North Quincy and adjacent Wollaston are two neighborhoods in Quincy that seem to mostly buck the trend of generic restaurant chains. Sure, a few have popped up here and there, but for the most part, these two close-knit communities have more or less retained their character. And perhaps no place represents this more than the Wheelhouse Diner, a classic food joint in an old railroad car diner on Hancock Street in the heart of North Quincy. Everything about this place screams out old-school, from the neon sign out front to the well-worn booths and stools in the tiny dining area.
The Wheelhouse Diner doesn't have much room inside (they have only 13 stools and 5 booths), but it is usually not too difficult to get a seat, even on weekends, in part because of the efficiency of the staff here. The owner can usually be found behind the counter, working hard and fast to prepare eggs, pancakes, home fries, and, at lunch, sandwiches, while the waitstaff quickly grabs finished meals from the counter to bring over to the tables. Even though the pace can be rather hectic, the food is cooked to order and is mostly delicious. One breakfast standout is the house-made corned beef hash, which is a bit more crunchy and less watery than what you might typically find in a diner. Other good dishes for breakfast include the waffles with blueberries and the tasty chocolate chip pancakes. Diners also can order an Irish breakfast at the Wheelhouse Diner, complete with blood pudding, sausage, and Irish bacon. If you head over to the diner for lunch, some of the items you will find here include burgers, hot dogs, and kielbasa, as well as variety of other sandwiches and a handful of more substantial entrees.
Back in the middle of the 20th century (around the time the Wheelhouse started out), there must have been hundreds of places like the Wheelhouse Diner in New England. But today, it seems that there are fewer and fewer of these places each year. Let's hope that the Wheelhouse Diner sticks around for decades to come, as it is a truly unique place that deserves to be discovered by those outside of the North Quincy neighborhood.
Copyright © 2007-2011, Boston's Hidden Restaurants (www.hiddenboston.com).