Since opening in Harvard Square in September of last year, Beat Hôtel has been providing a fresh venue for local cuisine, music, and art. Fans of co-owner Jack Bardy's previous venture, The Beehive in the South End, will find similarly bold design and an active live music program at the newer spot. Haven't made it in yet? Take a peek inside the colorful, boho space.
Inspired by the bohemian and beat movements of the mid-twentieth century, with even the name giving homage to the Parisian dive bistro beloved by artists like Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs, Beat Hôtel's decor features murals, drawings, and art from local creatives. While the overall restaurant concept was orchestrated by designers Dave O and Pam Davies, Bardy describes the building process as fun and innovative, explaining that "young artists would come in the middle of the night and grab a wall, grab a piece, and get started." The result is a space that's warm, inviting, fun — and very unique.
Colorful murals grace the walls, structural poles are decorated with playful characters and sketches, and large sculptures peek out from corners and hallways. Two long bars line one side of the restaurant, while tables fill the other side, and the design leaves plenty of room for people to stand at tall tables and listen to the live musicians that play every evening. It's a far cry from the space's previous life as The Tannery, a store selling shoes and active outerwear.
An American brasserie by design, Beat Hôtel has a menu that's wide-ranging and features dishes for every palate and preference, particularly catering to "vegetarian-friendly food for meat-eaters." Focusing on "fresh, healthy alternatives," chef Rebecca Newell wants to "please a lot of people and to do it well" with dishes ranging from classic steak and potatoes to an "Earth bowl" with multigrain pilaf and fresh roasted vegetables. And fans of crispy tuna spring rolls, a beloved dish from the South End's now-closed Pho Republique, will be delighted to find the old favorite here to stay.
While the Beat Hôtel boasts daily live music, it isn't simply focused on jazz tunes. "It's always easy listening kind of music, but not necessarily jazz — it could be blues, it could be electronic, it could be bluegrass, Latin…" describes Bardy. But it's always "music that's conducive to imbibing and enjoying dinner," never overshadowing conversation. Live music is a big part of the restaurant's concept, and the team puts a lot of effort into cultivating different and talented local musicians. "We wanted to create a space where Harvard Square becomes a destination."
Open seven days a week, Beat Hôtel also offers a music brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, and live music every evening.
— Meg Jones Wall
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