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Allston neighborhood guide

Discover the best restaurants, shops and things to do in Allston with our comprehensive neighborhood guide

Photograph: Sara Skolnick

With its population split between BU students, hipsters and working-class families, Allston doesn't exactly scream destination. But trust us—beneath that veneer of spilled PBR and curling hardcore show posters lies a wealth of hidden gems. Street icon Mr. Butch may be gone and the Allston Cafe and Harper's Ferry shuttered, but there are still plenty of cheap eats and great music venues in the ’hood.

Things to do in Allston

Paradise Rock Club

The lounge area at this much-loved rock 'n' roll club generally features local bands, with the occasional showcase by up-and-coming major label signings. It also exhibits work by local artists, and serves pizzas, salads and sandwiches. But the larger, two-tiered back room is where the real action happens. The view-blocking support pillar just in front of the stage? Well, that's just character building. Given the caliber of bands performing, this is one of Boston's must-visit rock haunts.

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Allston

Deep Ellum

Recommended

The decor is plainspoken, but the beer list is superb. And so are the cocktails, with bartenders willing and able to mix up any old-fashioned or off-the-wall concoction you can throw at them. There's also an eclectic menu offering everything from chilli dogs to veggie lentil stew. Taking its name from the jazz-rich area of Dallas, this relative newcomer is generating a buzz among booze connoisseurs.

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Allston

Sunset Grill

Recommended

The Sunset Grill serves beer. Great beer, beer of all types, from all over the world, in every color and flavor and consistency. And it serves a lot of it. The list of ales and lagers is gigantic: 380 bottles, with 112 on tap. The decor is nothing spectacular, and unless you have a thing about college students, the clientele won't knock your socks off. But with all that ale inside you, who cares?

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O'Brien's Pub

The music at this tiny, 70-person club skews more toward punk and metal outfits with names like Maggot Brain and Rat Corpse. Though it's a fraction of the size of small-scale venues like Great Scott, O'Brien's doesn't dial down its sound system, so be sure to pack earplugs. PBR is the drink of choice here—ask for a “cocktail” and you'll likely get a stiff rum and coke. From the tacky wood paneling to the questionable bathroom upkeep, O'Brien's certainly keeps out folks who require some classiness in their live music—but things are probably better for everybody that way.

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Allston

Twin Donuts

This long-standing shop's 1950s facade is an Allston icon—as are its cheap, tasty donuts. The compact joint opens at 4am, making it a regular haunt of early risers and night owls alike.

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Allston

In Your Ear

Recommended

When stacks of records overflow outside a store's front door, you know you're in for a deliciously disorganized display. In Your Ear doesn't disappoint. The main location stocks 100,000 LPs and CDs, though the word "stocks" is used loosely here; crates in the aisles and a massive odds-and-ends bin feature three-for-a-buck bargains. (OMC's "How Bizarre"? Score!) The 8-track selection is uncommonly large, the magazine section has random back issues of Relix and Rolling Stone and the corner of the store is plastered with kitschy Mexican movie posters like El Regreso de King Kong. It's a glorious mess. 

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Great Scott

Recommended

MGMT, Hot Chip and Of Montreal all gigged at Great Scott long before all the sold-out tours at theaters and arenas. The 240-capacity Allston bar is an unofficial feeder for larger clubs like the Middle East and the Paradise. The small space has no backstage, which makes this the perfect locale for cornering your favorite singer and cajoling them into grabbing a beer with you. The line-up is mostly various shades of rock, peppered with the occasional influences of folk, electronica and country. 

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Allston

Brighton Music Hall

Often playing second banana to the nearby Paradise Rock Club, the BMH actually holds its own when it comes to quality shows from both touring and local acts. Dueling bars with a decent selection flank the space, ensuring a drink is never far away. Walk past the stage into the mysterious back area for an inexplicable but enjoyable smattering of pool tables.

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Allston

Oasis Guest House

Located 5 minutes’ walk from Symphony Hall, this Boston guest house features shared outdoor terraces and serves a daily continental breakfast. Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, is 1 mile away.A satellite TV and alarm clock are included in the air conditioned rooms at Oasis Guest House. Select rooms include an en suite bathroom.Boston’s Oasis Guest House features concierge service, free Wi-Fi and a shared kitchen.Woody’s Grill & Tap and Rice Bowl are each 3 minutes' walk from the guest house. Additional dining options are within 1 mile.Access to the Green subway line at the Symphony station is 5 minutes’ walk from Oasis Guest House. Northeastern University is 8 minutes’ walk.

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Grasshopper

If you’re looking for a wide variety of Asian-inspired meals in heaped portions, you’ve got to check this place out. A long-time Boston favorite, this restaurant seems to be the go-to for newly veg folk or those with veg tendencies. Check out the “No Name” dish, one of their highest rated meals.

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