Get Your Irish On at Cork & Barrel, Round Rock

by Marika Flatt on April 9, 2021 in Food+Drink, Drink, Living Texas, Austin,

The “craic” (pronounced “crack” in Ireland) is high in Round Rock these days!

Cork & Barrel Craft Kitchen + Microbrewery opened on St. Patrick’s Day to a long line of fans, bringing an authentic Irish experience to Round Rock. After breaking ground in February 2020, then dealing with all the setbacks of the pandemic, the people of Round Rock have been patiently waiting. 

Now this much awaited newcomer is open, the local community has been overwhelming them with love in the form of a packed house. (Tip: You’ll need to make a reservation!)

The experience of Cork & Barrel is genuine, unique and unforgettable as the interior combines the history and allure of old Ireland with a contemporary look and feel. Courtesy photo

Bringing the Old Country to Texas

Cork & Barrel is locally owned by three very passionate and hard-working men (who have been bussing tables on busy nights) and their wives (who have been rolling silverware). They went to Ireland for “research” and came back with a variety of different pieces that you’ll see in the restaurant, aiming to bring the heart of Ireland into the heart of Texas. 

The host stand came from an Irish abbey, as did a 200-year old stained glass that you’ll see in the dining area. Another beautiful stained glass in the dining room comes from a pub on the border of Northern Ireland and the Republic, and is 150 years old. In addition, there’s a gorgeous wooden doorway from Ireland that dates back to the 1800s. 

Cork & Barrel in Round Rock is the ideal place to meet up, wine and dine, drink a pint, enjoy live music, or watch a favorite sports team on one of the 13 indoor and outdoor TVs. Courtesy photo

In the gastropub’s open kitchen, you’ll see the wood-burning stove used as their pizza oven that is a replica of the boiler from the Titanic, which hails from Belfast, Northern Ireland, as does one of the owners. In the women’s bathroom, you’ll see wallpaper that is a replica from the first class suite on the Titanic.

Indoor, Outdoor Perfection

From initial conception, the idea behind the pub was to create a spot the owners themselves would like to hang out. Inside, there are four snug barrels which are essentially a booth with a door that you can close for private seating. Other types of seating include the main indoor dining area, high top bar tables inside, and the outdoor beer garden. 

The beer garden is really the hero of the house, where guests will enjoy live music on the stage while sitting on the grassy area with tables, the deck or the covered pavilion. All dog-friendly, and is the perfect place to enjoy a Texas afternoon or evening. 

Cork and Barrel is proud to offer a donation match program for each cocktail sold to benefit the Train Our Troops Foundation. Try the house Smoke & Fire Margarita, smokey with a Texan kick. Courtesy photo

Full Scratch Menu

Executive Chef Josh Watkins’ garlic pretzels are absolutely out of this world! I will return just to enjoy their pretzels with a cold beer. Six long pretzels sit on a board with three choices for dipping: a brown butter Guinness beer cheese, a red wine tarragon butter, and my favorite, the Detroit garlic cream cheese.

You might also be interested in the very Irish Guinness battered fish and chips (pictured at the top of this article), or the Goodstock Wagyu Burger, already a fan favorite. 

WIth starters such as the Charcuterie Nosh Board, you can expect a generous serving of the daily cheese special, seasonal charcuterie, oven-dried Tomatoes, whole grain mustard and housemade Italian giardiniera. Photo courtesy Cork & Barrel

Other shareables include a charcuterie nosh board, Rosemary Campfire Hoey Irish Stew Texas Style (made from their neighbor Goodstock by Nolan Ryan Angus), Torched Scottish Salmon, Goodstock Black Label Tenderloin Tartare, Cliffs of Moher Chorizo Mussels, ribs, wings and deviled eggs.

Wood-fired options include pizzas as well as scallops, ribeye, and a gluten-free roasted red snapper. 

After dinner, reward yourself with a scrumptious dessert such as their Luxardo Cherry & Vanilla Panna Cotta, some Irish Cream Horns or a sorbet flight. (Definitely try the pineapple mint!)

Cork & Barrel’s Executive Chef Josh K. Watkins is an Austin native who’s been hands-on in the kitchen since the age of 15. He’s risen from a homegrown chef to opening several restaurant concepts, and he brings his passion for food to this Irish gastropub. Pictured, the C&B House Goodstock Wagyu Burger. Courtesy photo

Craft Brews from a Master

While the food is delicious, the craft brews really top-off the experience. They make four onsite. Also on the draft list, you’ll find three are Irish, along with a very respectable selection from around the US, including many from Texas. We highly recommend the Island Time, their own IPA. Or, of course, a Guinness stout. But, if you’re looking for something a little lighter, try the Founders All Day Session IPA from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Wine Cellar

Austin Markman, the general manager, is also the microbrewery brewmaster and the sommelier. Markman is very proud of the wine cellar that is kept at 53° and where he loves to “sell the experience.” In the wine cellar you’ll find bottles that range from $40 all the way up to $1,000.

As they say, you can visit seven days a week and sit in seven different areas at Cork & Barrel and have seven different experiences. One down, six to go! 

Cork & Barrel Craft Kitchen + Microbrewery: 4000 E Palm Valley Blvd, Round Rock TX, 78665

Photo courtesy Cork & Barrel

Cover: Guinness Battered Fish & Chips. Photo courtesy Cork & Barrel Craft Kitchen + Microbrewery

Marika Flatt is the Travel Editor of Texas Lifestyle Magazine and was named “Outstanding Austin Communicator” 2021 by Women Communicators of Austin. Flatt has been the voice of the Weekend Trip Tips on NPR’s Texas Standard for over three years and is a regular travel contributor to TV shows across the state.