Dauphin County, PA

 

 

Named for Louis-Joseph Xavier Francois, Dauphin of France (October 22, 1781June 4, 1789). He was  the second child and first son of King Louis XVI of France and Marie Antoinette of Austria. As the heir apparent to the French throne, he was called the Dauphin. A sweet-natured child, Louis-Joseph died at the age of seven of what was then known as "consumption" (tuberculosis).

The Pennsylvania legislature, meeting in Philadelphia in 1785, to thank France for helping America win her independence from Great Britain, named the newly formed county, "Dauphin".

 

The crown. The mark of royalty. This symbol denotes a tavern with an overall excellence that exceeds the norm.

 The foamy mug marks a specific  feature that is noteworthy.

Normally when a bar goes out of business the location will never again house a tavern. Often the liquor license is sold to a distant entity.  The phoenix marks pubs that have defied the odds and reopened after having been silenced.

Not every pub that says its Irish is Irish but the ones that are and the ones that have great St Patrick's Day events will be identified with this brand.

The screw. The sign of gross injustice or disservice.  AmericanTom believes that people go to their local watering hole to escape their day to day grind and troubles.  In a way, servers and barkeeps are like actors - orchestrating a great play whose cast are their customers. Some of the things that can generate a screw are: great disparity between how regulars and visitors are treated, rudeness or utter incompetence.

Most businesses have a neutral attitude toward motorcyclists.   The HD logo marks taverns that openly welcome those who arrive on scooters.

Inflation sucks. It sucks away your buying power.  If you can still buy a beer for one dollar - you will see this sign.

Seafood is a class of food all by itself.  Clams have little competition - few foods are better when done well and few foods can cause more problems when improperly served. See the clam next to a bar's name and it shows where tasty clams have been enjoyed!

I like Reading, PA. In spite of being Pennsylvania's most dangerous city there are a lot of cool things to do here. One of the best is that "our" beer is back. You can have your big, national (and often foreign-owned) brands.        I  am happy that Old Gus has come home!  Taverns serving this delicious brew will have this icon.

Have a cold one on the deck!

 

tom@americantom.com

 

CEOLTAS IRISH PUB
310 N 2nd Street   Harrisburg  PA   17101    717-233-3202
www.ceoltasirishpub.com

 

CHAMPIONS
300 South Second Street   Highspire   PA   17034   717-939-0488
N40 12.453   W76 47.81

 

[04-05-03]>   I stopped at Champion's in search of a quick snack before lunch. The ratty exterior and lack of cars in the parking lot led me to assume that it wouldn't be much of a sports bar. Usually sports bars have a decent crowd when racing is on.  When I got inside I found I was wrong and a bunch of people were seated and eating lunch.

Greeted by SHANNON who was quite busy being barmaid and waitress. Wasn’t thankful to be compared to PINK ( she did have a resemblance ). Bright blonde hair spilling out from under her ballcap and generous use of “baby” and “hon” to all the male customers. Obviously this bar has a lot of regulars who tip based on the shaking of her little ass and prolific use of affectionate terminology.

Ordered wings which were pretty good. Over 15 TVs showing sports. Band setting up in the backroom - Shannon said this will be the first time they have ever had a country band ( even though the band’s flyer billed them as pretty rockabilly ) and they “didn’t know how it would go”

Beer was reasonably priced and Shannon was quite easy on the eyes. Bathroom was BRIGHT and had a full-length mirror so you can watch yourself piss from the sideview. That mirror will either be depressing or affirming. The 5x8' flag outside needs replaced.

 

CHICK'S TAVERN
120 East 2nd Street   Hummelstown  PA   17101    717-233-3202
www.chickstavern.com

 DEMP'S CORNER PUB
293 East Main Street, Middletown, Dauphin Co., PA. 17057   717-948-0132

 

 

 

[12-2005]  Some of the most interesting bars are ones that have probably seen their better days. They have paid their dues - usually in a bygone era - and their present state is generally no fault of their own.  Add an owner who tends bar and a loyal clientele and you generally come up with a pub that is a jewel - even if its covered in the grime of reality.

Demp's Corner is such a place. Owner Brian tends bar as he has for about 15 years. I suspect that things were different when the steel mill was chugging away at full steam. Today, the Ms PacMan machine still works for a quarter although it seems rarely played. The hot dog machine sits unplugged in the corner and the only food you can routinely get are the bags of chips behind the bar.

The beer is cold and the people friendly. The most interesting things are the restrooms in an elevated back room. The men's room has saloon style swinging doors and everyone in the bar can clearly see most of whoever is taking a piss. Two fishtanks adorn the barroom. The bigger tank has a big fat Oscar and a plump goldfish. The goldfish was once a feeder whose survival skills outfoxed the predator. In a few months he had grown large enough that he was uneatable and now the two coexist.

I like Demp's. Stop in and see Brian and his customers.

 

HARDWARE BAR - HARRISBURG
1236 North 2nd Street   Harrisburg   PA  17101   717-221-0530
www.eclipsedanceclub.com

       

Generally I do not post stock pics but #1 & 2 warranted it   3: Elvis kind of guy in the band (or at least he just stood up there most of the time)

[6-2005]   The exterior of the Hardware Bar/Eclipse/whatever the third part is called, is one of the most unique on Harrisburg's 2nd Street strip. The giant LED/fiberoptic star thing above the entrance can be seen for blocks.  It is almost as easy to see the illuminated palm trees. Either way, the light show and the crowds and the belly-baring staff combine to make this business one of the hottest around.

The band, UUU, was in full steam when we arrived on a Wednesday night. They were awesome and had everyone dancing!

I can't recall how much the Lager bottles were fetching but I know that most or all of a $5 bill vanished each time I bought one.  My one Captain and Sprite did the same and I don't remember even tasting the Captain.

The Hardware bars reply heavily on the schtick of the Coyote Bar (remember, this was the "Coyote" Hardware Bar when it first opened) and I personally have no interest in being the putz that has to climb up on the bar and sit in the barber's chair for some whipped cream reward.  But, the staff members  are attractive and they have figured out what "entertainment" means.

 

McGRATH'S PUB 
202 Locust Street   Harrisburg   PA  17101   717-232-9914
www.mcgrathspub.net

 

MIDTOWN TAVERN 
1101 N 2nd Street   Harrisburg   PA   17102
www.themidtowntavern.com

[ 3-2010> Reviewer: BEDS ]  -  The Midtown Tavern has been a fixture in Harrisburg for many years.  As the name indicates it is located in Midtown, right on 2nd street in an old residential historic neighborhood.  Over the years the Midtown has gone through many progressions.  Since the mid 90’s it has had a sports bar emphasis, a divey neighborhood bar emphasis, and at one point stressed live music with bands most nights, while now it seems to be back to an emphasis on sports, with many tvs, one giganto screen and an “upper deck” specifically for Penn State football fans.  If you are there on a Sunday during football season expect many regulars yelling at the screens and imposing their reactions to the game on you.  One guy may even bring a cowbell in and bang it.  If you are there other times you can expect the music to be inappropriately loud at times.

The midtown is a bit of a jewel in an offhand way though.  Its menu is comprehensive.  The pizza is excellent, really, which you wouldn’t expect walking in.  Many different sandwiches, hoagies, and even an impressive amount of entrees all for very reasonable.  They take pride in their food and the quality is better than you would expect if you didn’t know that.  They have a handful of taps, none of which change that much, with the two goodies being Yuengling black and tan – which is not seen all that often anymore and is what I always get—and a local offering from Troegs.  They also tout a pretty extensive bottled beer list.  Service is always quick and friendly, especially if you get a seat at the bar.  The crowd is as diverse as the neighborhood and is mostly local.  It can get pretty crowded during a snowstorm as the locals get cabin fever.  Best of all, they are now smoke free as prior to the smoking ban it would get pretty nasty in there.  The regulars who choose to smoke don’t seem to mind stepping outside for a “breath of fresh air.” 

 l

MOLLY BRANNIGAN'S 
2nd & Walnut Streets   Harrisburg   PA   17101  717-260-9242
www.mollybrannigans.com/html/harrisburg.html

         

 2: This shot doesn't do Mary justice - she is a stunner!    3: TWO Guinness taps    4: Fire In The Glen    5: Susan & Dean

 

[6-2005]  With 5 locations ( three in PA, Mesa AZ and Las Vegas ) Molly Brannigan's is almost at the point where I deem it a chain and it would no longer be eligible for inclusion in my book.  But, I had never been there and it looked to be a suitable location to meet a buddy of mine who is headed to Iraq.  His tastes in pubs tend to run opposite of the dirty dive bars that I like and an Irish Pub is a great compromise.

Their 1st Anniversary event was underway when I visited and Fire In The Glen was cranking out the Irish tunes.  Not surprisingly, I was the only one in a kilt and surprisingly, the customer base wasn't really into the music.  A free food buffet was available and there was food left when it was cleared away around 11PM.

I watched a man in an expensive suit sitting at the end of the back bar. He was oblivious to the live music and the people around him as he sat reading a hardcover book. Hey buddy, that's what libraries are for - or at least a Border's or B&N... you goof!

Our barmaid was the lovely and educated Mary. When she heard that my friend was off to the war - she stopped what she was doing and said a simple, "Thank you". That shocked me because most people just don't take the time to think of the sacrifices of our service people let alone verbalize their appreciation.

Eventually we migrated to the outside tables and chairs and came upon Susan, DJ, Dean and Deb.  A great group of folks whose occupations include civil servant, pharmaceutical sales (the pens were in the other car) and realtor. Hanging out with them on the street was a lot of fun.

 

PEP GRILL
209 Walnut Street   Harrisburg   PA   17101   717-236-6403


 

[ 2-2005> Reviewer: BEDS ]  -  This little lunch spot in the middle of bureaucratic downtown Harrisburg offers exactly what the packed-in clubs and bars on Second Street could never produce:  understated hipness.  This is no dance club, no martini bar, it is a throwback to a different time in Harrisburg.  Go on a Friday night and you'll hear what they loosely advertise as jazz, although more often a hybrid rock/funk/r and b band that is usually competent.  What you will see are people of all kinds, from hipsters to oldsters, from suits to nuts, black and white, rich and poor.  You'll  see kids detouring from the lively Second street bars for a taste of the subterranean Harrisburg and a flaming Doctor Pepper, one of the owner Maggie's most popular drinks.  If you stay long enough you may see the Mayor, who frequently ducks in at odd hours for a bit of the Pep personality.  Be sure to scan the folks in the crowd on a Friday, you may see the guy who looks like Ozzy Osbourne, the guy who looks like Leslie Neilson, the guy who looks like Judge Reinhold from Fast Times or the woman that looks like Rhea Perlman.   

 

The beer is adequate, Yuengling lager, ABC wheat and Troegs Hopback on draft along with the ubiquitous big brewer slop (why bother?).  The jukebox, which turns on promptly at the musician's break time, is as eclectic as the crowd.  Dig some Beatles or Woody Herman and everything in between.  If you go another time besides Friday, expect a diminished crowd.  And if you go on a Friday to check it out, don't have any expectations, you never know what will be going down, or not, at the pep.

 

 

 

SHAKEY'S ROCK & ROLL SPORTS BAR
312 Mill Street   Hershey   PA   17033   717-533-9824
www.shakeyssportsbar.com

[10-2004] Shakey's has always been the place where I go after a Hershey Bears game. It was unassuming, dirty and the people there knew their hockey. When the "Shakey's Shuttle" (a beat-up old paddy wagon looking van that takes fan-customers from the bar parking lot to the game - therefor saving them the $6 to park) returns you get all sorts of good insight into what went right or wrong on the ice.

Stopping by after a Bears game to watch the baseball playoffs, the doorman demanded a cover charge. I told him that I was not staying for the band - that I just wanted to watch the last few innings of the game in there - a SPORTS BAR. He shook his head and I paid up. This really soured me on Shakey's and it will be some time before I give them another shot. Who would have thought that a sports bar would charge a cover to watch sports. What is this world coming to?

 

 

SHADY McGRADY'S
204 Verbeke St  Harrisburg, PA 17102

 

 

[10-2008] Reviewer: BEDS   Yes, another “Irish” bar in Harrisburg.  What a concept—come up with a catchy Irish- inspired name, offer a car bomb special, hang a few Guinness mirrors and, presto, instant culture.  Shady Mcgradys game plan to a tee, even as this withstanding neighborhood bar has reinvented itself as more of a beer bar.  Yes, there are too many Irish-themed bars in Harrisburg and yes there is very little “Irish” about most of them.  Shady Mcgradys stands out a bit more because, well, they probably try a bit less to be Irish than the rest.  It’s a dark, smoky place (yes, STILL smoky, c’mon legislators, clean up the air everywhere already), something you’d expect in a college town.  They have just recently started serving bar-type food, including pizza.  The crowd has always been on the youngish side and the music has been toned down just a notch which is a good thing, as it allows for more conversation. 

There are three distinct things you see more of at Shadys nowadays.  First, people.  Second, bottles and, third, taps.  People are a good thing.  Used to be you’d walk in and get the blank stare from the guy in the corner who probably just got off his shift at the warehouse and seemed content to smoke and drink his time away.  Now there is a buzz and laughter and all of the other things you’d expect from an if-not vibrant bar than a bar with a pulse.  Second, and most impressively, Shadys has dedicated itself to becoming the premier beer bar of the burg, so much so it has even impressed my girlfriend, who has outstanding beer acumen.  Of note is the timely seasonal availability.  She had a Bell’s Oberon which must have been just shipped east.  I was impressed by their offering of that venerable old regional brewery family-owned Straub.  Heck they even had Straub dark, first time seen around these parts.  The owner clearly does a tremendous job working with the local distributors to make sure the tap handles are interesting and constantly changing. 

Shady Mcgradys has been a fixture in the midtown Historic District for quite some time now.  It does seem to be reinventing itself in a positive way.  With over 20 beers on tap, you can certainly find one to help wash down all that smoke.

SUBWAY CAFE
1000 Herr St  Harrisburg, PA 17103
 

[10-2008] Reviewer: BEDS   What else says “a step back in time” more than a bottle of Graupner’s Silver Stock behind the bar?  For those of you that don’t know, that was Harrisburg’s “local beer” from prohibition until 1950 when it closed.  The subway café (PLEASE don’t confuse this with the sandwich chain, this one has reputation old) has been around long enough to have served that beer.  Although most of us can only wonder what it actually tasted like, I would not be surprised if many of the current regulars once drank it.  

Yes, the clientele tends to be old, but what is NOT to love about this place?  It’s a step back in time.  Everything about the joint bleeds authenticity.  There is even a flood lines inside the restaurant from Agnes and prior floods.  

 

The food is the real reason to come to subway.  The pizza is the hook here.  Thin crust, good quality cheese (and not too much of it), sauce on the top. This is a European-style pizza right here in Harrisburg.  And you’ll love it.  Although it goes much better without the pepperoni (as a professional food pairer pointed out).  The antipasto is excellent as well and Thursday and Friday nights are lasagna nights.  

 

The best things about the beer?  First, they offer fishbowls.  Nice!  Yuengling lager is the only draught worth getting, but at least they have it.  They also have chesterfield ale in bottles, a no-brainer if you are not overindulging in a fishbowl.  Wait staff and bartenders are always friendly and are proud of the history and quality of the place.  It’s off the beaten path, on a desolate industrial section of Herr Street near a mega office building that remains half built.  It’s also just around the corner from Appalachian Brewing Company.

 

 And why Subway Café when there is no Subway in Harrisburg?   Has to do with the railroad tracks under the bridge across the street.  And don’t try to order the Graupner's Silver Stock. I only got laughed at when I tried.

UNION CANAL HOUSE
107 South Hanover Street    Hershey, PA  17003
www.unioncanalhouse.com