The good and friendly Irish pub Mick O'Shea's has been a steady presence on a volatile block for going on 20 years. It opened in 1995 but really began to flourish in 2002, when it was taken over by brother and sister Dave Niehenke and Stephanie Webber.
A popular destination for gangs of office workers after work, college students on Monday burger nights, and live Irish music on weekends, the roomy tavern draws a lunch crowd.
The pub lunch is a fading art form, and that's too bad. People want it fast, now, and cheap. But the pub lunch is great, especially at a place like Mick's where they play smart music and the staff greets you with a smile. There's plenty of room for work groups in the dining room, but this is one of the best spots downtown for lunch by yourself. Have it at the bar where you can shut out the world for a while.
And Mick's "Quick Lunch" special is a good deal. For $8 you get a soup and sandwich, soup and salad or salad and sandwich.
Mick O'Shea's takes pub food seriously but not too seriously. It's not a gastropub, but among the crab cakes, wings and burritos there are some flights of fancy — egg rolls with corned beef and cabbage and won tons stuffed with bacon, cheese and potato. Out of the blue one day, I had a hankering for the Ultimate Grilled Cheese.
It's a great grilled cheese sandwich, one of the best in town. When you use soft white bread and grill with real butter, not much can go wrong. Mick's also piles on a combination of cheddar, provolone and Swiss and laces in some fresh tomato and crispy bacon. The friendly bartender will give you extra napkins. You'll need them.
Save the Irish entrees for a dinner visit. The shepherd's pie and the fish and chips are recommended.
Where: 328 N. Charles St., Downtown
Hours: Open daily for lunch/brunch and dinner
Lunch entrees: $8-$18