Midtown Happy Hour: Galway Pub is Awesome and So is Its Happy Hour
If you like to eat, chances are you like to drink (read: a lot of you are freakin’ lushes), so I thought maybe it was time to introduce a happy hour column to the site. Every week, our Happy Hour Correspondent posts about a different bar in Midtown that fits the Midtown Lunch mentality: unhealthy food, not lame (unless it’s lame in a cool way), and most importantly… cheap.
I’m more than pleased to report that I stumbled across a pub I’ll boldly proclaim is my current favorite happy hour in Midtown. The backstory: I’ve been reviewing happy hours in Midtown every week for about six months, and I’ve been trying to steer clear of those that have been covered by Midtown Lunch in the last year or so for variety’s sake. Thus far, I’ve really enjoyed Vander Bar, the Irish Ivy, and The Junction, but this week I found a pretty amazing bar that rivals my favorites. The bar is called Galway Pub, formerly the Galway Hooker, on 36th between Madison and 5th. Let me tell you all the reasons why.
First off, their happy hour specials are fantastic. It runs for four hours (3-7 pm) rather than a the truncated two hours that I’ve noticed in many places. The beers and wells are all $4, and you can have any beer on the menu. That’s right! It’s not just the “house” beers or Bud Light drafts. It’s any beer, draft or bottle, and there is a wonderful selection of local drafts including Saranac, Six Point, Brooklyn, Bronx, Captain Lawrence, and Ommegang.
Second, their appetizers are reasonably priced. I’m not saying they’ve got amazing deals, but you have to understand that I have just been to about five joints in a row with batches of wings ranging from $11 to $13. At least their wings are still hovering at a tenner, along with the rest of their appetizers.
Third, their food is actually good. You can’t say this about all Irish pubs. Five of us ate, and all five of us were happy.
One of my friends got chorizo mac and cheese ($10) and it went down the hatch in about a minute so I didn’t get to try any. He loved it.
Another friend got the shepherd’s pie ($12), which he thought was good, although I was too interested in the fish and chips to get the full run down.
Speaking of… the fish and chips ($15). I had a taste of both and they were greasy and wonderful. We asked the waiter what kind of fish it was and we were all shocked to hear it was catfish rather than the cod or haddock we expected. But the batter made the dish. It was just perfect with the malt vinegar… I think it might even be one of the best fish and chips I’ve ever tried outside of the England.
The Galway Burger ($13) included Irish bacon, cheddar, and fried egg. It was big, cooked perfectly, and the flavors were fantastic together. Here’s a side shot, but note the burger comes with a generous helping of fries.
I was very happy with my wings ($10). There were 10 regular sized wings, and the sauce was true Buffalo style: a balance of spicy, vinegary, and buttery and naked but perhaps with a little flour dust because I did detect a slight crispiness. The carrots and celery were both present, hangin’ out with their partner blue cheese sauce. The sauce had a mild flavor with a slight touch of sweetness, and a runny consistency with tiny chunks of blue cheese. (I also noticed they have a $10 Express Lunch special that includes an appetizer, entree, and beer or wine. I will certainly be coming to try this soon.)
But hold on… there’s more. Let’s go to the fourth point. Our server, Zach, was pretty fucking incredible. The five of us were drinking a lot. We were pretty high maintenance with cocktail and beer fickleness as we changed our order nearly every time — and none of us were moving at the same pace. He was patient, fast, charming, and wonderful. And this was a damn busy bar. I don’t know if Zach is just a super-waiter or if the service at Galway is always that awesome. Either way, I have to give props.
Fifth. We went on a Tuesday night and there was a live musician wowed us all. We were sitting in the back, so we didn’t see who was singing. I just heard acoustic guitar and vocals and I assumed it was an album. The music was described best by my friend when she said — “Amazing covers of artists like George Michael, Joan Jett, Johnny Cash… but folky.” She also noted it was at an appropriate volume.
And lastly, the space and atmosphere are quite nice. It has an Irish pub feel (although with an American vibe). When you first walk in, the bar looks like a horseshoe, but you go around the corner and see it’s more like a key or a clothespin — the bar stretches quite far into a large room. It’s a very large space with plenty of tables, an upstairs, and a back room for pool and a more laid back vibe. It was all decked out for Christmas, so if you’re not into that you might wait until 2013 to try it out.
I know these types of pubs aren’t going to blow everyone’s hair back, but Galway sure did blow mine back like I was in a music video with a wind machine. My friends agreed. Out of the four friends who joined me, two had already been with me on several other Midtown Lunch happy hour excursions, and they both agreed, hands down, Galway Pub has been the best. Honestly, I can’t say enough good things about this place. It’s going to be difficult for me to write “the -”, but I’ll do my best!
The + (what somebody who likes this place would say)
- I have been searching and searching for a happy hour in Midtown with craft beers for a decent price. FINALLY. And it’s four hours long!
- In a land of increasingly expensive wings, Galway Pub’s wings have stayed at a normal price and they’re tasty and authentic to boot.
- I like taking my buddies to Irish pubs, but only when the grub is good. Galway Pub has got that down.
- I love it when the staff are friendly, patient, and really good at what they do.
- When I’m lucky enough to catch live music, I enjoy it when the musician is talented and plays covers of songs I like.
The – (what somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- The food prices could be cheaper.
- I only like dives, and even though the happy hour specials are around the same price for better tasting beers, I’ll stick to Jimmy’s Corner types of places for the atmosphere.
- As Jon Stewart noted, New York currently looks like Santa’s Balls exploded, and this place is no exception. Bah humbug.
Galway Pub, 7 East 36th Street, (212) 725-2353