How many restaurants have come and gone from the dining scene in New Tampa and Wesley Chapel? Too many (and too painful) to count is the easy answer.
So, whenever a new restaurant opens in our distribution areas, one of the first things I find myself asking myself is, “Do I really think this place can make it here?”
Well, in the case of O’Brien’s Irish Pub & Grill — which opened a few months ago in the location in the Wesley Chapel Village Market previously occupied by City Grill (and Winners before that) — I believe the answer is a resounding yes. O’Brien’s, which is more than just an Irish pub, more than just a sports bar and more than just an entertainment venue, is a reasonably priced real restaurant with both traditional sports bar food and some Irish fare you can’t get anywhere else in our area. Unfortunately, even though I’ve now sampled most of O’Brien’s menu, I’m just not happy with the pictures I have of the Irish dishes like the excellent fish & chips (I always order it with red cocktail sauce instead of the tartar sauce that is served with it), the Shepherd’s pie and the bangers (Irish sausage) and mashed potatoes with onions, mushrooms and O’Brien’s Guinness gravy.
One of my favorite dishes is the Murphy’s chicken sandwich, which you can get grilled or blackened. It comes with crisp bacon, melted Swiss, lettuce, tomato and onions, a split-top bun and served with your choice of homemade pub chips with Guinness gravy, pub fries or O’Brien’s soon-to-be-famous pub tots — which are the best tater tots I’ve had recently.
Our office orders our tots extra, extra crispy, but you might want to start slowly and just order them extra crispy the first time. Either way, they’re awesome.
I also really enjoy the pub club sandwich, which adds ham to the traditional turkey, bacon and cheese; both the Irish Cobb and traditional Greek salads, the prime rib and pub French dip sandwiches, the Rueben-like Emerald Isle sandwich piled high with your choice of corned beef or turkey with melted swiss, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing (I order the dressing on the side), and the flaky fisherman’s sandwich, which I usually order extra blackened (or try grilled or fried).
O’Brien’s also makes great hamburgers, from the no-frills Wesley Chapel burger to the Florentine burger with spinach and artichoke dip, blue cheese crumbles and bacon bits and the new shamrock burger, which is a grilled burger topped with corned beef and Swiss — and many more.
For starters, O’Brien’s has extra-crispy jumbo wings tossed in your choice of many different sauces, from Celtic tiger hot to sweet Thai chili to the new spicy honey sriracha. Also available are Cajun and jerk wings.
There’s also a couple of new starters on the menu, including the crispy Santa Fe chicken rolls, which are served with a spicy remoulade dipping sauce.
For dessert, my favorite item is called the “chocolate bombe,” which is an amazing iced chocolate mousse cake. Decadent.
Some History & A Look Ahead
The first local O’Brien’s Irish Pub opened on N. Dale Mabry in Carrollwood 25 years ago, according to Mike Goodwin, who owns and operates the Wesley Chapel location with his brother Randy Goodwin and partners Randy Fairchild and Sean and Liz Lewis. Not really a chain, today there are four locations — each with its own tweaks of the basic menu — in Brandon, Northdale, Wesley Chapel and the Plant City location Mike Goodwin purchased three years ago.
The Wesley Chapel O’Brien’s should be your pro and college football headquarters, with its recently revamped bar area serving a variety of craft beers on draft, and one of my favorite Irish whiskeys — Powers — always on hand (all at lower prices than you’ll find at most other local restaurants, especially at the mall), plus 26 big-screen TVs strategically situated around the place and food and drink specials during every game.
Speaking of specials, O’Brien’s has something different for you just about every day.
On Monday, regular burgers are just $6 and specialty burgers cost $8. Tuesday is Team Trivia night (7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.), with 60-cent wings all day, $8.99 Miller Light, Coors Light & Yuengling pitchers. Wednesday is Karaoke Night (starting at 8 p.m.) and Cheap Beer night ($2.50 domestic pints and $1 off imports), plus one kid 12 & under eats free with each adult meal purchased. Thursday is Ladies Night, 10 p.m.-close, where ladies pay only half their bar tab. There’s also $1 off Irish beers (like Smithwick’s) and $3 Fireball shots. And, there’s live music every Friday and Saturday night. Check the board inside O’Brien’s for the upcoming entertainment schedule.
O’Brien’s also is planning a week-long “Half Way to St. Patty’s Day” event the week of September 12-17. Call or stop in for details, but the partners agree it’ll be awesome.
O’Brien’s Irish Pub (5429 Village Market) is open Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-2 a.m., and 11 a.m.-midnight on Sun. For info, call 973-9988, or visit OBriensWesleyChapel.com.