Between March Madness and the general sense of renewed spirits come spring (or whatever the actual weather outside), there are plenty of reasons to be pulling up a barstool for booze and snacks. So we've pulled together a list of the more outrageous offerings available now — from alligator tacos to truffle-topped poutine — that'll satisfy discerning tastes in a way that stale peanut bowls never could.
Poutine at Uni
There are plenty of places to find sloppy plates of poutine in Boston — like Saus, one of our favorite spots for the stuff. But for an outrageous yet unusually polished spin on poutine, saunter up to the bar at Ken Oringer's iconic Uni and order its version, where the housemade french fries are drenched in a foie gras–ramen gravy, cheese curds and green onion, with optional foie gras and black truffle toppings.
370 Commonwealth Ave.; 617-536-7200
Tater tot nachos at Highball Lounge
Speaking of Oringer, he also devised the bar noshes for this quirky cocktail lounge inside the Nine Zero hotel, the same property that once housed his KO Prime steakhouse. Though the tipples change often, one of the menu's mainstays is this skillet-based serving of tater tot nachos, which heaps on layers of cheese sauce, crème fraîche, black olives, pickled onion and guacamole.
90 Tremont St.; 617-772-0202
Bayou tacos at Southern Kin Cookhouse
If you've ever wondered what alligator tastes like — here's your chance to find out. Gator tail is slow-cooked for 12 hours, then lightly dressed in a smoked tomato vinaigrette, sidled in tortillas and topped with a black bean and corn salsa with spicy Fresno chile peppers and green onion. Belly up to the Southern Kin bar and wash them down, perhaps choosing a selection from the 100-variety American whiskey program.
500 Assembly Row, Somerville; 617-764-5966
Buffalo tofu at Roxy's Central and A4cade
This cool collaboration between two cult favorite restaurants, Roxy's Grilled Cheese and Area Four, is one of the hottest bars in Boston thanks to its mix of funky cocktails, playful eats and, of course, vintage arcade games. Arcades aren't often friendly territory for vegans, but this sandwich, loaded with Daiya cheddar, Buffalo tofu, lettuce, tomato and a housemade vegan ranch dressing, hits the gooey guilty pleasure spot even without meat. And though you can get it in the Roxy's front room, all the food can also be ordered in the rear bar/arcade.
292 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; 617-945-7244
Frito Pie From Hell at The Automatic
The Automatic also made our recent list of the hottest bars in Boston — and in this case, there's a literal reason for it. Among the standout noshes is the so-called Frito Pie From Hell, which tops the bed of chips with a generous pile of chile, cheese and Inner Beauty hot sauce, a signature sauce that co-owner Chris Schlesinger first made famous at East Coast Grill, the heat-seeking icon he founded in 1985. (Following a year's close, East Coast reopened at the beginning of 2017 under new ownership.)
50 Hampshire St., Cambridge; 617-714-5226
Cookie D'oh! at Little Donkey
If you're hanging at the bar late-night, satisfy sweet tooth cravings with this playful idea that goes down especially well with a dessert wine. The Cookie D'oh is exactly what it sounds like: a big dollop of cocoa nib–studded cookie dough that you'll eat off the egg beater, just like you did in the good ol' days — except with a little less scolding from mom and dad. Dip it in some accompanying milk foam, which takes the place of the big, cold glass you might have chugged in childhood.
505 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; 617-945-1008
Elk burger at Bit Bar
The brand-new A4cade may be closer to the city, but it's worth the short drive (or commuter rail jaunt) to Salem for this still-new spot serving Gen-Y crowds, craft-beer lovers and old-school arcade machines — 8-bit hits like "Donkey Kong," "Burger Time" and more. The bar's funky bites include an elk burger served on a "doughssant" (a donut-slash-croissant) with black garlic icing.
50 St. Peter St., Salem; 978-594-4838
Pork rinds at Bar Boulud
In theory, there's nothing outwardly outrageous about pork rinds; they're a not-uncommon bar snack. But it's definitely surprising to find them at this elevated bistro from star chef Daniel Boulud, where they're given a Vadouvan spice treatment and dunked in herb crème fraiche.
776 Boylston St.; 617-535-8800