Watertown isn't the biggest community inside Route 128, but it sure seems to have more in the way of old-fashioned restaurants and watering holes than some of the bigger cities and towns nearby. Among these local hangouts are some real gems, including a spacious eating and drinking establishment on the Belmont line called Conley's. And while it isn't the type of place you might go to if you are looking to seal a multi-million dollar business deal or impress a date with a high-end prix fixe meal, it is a comfortable spot with solid American food, attracting families with children, office workers, large groups of friends, and older and younger couples alike.
When we say that Conley's is on the Watertown/Belmont line, we mean this literally, since the south side of Belmont Street (where Conley's is located) is generally in Watertown, while the north side of the street is generally in Belmont. The restaurant is a rather sprawling spot, with two bar areas to the left, an airy and mostly quiet dining area to the right, and some tables scattered here and there along the walkways connecting all of the rooms together. Conley's has a bit of a dive bar feel to it, with brick walls and neon signs being front and center, but it also has a slightly less "downscale" feel than some other townie bars, and it is not even close to being a "beer and a fight" type of watering hole, especially since one of the wealthiest towns in Massachusetts is directly across the street.
So often, neighborhood joints such as Conley's have one "signature" dish, be it steak tips, pizza, burgers, or wings. Conley's, however, seems to excel in several areas when it comes to classic American fare and pub grub. Take the pizza, for example; unlike the South Shore spots that are known for bar pizza, the pies here are closer to New York-style foldable thin-crust pizza with a rich sauce and a slightly bitter mix of cheeses on top. Every bit as good are the lean and tender steak tips, which can be ordered with either a zesty teriyaki marinade or a similarly zingy classic marinade. Burgers are freshly made every day and are large (1/2 pound) and filling, while both the chicken wings and the boneless tenders come with some of the best sauces (including buffalo and BBQ) that you will find in a Boston-area pub. The garlic cheesesteak is marvelous, with the slight bite of the garlic going perfectly with the greasy chopped beef and gooey cheese. The meaty chili at Conley's is also worth ordering, and for those who like coma-inducing appetizers, a chili cheese fries option is offered here. The beer list at Conley's won't exactly lure hop heads from their favorite gastropubs, but there are enough brew choices here to satisfy many tastes, and the beers are relatively inexpensive.
In some ways, Conley's in Watertown takes some of the best aspects of the many local pubs around Boston and pieces them together to make for a place that has a little something for everyone. For those who live for places that feature comfort food and beer in an environment that is more mellow than tough, this eating and drinking place will probably not disappoint.
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