If you happen to be out on a weekend drive exploring the expansive farmlands around Jordan and New Prague, you might stumble across a church on a hill, and at the foot of the hill, St. Patrick’s Tavern. Even though the church’s name is also St. Patrick’s, the two are unconnected. But given their proximity, it’s hard for an observer not to imagine the small-but-stately church looking down at the lowly tavern with various forms of sin inside — beer, pool, pull tabs — and to reflect on the two extremes abiding side by side.
Inside the tavern is your basic, bare-bones community bar, dimly lit, with water stains on the ceiling. On one Saturday afternoon, a few patrons relaxed over burgers and beer while a couple of kids tried to play pool with cues taller than they were. From the windows of the main dining room, the church’s cemetery was visible. A lot of the conversation revolved around the upcoming fishing opener.
The menu is a lengthy list of bar standards — burgers, chicken, chicken wings, jalapeño poppers. There’s no printed beer list, but if you ask the smiling, but not very chatty server what they have, your conversation might sound like this:
“What kinds of beer do you have?”
“Pint or mug.”
Pint it was. Which went well with the Reuben Balls ($5), little fried dumplings of corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese, served with a wildly orange Thousand Island dressing. Given that anything with the name “balls” in it tends to bring up memories of Schweddy Balls, there was a moment of adolescent snickering before biting into the gooey, tangy Reuben morsels. Followed, of course, by another glance at the cemetery in the churchyard across the parking lot.
Burger baskets (includes fries) were being eaten by pretty much everyone at St. Patrick’s, so that seemed like the best choice. The St. Pat’s Burger ($9) is a sort of glorified California burger, with the requisite lettuce and tomato combined with Canadian bacon and onions (fried or raw). The burger patty itself was sinfully greasy and endearingly misshapen — no perfectly shaped patty pulled out of a freezer. The bun was of decent quality too, and the only (minor) complaint was that the cheese slice could have been meltier. The crinkle fries were hot and crisp, just like you want them to be.
Make no mistake, this is not a gourmet burger joint, but if you’re looking for an amiable outing that results in a good, basic burger, St. Patrick’s can — ahem — answer your prayer.
St. Patrick’s Tavern
Beer and bar standards in New Prague
4436 Old Hwy 13
New Prague, 56071
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No
HOURS: Daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (bar open later)