Yardz Bar and Grill in Enola enhances a traditional sports bar with a Pacific-inspired menu
It is not typical of me to spend a Wednesday afternoon braving Arctic winds, icy roads and falling snow in order to visit a sports bar for a few drinks. Yet I overcame all of these tests – not unlike a modern-day Odysseus – in order to tell you about Yardz Bar and Grill in Enola.
After stumbling into Yardz, shivering and half-frozen from the cold, I encountered a warm and friendly hostess who directed me to the long, wrap-around bar where I was further thawed by Jimi Hendrix singing “Fire” on the stereo.
The sight of 16 tasty beers on tap and 20 large TVs sealed the deal. I had some time to peruse the extensive wine list and custom mixed drink menu before owner Nathan Miller joined me at the bar to chat.
Yardz opened in September at the site of what was previously a pizza shop, a Mexican restaurant and an Eat’n Park.
“It was a great space and location, so we basically just came in and renovated the place and installed the bar,” says Miller.
Patrons can choose to sit at the bar, booths, high-tops and tables — all within comfortable viewing distance of whatever games they’d like to watch. The bar is high-ceilinged, spacious, comfortable and modern and seats about 150. (Add another 50 when the outdoor patio is open in warmer months, and I can envision some fun and lively atmosphere during summer nights.)
Yardz is definitely a sports bar, but it has an upscale feel to its decor that is also evident on its menu.
No stranger to the restaurant business, Miller worked in and managed other eateries including Enola’s Center Street Grille before striking out on his own. He brought with him head chef Jeff Travis, a former executive chef with 30 years of experience in Hawaii to create a menu quite unlike other Central PA sports bars.
Travis grew up in Hawaii – where his father served in the Coast Guard – and began his career working in restaurants and old folks’ homes before becoming a chef.
“The island-inspired dishes I come up with are inspired by Chinese, Japanese and Korean flavors,” Travis says. All of those tastes can be found in Hawaii’s Asian-centric cultural melting pot. His Asian barbecue involves a soy-based sugar-and-ginger marinade for flavor, while other dishes are steeped in hoisin, coconut and a plethora of other Asian sauces.
“We try to include lots of comfort food on the menu, no matter the nationality,” says Travis.
“Travis’ Hawaiian influence is evident in the Asian dishes and wraps and the sashimi,” says Miller.
Yardz features blackened ahi sashimi and Hawaiian octopus poke as appetizers, paradise fruit and tuna salad and Asian barbecue lunch plates including grilled Shoyu chicken and coconut chicken katsue served with traditional Hawaiian sides of white rice, cole slaw and macaroni salad.
Yardz also has a wide selection of perennial sports bar favorites including burgers, wraps, soups, ribs (half and whole racks), salads, wings, mussels, clams and crab legs. There’s something for everyone, including a selection of cakes and mousse for dessert.
“I wanted to have all of the traditional bar food done well, but also offer things that you don’t usually see in this area,” says Miller. He is currently revamping the menu to include even more steaks and seafood.
Yardz offers happy hour drink specials during the week along with Monday wing night, all-you-can-eat crab legs and 8 oz. filet specials on Tuesday and slow-roasted prime rib on Friday. “The prime rib always ends up selling out,” Miller says. Night owls can also enjoy $5 appetizers up to an hour after the kitchen closes, as well as late-night happy hour drink specials.
If sports aren’t your thing, fret not, as Yardz also hosts a trivia night on Wednesdays, karaoke on Thursdays and live acoustic music on Fridays and Saturdays. In addition to the 16 beers available on tap, Yardz also offers over 90 bottled craft beers, all available for take-out in six-packs.
As I prepared to depart the warmth of Yardz and steeled myself to re-emerge into the frozen, grey tundra awaiting outside, I paused at the door and thought about that island-inspired menu. Tropical visions danced in my head – white sand and clear water lapping at my toes while lilting strains of luau airs carry across the beach.
And then I shook my head, took a deep breath and stepped once again into the quickly fading light of a frigid Pennsylvania afternoon – knowing that I could always escape the bleak cold by coming back.
• 325 North Enola Road, Enola; 409-8337
• Daily 11a.m. – 2 a.m.