O’Hara’s Food & Spirits, a family-run business since the ’80s, infuses Newton Highlands with Irish-American flavor and friendly service.
Patrick O’Hara, the owner of O’Hara’s Food & Spirits as well as its sister location Paddy’s Public House, said that O’Hara’s is rooted in family. O’Hara’s father opened the restaurant in 1985, and now, O’Hara runs the restaurant along with his uncle and mother.
O’Hara said running a business with his family provides flexibility.
“With [family-owned restaurants], you get to run things a little bit differently,” he said. “You’re working side by side with people that are friends and family. Obviously, you treat them differently—better than other places would. You can see that in how long people choose to stay with us.”
The menu is expansive without being overwhelming, offering something for everyone’s personal tastes. The restaurant offers family-friendly meals as well as vegetarian, pescatarian, and gluten-free options.
One of O’Hara’s best starters is its fried pickles, a southern staple that blends seamlessly into the restaurant’s pub-style menu. The pickles are crunchy, tangy, and perfectly sour. The fried outer shell is wonderfully warm and just as crunchy. The pickles are paired with fried banana peppers and red peppers as well as Thousand Island dressing for dipping. The pickles are perfect for enjoying with friends, sharing on a date, or just savoring solo.
Another excellent dish O’Hara’s offers is its chicken pot pie, which comes in a bread bowl with a side of cranberry sauce. The pot pie has a thick and creamy consistency and plenty of vegetables inside. The bread bowl is crispy and warm and offers a nice twist on this classic dish. Dipping pieces of the bread bowl in the pot pie filling is another way to enjoy this meal.
Patrons planning to visit O’Hara’s can look forward to a welcoming atmosphere in addition to the restaurant’s tasty food. Walking into the restaurant, diners face a sprawling full bar with sports playing on TVs. Emerald green booths divided by plexiglass and smaller tables line an adjacent room. The size of the restaurant gives it a homey feeling without being cramped.
Antique photographs hang from the walls of the restaurant, creating an atmosphere that feels familiar and friendly. Other antique fixtures such as lamps, tables, and stained-glass windows are an excellent touch for atmosphere-oriented diners. The combination of dark-wooden furniture and emerald green decor reminds patrons of the restaurant’s Irish roots as well.
O’Hara’s servers are friendly and conversational, as well as timely. They check in with diners frequently and with a smile. The restaurant strives to maintain friendly relationships with customers and staff, according to O’Hara. He said one of the biggest things keeping people coming back is the restaurant’s reliability—not just its good food.
“I think what keeps folks coming back is the consistent, high-quality products and that ‘something’ people can rely on,” he said. “People know that when they order something, it’ll taste just the same as the last time they got it.”
O’Hara said that many customers have their personal favorites such as the restaurant’s pizza, burgers, and seafood options.
The restaurant had to switch to takeout-only at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and is still working to accommodate changes from the pandemic, according to O’Hara.
“As we gradually opened up further, we had to put up plexiglass and enforce distancing,” O’Hara said. “There were a lot of different hurdles to go through in order to stay open.”
O’Hara’s is located at 1185 Walnut Street. The restaurant is open Monday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
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