On March 17, everyone’s Irish... and your best mate. Aside from drinking green beer and wearing “Kiss Me I’m Irish” paraphernalia, there are more authentic ways to celebrate the Emerald Isle’s food, drink, and culture. In DC and its surrounding areas, plenty of bars offer the complete Irish pub experience, along with crowds and staffs of expats to tell you all about the old country.
Here’s our list of where to go on St. Patrick’s Day for classic Irish food, music, and pints, according to expats from the old country. Sláinte!
If it’s tradition and longevity you’re after, pay a visit to The Dubliner for the baked cod and haddock. The staff here is made up of expats, including Joe O’Toole, a former professional fisherman from County Mayo who swears by menu’s fish options. If you’re looking for something meatier, Chef Kyle Bailey’s sub, named after the bar, is made with Guinness-braised corned beef and topped with eggs, potato hash, and pickled cabbage. Pair it with pub’s latest Irish whiskey release, a 10-year-old appropriately called The Dubliner.
Along with The Dubliner, the best Guinness draft pour in the area can be found at The Celtic House, according to O’Toole. To eat, heed his advice and order Danny’s beef and Guinness stew, a belly-filling dish of Angus beef, carrots, celery, and onions, all served over mashed potatoes. It tastes best when paired with, you guessed it, a pint of Guinness.
For fans of Irish sports and music, Fado is a long-time destination. It serves the kind of food you’d find in any well-stocked Dublin pub: corned beef, rashers (that’s back bacon for newbies), bangers, and breakfast puddings made by farmers in Vermont. Stained glass, dark wood interiors, long bars, and shelves filled with spirits add to the traditional atmosphere. Dale Crammond, who works for the Irish Embassy, recommends stopping by in the morning for the Irish breakfast. A plate of two eggs, Irish sausages, rashers, black-and-white pudding, mushrooms, tomatoes, and Guinness Cheddar bread will leave you full well into the afternoon, especially with a glass of Magners cider.
Not far from the Irish Embassy, James Hoban’s is a favorite haunt for Crammond and his co-workers. If you just want a few bites, order the ploughman’s board, which comes with baked Irish ham, Irish Cheddar and blue cheese, international cheeses and meats, and Hoban’s brown bread. For a main dish, order the fish and chips with house-cut fries, and quench your thirst with an Irish beer or cider on draught. Or, if you’re more hearty, try one of their flights of Irish whiskeys.
Located in a 19th-century building, Daniel O’Connell’s is filled with antiques and bric-a-brac that make the place look straight out of Ireland. The live music is always superb, as is the food -- order the lamb stew or chicken pot pie with a Smithwick’s and you’ll be set. If you need further convincing, this is where Chef Cathal Armstrong, a Dubliner and James Beard Award-nominated owner of Alexandria’s Restaurant Eve goes with his fellow Irishmen.
Dark wood interiors and classy old country styling make Rí Rá a Georgetown gem. Plush, tufted leather seating, and salvaged wood give the neighborhood haunt a cozy vibe. It has one of most complete selections of Irish whiskey in America and will, naturally, serve Jameson shots all day on March 17.
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