James E. McNellie's Public House
Taps: / Bottles:
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 48 | Reviews: 39 | Display Reviews Only:
4/5 rDev -7.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5 | $
The wife grew up in Tulsa and I’ve been to OK a couple of times, so now that I’m elbow-deep into beer it is high time for me to review the preeminent beer establishment in town.
McNellie’s is kind of weird. It is a fine bar that sits close to all the nightlife in the “Blue Dome District” and Downtown, but it also is right next to empty lots, tumbleweeds, industrial sites, dead nothings and a busy train route. It bills itself as a “public house” (aka Irish pub), but there’s nothing really Irish about this joint. Which is fine with me, since the ambience here is classier and cooler than your average Irish pub.
There is a main dining room and bar, a little quieter bar called the “Sidebar” where the cask and the occasional firking is and an upstairs bar where you can smoke (whaaatt??) and –at least during my last visit- they have live bands playing. I like that McNellie’s is big and quiet like a friendly bear. You can come here and have a conversation without being overwhelmed by music or screaming kids.
Let me get this out of the way: the food is your average pub grub. Burgers, sandwiches, appetizers… not too cheap, not great- but there are specials like their famed “burger night” when you can have a three-dollar burger with your beer. We ordered sweet potato fries with a side of remoulade (more like a spicy mayo) and chips and queso. The fries were damn good, but the queso was too runny and the chips under-seasoned and bland.
The beer selection is very good for Tulsa-Oklahoma, but it won’t blow your mind if you come from, say, the East or West coasts. I liked the emphasis on local brews (Marshall, Coop, , Redbud, Choc and Mustang from OK; Tallgrass from Kansas) and the occasional rarity (Nogne 500 Double IPA, Sam Adams Cherry Chocolate Bock), but other than that, I didn’t go crazy. Anderson Valley, Bridgeport, Great Divide, Rogue, North Coast, Left Hand… about 30 taps of American crafts and a whole bunch of Euros, both quality (Wells Banana, Youngs Chocolate, Belgians, Ayinger Celebrator) and shit (Stella, Harp).
We were there during “Firkin Thursday” but it had already kicked. Sad… service was pretty good, not super friendly like in Dallas but fine, we were never out of anything, although the server wasn’t too happy about my asking for a lot of beer samplings before I committed to a full pint. Why don’t you guys serve half pints??
We all had several pints of the incredible Coop F5 IPA, then I had a pint of the fine Tallgrass Oasis Double ESB and we all sure were happy. You gotta come here if you’re in Tulsa. It’s about the only place for quality brews.
01-28-2012 05:10:52 | More by DoubleSimcoe
4.08/5 rDev -6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5 | $$
Regular trips to Tulsa over the past few years have been frequent, so it is a constant surprise that I never ever got to James E. McNellies Public House until quite recently. I had great feedback from my work colleagues who knew all about this place and my love for good beer; so I think it was their continuing incredulity at my absence from here which eventually which shamed me to reconnoiter the place back in February, with a couple of more visits since then.
Despite the smattering of one-way streets in Tulsa, it is a relatively easy town to navigate. McNellies is at 1st and Elgin, which seemed like a quiet-ish neighborhood to me with plenty of street parking on the several occasions I popped by. Gold lettered signage is well lit against the all brick frontage. Large paned, dark wood framed windows which sit each side of a centrally located doorway allow first time visitors to see what they are letting themselves in for before walking in. My first visit was on a very cold night in February, but despite being on my own and from out of town, I realized once I headed in though that it was a Wednesday and $3 Burger Night, that probably contributed to the packed lively feel but I am sure that was not the only reason. I felt immediately at home with the relaxed interior, it certainly takes influence from across the Pond and translates lots of wood, mirrors and a relaxing laid-back feel extremely well. I was quickly attended to by one of the wait staff that was near the entrance and managed to snaffle a seat at the bar, packed with a long line of punters, many still wearing their coats which seemed strange to me at the time, but every time the front door opened a cold blast of February wind explained why. Nevertheless, I felt very comfortable on that first visit way back in February, which certainly bode well for a return and it is true to say that the welcome was a genuine warm one during all of my subsequent stops including my latest in May.
A long wooden bar runs down the right hand side wall as you stroll in, seating runs off to the left and back towards the far end. The tables are tightly packed so when this place gets full, it is really only possible to navigate the interior by walking down the right hand side where the bar is. But this too can get packed because a 4 foot tall wooden splitter wall runs parallel to the bar and whilst it helps to demark the seating on the left from the bar on the right, it has stools and also gets well frequented. Lots of bare brick, some old photos, colorful paintings, breweriana, Mirrors, steel and a healthy dollop of wooden tables and chairs help to add a rustic well-worn nature to McNellies, the words Public House in the name are warranted. Lots of personalized Mugs seem to decorate the bar area, there must be some kind of Mug Club in operation here it seems.
Beer range is very good, difficult to have any complaints or even nit-picks about that, it is well stocked too and it never suffered from the we have a huge list but we dont have that beer right now syndrome which affects many beer bars. There is something here for everyone, and despite the fact that this is probably the best beer range in Tulsa, and perhaps further afield, the prices are very reasonable. Behind the bar a long line of some 50+ taps dispensing beers from Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, England, France Germany, Ireland, Scotland, oh and erm the United States too. The Bottled Beer List numbers around 170 by my quick math, and stretched from Australia to Zimbabwe with a healthy contribution from the UK, Belgium and Germany.
Service was very good; my first February visit was about 8pm and just for food and a couple of beers, even though I had decided to visit McNellies during a very busy $3 Burger night - I was served quickly and the beer and food were both delivered with timely precision. Food was staple Pub fare, good portions, well made and reasonably priced. Later visits happened on quieter nights, and my last in May was with a colleague who was driving, so I had free reign to sample a few of the bottled Belgian beers. On that last visit the guy behind the bar was extremely helpful and must have been the resident beer guy, as is usual once contact had been made, the topic for the rest of the night was beer and beer travels.
The beer range and service here can conspire to produce an unforgettable night at the time, but which is soon forgotten the next morning!! I missed the Live Music but apparently they do hold Music nights here.
Glad I finally got to McNellies; it is certainly my plan to hit this place at least once during each of my upcoming trips to Tulsa.
Excellent Draft and Bottled beer range which is always well stocked and can be plied from the staff at very reasonable prices all set inside a very nice Pub(lic House) environ.
First / Last Visits: Wednesday 14th February / Tuesday 22nd May.
06-17-2007 17:09:43 | More by TheLongBeachBum
4.53/5 rDev +4.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$$
One of the best places I have ever been for a beer and a meal. As you walk in there is a long wood bar that covers the right hand side. Tables are scattered about. There is an upstairs area as well, though it looked closed because of the slow Sunday night. There is a side bar and a beer garden was mentioned as well, though I did not see it. It must have been in the back of the building. A very relaxing and chill atmosphere.
The beer selection is great. As good as anything I have seen in Houston, or anywhere. I did not count, but they have a huge selection of taps. It looked like they had twice as many bottles. Along with two cask handles, both are Marshall's. One for McNellie's Pub Ale (which I enjoyed several of), the other was the IPA. The other highlights for me were Fuller's London Porter, Pride, and ESB. Lots of Belgian and German beers as well. Lots of US micros with an OK beer flight. Lots of Boulevard beers. The bottle highlight for me was Fuller's Vintage Ale. Though there was such a huge selection, I don't think I looked at all the beers they had to offer.
The service was great. The bartender new about the beer and the history of the bar. He was quick and friendly. I can't ask for much more. The food was also top notch. I had a great grilled pork chop, and the side salad was no less impressive (with homemade blue cheese dressing, awesome). One of the few beer bars were the food is on par with the selection. The only thing to complain about was the price. It was $5.50 for a pint of Marshall's, and my diner was not cheap.
Do yourself a favor and check this place out if visiting Tulsa. I would be here every day if it was in Houston.
06-01-2009 01:21:57 | More by champ103
4.2/5 rDev -3.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
Service is slipping a bit as of late...
Update 2nd visit: 2 Marshall beers on cask1 6-7-09!
The family went down to T-town for Valentines day & I got to hit here & mid-town!!
Great old pub feel to this, place, ditch the loud music please. The one TV in the corner worked for me
All brews were tasty, the lack of head retnetion & lacing on the house brew was cause for pause though
Service was great, did have to point out a few missing items from our table ( silver wear ) once our food arrived.
Great beer selection 40ish taps with great emphasis on Oklahoma & Boulevard Brews. My only nitpick, no cask & no big beers on tap. Nice bottle selection as well
Great pub grub, menu isn't too mind blowing, but works. Loved the chill & the cheese plate
Beers were a little pricey, food was reasionable (except for the fired pickles). I think this will be my go-to bar if I'm in or around down- town Tulsa...
Believe the hype!
02-16-2009 03:15:07 | More by russpowell
4.16/5 rDev -4.1%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $
Pros: Great selection of OK beers, inexpensive, lots of taps to choose from, smoking allowed upstairs.
Cons: Popular, particularly with the under 30 PBR and tequila shot crowd, you might not be told that they'll be smoking upstairs.
McNellie's Public House, like Tulsa, surprised me. When I found out that I needed to meet with a potential customer, I expected to time warped to a 1950's dry municipality where I was going to hell for even thinking about getting a drink. I was wrong. Tulsa is a city where there's great art and music and you can get a decent beer.
McNellie's location belies its popularity. I stopped in on a Wednesday at about 6 and there was a 45 minute wait for a table (I overheard that there was some event downtown). Of the three bars, all of which have the same tap list, I was told that the bar upstairs would be the least crowded. I went upstairs, found one of the few seats available, sat down, and discovered that OK is one of the remaining states that allows indoor smoking. Not wanting to brave the growing crowds downstairs, I decided to stay.
Service was quick. Even had a chance to ask the bartender about his recommendations from one of the dozen or so OK brews. Despite the crowds, my glass never went dry. Food was well prepared and tasty. Aside from the number of people, my only other beef was the vibe. As a craft beer enthusiast, I felt out of place in an atmosphere where many of the customers where ordering XXX Lite and tequila shots. I asked if there was a college close by and was surprised to find out that there wasn't. Nothing wrong with this, just that I prefer it a bit more laid back.
Despite the crowds and vibe, worth a second look.
03-08-2013 23:17:52 | More by LittleDon
3.9/5 rDev -10.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3 | $$
I was on a business trip and found this place on BA and decided to give it a try. I stopped by for lunch and dinnner.
McNellie's is located in the Blue Dome district, which is an area downtown that is seeing a re-birth. Teh building is red brick and carries a pseudo Irish theme.
While I have been to places with more taps and bigger selection, I KNOW there is no place in Tulsa with a bigger selection. A good assortment of local, NA craft, and a nice selection of imports line the taps...maybe 50 total. They also have a large selection of bottles.
The food was okay, but nothing to write home about. As mentioned in previous posts, the sweet potato fries are worth getting.
The service was good. They did a good job of making sure my glass was never empty, even when busy. However, I don't beleive many of them knew a whole bunch about the beer.
What struck me was the folks that were there. You could tell there were not too many places to get good beer, as there were quite a few BA's and beer geeks there.
Pull up a stool at the bar and enjoy the great selection and nice folk in Tulsa!
11-13-2009 00:04:35 | More by ndolover
4.2/5 rDev -3.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
James E. McNellie's Public House
409 E. 1st St.
Tulsa, OK USA 74120
McNellie's Public House is located downtown at the intersection of 1st & Elgin in Tulsa's growing 'Blue Dome' district. McNellie's is a multi-tap bar of U.K. inspired design featuring about 60 imported & microbrewed beers on draught with well over 150 bottled beer selections. If it's available in OK, then you'll probably find it here! Draught beers include over 20 microbrews ranging from Anchor Liberty to YellowStone Grizzly Wulff Wheat. There's also plenty of imported beers on tap including Belgian classics like Chimay, Hoegaarden, Leffe & Lindemans to British favorites like Fuller's & Wychwood and plenty of quality German beers including breweries from Ayinger to Weihenstephaner. Average pint prices range from $3.50-$6.50/Pint. If you can't find it on tap then grab a beer menu and check out the impressive bottled beer selection with new arrivals weekly. IMHO - One of the best beer selections between the Dallas/Ft. Worth area & Kansas City.
There's also a fine selection of single malt Scotch & small batch Bourbon to be found. If you plan on being a "regular," don't forget to inquire with the bartender about getting a personalized mug or joining the Centennial Club. Check out the chalkboard or website for a list of daily & monthly specials. If you get hungry, there's plenty of late night appetizers to choose from, like the artichoke dip or European cheese platter. My personal favorite is Mom's Sweet Potato Fries. (Yum! Yum!) You'll also find more substantial pub grub like signature burgers, chops, fish-n-chips, cottage pie, sandwiches, soups & salads which are served during regular dinner hours.
McNellie's offers a casual beer spot for just about everyone with plenty of cigar & smoking room upstairs and lots of non-smoking room downstairs with the same amount of taps to choose from. The hand-painted murals, black & white historic photos, pub mirrors and authentic imported bar furnishings along with the natural "rustic" wooden beams & "refurbished" red brick walls makes McNellie's a charmed, long-awaited edition to Oklahoma's fledgling beer scene. Stop by for a Firkin pint!
09-01-2005 20:54:01 | More by Beertracker
4.2/5 rDev -3.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
McNellie's: THE best place to grab a pint in Tulsa (and probably in all of Oklahoma, for that matter).
You're surrounded by red brick interior walls. On the west wall hangs an American flag and a few framed black and white pictures. The bar is on the east side. Here you'll find tap after tap after tap with brass behind - beautiful. The furniture is all wood, some of which might be antiques; the floor and ceiling are also made of wood. You can't help but notice the solid black Guinness bicycle hanging from above. On top of the bar back there's a few collectibles including some old steins and a huge Rogue bottle. There's two levels with the downstairs smoke free. Great idea - no smoke interfering with every sip of brew. Just the right level of music plays in the background (jazz tonight). There are two TVs, but this is definitely not the place to catch a game, which is a good thing.
Service is far from perfect. There's one bartender (at least when I've been there), and it can take quite a while to get a drink. Food takes a while too. I wouldn't rely on the waitresses for beer info, but the bartender seems knowledgeable. Though there can be some improvements in the service area, it's nothing that would keep me from coming back.
The beer selection is outstanding. 70+ on tap and at least double that in bottles. They have the menu on their website, but it doesn't always include everything that you'll find when you're there. Every month they'll have 3 different beers on sale - one time they had Big Foot bottles for $3; what a deal. Monday night is pint night - each Monday there's a different beer with it's own glass for you to take home. A fun way to build a collection because you never know exactly what it's going to be. You can also get a personalized mug, and they have a beer club (see previous reviews).
The few times I've had their food, it's been great. Along with the usual American variety, you'll find U.K. inspired dishes including fish and chips and cottage pie. The sweet potatoe fries are excellent. Nothing to complain about with the food - some people go here just for it.
What a place. If you're in the area, make this a destination. I'll be going back time and time again.
Note: Quality and selection ratings are relative to other Oklahoma establishments, not nationwide.
01-17-2006 04:12:33 | More by wolffman17
4/5 rDev -7.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 3.75 | $$
This is actually a really nice place to try if you are looking for selection. Most beers I like are not available in this state, but McNellie's does a really good job carrying the beers that are available in this state. I cannot really think of another bar in Tulsa that I would want to go other than McNellie's.
07-20-2013 04:15:42 | More by Carl_R
James E. McNellie's Public House in Tulsa, OK
95 out of 100 based on 48 ratings.