The city of Quincy has a lot of bars--perhaps more bars than any other community in the Boston area other than Boston itself--and a good number of them are classic dives, while others straddle the line between dive bars and slightly less dive-y neighborhood watering holes. One such place in the latter category is Cagney's, a rather hard-to-find dining and drinking spot that brings together people from all walks of life, and combines a rough-around-the-edges feel with interesting twists on classic American fare along with a craft beer list that wouldn't be out of place in a boutique beer bar or a gastropub. And while the place has been around for approximately a quarter century, it remains a mostly little-known spot--especially to those who live outside of the immediate area.
Cagney's resides on a stretch of Washington Street that can be easily missed, since the road is between the busy Quincy Avenue and the even busier Southern Artery (also known as Route 3A), and is in a mostly residential area that also has some industry mixed in. The setup of the place is a bit odd, with a small room to the right that is often used for functions and private events and a main dining and drinking area to the left that is completely cut off from the other room other than a door connecting the two (each section has its own outside entrance). The main section of Cagney's is dominated by a bar that has seating on both sides and is used by patrons who are both drinking and eating, while a handful of high-top tables are set up along the walls. A new outdoor patio has been built to the left of the building and it looks like it will be ready when the warmer weather arrives. The noise level of the place can get high when it is crowded, and because it borders on being a sports bar in some ways, it can get packed during the big games.
While Cagney's has the look and feel of a basic neighborhood bar, both the food and drink menus hint that this is not your typical watering hole. Food options include inventive takes on pub grub, comfort food, and classic American fare, with some of the highlights being deceptively hot buffalo chicken wontons that really pack a punch; smoked gouda and bacon wontons that are slightly milder; house-made potato chips that come with dips and can also be topped with bacon and cheese; tater tots that (of course) go particularly well with beer; chicken tenders that can be smothered in cheddar cheese and bacon; freshly-made reuben eggrolls that are stuffed with lean corned beef Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut, and come with a Thousand Island dip; fried pickles that are made using a batter that is not unlike the type used for chicken fingers offered in Chinese restaurants; soft pretzels that are baked in the oven and are offered with two types of mustard; a turkey club with real turkey and lots of bacon, all within Texas toast; a buffalo mac and cheese that gets hotter as you eat it; tender steak tips marinated in either a zingy house sauce or a BBQ sauce; a classic chicken parmigiana that includes three types of cheeses and lots of red sauce; a diet-busting stacked bacon and triple cheese burger with cheddar, pepperjack, and gouda; a hearty "roadhouse" burger that is topped with bacon and pulled pork; a red-hot ghost pepper burger that isn't for the faint of heart; and pizzas that lean more toward gourmet than bar-style or thin-crust and have such options as bacon macaroni and cheese, ranch chicken, margherita, and a meat lover's dream of pulled pork, chorizo sausage, and bacon. As mentioned earlier, drinks at Cagney's include a wide variety of craft beers and some rare options that even some of the region's best beer bars don't always have (Maine Lunch is one such beer that has been available here), and for those who aren't into beer, the fully-stocked bar allows for endless mixed drink options as well as shots.
So is Cagney's a dive, a neighborhood joint, a sports bar, or even a bit of a gastropub? The answer is "yes" to the first three for sure, though its beer list would make lovers of boutique beer bars and gastropubs pretty happy as well. However you want to categorize the place, this bustling Quincy hangout is a true find that should satisfy groups of people with diverse tastes in food and drink.
Copyright © 2016, 2017, Boston's Hidden Restaurants (www.hiddenboston.com).