A Taste of Ireland
Any bartender can pour a pint, but your Irish eyes (and appetites) will smile at these three local pubs.
Though New Jersey is roughly 3,100 miles away from Ireland, there’s no shortage of spirit in our counties once St. Patrick’s Day rolls around. Special bar bites, soda bread and, of course, lots of beer, make for one of the merriest celebrations on the calendar. And call it luck, but our counties have both become home to some of the best spots to raise a pint with your lads and cheers to the greenest get-together of the year. Plan a stop to one or all three of these authentic Irish pubs right in our own backyards that are must-tries for anyone looking to paint the town green.
Thatcher McGhee’s, multiple locations
Designed and named after a Middle Age-era thatched roof cottage, Thatcher McGhee’s has the look and feel of a real Irish outpost and kitchen. With locations in Fairfield, Denville and Pompton Lakes, Thatcher’s has become a hotspot for Irish eats year round. Authentic pub grub like a slow-roasted Irish lamb stew and a hand-sliced Reuben (plus the daintier “Rachel” sandwich that swaps in pastrami for the corned beef) are mainstays here. During a night out with friends, I started the evening with two orders of the “Thatch Fries”—a generous helping of crispy matchsticks topped with cheddar cheese, crispy bacon and a drizzle of ranch dressing. Though gluttonous, they were a fun precursor to my lighter main, the Galway-style fish and chips, which was perfectly fried and not at all oily. Be prepared for a crowd if you choose to head here on St. Patrick’s Day. The bar offers a limited menu due to the sheer pandemonium of its busiest day of the year, but lots of merriment nonetheless!
Thatcher McGhee’s, 31 Passaic Ave., Fairfield, 973.227.4938; 53 Broadway, Denville, 973.586.3377
Egan & Sons, Montclair
Not one to rub elbows at the local bar? Egan & Sons delivers eats with all of the gritty authenticity of an Irish pub paired with an upscale atmosphere. Enjoy refined twists on favorites like a potato-encrusted cottage pie filled with slow-braised beef or wine-soaked steamed mussels over matchstick fries. If you find yourself hungry enough to get an appetizer, order the toasties and trust me, you’ll be happy you did. These little gems are an Irishman’s take on a grilled cheese and packed with a lot of flavor. Stop by the tented parking lot on St. Patrick’s Day for their annual party, no ticket required, where there will be face painting, Irish step dancers, bagpipers and The Counterfeiters (a local cover band) playing all the hits. Tip: The fun is first come, first served, so you’ve got another reason to start your celebration early!
Egan & Sons, 118 Walnut St., Montclair, 973.744.1413
Grasshopper Off the Green,
Morristown Located in the heart of Morristown, Grasshopper Off the Green is a three-floor authentic pub that knows how to throw a party. With live music every night, the Grasshopper is constantly buzzing with all of the jollities that one looks for in an Irish public house. Stop by for a full meal, or arrive a little later to grab some bar bites and drinks with your clan. On a recent visit, I decided to take on the “Irish Burger”—an angus beef patty topped with bacon (“rashers,” as they would say in Dublin, I learned) and a Guinness-infused cheddar. I was pleasantly surprised at how much of Ireland’s signature brew I tasted in the gooey cheese. I’m not a beer gal, but a dark Guinness is hard to pass up. Other picks at this local hot spot for weekend merriment remain traditional: slow-cooked corned beef and cabbage jeweled with tender red bliss potatoes; hearty bangers and mash; and a potato leek soup with all of the fixings on top. The Grasshopper’s annual festivities are set for March 14, to coincide with Morristown’s historic St. Patrick’s Day parade, so make sure you get your green gear ready early! Stop by for a round of beers with your buds and you’ll feel lucky to be Irish for the day.
Grasshopper Off the Green, 41-43 Morris St., Morristown, 973.285.5150