O’Leary’s Publik House: The Best Kept Secret in Bergen-Lafayette

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Some people like to frequent fancy restaurants and bars, sip on artisan cocktails, and nibble on expensive and exotic eats — indulging is a luxury of life but, it’s also fair to say that sometimes one is in the mood to go to a dive bar, a casual neighborhood spot with a laid-back atmosphere and friendly people, cheap drinks, and tasty food. A place you can go on your best or worst day. O’Leary’s Publik House is just that. Nestled in the Bergen-Lafayette area at 788 Garfield Avenue, O’Leary’s is the quintessential Jersey dive, with its warm staff, delicious bar food, refreshing beers, and strong drinks.

olearys publik house jersey city

{Photo credit: @olearyspublikhouse}

O’Leary’s Backstory

Kevin Hennessey is a local firefighter who was born and raised in Jersey City. Kevin has been a bartender for a long time and always wanted a place of his own. He opened O’Leary’s Publik House in September of 2014. With Kevin’s laid back and affordable approach, the bar quickly became a local watering hole for Jersey City firefighters, cops, and locals. Kevin told Hoboken Girl, “We wanted O’Leary’s to be a great home away from the home bar. A place where everyone can relax, have some drinks, and get some great grub without breaking the bank. A place where friends become family.”

“We try to consistently get better in many ways. How we treat people is important to us. We are very big on teamwork here and the trust we have in each other to help and pick each other up makes a difference in our service to our customers,” he continued.

Hoboken Girl asked Kevin about the name and he noted, “O’Leary’s Publik House was named after the Great Chicago Fire, where legend has it that Mrs. O’Leary’s cow started the fire! Catherine O’Leary was an Irish immigrant living in Chicago, Illinois, who became famous when it was rumored that her cow kicked over a lantern that started the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Turns out it was a made-up story, and Mrs. O’Leary took the blame for everything. The logo of the restaurant is Mrs. O’Leary’s cow.”

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The Location

olearys publik house- ersey city

{Photo credit: @olearyspublikhouse}

O’Leary’s is your typical local hangout with an inviting, relaxed, and casual feel. When you walk in, there is a huge wooden bar that runs most of the length of the space, with high top bar stools along the bar. Most patrons hang out at the bar and mingle with the bartenders, or watch the many TVs that run along with the exposed brick above the bar. O’Leary’s also has tables to the left when you walk in for parties, as well as darts, a large size Connect 4 game, and a pay-per-play jukebox.

The walls display old school photographs of Jersey City Police Department and firefighter memorabilia. The bar also has an outdoor space with picnic tables and outdoor seating that is perfect for hanging out with friends and fellow patrons when the weather is nice. With the current restrictions on indoor seating, O’Leary’s adjusted their outdoor space to include the front parking lot, allowing for a large space that wraps around from the front to the back of the bar for outdoor seating and adheres to social-distancing.

The Food and Drinks

olearys publik house jersey city

{Photo credit: @olearyspublikhouse}

O’Leary’s Publik House offers daily drink and food specials. Most of the drinks sold are beer and shots, just like the old school Irish pubs {something O’Leary’s prides themselves on}. The bar has a regular menu of elevated bar food such as its delectable juicy burgers, the Mrs. O’Leary’s Melt, a decked out pastrami sandwich, crispy grilled cheese, fresh salads, and much more. If that wasn’t enough, this gem also has a daily specials board, so you can always switch up your order with its creative and mouth-watering specials.

olearys publik house jersey city

{Photo credit: @olearyspublikhouse}

However, menu items not to be missed are the burgers. One delicious burger here consists of American, cheddar or swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, with the option to add bacon. This All-American burger is a favorite of customers and is made with simple fresh ingredients and a lot of tender love and care. O’Leary’s burgers often appear on the specials board with options like adding a pretzel bun, fresh mozzarella, beer, and cheese sauce, an option for a mac and cheeseburger, burrata burger, nacho burger, Good Morning Cheeseburger {topped with Taylor ham, bacon, and a sunny side up egg}, and many more.

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The Mrs. O’Leary’s Melt is another customer favorite, as it is a combo love-child of a burger and grilled cheese and is loaded with oozy cheese, juicy meat, and the bread that is toasted to perfection. O’Leary’s does a great job of keeping customers guessing what its next burger creation will be. On Sundays during football season, O’Leary’s does a $5 appetizer menu and beer specials, which brings in a lot of local football fans. During football off-season, O’Leary’s has weekly brunch specials.

O’Leary’s Publik House is open seven days a week for lunch, dinner and currently offers outdoor dining, pickup, and delivery. Make sure you stop in and check out the best-kept secret of Bergen-Lafayette!

Have you been to O’Leary’s Publik House? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

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Evelyn is a born and raised Jersey Girl and is a local influencer {@thefoundrygirljc} in Jersey City. She has a degree in marketing and business from Syracuse University, and currently works freelancing in social media. She has lived in both Hoboken and Jersey City and is very committed to supporting local businesses and being a local resource to all her friends and neighbors. She is an animal {dog} lover and claims to know more animals in Jersey City than people {really}. When she is not freelancing, she can be found hanging out with friends at local spots in Bergen-Lafayette and attending social and networking events in Jersey City and Hoboken.