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.
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.
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.
Within its storied confines, The Ivanhoe presents hearty cuisine drawing from classic Irish and American pub traditions alongside a selection of 26 brews and a focus on lively community. A bountiful drink menu holds the secret access code to an international cabal of crisp brews, indexing aliases such as Spotted Cow ($4), Smithwick's ($4.50), and the notoriously elusive Blue Moon ($4). Sample one of more than 100 whiskeys, absorb a glass of wine, or sip a martini such as the tongue-tickling Snickers ($8). A robust food menu details singular starters such as the wasabi-laced sesame seared tuna ($10) with greens in a honey-soy-ginger sauce, as well as Celtic standbys such as the European-style fish and chips ($10). The Jameson burger ($9) extends a transatlantic bridge of onion rings smothered in Jameson sauce and the relieved tears of stranded sailors.
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.
Part restaurant and part concert hall, Austin's Saloon & Eatery houses both a sit-down dining room and a separate main stage showcasing local and national acts throughout the week. The restaurant's menu blends barbecue and inventive American fare with starters such as chicken wings ($7.95) and golden-fried beer-dough nuggets ($5.50) made to mimic the exact shape and alcohol content of most asteroids. Wrap hands and mouths around one of six burgers ($8.50+) or don a bib and dive into a barbecue combo platter ($17.95) pairing chicken and a half-slab of ribs, both cooked on a wood roaster.