Nick's Beef and Beer House in Cambridge, Mass.

Nick's Beef and Beer House, on Mass. Ave. in Cambridge, Mass., expertly tapped into the pathetic human condition of overeating -- and over drinking. This large, cavernous Greek-American restaurant served the huge, artery clogging "twin cheeseburger special" for around $2.00, pitchers of beer for ridiculously low prices, and baked lamb for about half the price of other Greek restaurants (OK, it was a bit more fatty, but, hey, the fat tastes good, too, don't deny it!). The worn tables were long and we usually ended up sitting next to some smug college kid, either with an affinity for insulting others or being the "funnyman" of the crowd. Because I didn't drink or overeat back in the day, my favorite reasons for coming to Nick's were to admire the phony, multi-colored fireplace and trying to keep up with the quick wit of the waitresses. They were generally old, sassy, had a comment on everything, and, ultimately, really nice people -- salt of the earth would be the term. With hungry Harvard students, ex JV high school types looking for a life, elitist professors succumbing to the mainstream and others gorging on food and drink over stentorian-caliber noise levels, Nick's was sort of like a community gathering place on steroids for Cambridge and neighboring communities. What a great run from 1971 to 1998! Wonder where the phony, multi-colored fireplace ended up, though?

5 comments:

  1. God, how I loved this place. Way back in the day, it was common for me to eat here 3 or 4 times a week. I loved the Mousaka but everything else was very good. How i really miss this place.

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  2. I drove a taxi in Boston during the '70's and any time I would get a fare to that part of Cambridge, there was no doubt what my next stop would be: Nick's (originally Charlies) Beef & Beer. My arteries are probably paying the price now but I can still taste the $1.99 three pork chop special with fries and salad. Somehow, the flavors of the chops, fries and the dressing merged into what is still among my all time favorite meals. I had forgotten about the wonderfully tacky fireplace logs on the walls but I haven't forgotten Madelyn. She was one of the old girls, there a long time. She was in her 60's, still sassy and tart. She would always sit down with me as she tallied her dinner checks and we'd chat about whatever. She passed away shortly before Nick's closed and I felt the loss of both her and the restaurant deeply.

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  3. The red and black walls accented with orange and red fireplace logs. Double cheeseburgers with "tops"... Nicks Beef and Ale House was awesome!

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  4. We referred to it as EFF and BEE HO because of the missing letters on its outdoor sign, which were gine by the time it became one of our favorite post-softball game restaurants in the area. The food was amazingly cheap. For around five dollars you could get a full meal that also included soup or salad and a dessert, usually something like Jello with whipped cream. Those fireplace lights on the wall were highly coveted and the first things to get scooped up when the restaurant closed (I believe they gave them away on a first come, first served basis.) I was able to grab a few of the small red-topped tables before they disappeared, too. But my biggest score were the neon signs that hung in the small front windows. I worked nearby and got permission from the owner to grab them right after the place closed. The bad news is that they were extremely fragile and two of them have shattered over the years. But I still have two left, one that say's "LAMB" and the other (which is mounted on a board and hangs on a wall in my kitchen ) "DOUBLE BURGER." While I still have the transformers that power these signs, I have never hooked them up because, again, the bulbs are old and fragile. Long live the EEF & BEE HO!

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  5. In the late 80's I wore the seats out in that restaurant. Me and some friends would spend so much at the bar that a few times the owner would close, lock the door, and sit with us drinking shots of ouzo. He would laugh and say you guys pay the electric bill. There was a somerville school teacher named Carl who would tend bar part time, who had a dry sense of humor. One night when someone got trashed and fell off a bar stool, and Carl said "musta been that double cheeseburger".

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