Nestled along Wickenden Street, The Point Tavern is a comfortable, dimly lit destination for drinks and indulgent bar snacks. On one side is the bar, where my friends and I were greeted with warm smiles and friendly hellos, and on the other side are cozy booths and tables. A few outside tables invite guests to savor the nice-weather days of early fall.
Swaying in our seats to neo-soul, R&B, and Afro-beats playing overhead, we met owners Ryan DaCruz, a third-generation caterer, and his wife, Nacelyn. They purchased the beloved neighborhood bar two months after their wedding with encouragement from Ryan’s mentor and previous owner, Manny Barrows. Their aim is to make space for everyone and, Ryan shares, for it to be “a place to create memories.”
The DaCruz couple kindly introduced us to Barrows (now a regular patron), chef Jeff Andrews, and bartender CJ Baptista, who mixes luscious drinks with expertise and wit. My Blueberry Lemonade was a balance of tangy, berry sweetness and smooth vodka exactly the way I like it. Though not on the menu, Baptista is happy to make mocktail versions of most drinks if you ask. My friend enjoyed the fruity and refreshing Passion Fruit
Mojito sans alcohol.
Drinks in hand, it was time for appetizers: Sweet Smoked Wings, BBQ Pork Skewers, and Papas. The mouth-watering wings were seasoned with a savory combination of a house-made dark rub, pepper, and toned-down A1 sauce, and although baked, they looked and tasted fresh off the grill. The A1 aioli sauce on the side brought a cool creamy respite to the smoky wings. The BBQ Pork was tender and covered in a delicious sweet sauce. The Papas were a nice snack of smashed tiny potatoes, salted and fried to a crisp outside and soft inside, served with garlic aioli.
I especially enjoyed how all the poultry and pork held in rich flavors, with each bite making us exclaim, “Why is this so good?” Ryan explained that most meats are marinated or brined overnight to be cooked the following day. With a tiny kitchen where all the culinary magic happens, they intentionally curate a small-but-mighty menu of crowd favorites they’ve worked to perfect.
Ryan recommended the Creamy Creole Shrimp, an entree influenced by Afro-Caribbean, Cape Verdean, and New Orleans Creole cuisine and his ethnic background; it was also the meal he made on his first date with Nacelyn – and it’s clear why it won her over! The creamy, savory seafood flavor, jumbo shrimp, and crispy toast to dip in the sauce wowed us. We couldn’t leave without trying the famous Tavern Burger, which was juicy, flavorful, and hearty. The roasted onions and the crunch of slaw left me wanting more.
As promised, we left The Point Tavern with good memories – and full bellies – already looking forward to a return visit. Whether going out with friends for a drink or sliding up to the bar to strike up conversation with neighbors, you won’t be disappointed.
302 Wickenden Street
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