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Great Beer, Great Food at Oaken Barrel

I have a confession to make: I’m a vegetarian. Not a real one, because I eat fish, but I haven’t eaten any cow, pig or bird in more than four years. Because of my picky eating habits, I’m always looking for restaurants that accommodate both my herbivorous and my friends’ and family’s carnivorous ways.

oaken barrelI found one such place in The Oaken Barrel, a restaurant and brewery located in Greenwood. I first tried the Barrel’s Indiana Amber at WAMMFest, another Greenwood staple dedicated to music, beer, wine and art. The brew blew me away, as did the Razz-wheat, and I knew I had to try more.

The storefront is a little strange. The Barrel sits smack in the middle of a group of buildings that look like they belong on the set of a bad Western. But don’t let the odd exterior fool you. Inside are two bars and a full eating area, with enough TV screens to satisfy your sports needs and a menu big enough to satisfy your stomach many times over.

The Oaken Barrel may look like a sports bar, and the menu features many classic bar foods, including fried pickles, wings and burgers. But slipped in between these traditional bar dishes are some more interesting concoctions, including chicken jambalaya pasta, a dynamite shrimp wrap to die for, shephard’s pie, and their famous mesquite ribs.

Not a sports fan myself, I was first put off by the atmosphere, but as the food was brought out and I took my first bites of juicy, thai-spiced shrimp, I came to love it for the way it appealed to all kinds by offering great food and an easy, welcoming atmosphere. The bar is a perfect combination — foodies looking to try something new will be satisfied and sports nuts looking to watch a game with a pint and a good meal will love it.

The Barrel’s beer can be tasted in certain bars and in festivals all over the city, but a trip to the restaurant is well worth it for the food. To me, a sign of a great restaurant is that I leave wanting to come back a few more times to try more things on the menu. And I know I’ll be back at the Barrel again, wanting some more of their home-brewed beers and to try as many of the veggie and fish friendly menu items as I can.