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HOME > TAICHUNG CITY > NIGHTLIFE >

COMPASS MAGAZINE, March 2006

PJ's Cafe: Where Irish eyes are smiling

23, DaYe Road (on Soho Street)
(04) 2325-2457
Hours: 6 pm-12 midnight (open for lunch from March on)
Credit cards not accepted.

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--By Douglas Habecker Translated by Ann Li

In the month of St. Patrick's Day, it seems appropriate to take a look at Taichung's sole Irish-American pub, PJ's Cafe, and its Irish-American owner, Patrick John McKenna--better known as PJ. This durable establishment, which marked its eighth anniversary on Dec. 1, continues to go strong with a reputation as a place where everyone does seem to know your name, the food and drinks are good, and the friendly, laid-back owner is always ready with a smile, handshake and some good conversation.

Like many foreigners in Taiwan, PJ was just traveling through and didn't think he'd end up staying here when he arrived on the island 13 years ago. A native of Camden County, New Jersey (opposite Philadelphia), he also spent 11 years in California before heading to Asia. Now, with PJ's Cafe currently in its third "and final" location, he seems happy with the place he's in, although he does periodically vent his wanderlust with two-month get-aways to places like Thailand and Nepal.
Located at the entrance to the pedestrian-only Soho Street along DaYe Road, PJ's is a small, unassuming place where a gathering of regulars can be found any evening, sitting around the L-shaped bar or at outside tables. PJ also gets a wide range of first-timers, from businessmen to local college girls. Often, there's a game on TV (PJ is a BIG Philadelphia Eagles football fan) and the music is always classic rock 'n' roll.

"This place makes you feel at home and comfortable. It's not a pub-like atmosphere but more like a family gathering, just like Cheers," says the owner, referrring to the bar in the popular '80s American TV show.
When it comes to food, the favorite item for years has been his trademark Philly Cheese Steak (NT$250), exclusive to PJ's Cafe in Tachung. It's also a good place to get some decent Mexican dishes, including quesadillas, nachos, the Taco Salad and the popular burritos. Another good option is the NT$100, 10-inch "hoagie" submarine sandwich. Starting in March, PJ will also offer daily lunches. The drink of choice is beer (NT$100-NT$200), including Stella Artois, Foster's, Corona, Qingdao, Guinness and Murphy's. There are also two "heavy" shots for NT$150.

Good times to stop by PJ's this month are the March 4 Welcome Back BBQ and March 17, when there will be a St. Paddy's Day party with real, live Irish music.

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