Dark. Dusky. And dimly lit, Brooksville’s famous Red Mule Pub never falls short of living up to its reputation of a cozy and hazily welcoming ambiance, not to mention a total grand slam of a menu that offers a uniquely “Chicago-style flare.” Regardless of what you order, where you sit, or who you’re with, there’s no denying that this spunky little donkey offers a swift – as well as satisfying – solid hoof to the stomach that will rock your taste buds in a way you simply can’t forget.
So the basic low-down is pretty simple: The Red Mule is approximately 40 years old and has only undergone one or two major changes in its near half-a-century run. It is open every day of the week, Mondays through Thursdays from 10 AM to 8 PM, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 AM to 9 PM, and Sunday 11 AM to 4 PM. They offer delivery, take-out, beer on tap, outdoor seating, free Wi-Fi, catering, and even a television above the bar you can watch on those special Sundays during football season where good food and the game are the only things on your mind. The Red Mule also caters to groups, has a pleasantly quiet noise level, takes reservations, and accepts all major credit cards.
However, the most noteworthy thing about this quaint and pleasant little restaurant is their undeniably first-rate food mixed with perfectly orchestrated memorabilia all over the walls. A mere second after you open the front door, The Red Mule’s atmosphere wraps around all your senses and whisks you away into its ultra mellow and inviting world. When it comes to restaurants that choose the often overdone and cliché decision of decorating their interior walls with tons of crazy claptrap to come off as hip (stuff like stop signs, traffic lights, and “no loitering” posters) most people think of TGI Friday’s, Applebees, or some other generic chain businesses. Yes, The Red Mule could be guilty of this too but manages to pull it off tastefully and charmingly and that combined with the warmth and glowing vibe of the café, fills you with an overwhelming feeling of relaxation and easygoingness that you can’t find anywhere else in Hernando County. In fact, the remembrances that this one-of-kind little sandwich place has splattered all over its walls (and tables) actually adds not just to its ambiance or atmosphere, but also to its overall welcoming factor, too. Unlike other places, The Red Mule actually furnishes its interior with interesting memorabilia, often of local significance. Local newspaper clippings, photos of the county and beloved personalities like Jerome Brown. The cover of Donald Trump’s book, The Art of the Deal is hung prominently above the entrance doorway for all to see as well as the Trump version of Monopoly. A first edition Harley’s Sportster Motorcycle hangs proudly above the bar and one can view a poster that explains the difference between a donkey and a mule. This bar succeeds so tremendously where most chain restaurants fail solely for the fact that there’s thought put into their décor. In some ways, The Red Mule may seem like a biker bar upon first glance, yet upon closer inspection, all you need to be one of the gang is a decent appetite and an ounce of curiosity about your surroundings.
In addition to its delightfully eclectic environment, what really adds to this restaurant is the food, service, and that good old “hole-in-the-wall charm” that The Red Mule so gleefully serves up. But most importantly, the meal selection at this eatery is so first-rate you’ll have to come back, again and again, many times just to get a taste of what this pub truly has to offer. This café’s five-star menu is so jam-packed full of irresistible entrees that you’ll need at least a dozen visits to appropriately sample its entire selection. Of course, your best bet at experiencing all this place has to offer is to order the meal The Red Mule is best known for: their Reuben, their signature dish. It is cooked to pure and savory perfection. For those making their first visit to The Red Mule, one should consider starting with this. It is topped with ample amounts of Thousand Island dressing, tender, juicy, and succulent strips of corn beef on toasted bread with luscious amounts of sauerkraut. Accompanying this sandwich and all others is a sliced pickle and a bag of potato chips – both of which make great additions to your meal by cutting them up, opening up the sandwich, and layering them on the meat. No joke, this kind of sandwich melts before it hits your mouth. If you’re not drooling at your dish by the time it arrives, you’re not at The Red Mule.
The Red Mule combines that old “hole-in-the-wall” feeling with fabulous. You can look at the photos provided. Yes, eating outside is possible, but you don’t dine on a patio or even on a deck. You’re merely sitting in a chair, with a tiny round table, at the foot of a sidewalk. So when you decide to check it out for yourself, make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the big red sign “Red Mule,” scrawled in bold letters above the doorway and windows. If there’s any criticism to be made here, it’s the restaurant’s lack of visibility.
The Red Mule is worth more than the money you’ll end up spending there, on any kind of dish. Each item on the menu is delicious, the ambiance is worth your time and the service is quick, top-notch, and delivered by servers who genuinely want you to enjoy your food. If you take anything with you after reading this article, make sure it’s this: no one likes to get kicked by a mule… unless it tastes this friggin’ good.
IF YOU GO:
Address: 1208 S Broad St, Brooksville, FL 34601