No. 5: Bakersfield Mass Ave

Perhaps the most crowded tavern on an avenue full of them.

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Margaritas at Bakersfield
Margaritas at Bakersfield

This honky-tonk borrows every cool-bar element from the last few years: exposed brick, Edison bulbs, Mason-jar margaritas. Given the polish, few would be surprised to learn the watering hole has a corporation behind it—the place joins four other Bakersfield locations, all owned by the guys who started the Currito burrito chain. That Tabasco-lime sauce and citrus slaw on everyone’s favorite fish tacos? Straight from headquarters.

But do we care? Clearly not, because when Bakersfield opened in 2013, the picnic-table benches and the stools at the butcher-block tables became some of the hottest seats in town. Everyone from your mechanic to your dad, it would seem, was waiting to belly up to the bar to sip PBR from a mug shaped like a cowboy boot. Mood music here consists of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens—the place takes its name from the California town where Owens originated his country-rockabilly style.

“Tacos Tequila Whiskey,” proclaims the sign out front, and indeed those are the mainstays. The tacos: petite roll-ups, consisting of two bites of pork-and-pineapple or corn-truffle-and-cheese apiece. The tequila: shaken with lemon-lime juice and agave nectar for margaritas. The whiskey: Buffalo Trace, barrel-aged, mixed with sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters for a classic Manhattan.

That’s pretty much it. And that’s enough. Beyond those drink choices, you’ll find little other than a house rose sangria and a few beers. This time of year, these concoctions are best enjoyed not in the main bar, walled off as it is in corrugated metal and brick, but in the spacious patio area. Can’t find a seat? Try the bonus bar downstairs—and take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. 334 Massachusetts Ave., 317-635-6962

 

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