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Vanishing Boston

A field guide to Boston's 'lasting' treasures — to be enjoyed before they're razed in favor of chain stores

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Mul's Diner

Old Southie
Should we mourn the passing of old-school South Boston? That's hard to say. At its worst, Southie was a breeding ground for xenophobia and flat-out racism. But it was also a remarkably close-knit community — one extended Irish-American family, for better or worse — with an outsize influence on outsiders' perception of Boston and the city's perception of itself. That Southie is almost gone. But one notable vestige remains on West Broadway, next to the condos formerly known as the Church of Saints Peter and Paul — in the form of Mul's Diner. Mul's offers a backward-looking glimpse at Southie's gentler charms: this is blue-collar food for a blue-collar clientele, served in a half-brusque, half-friendly manner, in an Ozzie and Harriet–vintage space. Grab a table facing the street, order Mul's Meatloaf (the size of a candlepin bowling ball, and about as dense), and pay close attention. You might catch a glimpse of Southie Royalty — say, former Boston mayor Ray Flynn or former State Senate president Billy Bulger, brother of Whitey. Even if you don't, you'll see plenty of other examples of their fading ethnic type: South Boston Irishmen and -women, the children or grandchildren of immigrants, abandoned by others who've decamped for the South Shore's Irish Riviera, still clinging to the neighborhood that made them who they are.

— Adam Reilly

MUL'S DINER | 80 West Broadway, South Boston | 617.268.5748

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