St. Paddy’s Day is here again. For anyone who needs a holiday as an excuse to drink, this is the day you’ve had marked on your calendar. For the rest of us, it’s Tuesday.
But whether you’re a green amateur or a shriveled-liver pro, this is a day that demands homage to the Irish regardless of one’s heritage. After all, this is a celebration of that glorious thing that happened a long time ago which was so important that we honor it with blackout drunkenness, whizzing in alley ways and making unwanted sexual advances on people out of our league.
And unfortunately, this is our tribute to the noble culture of the Emerald Isle. Be not disheartened, however, for in this fine city of ours resides a culinary shrine to Leprechaun fare, including that most magnificent of contributions to the global palate: whiskey. I’m speaking of Tom Bergin’s.
Located in the heart of Mid-City (840 S. Fairfax Ave.), this establishment has been a landmark on the L.A. food scene since before the iPhone displaced silverware at place settings — 1936, if you’re a student of history. But when the iconic restaurant closed its doors in 2013, regular patron/neighbor Derek Schreck bought the joint and refurbished it while retaining all of the historical accents, including the iconic fixed shamrocks on the ceiling.
But Schreck didn’t stop there — he revamped the menu and redesigned the bar program so that when the place celebrated its grand reopening on Jan. 4 of the following year, food lovers citywide descended on Tom Bergin’s and declared it a success.
Here, you’ll find the mandatory corned beef and cabbage along with other traditional pub dishes elevated to a form of art: corned beef poutine; Brussels sprouts; shepherd’s pie; bangers and mash, and more. Do be sure to start with the deviled eggs.
If you like your coffee Irish, you’re in luck — it’s the house specialty, made with Tullamore Dew (you can even upgrade to the 12-year). The Irish whiskey selection is as good if not better than any place in town. And while the bar may be shoulder to shoulder with novices on Tuesday, there are still another 364 days a year by my count, in which to indulge in the second-greatest contribution of the Irish civilization — even Bushmills and Jameson bend the knee to Joyce and Wilde.
All photos courtesy of Tom Bergin’s Public House.
840 S. Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Scott Bridges is an L.A.-based journalist who has worked as a police-beat reporter, a community newspaper editor, and a food and travel writer. He currently works as a freelance writer, contributing to The Huffington Post and Bizjournals.com, among other sites. He is a native Californian who lives on the Westside.