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Now playing at a former video store: Lucy’s American Tavern

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The Chef’s Barbecue Board at Lucy’s American Tavern .
The Chef’s Barbecue Board at Lucy’s American Tavern .(John Blanding, Boston Globe staff)

Where to Lucy's American Tavern, a Dorchester restaurant named for Lucy Stone, who was a local resident and pioneer in the women's rights and abolitionist movements.

What for Comfort food, cocktails, and sleek decor in a neighborhood that needed a place like this.

The scene First question: Where to park? There is a tiny lot that appears to be full, but the friendly valet finds room for your car. The smell emanating from the adjacent McDonald's is your first appetizer. It's Monday night, often a dead zone at area restaurants. Not Lucy's. The place is jumping. Families with kids are finishing up dinner as groups of friends arrive for drinks and snacks — Southie girls with elaborate fishtail braids, muscled men in tank tops, bros in caps, good-looking couples. The wrap-around bar is full. The TVs are large and plentiful. The volume is high. The place is decorated in high Mandatory Modern Tavern — brick walls, repurposed wood, black leather-esque banquettes. On the walls, butchers' diagrams of cows and pigs are interspersed with the words "DRINK LOCAL." There's a spacious covered area for outdoor dining. It's a handsome package — hard to remember that it was formerly a Hollywood Video.

What you're eating Executive chef Christopher Bussell has put together an appealing roster of bar food from every corner of the world: The Chinese-style steamed pork buns or the Mexican street nachos? The fried pickles or the poutine? The jerk chicken sandwich or the "Ballpark Burger," with grilled onions and peppers, cheesy lager sauce, mustard, a pretzel bun, and a side of Cracker Jack? The chef's barbecue board (with smoked meats, beans, and corn on the cob) or the fried chicken and sweet potato waffles? It's hard to decide.

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Care for a drink? You'll find dozens of beers on tap, plenty of wine, and an inventive cocktail list — from the root beer Old Fashioned, made with root beer syrup and cherry bitters, to the Fizzy Bee's Knees, with GrandTen gin and lavender-honey syrup, served in a bear-shaped glass with a wood honey dipper, sprigs of herbs, and a festively striped straw.

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Overheard Flirtation, sports talk, appetizer envy. "Ooh, we should have gotten that," a woman says regretfully as a barbecue board goes by. "Look at that TV! It's as big as my bed," another patron marvels. "He was jacked," a man tells his girl and the new pals they just met at the bar, laughing uproariously. "No, really, you look very manly," a woman assures the fellow beside her, as he sips delicately from a bear-shaped glass. The plates are cleared, revealing poutine detritus. "I made a mess! You can't take me anywhere," she laments. The bartender shakes his head in jest: "I was going to ask you on a date, but now that's off."

13 Granite Ave., Dorchester, 617-326-6677, www.lucysamericantavern.com.


Devra First can be reached at dfirst@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @devrafirst.