This week, I’d like to praise an establishment for its versatility, particularly in the face of its history going back more than four decades. McGlynn’s Pub is a staple of local culture in my hometown due mostly to the impressive number of hats this restaurant shuffles between. Sure, it does the “lunch special” and “happy hour” type time-limited specials and even has killer daily specials six days a week, but that’s not where it stops. Twenty-two tap handles mean a mean craft beer selection which rotates as quickly as kegs run out; despite this, McGlynn’s is by no means a beer hipster bar.
I love me a good dive bar as Hemingway described: “A Clean, Well-lighted Place.” Some nights, I’m not looking for fancy decor or inspired cocktails. Some nights, I want to get drunk without using any of my own supply and wish to spend less than a full paycheck on my night out. On those nights, bars with names like “Drink” or “Oddity” (both of which exist) won’t do—they’re about the crowd and atmosphere. Last time I was in Oddity, there was a woman on the bandstand decked out in super cool goth gear posing for a painter right beside another young woman literally disc jockeying (like, with vinyl and two turntables). It was a great time, but I don’t always have that in the budget. McGlynn’s sports running drink specials that, when paired with the velocity McG’s bartenders keep it flowing (not to mention their hours), sneak it into that dive bar category, though as a technicality or notable exception, seeing as there’s far more to this place.
It’s the kitchen at McGlynn’s that confounds our categorization here. From eleven thirty AM to about ten PM every day, this pub is a restaurant that happens to have a bar. For seven dollars (on weekdays before 3PM), you can get a cup of house-made soup (the New England Clam Chowder and French Onion soups are of particular note) and half a sandwich made to order—with a side. Most days of the week also have a food special dedicated to that particular day: Sundays are “Beef and Beer” (a roast beef sandwich and pint of domestic draft beer for ten bucks), Mondays are half price appetizers, Tuesdays are half price build-your-own burgers (Beyond, turkey, and Ahi tuna; it and the beef are cooked to temperature), Wednesday’s all-you-can-eat wings (traditional or boneless; different sauces are available each round), Thursday’s all-you-can-eat peel-n’-eat steamed shrimp (hot or cold), and Friday and Saturday are two of the only days McG offers prime rib—twenty-three dollars for a slab of meat dowsed in au jus and served with two sides, and nothing but a salad is an upcharge.
Regardless which of these specials you seek to take advantage of, you’ll find that the quality for the price (after the discount) is beyond adequate. Full price, the menu is generally above my budget, but that’s not to say it’s more than the food is worth. Don’t let me fool you; McGlynn’s is not fine dining. Full price for their food is full price, and it’s mostly properly set for the quality you’ll receive.
In addition to their incredibly solid kitchen, McGlynns’ hours outstrip many other restaurants of similar culinary caliber. My options for an almost totally custom burger cooked to order (not just “pink or no pink?”) after eleven PM are limited to McGlynn’s and Chuck Lager, though I haven’t been back yet to give their burgers another try (I do believe in them, for the record). The earliest McG’s kitchen closes is midnight, and on weekends the cooks are there until one AM.
I’ve been going to McGlynn’s as long as I can remember, but their flexibility really struck me this week in particular because we went to catch some week two NFL Gameday action. The bar area and dining room at McG’s are practically saturated with tv’s, and on Sundays in the Fall and Winter, each tv is labelled to show which NFL games will be shown and at what times. Taken as a whole, all the games are shown. If you’ve never been in a sports bar during smorgasbord of football like this, I can’t recommend checking it out enough—even if you don’t care about football. It’s astounding to watch that many people care that deeply about the same thing, particularly because they’re rooting for all different teams. It’s chaos, in the most beautiful way.
Establishments like this blend into the very fabric of a town. McGlynn’s defies categorization because over the years it’s simply acquired more and more functions. I worked there for some time, and I’m not sure there was a demographic I didn’t see represented come through those doors at one time or another—and always multiple times. As with many local pubs like this one, most of the clientele had been there before. It’s comfort food in restaurant form, and a perfect way for those from out of town to get to know an area.
Does this remind you of anything in your town? Which aspect of McGlynns is most interesting to you? Does this sound too good to be true? Let’s talk about it!