As the sun sets over Antioch every Wednesday night, most people are thinking about going to bed; that’s not the case at Port of Blarney. Instead, a captain is firing up his boat for the weekly sunset cruise, which departs from the eatery’s 8-acre stretch of lakefront property. Free to the first 35 diners who made a reservation, many passengers bring a drink from the restaurant’s bar along for the ride after indulging from a menu loaded with classic American and pub food. Inside the Key West¬–themed dining room or on the freshly planted patio, diners nosh on spicy wings, half-pound Black Angus burgers, pizzas, and sandwiches, such as the Havana Cuban, which tucks slices of pork tenderloin, ham, and pickles into french bread. A regular stream of musicians and other live acts hits the stage at Port of Blarney to keep guests entertained as they eat.
On summer weekends, Port of Blarney’s docks also provide a free boat shuttle to Blarney Island, a bar located 1 mile offshore. Legend has it that entrepreneur and card shark Jack O’Connor won the rights to the bar in the 1900s in an all-or-nothing poker game. The bar's success during the past century inspired the founding of Port of Blarney restaurant to feed guests year-round and to ferry revelers to the lake-bound oasis during warmer months or giant-squid migrations.
There are no waiters at Mikey's. You order at the counter and find your own seat. But the pub’s casual atmosphere doesn’t detract from the quality of its food. Diners dig into gourmet pub eats such as open-faced prime-rib sandwiches, pulled-pork flatbreads, and buffalo chicken dip served with warm tortilla chips, sipping stiff drinks and craft beers all the while.
Firewood Restaurant & Sports Lounge's 30 TVs act as eye magnets for sports fans, who can fill up on mainstay bar and grill dishes. As guests enjoy a comfortable atmosphere coupled with bites such as burritos, burgers, and pizza, a list of 39 craft beers thwarts thirst and muffles shouts over bad calls or good sportsmanship. In the summer, a patio veranda opens itself to warm, breezy dining, and dartboards, Golden Tee, and trivia games provide food for thought throughout the duration of Earth's trip around the sun.
Walls the color of frozen margaritas and fresh guacamole surround visitors to Tipsi Monkey, their electric green hue mirroring the energy of the restaurant's busy goings-on. But despite the game-watching nights, Vegas nights, and dance parties filling its schedule, Tipsi Monkey is all about the food. Classic Mexican food dominates the menu, including carnitas slow-cooked for three hours, and chorizo and potato tacos. A bevy of aged tequilas adds a piquant note to meals and keeps the steam-powered avocado-masher running.
At Downing's, diners can gobble up a Guinness beer brat, savor Corona-battered cod, or bite into a maple-bacon burger made with beer-infused sirloin. Inventive uses for alcohol aren't the only way the chefs add creative spins to their traditional Irish eats and handheld pub dishes. For instance, you can order a burger topped with fresh mozzarella, pesto, and fresh tomatoes?all the makings of a caprese salad. Downing's takes burgers so seriously that an entire section of the menu is labeled "Not Burgers." It features italian-beef sandwiches and chimichurri beef tacos. Diners can also partake of a deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which oozes with warm strawberry jelly between slices of bread dusted with powdered sugar.
Between bites of hearty pub food washed down with beer and spirits, pool players can start their own leagues at Downing's. The pub?which offers alfresco seating in warmer months?also keeps things hopping with weekly musical performances, five flat-screen TVs, and parties to celebrate such holidays as Halloween, Saint Patrick's Day, and Franklin Pierce Fan Club Day.
Green to its core, The Irish Mill Inn first opened its doors in the early 1930s. Though its origins aren’t exactly clear, some believe the small, unassuming venue operated as a speakeasy before Prohibition’s end in 1933. No matter the case, today, The Irish Mill Inn legally fills the mugs of regulars and newcomers alike, pouring from a drink selection that includes Irish beers and scotch. The food menu, meanwhile, provides an array of hearty bases, highlighted by such Irish classics as shepherd’s pie and bangers with chips. On Friday and Saturday nights, live bands rock the venue, and on Sundays and Thursdays, patrons can share their own music or odes to green beer during open mic events.