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The Green Side of Elm Grove

O’Donoghue’s brings a touch of Ireland to the suburbs

Aug. 27, 2013
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Elm Grove is thought of as a bird sanctuary, a bedroom suburb and home to one of the area’s longest-running community theaters, the Sunset Playhouse. The idea of a little colony of Ireland, flourishing on the village’s main street, might have surprised local residents years ago. And yet, O’Donoghue’s Irish Pub has become Elm Grove’s hot spot and, especially on nights when it hosts live music, a destination for people from all over metro Milwaukee.

The name has resonance for the local Irish community. The family of owner Jamie O’Donoughue has kept Irish bars for years, including his father’s long-running pub on Bluemound Avenue. With its unpretentious charm, O’Donoghue’s in Elm Grove fulfills expectations for an Irish pub with its warren of little wainscoted rooms, hung with scenes of rural Eire by Wisconsin artist Audrey Casey, and a photo of revolutionary hero Michael Collins in full uniform. A rack of Irish picture books sits against one wall. The tall and concealing dark wooden booths provide sanctuaries of privacy amidst the often-crowded house.

O’Donoghue’s has an excellent bar food menu, some of it with Irish roots. Of course, you’ll find a sandwich stacked high with tender chunks of corned beef (nothing tough or gristly) on marbled rye, anchoring a brimming basket of French fries with a pickle spear and a dish of good coleslaw. The burgers are tasty and prepared to order. The Irish chips are baked golden brown and accompanied by a mild-tasting dip (the unfailingly friendly servers refused to divulge the recipe). Not sure if breaded pickles or battered green beans are considered an Irish specialty, but they are unique additions to the appetizer menu. Wisconsin is well represented by cheese curds and a Friday fish fry. 

The backroom with its long tables, recessed stage and scenic wall mural is like a community hall from a century ago and is an inviting setting for live acts, including the occasional Irish performer and regular concerts by Warren Wiegratz’s All-Star SUPERband and the John Schneider Orchestra.

O’Donoghue’s is open 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m-2:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday.


O’Donoghue’s Irish Pub
13225 Watertown Plank Road, Elm Grove
Handicap accessible: yes


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