Hennessey’s Tavern serves up tasty fare, cold beer and an inviting atmosphere for Monday Night Football.
By Sharon Stello | Photos by Jody Tiongco
With football season in full swing, those seeking a great place to watch the game while enjoying some tasty food and drinks need look no further than Hennessey’s Tavern, a local establishment in Laguna Beach for 24 years.
Hennessey’s features both upstairs and downstairs bars, a separate dining area and an open-air patio. Several large-screen TVs—plus a 100-inch projector screen upstairs—offer plenty of viewing options for Monday Night Football.
Hennessey’s can be found along the Southern California coast from Manhattan Beach to San Diego as well as in Las Vegas, but the Laguna tavern has its own vibe. “Each store is its own special place,” says General Manager Sarah Karros.
The Laguna Hennessey’s exudes a family feel as many locals are regulars at the watering hole and know all the servers by name, creating “an outgoing, playful atmosphere,” Sarah shares. Then, at night, Hennessey’s is the place to party. “From 9 p.m. on, it’s a rager,” she says. Entertainment keeps the place lively: Disc jockeys and/or karaoke can be found every night upstairs, and solo artists perform live downstairs Tuesday through Thursday and every other Monday.
While the core menu is the same throughout the chain, each location has its own daily specials ranging from new creations like prosciutto-stuffed mushrooms to old favorites brought back for a limited time such as the T-bone steak, a popular dish from the past that’s been revived for the Monday Night Football menu. The juicy, 1-pound steak is seasoned with a blend of salt, pepper, white pepper and garlic for the tavern’s simple but savory take on a classic, served with thick-cut french fries.
Happy hour appetizers extend to the football menu as well. The battered and fried Rock Candy Shrimp tantalize with a Thai sweet chili sauce while boneless Buffalo Chicken Bites offer a tangy option with ranch dressing for dipping. To really cool the palate, order Hennessey’s fresh-squeezed vodka lemonade, a refreshing drink that will have you asking for at least one more.
For beer lovers, the eatery offers eight brews on tap and 16 in bottles. A rotating lineup often includes local labels, and regular customers may see their special requests incorporated into the beer list. “We want to take care of people who take care of us,” Sarah says. “… Anything we can do to try to make guests’ days a little bit brighter, we try to do.” This Irish hospitality will have you adding Hennessey’s to your regular rotation.
To end the evening, be sure to order the Irish coffee, made with a famous recipe from The Buena Vista cafe in San Francisco. Irish whiskey is mixed with Farmer Bros. coffee and fresh whipping cream floated on top. This divine nightcap will warm you up before venturing out into the fall chill. And, like an old friend, Hennessey’s will be there to welcome you back next time.
Tip: On Thursdays, stop by for more football watching and the Irish Night menu—dishes like fish ’n’ chips and shepherd’s pie each come with bread pudding and a Shillelagh Shooter (chilled vodka and Irish cream) as a meal combo for $1 more than the entree typically costs. Also, kids age 12 and under eat free with purchase of an adult entree.