Abita Purple Haze, Goose Island Honkers Ale, and Widmer Hefeweizen are just a few of the colorfully-named draft selections at The Peekskill Brewery
Is there a difference between a pub and a bar? Well, it depends on whom you ask. On this side of the Atlantic, most of us would say no, but in England, where the pub originated, there’s a very substantial difference. Simply put, bars are for drinking; pubs are for drinking and eating. However, in our overly gastronomic society, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a bar that doesn’t serve some sort of food. What sets pubs apart is the vibe—that laid-back, family-friendly atmosphere in which the server not only knows your name but also how you like your burger. Here, 12 great local pubs.
Lazy Boy Saloon & Ale House
154 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains
Lazy Boy has always stood out from the sea of watering holes along Mamaroneck Avenue. Established in 1994, the pub is known for its wings, DJ-free vibe, and, of course, its enormous beer selection. A repeat Best of Westchester winner, Lazy Boy at any given time has about 500 domestic and imported brews originating from Brooklyn to Belgium, Costa Rica to the Czech Republic, and beyond. Throw in 40 draft lines, cask-night Thursdays, and six-course seasonal beer dinners, and it’s hands-down the county’s beer bar supreme.
433 White Plains Rd, Eastchester
Piper’s Kilt is as much a pub as it is a tradition. Generations of families from all over the county have been bellying up to the bar (and tables) to eat one of the legendary burgers and crispy, massive onion rings. Some regulars were a bit peeved after the pub’s recent renovations, fearing the cosmetic changes would somehow change the vibe. But lucky for them (and us), the beer is still icy cold and the burgers (try the signature Eastchester), second to none.
The Peekskill Brewery
55 Hudson Ave, Peekskill
Beer doesn’t get better than when it’s brewed mere steps from the bar itself. And that’s exactly the case at The Peekskill Brewery. Here, the flagship beer,
Paramount Pale Ale, is served alongside other house blends and brews from other microbreweries. Get the true pub experience and order from the bar menu. From mussels to steak frites, these dishes pair perfectly with any brew. If you’re looking for some sit-down family time, ask for a table in the pub’s quaint dining room and be sure to try the pork shank braised in local apple cider or the shepherd’s pie.
Rory Dolan’s Restaurant, Bar & Caterers
890 McLean Ave, Yonkers
This is one pub with two personalities. During the twilight hours, you’ll find 20-somethings sipping Harp while dancing to the tunes of a DJ or a live band with almost no evidence of the family-centric atmosphere of the earlier hours. Come for dinner or brunch (try the Irish smoked salmon and the baked steak-and-mushroom pie) or, on a holiday, and you’ll find Grandmothers with brogues, neighbors enjoying a host of Irish beers beyond the requisite Guinness, and families celebrating a confirmation. From hosting Easter dinners to visits from Santa to traditional Irish music every Sunday, Rory Dolan’s stands out in authenticity among the many Irish pubs that dot McLean Avenue.
These sibling pubs almost could be identical twins, if it weren’t for a few minor details. Each boasts a huge mahogany square bar surrounded by comfy leather booths. Each hosts plenty of community events. And each serves traditional pub grub, which usually is gobbled up by families and large groups. But Molly’s gets the slight edge as the favorite sibling, thanks to its huge outdoor space equipped with a fireplace, free-standing heaters, and flat-screen TV, so yes, you can watch the big game outside—in February.
94 N Broadway, Tarrytown
The dark, scruffy atmosphere of Horsefeathers mixed with the smell of popovers makes you feel as if you’re tucked away in a tiny pub in London. In fact, the pub is discreetly tucked into a small strip mall, but fans still manage to find their way in—especially in the summer months when the sidewalk patio opens. But don’t pass up a chance to sit indoors amidst a painted wall of famous writers while sampling the crab cakes, ribs, or sweet-potato fries all while sipping ale from the extensive beer menu.
104 Chatsworth Ave, Larchmont
On any given day—or night—chances are you’ll have to wait for a table or spot at the bar as families and friends tend to linger in what one local called “an extension of our family room.” The LT, as its known to regulars, opened in 1933 by Michael Bruno and his wife, Raffaela, who had prepared meals upstairs in the kitchen. A few things have changed since then, but the LT still serves up comfort food like hot-dog sliders, fish and chips, and overstuffed sandwiches, making patrons feel right at home.
1006 Broadway, Thornwood
Fairly new to the scene, Finnegan’s is as simplistic as it gets. No over-the-top menu items, no kitschy décor, no five-page beer menu. Just good food, cold drinks, and a loyal following. The crowd can veer toward the 20- and 30-somethings (especially during company league softball season), but, more often than not, you’ll find families enjoying a meal while watching the game or shooting a round of darts.
J. C. Fogarty’s
60 Kraft Ave, Bronxville
J.C. Fogarty’s may be big enough to host a huge party or a live band, but once you’re curled up in a booth with a spot of whiskey, you’ll feel embraced by the rich wood, Old-World charm and, on a good night, owner John Fogarty himself. Fogarty’s also can hold its own against Bronxville’s more chic restaurants. The pub menu features plenty of staples, but the dinner menu shines with roast duck, filet mignon, and jumbo crab cakes.
150 Bedford Rd, Pleasantville
With Michael’s close proximity to Pace University, its crowd tends to get younger and rowdier as the night progresses. However, during lunch and dinner, you’ll find the blonde-wood tables (and sidewalk patio during summer months) full of families noshing on traditional pub fare like 10-ounce angus burgers, chili, and wings.
The Katonah Grill
128 Bedford Rd, Katonah
Owned by the folks behind Michael’s Tavern, “The Grill” (as regulars call it) has the same never-ending menu but with an even stronger family vibe. And that’s not shocking since Doug and Nancy Crossett and Scott Pires opened this restaurant near the very towns in which they live, hoping to create a space where locals feel at home.
Kelly’s Sea Level
413 Midland Ave, Rye
A dive in its truest form, Kelly’s is as much of a tradition in this small city as the Rye-Harrison football game and ice-skating at Playland. Sitting in a dented wooden booth, you can enjoy a tasty Rueben, chili fries, or fried clams while The Stones or U2 play on the jukebox. But probably the most pub-like thing about Kelly’s is written on a sign hanging above the bar: “No cellphones allowed.”
Erica Wilders was heartbroken after her favorite pub, The Speckled Door, closed in 2008. Writing this piece helped her move on and realize there are plenty of other beers on tap.