“Elevated comfort food” and a killer beer list right off I-93
Restaurants and bars tend to be endlessly categorized to the point of causing people’s heads to spin, with a few you might hear including “places to eat near Fenway Park,” “Italian restaurants outside of the North End,” “cheap eats for college students,” “dark and dank neighborhood bars where no one knows your name,” “food court restaurants that aren’t horrible,” and so on. One lesser-mentioned category that actually is useful to commuters is “dining and drinking spots to hit when your commute is too hellish to continue.”
A few friends and acquaintances have talked about this type of late, and one that seems to pop up on the radar is Lucy’s American Tavern in Dorchester’s Adams Village, perhaps because it’s about as “easy-on, easy-off” for drivers on the Southeast Expressway as you can get (not including chains, of course).
Some recent visits to this cavernous place indicate that it is indeed a convenient spot to hit if you drive on this nightmare of a highway often, as it’s almost within walking distance of the Expressway (pro tip—don’t do that), has its own parking, and is rarely crowded on weekday evenings. So is it also a good establishment to go to in general, if you’re looking for maybe a Saturday night date spot or a place to watch a game on a lazy Sunday afternoon? Well, it depends, but for those who aren’t looking for the hottest spot in town or a high-end place to get a meal that you’ll remember for years, the answer is a definite “yes.”
When you hear that a restaurant resides in a former Hollywood Video space, it might not inspire much confidence, but while you might be disappointed if you’re expecting the place to look like Deuxave or Menton, Lucy’s is actually quite attractive in a rustic and simple kind of way, with nearly all aspects of the video store being scrubbed from the space. The interior is quite spacious with its high ceiling tending to absorb some of the noise, and when it isn’t filled to capacity, it can be downright quiet. A large wraparound bar sits in the middle of the room with the bar top being deep enough to make it pretty comfortable option for eating dinner, and one feature that’s noticeable to drivers in the warmer months is the long porch-like patio that runs along Granite Avenue. A parking lot mostly surrounds Lucy’s, and even though it is valet-only, it is a free service from the place, unlike so many other restaurants and bars—especially those closer to downtown Boston.
The term “elevated comfort food” is used much too often these days, but it tends to fit Lucy’s pretty well; here you’ll find a mix of new American and classic American including pub grub, and the dishes tend to be scratch-made. Some of the highlights include outstanding wings that can be had with a Memphis dry rub; fried dill pickles that are guaranteed to ruin your appetite for an actual meal (hint—get these with a beer or two and call it dinner); spicy dips, including a buffalo dip and an artichoke/jalapeno dip; an old-fashioned macaroni and cheese with add-ons being a sweet-tasting pulled pork and smoky burnt ends; a huge portion of nachos with two cheeses, jalapenos, black bean and corn salsa, and Mexican crema, and with options for pulled pork, burnt ends, and grilled chicken offered; wood-grilled steak tips with a “secret” marinade; a plate of fish and chips with a salt-and-malt vinegar potato chip batter; chicken and waffles with sweet potatoes used for the waffle fries; and a variety of burgers, including a salmon burger and, as hinted at above, some BBQ items that are cooked in Lucy’s smokers, including brisket, St. Louis ribs, and house-made chorizo.
Beer lovers certainly have a reason to come to Lucy’s, as it offers some of the best that New England and the Northeast have to offer, with possibilities (depending on the season) being options from Fiddlehead, Lawson’s, SingleCut, and Maine Beer, while cocktails include a mix of retro and modern concoctions. Brunch is available on weekends, and a late-night menu features a limited list of pub grub and BBQ options.
Lucy’s American Tavern might not blow you away with their food or drink, but there are some standouts among both—an order of wings or mac and cheese with a glass of Fiddlehead is tough to beat—and this place really isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, instead simply being a comfortable neighborhood spot that also happens to be within shouting (and swearing) distance of the Expressway.
If you ever find yourself going 1 MPH between Neponset Circle and East Milton Square and have decided that enough is enough, Lucy’s is there for you, offering up above-average sustenance in a relatively mellow and (depending on when you go) not overly loud space.
LUCY’S AMERICAN TAVERN. 13 GRANITE AVE., DORCHESTER. LUCYSAMERICANTAVERN.COM
Marc is the founder of @hiddenboston, a textbook editor, a hike leader for @AppMtnClub, and a food and travel writer and commenter for DigBoston, NBC/NECN, WBZ, WMFO and indie617.