As Im sure Ive mentioned before, Im originally from England. So whenever I find a pub that caters to my European tastes, whether it be Ireland, Scotland or England, I drive over so quickly I almost forget which side of the road I should be on dont worry, I know its the right side ... right? Just joking. But it was my cravings for home that lead me to PJ O Reillys, located at the corner of Highway 521 and Ardrey Kell Road.
PJ O Reilly's is an Irish pub, and while Im not from Ireland, I lived close enough to tell you the inside décor does a great job of recreating the feel of an Irish village. The orange-painted walls and the random brick-painted designs look similar to a village home. There was even the popular red phone booth on the wall where you would typically find a payphone.
The dining room was split into sections: a bottom floor and a few upper level areas that were more cozy and intimate. In one of the upper levels, where I sat, there was a mural of an Irish sea town that was so detailed and accurate, it was like looking through a window.
And looking at that Irish scenery inspires a taste for one of the menu items Finnegan's Fish and Chips. But if you're not into seafood, there's also PJ's Pie (Shepherd's pie), Corned Beef and Cabbage, Irish Nachos, Bangers and Mashed, and plenty of other Irish favorites, too. "We'll try anything once," says owner Hamilton Stolpen. "If a guest suggests something, well try it. We make changes to our menu every month.
Alongside the traditional cuisine, the drink specials are good enough to inspire an Irish jig: Bud Lights and Michelob Ultras for $2, Killians Irish Red pints for $2.50, well drinks for $4, Jagermeisters for $5 and Margaritas for $4. Speaking of margaritas, Stolpen says theyll be throwing a Cinco de Mayo party with the Mexican eatery next door. There is a great patio outside to enjoy a good margarita and the warm weather, and who says you cant mix the best of both worlds?
After sitting in PJ OReillys, and talking to Hamilton, I realized how much of a neighborhood feel the pub has. This isnt the type of pub where youd go to find your next one-night stand, but a place youd go to relax and catch up with family or friends. Were family-oriented, Stolpen says. Families are in here all day, usually till 8-8:30 p.m. At 9 p.m. you have the mature drinking crowd. I wanted a pub that created a community type feel. And it seems the owner was successful in his mission.
As I left PJ OReillys, I felt as though I should be jet-lagged. The server, Rob, and Stolpen acted like your village mates, and the food and décor were so authentic, I felt like Id really skipped the pond and gone close to home. But as I pulled myself out of my Irish haze, I realized that Id found a little piece of home in America. And whether youre from Ireland (or England) or not, youll definitely find your Irish side at OReillys, even if its only the drinking side.
(photos courtesy of PJ O'Reilly's)