Moody Street in Waltham is in many ways unlike any other thoroughfare in the Boston area, as it is considered to be a "Restaurant Row" with a number of top dining spots while also having some serious grittiness in the form of adult shops, ancient-looking retail stores, and drinking spots that are of varying degrees of toughness. A couple of places in the latter category--The Gaff and Joco's Bar and Kitchen, which is the focus of this review--may look a bit questionable from the outside, but both are friendly, comfortable watering holes that offer good food and a wide variety of beers. And while The Gaff feels a bit more like a beer bar bordering on a gastropub, Joco's is simply a good, solid neighborhood spot that is perfect for whiling the time away.
Joco's is located toward the upper part of the Moody Street strip where some of the best restaurants are, and it is literally across the street from the aforementioned Gaff. The inside of the bar is relatively small, with a sole room containing a handful of tables with both bench seating and chairs and a bar on the right that takes up much of the space. The place has a very old feel to it, with a dark ceiling that has pipes running along it, antique-looking hanging lights, vintage Edison bulbs along the wall across from the bar, and lots of dark woods and exposed brick throughout. The bar itself has chairs with backs to them and a few TVs up above that make it a good place to watch a game, while the front corner by the entrance is used for live music, including blues, jazz, soul, acoustic, and more.
Like so many other neighborhood bars, Joco's tends to focus on classic American fare, comfort food, and pub grub, with highlights including delicious house-made potato chips, a similarly tasty basket of handcut fries, savory house-made pork wontons with a sweet chili sauce, zesty buffalo chicken quesadillas with bleu cheese dressing, a basket of deep-fried pizza rolls that are filling enough to be made into a meal, oversized Cuban panini placed on Iggy's French rolls, messy meatball panini also on French rolls, a pound of steak tips marinated in a house sauce, all-beef franks that can be ordered with sweet potato fries, and burgers that are stuffed into Iggy's brioche buns. The beer list at Joco's is quite impressive, with a rotating list of bottled beers offered along with always-changing beers on tap; a few brands you may find here (depending on the season) include Anderson Valley, Foolproof, Two Roads, Ommegang, Newburyport Brewing Co., Shiner, Stone, Southern Tier, Ballast Point, and more. Prices for both food and drink are very reasonable, with most of the meals being around the $10 mark.
Every city and town should have a laid-back neighborhood bar like Joco's, though this type of watering hole seems to be a little harder to find each year in the Greater Boston area. Hopefully Joco's is one that can stick around for a long time, as it is an ideal spot for those who like to order a bite to eat and a beer or two in a completely low-key environment.
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