First Bite: Lord Hobo

Cambridge's burgeoning bar scene welcomes new royalty.

First Bite Lord Hobo

Photograph by Robert Perachio

With the debut of Lord Hobo, hot on the heels of Trina’s Starlite Lounge, it seems Cambridge’s Inman/Kendall area has finally achieved enough hipster mass to draw the thirsty hordes from across the river—flannels, fingerless gloves, and all. Occupying the former B-Side space (once ground zero for Boston’s cocktail revival), the new nightspot opened to high expectations. Owner Daniel Lanigan ran two cult beer bars in Amherst and Northampton, and his love of quirky, hard-to-find brews earned him plenty of regulars there. The Hobo’s imminent arrival was announced to general cheers early last year; however, renovations and licensing took months longer than expected, drawing ire from many a would-be patron.

For beer snobs, the wait was worth it. Lanigan brings a well-curated list of about 80 rare brews—German pilsners, Belgian ales, and the like—half of them on tap. Other local bars may have more variety, but none are so cutting-edge. For the cocktail crowd, a crack team of mixologists serves smart interpretations of the classics (their spin on a Manhattan, the Rambler, comes with a splash of Amaro Nonino instead of the usual Angostura bitters). And the wine list shows real expertise.

But it’s the food that’s the most surprising. The bar features a menu larded with beer-friendly options like moules frites and shepherd’s pie. Here, the kitchen’s skill truly matches its ambitions—something all too rare among pubs. Highlights include handcut fries with dipping sauces, creamy deviled eggs, frisée salad with bacon and confit shallots, polenta with root vegetables, and the aforementioned pie. Food prices are higher than at most bars, but reasonable for the quality.

Our only gripes: Dishes could generally use more salt, the noise can be deafening, and service can be rushed and too casual—a mismatch when beers can run $10 and entrées more than $20. Still, Lord Hobo is a great place to be a beer aficionado, and a great place to be in your twenties (or to remember what that was like). 92 Hampshire St., Cambridge, 617-250-8454,