On J.J. Murphy's Irish Pub’s opening day, reports the Star Tribune, bagpipers blasted their traditional tunes and a priest blessed the bar, a custom for new businesses in Ireland. The owner of local Irish-themed restaurants, including O'Donovan's Irish Pub and Jake O'Connors, native Irishman Dermot Cowley established J.J. Murphy’s in honor of the city of Blaine’s first settler from the 1860s, Irishman Phillip Laddy.
Alongside Irish pub classics such as beef and Guinness stew, Dermot’s handpicked menu includes soft pretzels with a Jameson’s Irish Whiskey-spiked mustard and a vegetarian-friendly sandwich with grilled tomatoes and sautéed onions. These feasts unfold in a spacious bar outfitted with salvaged material from Ireland, including the sign from famous Dublin bar The 5 Crosses and a lost and confused Liam Neeson. Old oak tables, antique benches, and a toasty fireplace adorn the dining area, while bartenders behind the copper bar supply spirits to thirsty patrons tapping their toes to concerts from live musicians on the pub’s new stage.
A bowling alley, sports bar, 4,100-square-foot arcade, and convention hall all reside within Blainbrook Entertainment Center. In the bowling alley, families and friends challenge each other at one of 24 neon-lit lanes equipped with automatic scoring or join the center's competitive leagues for adults and children ages 5–19. Meanwhile, sports fans grab a seat in the sports bar to watch games on big-screen TVs, listen to live music, enjoy steak dinners from the menu, or play pool. Pool tables also fill the arcade alongside poker tables, dartboards, and more than 50 games, including virtual-reality games. And when guests need to host a wedding reception, family reunion, or rock-paper-scissors competition, they fill Brookhall–a large convention center with a bar, crystal chandeliers, and access to an outdoor garden.
Exposed brick and stone surfaces weave a common theme through Cityside Bar & Grill's varied dining spaces. In the St. Paul room, an enormous stone fireplace rises before a collection of wooden tables, and in the Minneapolis Loft, brick columns join slanted ceiling beams to frame a more intimate scene. The bar area houses a stage for live music performances held every Saturday night, while outside, the restaurant's roomy patio overlooks a rippling pond. Cityside's menu share’s the architecture’s diverse core, offering everything from stone-hearth pizzas to steaks, ribs, and pastas. Chefs also assemble six signature sandwiches inspired by their cities of origin, stopping just short of autographing each in mustard to maintain established levels of authenticity.
There's one in every neighborhood—a cheerful little mom-and-pop sandwich shop where the servers are friendly and it always smells wonderfully of toasting bread. Chubby's sets itself apart with an eclectic menu of classic and innovative sandwiches, which chefs cobble together from freshly sliced meats and local ingredients. Bustling behind counters from the early morning until dusk, these cooks whip up timeless club, Reuben, and italian sandwiches and craft spicy pulled-pork wraps and apple-bacon paninis. They also hand out a variety of specials—including ribs, meatloaf, and soups—which, like the colors of the rainbow, change from day to day. Sandwiches in hand, guests can dine at the shop's tabletops beneath the glimmer of television sets.
Aromas of baking pizzas and simmering house-made sauces drift from the kitchen of Umbria, which is named in honor of the region of Italy where the eatery’s founders developed their recipes. The cooks forge crusts from freshly kneaded dough, which they slip into the rippling heat of the ovens. Kraft macaroni 'n' cheese, smoked bacon, sauerkraut, corned beef, gyro meat, and other inventive ingredients scatter across pies and allow patrons to customize a meal that is already shaped exactly like their favorite manhole cover.