Beer aficionados and dabblers alike will enjoy the beer menu. There are ales, India pale ales (IPAs), stouts, seasonal beers, lagers, pilsners, porters, brown ales, wheat beers, ciders, and even a gluten-free and a nonalcoholic choice.
Some interesting ones include the Sam Smith Organic Chocolate stout, Fuller’s London Porter, and Woodchuck Pear cider. Some true Bavarian beers are Franziskaner Hefe Weiss and Maisel’s Hefe Weisse – wheat beers brewed with the hearty wheat that has been grown for centuries in Germany.
There is also a new wine list; wines change less frequently, while new beers may be added every week or so to provide interesting tasting options for customers. According to co-owner Drew Kalagher, Publick-House supports as many regional microbreweries as possible.
Publick House has several starters, salads, baskets, wings and sandwiches, including Zucchini Sticks, Publick House Chunky Chicken Salad, Guinness Breaded Shrimp Basket, Schnitzel Sandwich (perfect with a German beer), and Build-Your-Own Sandwich.
There are typically two dinner specials: a tilapia filet or a sushi-grade ahi tuna steak. Each can be served blackened, lemon-peppered, Jamaican jerked, or fried. Sides are raw fries, French fries, steamed vegetables, or rice.
Publick House is known for its wings – and has awards to show for them. The original owner, Andy Ugarte, started out a business as Wings on Wheels more than 20 years ago. Kalagher says the wings will never change.
There are many sauces from which to choose, from the typical Buffalo style – in varieties from mild to suicide – and some unique one: buttery barbecue and pterodactyl. Customers can place orders as small as 10 pieces to 100 pieces. Publick-House also hosts parties and has a special menu for events; and, it is the party place for New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day. During the World Cup, people had to be turned away because the building met capacity.
Andy Ugarte founded the restaurant at the Devine Street location more than 20 years ago, but former employees Meg Linder and Drew Kalagher who, together, have more than 35 years of experience in the restaurant industry, purchased Publick House two years ago. They have made minor changes, including adding lunch service.
This is a gathering place. There are large-screen TVs, a pool table, and dart boards. Inside is room for more than 100, while there is also seating on an outdoor patio, weather permitting. The decor is distinctly Irish pub. An Irish blessing that begins, “May the road rise to meet you,” and ends with “May God hold you in the palm of His hand” hangs on a wall. There are beer signs and mirrors, a shelf of miscellaneous beer mugs and steins, flags, formal paintings and etchings, and decorative Victorian-style lamp lights at each booth. The dark green on the walls adds to the Irish theme. One interesting feature, especially in a pub, is a vast bookshelf stuffed with “borrowable” books. “People do use it,” says Kalagher. “They bring in books they want to share as well.”
Think Cheers in Boston, where “everybody knows your name.” Kalagher says Publick House is “definitely a neighborhood place. We see a lot of the same faces.” Since instituting lunchtime hours and a lunch menu, however, there are different “faces” from USC, Five Points, and other surrounding areas.
He says the establishment is frequented by USC students, especially grad students, professors, and faculty. Plenty of residents in the surrounding Shandon neighborhood are regulars as well.