The “House of Irish Coffee” near Hancock Park.
It’s an institution. It’s been here forever. You’ve heard that a million times before.
But sometimes, every once in a while, the institution lives up to the hype.
Tom Bergin’s Public House lives up to the hype.
According to Wikipedia, Tom Bergin’s Public House was opened in 1936, coincidentally by a Lawyer named Tom Bergin (who knew?). That was at it’s original Wilshire Boulevard location. In 1949 it took a hop, skip and a jump over to Fairfax Avenue since 1949, where it’s been ever since.
You park, you walk in, and you walk into kind of amazing. You can feel the age when you walk in, and age is not something you can see a lot of young people being all that into.
But here they are, clustered about the horseshoe shaped bar, watching the Clippers Game. (Yes, when I was there, the Clippers were still in the playoffs at the time).
Neat, I think. Ain’t no way I’m getting space at the bar. It’s too damn crowded.
We instead saunter into the Dining Room. We can sit down in there. It all looks like the inside of an old English Hunting Lodge.
Well, Irish Hunting Lodge. I mean, that is a Shamrock on the sign.
Apparently, Tom Bergin’s Public House was at one point credited with introducing Irish Coffee to the U.S. This is in some dispute now. I can only imagine it being like the great Philippe’s vs. Coles debate. Still they carry a “House of Irish Coffee” sign. It’s been there since the 50s.
Tom Bergin’s Public House was a surprise to me. A shock actually. I was kind of in a grumbly, angry, cranky mood when I walked in, figuring that there had to be someplace, anyplace better than this. Instead I leave with a feeling that I want to come back, that this place, like so many other institutions in Los Angeles, has stayed in operation as long as it has for a reason.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: This is going to sound weird, because Tom Bergin’s Public House is primarily known for being a drinking establishment. But…I had a good time eating here. I’d do it again in a second. And the thing to get here (at least for little ol’ me) is their Fried Chicken Sandwich.
Man, o Man. This Fried Chicken Sandwich comes with Sriracha Mayo, Cabbage slaw, Pickled onion (which is always a favorite), all on a brioche bun. Amazing. Best Fried Chicken Sandwich I’ve had in this town. Best Fried Chicken Sandwich I’ve had, period. The only thing that comes close is the Fried Chicken Sandwich that comes at Son of a Gun, but the Sriracha Mayo really makes it stand out and pop.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: If you want to get at their famous bar, be prepared for a wait, to be real, real neighborly. Patience and good cheer are necessary if the bar gets crowded, so go in knowing that.
PARKING: This may be the tough part. Tom Bergin’s Public House has it’s own Parking Lot, but not that many spaces are going to make things difficult. The night I came, after a LACMA Jazz Concert, we got the last space in the lot. Past that, I don’t know where the hell you go. Fairfax seems out of the question. You might be able to find street parking along Olympic or 8th. It will require a bit of walk through a neighborhood that’s not particularly well lit. It’s not a dangerous neighborhood by any stretch of the imagination, but if you walk, be prepared to feel a bit…isolated.
Tom Bergin’s Public House
840 S. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Tel: (323) 936-7151
Monday-Thursday: 5:00 pm – 2:00 am
Friday-Saturday: 11:00 am – 2:00 am
Sunday: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm