The Joshua Tree in Somerville's Davis Square to Be Replaced by Elm Street Tap Room

Discussion in 'New England' started by AlcahueteJ, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Champion (858) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    I'm not surprised, there weren't many people in there the last year or so when I swung by. Honestly though, they had one of the better tap lists in Davis. Right up there with Foundry probably, and better than Redbones.

    Five Horses is obviously the bread winner in Davis, and Rosebud has a small, but well thought out menu.

    Places like the J-Tree though were doomed to fail in Davis in 2018. You need to cater to people in their 30s/40s now. I wonder how long The Burren, Redbones, Mike's, and Sligo will hang on. Those are also from the "old guard" in Davis Square.

    I also noticed Cristo's recently closed. It's also telling that Golden Light closed and turned into a hip new Thai place.
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  2. matthewp

    matthewp Initiate (162) Feb 27, 2015 Massachusetts

    The Joshua Tree brings back so many memories. Its been like 18 years since I've been to Davis Square to hang out.

    Any idea of who "Elm Street Brewpub" is? I can't see any breweries in the area that would match that name or chains so I'm assuming this is going to be a new venture. Odd that there's really nothing found on a google search, trying now to look on social media sites for any info.
  3. meefmoff

    meefmoff Zealot (543) Jul 6, 2014 Massachusetts

    Was just walking past J-Tree last night and noticed it was closing. And I was heading to Redbones (for the first time in a while) and was remembering about how we thought of it as such a funky and interesting place in my 20s (the 90s) and now, like you say, it's more of an old guard type experience. Hopefully they can stick around.

    Mike's, on the other hand, is literally the only place I've ever had what I'd describe as a legitimately bad slice of pizza. And I was drunk and it was late.

    Hopefully this new place will have some interesting stuff if they're going to go as far as calling themselves a brewpub. I'm assuming they are not affiliated with this place in Indiana:
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  4. Jbrews

    Jbrews Aspirant (268) Aug 6, 2013 New Hampshire

    They haven't made a Facebook post since 2016
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  5. rhino88888888

    rhino88888888 Initiate (104) Dec 12, 2013 Massachusetts

    I can't say I'll miss Joshua Tree. It seemed to be slowing drying up for awhile. For at least the last year they have been closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. In my experience, they had some nice beer surprises but the food was cruddy and the service indifferent.

    However, I don't see any similar signs from the other Davis Sq institutions you say are "hanging on". On a recent weeknight I headed out to grab dinner around 7pm in Davis Square with some family. As a group of four people we discovered a 45 minute wait for a table at Redbones and no tables at Mikes with at least a dozen people in line to order. We ended up reserving a table at Five Horses on OpenTable and waiting about 30 min. The Burren and The Sligo still draw very good crowds on weekend nights and the Burren has a thriving music scene. My guess is that all four are doing pretty well (and that there are still a number of people who want a venue where you don't have to drop $12 on a draft beer).

    I don't track Orleans as closely. They seem to be a solid sports bar, but I don't get over there as much.

    If I had to predict the next restaurant closure in Davis Sq, I would guess Pepe Boca.

    And while we're at it, there are a number of other nice spots to grab a craft beer with your meal in Davis Sq - Painted Burro, Spoke, Posto, Saloon, and Meju all have good to excellent selections of varying depth.
  6. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Champion (858) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Redbones is only really packed for a very short period of time. Go there at like, 8 pm on a Saturday and there's no one there, or lunch time. That's really odd that you encountered a 45 minute wait during the week, I typically will go to eat there on a Saturday (if I go), and barely wait at all.

    "Hang on" was likely a poor choice of words. But I've lived in Somerville for 9 years and have frequented Davis for about 12 years now. I still wouldn't be surprised to see any of those go under in the next 5 - 10 years, they're simply not what Davis Square is anymore.

    Specifically the menu and especially the draft menu has really slipped over the years at Redbones.

    I just moved from Teele Square so I'd walk by there just about everyday. They're definitely in the running for a place that could be next. I stopped by there a couple months ago, their draft list is horrendous. Not that draft lists are the be-all end-all, but I think you need a decent one in Davis Square to thrive. Like the places you mentioned below (Painted Burro, Saloon...etc.).

    Also, Orleans has no real theme to it: Redbones has BBQ, Spoke has wine, Painted Burro has Mexican...etc.

    I haven't been there in quite some time, but the food was decent. It was never packed, but it's not a restaurant, it's like Dave's Fresh Pasta. That's a tough location though for Pepe Bocca.

    I've never actually been in Spoke, don't they have only a few drafts?

    Meju is ALWAYS empty, that's a place I could see closing next.
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  7. Sheppard

    Sheppard Champion (857) Mar 16, 2013 Virginia

    Hasn't Redbones' draft menu "slipped" because it really hasn't changed? You mean that relative to other places, right?

    Remember that Johnny D's closed a few years ago too...
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  8. rhino88888888

    rhino88888888 Initiate (104) Dec 12, 2013 Massachusetts

    I've lived in Davis Square for almost 25 years (*shakes cane at the whippersanpper* ;-)

    I agree that Redbones isn't the best choice anymore, but it's still my favorite place to hang out. Maybe because of nostalgia or maybe because you can still get a bit of the dive bar ambience & crowd along with a reasonably good beer. In my opinion it has 10x more character than Five Horses. (In fact, I really like their new veggie bowl option on the menu and the Mayflower Summer Belgian Blonde cask they have on right now is the best cask ale I've had since NERAX.)

    Pepe Bocca switched over to a full-service, sit-down, dinner-only restaurant with a beer/wine license a couple of months ago. It no longer offers counter service or take-out. We tried it out a few weeks ago. The decor has barely changed. The new menu is expensive. The food was interesting, but not great. Service was spotty. Place was empty. It's too bad. Giovanni is a bread-making savant and his wife is super sweet.

    I think they have 2 taps and 6-8 cans/bottles. They usually have at least an interesting local IPA - Medusa, Proclamation, Exhibit A - and a sour or two. I've also had some top-notch cider by the glass there too. And the food is stellar.
  9. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Champion (858) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Yes to both.

    Some items on their draft list have been on there forever, and need to change to reflect the times. Or at the very least, mix it up.

    For example, Radeberger is all well and good, but jeez, put a different German Pils on there every now and then.

    Then there's Opa Opa IPA, Delirium Tremens/Noctornum, Lindemans Framboise, Guinness...etc.

    And they never seem to be able to get the good stuff that a Five Horses or even Joshua Tree would get. They used to, maybe they've lost some of their contacts over the years.

    The food is still decent though, I really like the fried chicken they added.

    If I recall correctly, Johnny D's closed because the owner simply didn't want to run the business anymore. As far as I know they were still doing well, but I never went there so I couldn't tell you from personal experience.

    I agree, it's arguably my favorite bar to sit at in Somerville. Just the upstairs bar though. I loathe the dining area and Underbones. I need sunlight.

    I actually really dig sitting in the downstairs area at Five Horses when it's nice out. And their draft menu is so much better than Redbones that it's hard to justify going to Redbones for a drink just because of the upstairs bar's ambiance.

    Also, would it kill Redbones to update their online draft menu more than once a week (if you're lucky)? If I knew what was on tap ahead of time, I'd be more inclined to go more often.

    Not Davis Square, but Magoun's is still probably my favorite bar in Somerville. And they're a great example of a bar that still has imported drafts as they always have (but they bring in different stuff other bars are getting as well...they don't just carry Radeberger all the time), and they have more popular updated stuff such as the latest New England IPAs as well.
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  10. tylerk88

    tylerk88 Aspirant (255) Nov 17, 2013 Massachusetts

    If I'm going for a beer in Davis it's almost always to The Flatbread Company/ Sacco's. Tons of local beers and the pricing is fair. 5H is the obvious pick, but they're very expensive and the pours always seem small. The perfect compromise is Christopher's in Porter. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the nachos. Always the nachos.
  11. gclaw4444

    gclaw4444 Initiate (76) Jul 30, 2015 Massachusetts

    I usually really liked Joshua Tree. I hate crowded bars where i have to yell over peoples shoulders to get the bartenders attention.It was always pretty quiet there, which i guess is bad for business, but i liked it. They also would occasionally have something really great like a JWB stout. The bad thing was they never had a draft menu i could look up online so I would only go before going to the somerville theater or something. I never planned to go there to get a good beer they had.

    This change made me really upset. I used to go there on lunch break all the time for their amazing sandwiches. I hope they dont go under, but since they're now dinner only i dont care too much.
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  12. PourMeAMischiefBrew

    PourMeAMischiefBrew Initiate (33) Dec 8, 2017 Massachusetts

    They shrank the food menu a while ago and I think the overall quality went up a lot when they did. I don't think BBQ joints need to have frequently updated menus though. Just the basics.

    Man, I just moved from the Medford/Somerville area because we couldn't afford to buy there and Goun's is the thing I will miss the most. Great food, a fantastic beer list, not usually too crowded, and it doesn't have the 'trying so hard to be trendy' vibe that so many of the good beer bars around that area have going.
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  13. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Champion (858) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    I haven't been there for years, but that used to be the draw. I eventually stopped going though because the local options were fairly ho-hum. Anything interesting lately?

    Ha, this is hilarious to read. I used to frequent the Joshua Tree ALOT in my 20s because it was the exact opposite of this. The place was PACKED on weekend nights, and very loud. Great place to pick up women and hang out if you were 25 years old.

    This is true. Years ago the menu was very good, then it dipped in quality, and you're right, now it's improved again. I'll still go there every now and then to eat, but not frequently for just a beer. There's better places for BBQ though, like Blue Ribbon and Smokeshop, but Redbones is still good.

    And again, I'd go for a beer more often if I knew what the hell they had on tap. Their online menu is from June 22nd which is borderline useless.
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  14. meefmoff

    meefmoff Zealot (543) Jul 6, 2014 Massachusetts

    Not to barge in on Tyler's answer but I had the same thoughts about Flatbread's tap menu (I seem to remember them having Opa Opa IPA for fucking ever) and was pleasantly surprised when I went a couple weeks back. There were a number of good options and I think they expanded the sheer number of taps as well. I mostly drank Green State lager but they also had stuff from Baxter, Nightshift, and Lamplighter (others too but that's all I can remember).

    Not a tap list you need to go out of your way to experience or anything, but definitely very solid if you otherwise feel like pizza and/or bowling.
  15. matthewp

    matthewp Initiate (162) Feb 27, 2015 Massachusetts

    Did Redbones even serve beer in the 90's? I remember going there to eat and then to drink at JT or The Burren. I don't remember a bar, just the picnic tables.

    How's parking down there these days? The last memory I have of trying to go there was going into a garage and there not being any spots left. I got into an argument with the parking attendant because she wanted me to pay to leave even though there was no where to park!
  16. yuppiescum

    yuppiescum Initiate (41) Jun 4, 2009 Massachusetts

    Parking attendant? That must have been a long time back. There’s just a bunch of meter lots and parallel parking meters in Davis. Barring a special event you should find a spot within 5 minutes of Redbones.
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  17. braineater

    braineater Initiate (127) Dec 24, 2005 Massachusetts

    Sligo's not going anywhere anytime soon. Not every bar needs to have 20+ craft beer lines and a generic gastropub menu.
  18. Jason

    Jason Founder (8,161) Aug 23, 1996 Massachusetts

    Didn't even know this place was still open, surprised now that people still went there ... dirtiest beer lines in Davis Square? :grimacing:
  19. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Champion (858) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    It doesn't really have to do with craft beer or being a generic gastropub, but more to do with who's living there now. It's a very expensive area, the clientele has changed. There's a reason the McDonalds and the Dollar Store are gone.

    Maybe I'm just not thinking of one off the top of my head, but is there a bar like Sligo in the South End, or in Kendall Square? Kendall Square used to have Tommy Doyle's...replaced by The Smoke Shop.

    Tavern on the Hill had to rebrand as well, and it's now "Darkhorse Publick House".

    They actually had a good draft list, and some rare gems from time to time. I didn't go there often the last few years, maybe 2 or 3 times a year? But I don't remember the last time I had a beer there that tasted like it was from a dirty line.
  20. bostonwolf

    bostonwolf Initiate (144) Jan 20, 2015 Massachusetts

    Redbones does a jerk beef that pairs up with Young's Double Chocolate Stout and turns both into something magical. I didn't see it on a quick run through the menu, but it's on the catering menu so I'm sure you can get it.
    rhino88888888 likes this.
  21. SunDevilBeer

    SunDevilBeer Defender (604) May 9, 2003 Massachusetts

    When draft craft beer was limited in the late 90s/early 00s I used to make the trek from the burbs frequently to ‘Bones - a Mecca of craft beer back then. Davis Sq could be a bit dicey back then, but always enjoyed my trips there.

    Over the course of years, with the proliferation of craft beer, it was no longer necessary to go to Davis that much - & my visits declined.

    I last went to Davis 6 months ago to meet a friend & was astounded with the gentrification. The crowd was much older, the places much more upscale, & everything more expensive. A completely different experience. I enjoyed myself, but nothing exists there that makes me want to return as an outsider, specifically in the beer arena.
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  22. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Champion (858) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    I think you've mentioned this in the past, because last time you mentioned it I looked to see if they had Young's Double Chocolate Stout on tap, but they didn't. I don't think they have for quite some time now.

    It was the first beer bar I went to. Either that, or The Moan and Dove out in Amherst. I remember the first time we went I drove my buddies and I to Davis from Billerica and was floored by the beers they had there. This was maybe mid-2000s.

    I saw they had Duvel bottles and instantly became quite an aside, Duvel has "single fermented" cans now.

    I wouldn't say you HAVE to go there, but there's a lot to like, price aside.

    Five Horses has arguably the best tap list in Somerville/Cambridge. Actually, I wouldn't even say arguably, they just do. I love Rosebud in general, especially the food. If you like bourbon and the whole speakeasy theme, Saloon can be cool. Foundry is a mix of everything, but mostly just your typical gastropub. I've never been, but supposedly Spoke is a great wine bar. Dave's Fresh Pasta has arguably the best sandwiches in Somerville/Cambridge, Tenoch has killer tortas...etc.

    Again, if I didn't live there I don't know that I'd necessarily drive there to go to anything, but there's a lot to like. We'll see what this "Elm Street Tap Room" is like...