Five Pubs of Downtown Lowell

We aim to present all sides of Lowell in “Learning Lowell,” and we realized we had sadly been neglecting its nightlife. To remedy this, we invited anyone interested for a “Learning Lowell Pub Crawl,” an exploration of five establishments throughout downtown. We chose our destinations by word of mouth and our own curiosity, and made a plan to visit one each hour. We were happy to have a few folks join us! Here now we recreate our thoughts and reactions upon experiencing each pub.

The Worthen House

Aurora at Old Worthen House

The Old Worthen is old but comfortable, perhaps like a favorite shoe.

Fans at Old Worthen

Oldest belt-driven fans in Massachusetts.

Kirk Boott Woodcut Reproduction

We’ll go to Worthen House whenever we want to see this Kirk Boott woodcut (Image: Gutenberg Project)

Aurora: I am super-psyched to be in this bar; I’ve been wanting to come here since moving to Lowell. Poe, Kerouac, super old. This is what I was picturing when I moved to New England. And the atmosphere lives up to my expectations! Tin ceilings, wood paneling, woodcut reprints on the walls. What a cool place.

Chris:  …and the first thing that happens is that someone asks if we’re tourists. At least we can say we live downtown. Do you think that gives us any street cred?

Aurora: No, I do not. That dude did not think we were cool at all. But he was  just being helpful, letting us know they’ll turn on the historic belt-driven fans if we ask. He tells us tourists often come in just to see the fans. And when he told him what we’re doing, he suggested Friends Restaurant across the street.

Chris: Between that and Reservations, we’ll need to do a “Part II” someday. Anyway, what to drink?

Our Orders
Aurora:  I figured first stop, keep it simple. PBR.

Chris: Everyone’s excited about Yuengling coming to MA. Why not join in the excitement?

Best Part
Aurora: The best thing is absolutely the atmosphere. I feel like this place hasn’t changed in 100 years. In a good way.

Chris: This looks like great bar food. Cheese sticks, sweet potato fries, and fried pickles!

Worst Part
Aurora: But, wow, visiting here made me feel like the tourist I was.

Chris: Nah, I could come here for a late night snack and drink. But I don’t know if I’d find anyone to talk about beat poetry here. That’s what Jack Kerouac did all the time, right?

Cobblestones

Entryway into Cobblestones

But then we were directed to the “lounge.”

Doorway at Cobblestones

Is this someone’s house?

Cobblestones Lounge

The Cobblestones Lounge was hopping!

Order of Truffle Fries at Cobblestones

The majesty that is truffle fries.

Chris: Wow, what a switch! Did we wander into a New England aristocrat’s house?

Aurora: This definitely seems like a place that serves lobster. Oh man, truffle fries? What? We are ordering these.

Chris: The lounge is already packed and its only 8 pm. How are other pub crawlers going to find us? We should have made a sign!

Aurora: And just as we start to worry about this: two total strangers approach and introduce themselves. They’d moved to Lowell a few months ago and found our blog. I am not sure what’s crazier: having a blog that is read by people we have not met or having a conversation in which we’re not the Lowell newbies.

Our Orders
Chris: Three ciders to choose from. Who knew Harpoon had a cider?

Aurora: Of course, I have to order the Truffle Fries. Oh my gosh, they are amazing. I will come back just for these. I also order a delicious (but not as memorable) cider.

Best Part
Chris: Best thing? This definitely feels like the fanciest place downtown, and with so many appetizers I’d love to try.

Aurora: This is definitely delicious… and slightly indulgent.

Worst Part
Chris: Right. But, you know, for a place called Cobblestones, there’s only a handful of them outside on the patio.

Aurora: It’s probably too fancy for my blood, at least on the regular. Oh, wow, how can it be time to go already?! Onto Fuse!

Fuse Bistro

Fuse Bistro

Fuse has a low-key atmosphere and a diverse crowd.

Table filled with drinks

We started to get creative with our drink orders.

Fuse Bistro is in a renovated firehouse with lovely outdoor seating (when it isn't raining)

Fuse Bistro is in a renovated firehouse with lovely outdoor seating (when it isn’t raining) Photo: Yelp

Aurora: Finally, one I’ve been to before. Familiar ground at last. And… they’re totally stuffed with people. One of the lessons for me tonight is that there are a ton of people doing the Friday night thing downtown, something you don’t see as much on the weekdays.

Chris: Some folks are nice enough to donate half their table and chairs to our cause. There are a lot of unique dishes—their website says it bridges “traditional tavern fare and fine dining,” which I can only assume is what is being fused. And the crowd here is so diverse.

Our Orders
Aurora: Our waitress recommends the Root Beer Float, which has marshmallow vodka in it. It seemed so innocent, and then my tongue went numb.

Chris: With Root Beer Floats and Oatmeal Cookie Maritinis, I feel boring with a seasonal Blackberry Sangria.

Best Part
Chris: Our server is rad, but that’s always been my experience here.

Aurora: I love silly cocktails. Reason enough to love Fuse.

Worst Part
Aurora: The bad part is that I can’t always afford silly cocktails. But even worse, we’re behind schedule!

Old Court

Old Court Tavern

Old Court is filled with kids on Friday nights! We should have heeded this website’s description: “That pub is always packed and a lot of fun.”

Old Court Tavern

Irish-inspired murals and pictures decorate the walls. (Image: Tripadvisor)

Old Court Tavern

A photo from Old Court’s website showing the amazing woodwork in the tavern.

Aurora: You know, I love that Old Court has this low-key, nice, mellow vibe.

Chris: I agree, I’ve always thought of Old Court as an after-work pint place.

Aurora: And I’ll just open the door, and… OH MY GOSH! Who are these people? Young kids? Students?

Chris: And are those guys in matching T-Shirts? Did we run into another pub crawl? That’s what we should have done! Learning Lowell T-Shirts! Then nobody would think we were tourists.

Aurora: Next time! This is really fun!

Our Orders
Chris: Well, we’ve done beers, ciders, and fancy cocktails. I think this atmosphere calls for hard liquor, served simply.

Aurora: After very gradually fighting our way to the front, I get a gin and tonic. It’s loud enough that the bartender holds up fingers to tell me how much it is.

Chris: I’ll get a Jack on the rocks, although in an Irish bar, maybe I should have gotten a Jameson’s!

Best Part
Aurora: Hmm. We got a little off schedule, so our time here is limited. Too busy for me tonight.

Chris: I still love the murals on the walls of this place. Someone put a lot of care into this.

Worst Part
Aurora: We should definitely come before 10:00 pm next time. I’m ready to head in a more hipsterly direction: On to Ward 8!

Ward 8

Chris: Why are we stopping? It looks like a party!

Aurora: The bouncer says that it’s at capacity. “The Howl something-or-other.

Chris: Those howlers! What should we do now?

Aurora: A few folks have been advocating for Cappy’s Copper Kettle. It’s right across the street, and all I know is that it’s next to WCAP radio station. Let’s try it.

Cappy’s Copper Kettle

Cappy's Copper Kettle Dance Floor

My camera’s lens got stuck and couldn’t focus on the furious dancing

Table full of drinks at Cappy's Copper Kettle

We were treated to a mix of country and magical 80s pop tunes.

Cappys Copper Kettle during Kerouac Festival

This image was taken during the Kerouac festival (this was supposedly another haunt of Kerouac), but captures the dance floor better than my fuzzy camera. (Image: Lowell FYSH)

Aurora: This place is enormous! I would have had no idea that this was so big.

Chris: And pretty amazing. A dance floor, wood paneling and neon bar signs everywhere, and a live DJ. Everyone here is having a ball: dancing, drinking, and chatting.

Our Orders
Aurora: I think I’ll end the night like I started it: with a PBR.

Chris: That sounds perfect. But I’d also like to order a dance with you.

Aurora: Aww, haha.

Best Part
Aurora: The music selection in here is amazing. Michael Jackson, Runaround Sue, Lionel Richie.

Chris: It is, indeed, a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. And I appreciate that nobody’s afraid to dance. What a great way to end the night.

Worst Part
Aurora: Yeah, but the worst part is that it’s time for the night to end.

Chris: Don’t worry, we can always do a sequel to visit all the places we missed.

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5 thoughts on “Five Pubs of Downtown Lowell

  1. Great write-up! So many bars in Lowell, so little time. Ones we didn’t make (most I’ve never been to): Finn’s, Backpage, Village Smokehouse, Reservations, Molly Kay’s, Garcia Brogan’s, Friend’s, Charlie’s Pub, Four Seasons, and 50 Warren I think serves drinks until 10 on their canalside patio.

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