My wife and I have only lived together in two different cities: Springfield, Illinois; and Lafayette, Indiana. But each is home to a local restaurant that would follow us wherever we may go if we had our druthers. Places where they know you and what you want. That jump to the top of any dining-out conversation. That feel like a room in your home.
In Springfield, it’s Little Saigon, our twice-weekly Thai-Vietnamese restaurant with the best crab Rangoon I’ve ever had. In Lafayette (and West Lafayette), it’s Nine Irish Brothers. Jerry and Jan O’Bryan’s Irish-pub concept is so ironclad it could delight diners nationwide. But Jerry and Jan couldn’t physically be on hand, which is part of NIB’s inimitable charm and consistent quality.
Named for Jerry’s sizable family (the bar inside is named Five Irish Sisters), Nine Irish Brothers has racked up numerous local, regional and national awards — for prime rib, pork tenderloin, perfectly poured pints of Guinness and much more. Its cozy aesthetics and community approach are modeled after public houses that pepper all parts of Ireland. The West Lafayette location, with its welcoming nooks, is the flagship. But you’d have to be a long-time local to recall its Lafayette location as a Ruby Tuesday, so total was its transformation.
By now, it’s easier for me to say what we’ve not eaten and enjoyed. (With seasonal menu rotations, there’s always something new to sample.) But here are some perpetual NIB winners:
Provided you have any room left: All that will keep you from devouring traditional bread pudding in seconds flat is the temperature at which it’s served fresh out of the oven.
Rob Ford is Tipmont and Wintek's communication director, a role he's held since 2015.
Rob has a bachelor's and a master's in Communication from Purdue University. He lives in West Lafayette with his wife and three children and has a life-sized Yoda statue in his office. Away from the office, you’ll find Rob working on his golf swing, jump shot, or hope for a Purdue basketball national title – all futile endeavors.