Gold-leaf writing inscribed across the towering red portico at the entrance to The Shannon Rose Irish Pub announces what one might expect to find inside: “Premium Stouts,” “Irish Whiskies,” and other culinary staples of the Emerald Isles. Behind this imposing entryway lies a series of dining rooms that have a markedly different effect; chandeliers create a sense of intimacy as they illuminate Gaelic artwork and aged hardcovers resting on lofty bookshelves.
With six handcrafted beers on tap and a full menu of delicious pub provisions, J.J. Bitting Brewing Company enrobes taste buds in warm, comfortable flavors. The Blazing Brewhouse wings ($5.95) perk up palates with a tangy zest that earned them the title of Best Hot Wings in Woodbridge by BestHotWings.com. Wrangle the Colorado burger's bison patty into hungry mouths aided by sautéed onions, mushrooms, and sun-dried-tomato pesto mayo ($7.95), or follow the delicate salmon steak's incredible journey through pan-searing and potato-breading before rousing it from snug beds of rice and fresh veggies ($15.95). Like the cool table in a high-school cafeteria, Bitting's homegrown pints ($4.50 each) stay popular with or without delicious food. The Garden State IPA balances appealing bitterness with a floral aroma, and the heavily roasted Black Jack Stout swoops up from cellars to slake any thirst in the house.
Big Shots' massive, three-floored space bombards sports fans with walls covered in flat-screen televisions, ensuring they never miss a kick, toss, or posttouchdown pirouette. While patrons soak up multimedia entertainment from every direction, cooks whip up a menu of classic bar grub, such as specialty pizzas and burgers named after NFL teams, including the brown-gravy-drenched Chicago Bear and the cheddar- and bacon-topped Green Bay Packers. At night, the establishment can transform into an all-out dance party led by live bands and DJs.
A union of Middle Eastern and Western cultures, Fire N Ice Hookah Bar combines the laid-back charm of a hookah lounge with the music and swank of a nightclub. Customers roam through the electric bi-level space flooded by soft colorful lighting before picking their poison—hookah, drinks, food, or all three.
In the hookah lounge, they curl up on plush sofas cushioned by satiny pillows and reach out every so often to grasp the hookah pipe as it’s passed around, inhaling any one of 25 exotic hookah flavors. The smoke spirals up toward Middle Eastern tapestries hanging overhead or snakes around the top-shelf cocktails perched beside the pipe. It even intermingles briefly with the aromas wafting from Middle Eastern dishes—such as chicken tikka, korma sliders, and kebabs—before vanishing into the air as quickly as a magician at a science fair.
As the night lingers on, Fire N Ice begins its transformation into a full-blown nightclub. Belly dancers take to the stage first, twisting and shimmying across the spacious dance floor. By 11 p.m., the club's three DJs begin spinning top R & B and hip-hop hits intermixed with a few Arabian jams, signaling to guests that it's their turn to hit the floor.
McGinn's offers patrons a cozy respite from the hustle and bustle with a collection of cold brews, comfort foods, and all New York sports on the TVs. Diners-to-be sally through the saloon doors with a good friend or frenemy triplets and belly up to the long wooden bar for the cheese-infused Johnny burger seasoned in secret and topped with bacon. While sipping a fine domestic brew or soft drink, masticators can linger over the complex flavors of a burger with cheese cooked right inside the patty, or enjoy the salty goodness of the accompanying basket of sweet-potato fries or straight-up white-potato fries. Patrons choosing not to disco skate to the pub find plenty of places to stable their cars while they strap their own feed bags on.
At Lucky Dublin, entrees born in Irish and American pubs come together over foam-topped pints of Guinness. Multicultural amalgamations such as irish nachos—fried potatoes with cheese, bacon, jalapeños, and scallions—whet appetites for hearty entrees such as shepherd's pie, bacon cheeseburgers, and Reuben sandwiches served with crispy natural-cut fries. Cocktails and beers, including Yuengling, cultivate a merry atmosphere in Lucky Dublin's dining room, where tall wooden chairs proffer views of sports games on flat-screen TVs. The restaurant further embraces tomfoolery with special events throughout the week, such as Latin DJ nights and "Grown and Sexy Fridays," during which guests are encouraged to don swanky little numbers sewn from their most recent tax returns.