The world is full of Green Dragon pubs, inns, taverns, grills and restaurants – in part because of American history, in part because of J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination, in part because the name just sounds cool. And now there’s another one.
The Green Dragon Tavern & Museum opened Feb. 12 in Carlsbad, about five miles south of Camp Pendleton. It pays homage to this country’s revolutionary roots – not a bad angle for a watering hole neighbored by many thousands of Marines. It is housed in a two-story red brick building, keeps about 20 beers on tap and seats about 250 diners and drinkers with dinner entrees priced $15-$50. (So far, it's dinner only; Wednesdays through Sunday; mixed reports on yelp). Happily, the museum is free -- about 1,000 square feet, set aside for owner Bruce Bartlett’s collection of colonial and Revolutionary artifacts.
What’s the dragon connection with the Revolutionary War? In 18th-century Boston, the Green Dragon was a tavern on the west side of Union Street near Faneuil Hall. It’s long been rumored that the Boston Tea Party was planned there, and some say Paul Revere was a regular. But the building was demolished or burned (depending on your sources) long ago. These days, there’s a Green Dragon Tavern a short stroll away on Marshall Street. It claims a history dating to 1654, it’s full of American Revolution references and it features top-40 cover bands Thursdays through Sundays.
But long before Revere ever made his midnight ride, England and Wales were crawling with green dragons. Even now you can find them in the hamlet of Cockleford, in the villages of Welton and Market Lavington and on the edge of Braintree. The one on Winchmore Hill in London serves Thai food.
As for the many more Green Dragons born in the last century, some blame must rest with J.R.R. Tolkien, the Oxford professor and author who not only created Middle-earth through his novel “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” series but populated it with a Green Dragon Inn.
Hence in Matamata, New Zealand, the December 2012 opening of a Green Dragon Inn that pays homage to Middle-earth. The New Zealand Green Dragon is a replica of the set used in the Tolkien-inspired “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” films, but can only be visited as part of a Hobbiton movie set tour, and you can’t really make a night of it. This Green Dragon closes about 5:30 p.m. daily.
Meanwhile, back in the U.S., Portland's Green Dragon bistro and brewpub features 62 taps and brags of making Imbibe Magazine’s top 100 places to drink beer in America. www.pdxgreendragon.com.
And here in Los Angeles, on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock, there’s a Green Dragon Restaurant. The menu discloses no connection to either Middle-earth or early American history. But you can get a Chinese surf & turf special (shrimp, chicken and beef) for $13.95.