The historic City of Presidents is an ethnically diverse community with vibrant Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Filipino, Albanian and Middle Eastern populations. Where else can order falafel, pho and dim sum in the space of few storefronts?
But Quincy still clings proudly, too, to its Irish heritage. Some 1/3 of the city’s 95,000 residents claim Irish roots – which makes Quincy the most Irish community of its size or larger in all of the United States.
That Irish heritage means there is plenty to see, do, eat and drink on St. Patrick’s Day in #TheMightyQ. Here are just 11 ways to celebrate on Friday:
1. Let your kids ride Pete the Connemara pony at Cronin’s Publick House – The Cronin family of Co. Kerry opened their neighborhood tavern in 1990 in the shadows of the former Quincy shipyard. The dining room walls are painted with pastoral images of their homestead in Ireland and their St. Patrick’s Day party is one of the best in Greater Boston.
You’ll find plenty of Guinness, corned beef dinner, DJs spinning traditional Irish and contemporary party tunes, bagpipers and an annual visit from Pete the Connemara pony. Kids can ride Pete for free outside the pub. (Cronin’s Publick House, 23 Des Moines Road, Quincy Point, 617-786-9804)
2. Watch Bay State pols practice their comedic material at the 21st annual Quincy St. Patrick’s Day Lunch – The St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in South Boston is a longtime tradition among Boston’s political elite. But many local luminaries first enjoy St. Patrick’s Day lunch Friday in Quincy before they take the stage Sunday in Southie.
Pols such as U.S. Congressman Stephen Lynch, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and Bay State Gov. Charlie Baker have all fine-tuned their (allegedly) comedic material at the Quincy St. Patrick’s Day lunch. The 2017 event, complete with entertainment, bad jokes, good-natured jabs, and corned beef and Guinness, takes place Friday at noon and his hosted by the Quincy Parks Conservancy. (The Tirrell Room, 254 Quarry St., Quincy, 617-847-6149)
3. Sip Ireland’s best craft-distilled whiskeys at The Townshend – The Townshend, founded by alums of Boston’s hottest watering holes, such as Drink and Island Creek Oyster Bar,brought craft cocktails to Quincy Center when the tavern opened in 2015.
Bar manager and “cocktail savant” Palmer Matthews carries some of the best bottles from Ireland’s growing number of craft distillers.
Sip the rich, complex flavors of West Cork Distillers Bourbon Cask Irish Whiskey, Glendalough Single Malt or Glendalough Double Barrel, finished in Spanish Oloroso sherry casks. (The Townshend, 1250 Hancock St., Quincy Center, 617-481-9694)
4. Enjoy a real Irish seisiun at Paddy Barry’s or Malachy’s Saloon – Tiny Paddy Barry’s, dubbed the “best little pub in the world,” is a real-deal working-class Irish pub in Quincy Center, filled with plenty of old-country accents and memorabilia. It offers Thursday night open mic seisuns with Irish and American musicians. You’ll find the same impromptu performances each Wednesday night at nearby Malachy’s, a blue-collar Irish-American pub in the heart of Quincy.
5. Savor corned beef & cabbage and a great American immigrant story –Alba Restaurant is a perpetually popular Mediterranean steakhouse and fine-dining attraction in Quincy Center, beloved for its Brandt beef tomahawk ribeye, world-class wine list and festive summertime roof deck. But Alba adopts the tastes of Eire each St. Patrick’s Day, with traditional corned beef dinner, Irish music and plenty of beer.
Alba owner Leo Keka (pictured here, right, last St. Patrick’s Day) escaped the ethnic violence of his native Albania in 1991 and, unable to speak English, landed a job washing dishes for fellow Albanian Anthony Athanas at former Boston dining landmark Anthony’s Pier 4. Ten years later, he opened Alba in Quincy Center and has since become one of the city’s most beloved citizens. Keka was honored in 2016 as Quincy’s Irishman of the Year because he represents perfectly the immigrant success story at the heart of the St. Patrick’s Day celebration in America. (Alba Restaurant, 1486 Hancock St., Quincy Center, 617-376-2522)
6. Nibble on beer-battered Irish sausage at Kelly’s Cellar – Kelly’s is a classic Irish-American haunt and raucous music hall in the heart of Quincy Center. Its menu includes Irish pub favorites such as deep-fried, beer-battered Irish sausage served on a bed of thin crispy French fries (or “chips”). Guests also enjoy chicken curry with peppers and onions, shepherd’s pie and Irish bangers & mash. Kelly’s features DJs and live entertainment each Thursday through Sunday. (Kelly’s Cellar, 1546 Hancock St., Quincy Center, 617-770-7900)
7. Knock back a few early morning eye-opener pints at The Irish Pub – “The Irish” is a North Quincy landmark famed for its neon sign above the door that lights up red at nighttime and says, simply, “Irish Pub.” It’s also an early-morning watering hold that draws a crowd when the doors open at 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Needless to say, the St. Patrick’s Day festivities begin early at The Irish.
Owner Noel Bowler is a native of Dingle in Co. Kerry and an avid sports fans. The Irish is also the perfect place to play darts, watch Gaelic Athletic Association championship matches or cheer on your favorite Boston sports teams all year long. (The Irish Pub, 51 Billings Road, North Quincy, 617-774-0222)
8. Enjoy traditional Irish breakfast at The Early American, McKay’s or the Wheelhouse Diner – Traditional Irish breakfast – bangers, rashers, puddings, beans and eggs – is easy to find at popular breakfast spots all over Quincy.
The Early American (1054 Hancock St., Quincy Center, 617-328-8225) is filled patriotic portraits and memorabilia; McKay’s (144 Franklin St., South Quincy, 617-773-0099) and its rambling four dining rooms offer great views of the birthplaces of Presidents John and John Quincy Adams across the street; and the Wheelhouse (453 Hancock St., North Quincy, 617-328-3666) is an authentic retro diner car breakfast and lunch spot.
9. Gorge yourself on Guinness-braised beef short ribs at Iron Furnace – The name Iron Furnace pays homage to Quincy’s history as the home of America’s first iron furnace in the 1630s. The concept is gastropub meets sports bar with plenty of televisions and creative casual fare.
Being Quincy, there are true Irish influences, too. Owner John O’Sullivan is Irish-American; his wife and partner Sharon Driscoll was raised in Ireland itself.
Their Guinness-braised beef short ribs are served year round but are offered as a St. Patrick’s Day special: a savory blend of whipped garlic mashed potatoes, baby vegetables and short ribs in a rich Guinness demi-glace. (Iron Furnace, 1495 Hancock St., Quincy Center, 617-328-0076)
10. Stock up on Irish groceries and St. Patrick’s Day souvenirs at Lucky Shamrock – Quincy’s best Irish market boasts classic multicultural roots: its owners are from India. Lucky Shamrock sells Irish newspapers, frozen foods, sweets and canned goods direct from the old country. It’s also a great place to purchase Irish-themed t-shirts, hats and party favors for your St. Patrick’s Day celebration. (Lucky Shamrock, 263 Beale St., Wollaston, 617-773-1666)
11. Dine on Boston’s most legendary Irish-barroom snack at 16C – The late, great Quiet Man pub above Broadway Station was one of old South Boston’s most famous watering holes, beloved for cheap draft beer, convenient location and legendary steak tips.
The Quiet Man has come and gone, a victim of Southie’s gentrification, but its famous secret-marinade steak tips are alive and well at 11-month-old 16C in Quincy Center, which offers the original-recipe Quiet Man steak tips amid its otherwise upscale menu of fine American cuisine.
The restaurant boasts plenty of Boston culinary street cred: owner Kerri Lynch-Delaney, a former pastry chef at Boston fine-dining landmark No. 9 Park, is the daughter of former Quiet Man owner Paul Lynch. Paul is the old brother of iconic Boston restaurateur Barbara Lynch, who helped her niece Kerri develop the 16C menu and concept. (16C, 16 Cottage Ave., Quincy Center, 617-481-2170)