Part Mexican cantina, part Irish pub, and all cop, Garcia Brogan's blends disparate cultures in both its menu and its decor, which features murals and folk art from Mexico and Ireland. Whether guests want a glass of Irish whiskey or a fine tequila, Garcia Brogan's bartenders keep the drinks flowing, pouring a river of alcohol in which tacos and shepherd's pie bob appetizingly. The restaurant hosts pub trivia nights and live Irish music on the weekends.
Sports, Steaks & Spirits combines the television-studded walls of a sports bar with the hearty comfort food of a neighborhood pub. Menu items include baby back ribs and half-pound burgers, as well as more internationally inspired dishes, such as tempura-fried shrimp with coconut breading. Cooks can also top hand-stretched, thin-crust pizzas with a combination of 17 available toppings, including basil, sausage, and red onion.
Although its menu might distinguish Sports, Steaks & Spirits from other bars, guests are also welcome to just knock back a beer while watching Boston sports teams compete for control of the world’s supply of silver-plated trophies. Sixty plasma televisions line the bar’s walls, and all booths boast their own small screen, which may have prompted Patch to describe the spot as “a veritable North Reading sports haven.” Even the color scheme evokes the feel of well-trodden sports turf, surrounding visitors with yellow-green walls and pool tables lined with emerald-green felt.
A wall of glass flanks one side of the dining room at Hokkaido Restaurant, starting at the floor and stretching up to include a slanted portion of the ceiling. Punctuated only by wooden beams, this wall of windows floods the entire restaurant with sunlight, keeps out sushi-stealing birds, and offers a view of leafy, green trees. The sunlight slides across the bar's glossy, marble top, speckles a wall of leafy bamboo, and, most importantly, illuminates colorful plates of Japanese, Thai, and Chinese cuisine. Under photo murals of serene Asian landscapes, diners can dig into dishes ranging from pad thai and curry to orange chicken and specialty sushi rolls. Add in the karaoke that animates restaurant-goers on weekends, and the result is a vibrant environment equally suited to intimate dinners and convivial gatherings.
Aaron Mateychuk, head brewer at Watch City Brewing Company, makes playful twists to time-tested beer styles, earning his pub accolades and press mentions including a three-year streak of awards at the Great International Beer Festival. The stolid Titan ale is a balanced American brown ale, and the vivid Hops Explosion IPA employs a backbone of malt to keep a covey of hops in check. A posse of seasonal beers allows the brewer to keep experimenting by crafting citrusy summer ales to match cascades of sunshine and autumnal pumpkin brews the deep red-brown of changing leaves. Mateychuk also tracks down various strains of European yeast to create limited-run series, which in the past have included abbey-style Belgian beers and German-style lagers.
Inside the bright brewpub, servers carry upscale pub fare to a wall of wooden booths and benches exactly like those used in professional sitting competitions. Surrounded by vintage beer posters and paintings, patrons dine on pulled-pork tacos, housemade crab cakes, and reubens on pretzel rolls. The kitchen integrates beer into dishes such as the IPA-infused lamb burger and a deep-fried burger wrapped in beer batter and topped with chipotle-lime mayo.
As the sister venture of the restaurant known as Journeyman, Backbar sits directly behind its precursor in an unfussy, industrial-style space. But don’t let its afterthought origins fool you. Backbar has emerged from the shadows of Journeyman and built a following of its own, thanks to award-winning bar manager Sam Treadway and his merry band of mixologists. “The bar staffers are eager to please,” remarked Boston Magazine, “and they do.” A reverence for cocktails of days past mixed with an uncontainable thirst for innovation has yielded modern takes on classics such as the fall back, a revisited old-fashioned that blends bourbon with maple, walnut, and bitters. And the innovation doesn’t stop there—ever-changing selections include the drink of the day, drink of the week, and the seasonal milk punch, a traditional eggnog-esque concoction treasured by early American colonists and the cows that loved them. The inspired cocktails find accompaniment in an equally inspired menu of small plates that includes spicy caramel-bacon popcorn, charcuterie platters, and gourmet ice cream sandwiches.
Don?t be fooled by the myriad flat-screens streaming sports and the expansive bar with a bottomless supply of draft beer. East End Grille?s menu is a bounty of housemade dishes crafted from locally sourced ingredients sure to give any restaurant a run for its money. Chefs carefully tuck mushrooms into tortolloni and pair baked halibut with a lemon and white wine sauce. The flatbread is reimagined with toppings that include sweet chili shrimp, house-pickled red onions, and strawberries. Even the appetizers skirt simplicity, from cornmeal-breaded fried green tomatoes to deep-fried brie slathered in strawberry compote. Once a week, East End Grille opens for brunch that boasts french toast with fresh strawberries and whip cream, burgers with house bacon-chili mayo, and wasabi bloody marys.