Blackthorn Restaurant & Irish Pub

651 North Michigan Ave, Kenilworth, NJ 07033


Blackthorn Restaurant & Irish Pub offers a great atmosphere and a true Irish experience. They ask on the bar’s homepage “What makes a good Irish Pub?” I love their answer: “It is the Guinness, the fish and chips, the Shepard’s Pie, the atmosphere, the entertainment, the patrons, the warm and friendly welcome, the conversations or the craic… Actually, it is all of the above and more. If you really want to understand Ireland and it’s culture, then go to the Blackthorn Restaurant & Irish Pub in Kenilworth, New Jersey.”

I cannot agree more. Irish immigrants own the Blackthorn and pride themselves on providing a genuine Irish pub as if it were plucked from the Irish countryside. A huge pub, the Blackthorn in Kenilworth, has a bar in the main entrance, a dining room, a smaller dining room upstairs and a huge deck for the warmer months. The bartenders, imported from Ireland, have mastered the perfect pour that Guinness brewers strive for, including the European 20oz pint glasses that Guinness SHOULD be served in. The bartenders, waitresses and managers keep their promise of a warm and friendly welcome. They treat every patron as if they are family, an Irish touch that cannot be replicated.

Blackthorn's Primary Dining Room

The dining room, located to the left of the bar, is in another room, but patrons can still hear entertainment from the bar and vise versa. The fireplace serves as the focal point of the room and, in the winter months warms the patrons to the core, sheltering them from the harsh New Jersey winters. A beautiful mural, painted above the mantle, depicts the Irish countryside. When staring at it, you feel like you are in Ireland looking out the window of a pub.  The decor matches real Irish pubs to a tee, especially the booth that runs parallel to the fireplace.  It is a bit cushier than most booths in Ireland, but I don’t think anyone would complain about a little more padding.

The Irish cuisine served at the Blackthorn is just grand, but my favorite entree is their Celtic Burger. Cooked to your liking, the Celtic Burger is served with cheddar cheese, sauteed onions, barbecue sauce and Irish bacon. Irish Bacon, cut thicker and wider, looks nothing like our bacon, but is still delicious. Despite favoring the Celtic Burger, ordering the same thing every time I go is never an option. The food at the Blackthorn is some of the best  I’ve had.

The Blackthorn's Bar

The atmosphere and patrons are as warm as the fireplace. If you are looking to meet people, simply sit yourself at the barand introduce yourself. One of the friends I met there looked like he could be a nasty S.O.B. but, as a person who talks to everyone, I introduced myself and discovered looks can be deceiving. I really enjoy talking with the bartenders. They will gladly share stories about the homeland, where they’re from and how or why they came to America.

The Blackthorn offers entertainment multiple nights a week and appeals to people of all ages. DJs and bands frequent the Blackthorn and not only Irish music is played. Younger bands such as The Benjamins played there this past December. Like McDonagh’s, The Willie Lynch band frequents there, but the Round the House Band, another great local band, performs there as well.




About EJ Campbell
I am a graduate public relations student at Rowan University and my professor assigned us to start a blog. Like a lot of things in my life, I incorporated my Irish heritage into it. I study Irish history and folklore in my free time and play Irish music on the guitar and mandolin. Through the course of following Irish music and my two mentors, Kevin Guerin and Willie Lynch, I have come to know some of the finest Irish establishments in New Jersey and the surrounding area. I'd like to share some of them with you. I received my bachelor's degree from Rowan in radio, TV and film where I focused on radio. I joined Rowan Radio 89.7 WGLS-FM and remain active until today. I served as Operations Manager, Student Manager and am Public Affairs Director for my graduate year.My work has won numerous awards on local and national levels.

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