Chewing and chatting slow to a halt, and every set of eyes looks to the flat-screen TVs around the pub. A silent tension floats over the room as both the shot and game clock ticks toward the final seconds. As the ball swishes through the hoop in tandem with the timer’s final knell, the room explodes in a symphony of hoots and cheers that continues into the early hours of the morning. This scene plays out almost nightly during O'Connell's Irish Pub & Grille's regular game-watching parties.
Since throwing open their doors in 1968, O'Connell's staffers have worked hard to foster a welcoming, friendly environment where the community can get together, unwind, and debate the newest methods of chewing. Though the pub relocated from across OU's campus to its new location, the pub continues to build camaraderie on its foundations of relaxed revelry and hearty fare. Chefs bustle to create pub fare ranging from traditional fish 'n' chips to burgers crowned with toppings such as pineapples, fresh blue-cheese spread, and newly sizzled bacon bits. A lineup of lively events keeps patrons in the partying way throughout the year, especially during the annual St. Pat’s Party replete with live DJs, green eggs, and karaoke.
Pubs west of the Atlantic often pay homage to the UK, but Dan McGuinness Pub goes one step farther: it was actually made in Ireland. Shipped to Memphis, Tennessee in pieces, the first Dan McGuinness was entirely assembled by a team of five Irishmen, who still manually hold it together today. The franchise's other locations weren't built this way, but they all carry on the original pub's tradition of friendly service and classic Irish dishes such as corned beef and cabbage, bangers and mash, and shepherd's pie. American and English influences also permeate the menu in dishes such as blackened chicken fingers and fish ‘n’ chips made with Atlantic cod dipped in Harp lager batter.
The pub's beer list similarly mixes up European and American offerings with brews from Guinness, Smithwick's, and Sam Adams. Feasts at Dan McGuinness unfold amid a convivial atmosphere, with entertainment such as billiards and live music every Friday and Saturday night.
Kush Hookah Lounge engages eaters and puffing patrons alike with a menu of Mediterranean eats and a full hookah lounge, featuring 20 tobacco varieties. Complement puffs with a fete of small plates, including creamy hummus ($5.99), curry fries ($5.49), and six different types of wings, including garlic and chipotle ($6.99+). Guests can synchronize blown smoke spheres of smooth and fragrant tobacco flavors such as coconut, apple, or strawberry ($14) while reclining on a mound of silky throw pillows. Adventurous inhalers can sample more exotic essences, ranging from passion-fruit mojito to blue mist, a blend rivaling only microwaved peanut butter in smoothness.
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51st Street Speakeasy dishes up a savory spread of creative American staples in a vintage-style bar with an intimate stage hosting live entertainment. The fresh menu brings together tacos, salads, and burgers in a culinary harmony unseen since the California Raisins dominated the airwaves. Guests can rev stomach engines with a starter such as chicken or beef nachos, stacked to stratospheric heights with tomatoes, jalapeños, and cheese and served with luscious guacamole, sour cream, and salsa ($8). A traditional caesar salad with freshly made dressing ($7) makes for a well-rounded meal when paired with a cheeseburger, amassing a half-pound patty seasoned and cooked to order ($8).
The buttery leather couch beneath the bookshelf has been taken over by a pair of readers enthralled in the world of their novels, oblivious to the raucous games of foosball and darts unfolding next to them. The setting of this laid-back scene isn't a domestic rec room but the upstairs smoking lounge and bar of Tapwerks. Dedicated to making patrons feel at home, Tapwerks' English pub–inspired decor, friendly staff, and weekly lineup of high-energy events foster a welcoming environment.
Amid the nonsmoking, flag-laden dining room on the first floor, eaters of all ages snuggle into wooden booths or around tables as they chow down on dishes of hearty bar staples such as fish 'n' chips, pizza, and burgers. Behind the careworn wooden bar, seasoned bartenders can fill up glasses with the sudsy contents of 212 taps or slide one of 100 bottled beers down the bar to a waiting hand. As days melt into evenings, Tapwerks’ cozy surroundings reverberate with the strums of live guitars during regularly scheduled Acoustic Nights or the ticking sound of brains working during trivia nights.