Photos by Dan Vaillancourt, Patrick O’Connor Photography

Pulse picks for where to go for a good martini, live music, late night eats and more

September 2003 - We’ll start with The Above Club and go all the way through to Zara Jazz Club. In this issue of the Pulse we’re featuring Worcester’s night-life. Where to get a great apple martini. How to find late night eats like eggs any way, bacon, ham, sausage, homefries and toast for less than the cost of a CD or a good lipstick. The best places to listen to live music and of course, dance.

Here’s short bits and some pics on over 40 Worcester clubs. There’s lots of nightlife in Worcester. You just have to know where to find what you’re looking for.

Looking for a good martini?

Martinis. A drink that always looks good and make you feel fine no matter where you find it. Of course the special martinis have a big allure, like the popular apple martini which has that devilish sweet, green glow. But purists say the only way to have a really good martini is pure unvarnished vodka or gin with a whisper of vermouth, poured straight up over crushed ice into in a chilled glass, garnished with one perfect olive or a lemon twist.

Tia mixes up a martini at Goodfella’s on Shrewsbury St.

There’s lots of places in town where you can get a good martini. Since we’re doing the alphabet thing, we’ll start with The Art Bar, which we’ll mention for lots of different reasons in this section. Sit back in one of The Art Bar’s comfy couches and slowly sip an excellent martini.

Boston Billiards on Grove St., has been remodeled recently and now features an upscale martini bar with couches and a fireplace where you can sit and sip a ‘tini or shoot pool until 2 a.m., seven days a week. They are trying hard to make this place as successful as the Boston last year’s opening, they served some swanky food (the waitresses there are known to be mini-skirted hotties) and the drinks were excellent. Some big names in the billiards world pass through for special events......

Beth, Rene & Julie having a good time at Goodfellas.

At Foo Bar on Park Avenue, a very handsome man (featured in the Pulse’s spring fashion issue), Mr. Bernard Young, will make you a smooth martini, perfect for sipping in Foo Bar’s small, yet sophisticated space. Bernard, who also owns Foo Bar, was voted Wormtown Nightlife’s “Best Bartender of the Year”. He deserves special mention because he’s a terrific bartender, no matter what he’s mixing. The martinis are very good too. You can dance at Foo Bar to R&B and Top 40 tunes or pull up a chair on a slow night and watch your favorite sporting event on a big screen TV.

Next on the martini short list is Goodfella’s on Shrewsbury Street. Now this is a place that actually specializes in martinis and the list of choices for the drink of swings is long. We have a friend who says Goodfellas makes the best apple martini in town — the decor is also cool and smooth and the Sinatra music makes the whole experience flow together.

Of course, My Martini Bar, at 1 Exchange Place in the Atrium complex, makes every known martini and serves them with style on an elegant, spacious bar in a New York- sophisticated, club-style atmosphere. Also you can wander out to the courtyard to hear the live music under the stars at The Atrium...or head upstairs to The Copper Fox, the newest addition to this entertainment center, where you can get something tasty to keep you going for yet another martini.

Michelle is all bubbly at Goodfella’s.

We’ve also heard that My Martini Bar has become very popular on Alternative Night when the Cosmopolitans are killer, the conversation flows and the cuties are everywhere.

Back on Shrewsbury Street, we like One Eleven Chophouse and Pete the bartender, who makes almost any drink with style – but his Grey Goose martinis are top shelf. Enjoy one at One Eleven’s superb bar which also features a terrific (and relatively inexpensive) bar menu.

Red 1888 gets kudos for lots of things – it’s elegant, sexy and has a great bar – and the martinis here are as good as the decor and the music. If you’re looking for a dark, romantic, seductively-lit spot where you can sit on a couch and enjoy a martini with someone special after midnight, head for 41 Pleasant Street and Red.

Twins Lisa and Lori looking twice as nice on Shrewsbury St.

Red also offers music Wednesdays through Saturdays, including hip hop and reggae on Wednesdays, hip hop/techno/dance on Thursday College Nights, vocal progressive house and hip hop on Fridays and hip hop/r&b/dance/techno on Saturdays.

Some people are just good at mixing drinks and one of our favorites for martini-making is Vincent Hemmeter of Vincent’s on Suffolk Street and his pal, bartender David Ritchie, just up the hill from the Kenmore Diner. Look for a small, but bright place that says “This Is It” in the window. That’s Vincent’s, which doesn’t look like much on the outside, but here you can get a first-rate martini in a bar full of treasures — like a superb jukebox, some fascinating Worcester memorabilia and a one-foot tall martini glass....

Where to find live music

No matter what your musical taste, there is a place in Worcester County where you can hear live music. We’ll start with The Above Club on Park Ave. in Worcester which used to be the kind of place that featured folk music and strong coffee...but has been reincarnated as a hot spot where you can find live music from blues to salsa.

Every Friday night, “Club Candela” salsa, merengue and bacahata bring them in at The Above Club for $5, $10-$12, when a band is playing. The Above Club, 264 Park Avenue, Worcester (508) 752-2211.

Amore Café is building a solid following of people who like to listen to music out the street on warm summer nights, taking advantage of Shrewsbury Street’s latest attraction, under the stars sidewalk dining. On a recent July night, Amore was packed with people listening to a live act. This elegant supper-club-style place is more popular every year, especially on the weekends. The food is very good too. Amore Café, 92 Shrewsbury Street, Worcester. (508) 757-3104.

Voodoo Screw Machine’s singer Thomas X. Plimpton, center stage at the Lucky Dog

The Atrium, across town at Exchange Place, is especially popular for live music in the warmer months, featuring cover bands and more (The Atrium now has a roof structure over the courtyard area for winter-viewing too) as well as some theme parties. The Atrium, 1 Exchange Place, Worcester (508) 363-1392

If you follow Route 9 out of Worcester to Westboro, you’ll find Harry’s Too, a good restaurant which offers a full schedule of free live music including such recent acts as the Patrice Williamson Group, Myanna, the Paul Broadnax Trio and The Love Dog Quartet. All shows are from 7 to 10 p.m. Harry’s Too, (508) 898-2200

For good java and live music, the Java Hut on Main Street in Worcester has long been the hang-out of choice, offering a full line of coffee drinks, laid-back atmosphere and all kinds of live performances including music like the Jazz Jam nights with the Jay Tyer Trio and famed poetry readings such as the open poetry mic events with Tony Brown. Java Hut, 1073A Main Street, Worcester (508) 752-1678.

Of course, The Lucky Dog on Green Street is probably Best In Show when you’re talking about live music, whether for listening or dancing to. Long-time residents still talk about The Lucky Dog in the day when it was Sir Morgan’s Cove (decorated with a huge, painted British flag out front). The Rolling Stones (who were making an album at a studio close by) decided on a whim to play there.

At the Lucky Dog: Thermos

Probably no band since has lasted as long as The Stones, but still The Lucky Dog has more live music offerings than any other place in the city. Regular attractions include samba dancing to Brazilian DJs on Sunday nights, Going to Mars every Monday with GIRAFF (Duncan Arsenault, DJ Shame, Buck Paxton, Steve Mossberg and Erik Godin) and on Tuesdays, “Downtown Beirut” with DJ Matthew Griffin and his Gothic Go-Go Dancers the Whores of Babylon.

Featured bands are too numerous to mention but include Mullet Head, Little White Lies, Musclecah, Sheepfish, A Flock of Assholes, Kizmet, the Average White Boys and more. The Lucky Dog, 89 Green Street, Worcester (508) 363-1888

A few blocks up on Main Street, the Palladium pulls in some big-name, live music acts. The Palladium may not be the most relaxing, comfortable place to listen to live music, but still it’s good the area has a venue that attracts talent from beyond West Boylston.

Recent Palladium acts have included Autopilot Off, Sinking Body, Twiztid and David Lee Roth. The Palladium, 261 Main Street, Worcester (508) 797-9696

Shadow Child of Tainted Quill

The Plantation Club on Plantation Street has been supported for a long time by blues lovers who crowd the slightly funky, but comfortable road-house when such long-time big draws as Sleepy Le Bouef pull into town. The Plantation Club, 151 Plantation Street, Worcester (508) 752-4666

Lots of local bands have gotten their start at the Tammany Hall, which is just a hop, but worlds away, from glossy Red 1888 on Pleasant Street. Tammany (which figures prominently in our review of hot local band The Nine on page 6 of this issue) is low-key, easy-going and unaffected, the drinks are cheap, the staff relaxed and there’s lots of room for listening to your favorite local band.

Regular acts at Tammany include Josh Teter and The Late Messengers on Monday nights; “The Price Is Right” open mic with Chris Lepiesza on Tuesday nights and College Night on Wednesdays with DJ Shaman Mike. Tammany Hall, 43 Pleasant Street, Worcester (508) 791-6550

We’ll wrap up the live music list with Zara’s Jazz Club, which has made a lot of area jazz and blues lovers happy by showcasing such beloved acts as the Champola Latin Salsa Band, Little Red Riders with Lydia Fortune, the Lou Terriciano Quartet and The Bluesicians.

Zara’s also has an Open Blues and Jazz Jam every Wednesday night. Zara Jazz Club, 320 Main Street, Worcester, (508) 799-4797.

Finding a good time on a budget

Let’s face it, Worcester isn’t exactly an affluent city. One of the best things about this place is that it doesn’t cost a lot to live or be in school here. We’ve got a whole list of famous diners where you can totally fill up with piles of tasty, but cheap, eats (More on this in the Late Night Eats sidebar). And when it comes to going out on the town with just a few bucks in your pocket, the possibilities are endless in Wormtown.

Of course, college students are expert are finding places where you can have a great time for little money. Which is probably why a lot of the less expensive nightclubs can be found near college campuses, as opposed to more upscale, downtown spots.

So here’s a look at some clubs where you can get a beer for a buck, find free wings, hear music without a cover and dance for free.

One thing about college crowd bars – they either seem to last forever, like Leitrims, or they come and go, like Scarlett O’Hara’s, which became Congo Bongo and is now — BarFly! This new, recreated Main Street spot which is very close to Clark University, may have a brighter future than it’s predecessors, especially if they keep offering tempting specials like dollar shots and 50 cent drafts!

We hear that both Clarkies and Worcester State kids flock to this hip place for big drinks, billiards and good-looking bartenders, which figures with a name like BarFly. BarFly, 912 Main Street, Worcester, (508) 753-7101

Shrewsbury Street is chock-a-block with places where you can eat or drink a lot for not much, from Brew City which has the biggest selections of brews in the area (don’t miss the sample trays on the weekends), small cover and a good selection of reasonably priced food to Bottom’s Up which offers some good drink deals, an outdoor patio, darts, video games and live music on Tuesday nights. Brew City, 104 Shrewsbury Street, Worcester (508) 755-3862; Bottom’s Up, 275 Shrewsbury Street, Worcester (508) 363-3769.

(Left) Carrie and Tammy (Right) Kim Bucciadlia & Kim Sbrogna

Jeff’s, down the street a bit at 274 Shrewsbury, offers 10 oz. Martinis, cosmos and Stoli Dolis for less than you can get them most other places, a complete line of tropical and frozen drinks, an 8 big screen for sports and late hours (as well as a DJ for dancing from Wednesday through Sunday until 2 a.m. Jeff’s, 274 Shrewsbury Street, Worcester (508) 754-1553.

At Club Marque on Main Street, you can dance, dance, dance on two floors, no matter what your taste – and it’s 18-plus every night, a big draw for the college crowd who can’t get into a lot of other downtown places. College girls will especially like Thursday College Nights, when they can get in free and other attractions are Reggae Sundays, Break Dancing Wednesdays and split floor Friday and Saturdays. Club Marque, 336 Main Street, Worcester (508) 757-7779

Down on Green Street is The Dive Bar, which is famous for it’s cheap drinks, big crowds and late night fights. Lots of people crawl into The Dive after midnight, which has a fitting mural of a shark on it’s outside wall. The Dive Bar, 34 Green Street, Worcester (508) 752-5802

Kurve (formerly Blitz) on Main Street will give you a good time for little cash during Wednesday College Nights (18 plus, with ID), Thursday 19 plus nights and Friday and Saturday, 21 plus nights. Kurve, 281 Main Street, Worcester, (508) 754-8900

The granddaddy of good places to get low-cost drinks in a comfortable, laid-back style is Leitrims on Park Avenue, which has been making life fun for young folk under 30 for decades. Leitrims is always a good place to meet people, the drinks are plentiful, you can dance if you feel like it or just hang out. The cheap beer flows on Thursday College Nights and on Fridays and Saturdays, there is live entertainment. Leitrims, 265 Park Avenue, Worcester (508) 752-0502

The Flying Rhino is offering up a new late-night menu.

Where to go for Late night eats

Photos by Dan Dewey

It’s 2 a.m. and you’re starving.

Where do you go for midnight-and-after munchies? Well, the Worcester area is full of places that stay open either all night or most of it. From the diners, like the Kenmore and the Boulevard, where you can just about anything you’re craving all night long from a burger to eggs over easy to homemade pie, to places like The Flying Rhino on Shrewsbury Street which has completely redesigned their menu to include specials for everyone from carnivores to vegetarians, there’s lots of late night fare out there.

Since we’ve been going alphabetical all the way through, we’ll start with Bahnan’s Bakery & Café, on Water Street in Worcester which has recently introduced a late night menu featuring the Bakery’s delicious homemade bread in sandwiches and goodies galore. Bahnan’s is popular round the clock for breads, pastries, cakes, pies and all kinds of sinful desserts. Bahnan’s Bakery & Café, 106-112 Water Street, Worcester (508) 457-7776

If you’re hungering for delicious pizza in the middle of the night, Blue Jeans Pizza on the Corner of Park Ave. and Pleasant Street serves up all kinds of pizza pies for late night splurges, as well as burgers, pasta, subs and burgers – and 32 flavors of ice cream – until midnight, Sunday through Thursday and until 1 a.m. on the weekends. Blue Jeans Pizza, Park Ave., Worcester (508) 753-3777

"The Bully" serves breakfast day and night.

The Boulevard Diner on Shrewsbury Street, or “The Bully” as it is affectionately called by long-time Worcesterites, has a complete menu of homemade specials that will keep you rocking all night long like big cheeseburgers and a huge plate of fries, delicious soups and eggs, eggs, eggs. The favorite of many late-nighters is the “Boulevard Special” — a couple of eggs, bacon, sausage, homefries, toast for around $6.00. Of course another attraction of the Boulevard is the atmosphere – this is a honest-to-God diner in a charming old railroad car. The Boulevard, 155 Shrewsbury Street, Worcester (508) 791-4535

IHOP on Rte. 9 in Shrewsbury gives discounts to college students... and is open until 3 a.m., Fridays and Saturdays.

Also on Shrewsbury Street is The Flying Rhino, a very popular café that offers delicious eats for lunch, dinner and late night including all kinds of salads, sandwiches, pastas and more that will give you the energy to keep on boogying until the sun comes up. The Rhino has expanded their late night menu to include all kinds of entrees — owner Paul Barber says the restaurant even has late night dishes for vegetarians. Another special feature of this café is the addition of outdoor dining during the warmer months. The Flying Rhino, 278 Shrewsbury Street, Worcester, (508) 757-1450.

Down Route 9 from The Boulevard towards Shrewsbury is an IHOP that is open until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays...if you’re a college student, show your ID and receive a 10% discount anytime on pancakes any way you like ‘em. Sundays through Thursdays, IHOP is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. International House of Pancakes, Route 9, Shrewsbury (508) 791-9328

The Kenmore Diner is open all night long

Another popular diner for late night munchies is the famous Kenmore, located right under Route 290 behind Union Station. The Kenmore, which had to be completely rebuilt after the Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse fire a few years ago, is open all night long for all kinds of simple, but delectable meals. Breakfast is served round the clock. The Kemore is open from 11 p.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. to 1 p.m. on weekends. The Kenmore Diner, 250 Franklin Street, Worcester (508) 792-5125.