named after an execution device, with a giant Ouija board on one wall and Poe’s “The Raven” scrawled scripta continua (alongside some mannequin limbs) on another? Yep, sounds morbid. Yet The Gallows is anything but: Its reclaimed wood walls recall a cozy cabin, and the string light-adorned, cordoned-off dining area feels like an indoor patio. If you skeptically stepped through its unremarkable entrance for a drink, you nonetheless left knowing you’d uncovered a hidden gem. After-work go-to cocktail spot; boozy brunch hangout; poutine pilgrimage destination—there are so many reasons to love The Gallows.

Especially these days, when so many trendy restaurants dot the South End’s brick-walled streets that most diners flock to the latest hotspot, overlooking pub food in favor of more pointed concepts. But with the powerhouse team behind Banyan Bar + Refuge and Blackbird Donuts at the helm, The Gallows perfectly straddles a line between the generic and the exceptional, providing a welcome neighborhood respite.

That’s crystal clear when doors open at 5 p.m. and the post-work horde streams into the airy bar section to sip on strong yet crafty cocktails. That corner’s always crowded but somehow always has space—squeeze into a stool facing a countertop with just enough room for a draft cocktail and a snack (like the perfectly oozing Scotch Egg with a hint of sausage coating). During weekend brunch, we recommend vying for a table; you’ll need ample space for bowls of beer-braised Corned Beef Hash capped off with poached eggs and swirly rye, plus plates of johnnycakes topped with pulled pork and black pepper maple butter.

Further proof that The Gallows nails bar food? The way it elevates iconic Québécois poutine from what is too often a soggy, curdy gimmick into the perfect trifecta it should be. First, there are the fries—thick and golden-hued and crisp, named Best of Boston in 2015, never bogged down by the gravy. Speaking of—remember your grandma’s gravy, how it was meaty and deep with aromatic complexity? Picture it all crowned with the choicest curds, a ricotta variety that’s airier and softer than the squeaky type you may have had farther up north. With the vision of poutine in your brain, we won’t be surprised if you forego the rest of what the South End has to offer and end up at The Gallows again on your next trip. We’ll probably be there, too.


Like brunch food but hate getting drunk and full of pork in the middle of the day? The Gallows offers “Brinner”—the entire brunch menu, plus dinner staples—every Monday night.

No reservations are accepted for groups smaller than six. We like that system here; it encourages us to swing by in hopes of a table, and to drink while waiting for it.

Hidden from the menu, there is one dessert: the Stoner’s Delight. It’s everything you’d imagine it would be given the name. Ask for it—but only if someone’s willing to share with you.

Must Haves

  • The Gallows offers vegetarian and “out of control” options (currently, a 50 States of Poutine selection with rotating renditions inspired by regional American cuisines), but there’s a reason the simple fries-curds-gravy combo has always reigned supreme.

  • A perfect balance of every taste you love. Salty meat, sweet caramelized onions, acidic pickles—plus American cheese for fat and iceberg for a bit of crunch.

  • Beer-braised meat brings extra oomph to this breakfast classic served with sunny-side-up eggs and rye toast-one of Boston's best iterations.

Fun Fact

This zone of Washington Street is the former site of Boston’s town gate, where the actual wooden gallows used to execute burglars and murderers was located.

Tastes of The Gallows

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