There's something really special about a classic Irish pub meal. The atmosphere, the food, the perfectly poured pint ... it all comes together for a unique experience.

With St. Patrick's Day coming up, you'll be wanting a pint or two and maybe a plate of traditional Irish yumminess. Here are some of the best Irish pubs in Northern Virginia that would be happy to have you!

Guiness, flight

Courtesy of The Auld Shebeen

The Auld Shebeen

This Fairfax pub is a favorite with locals and college students alike. Upstairs, you've got a charming dining room that churns out excellent food and drinks. Music here is the traditional kind—songs that make you want to book a trip to Dublin. Downstairs, you've got a late-night hangout complete with darts, DJs, and dancing. Either way, there is always a good time to be had at The Auld Shebeen.

My favorite dish here was the Irish Stout Cake, an exquisite chocolate and stout layer cake with Bailey's cream cheese frosting and a chocolate ganache drizzle.

The Auld Shebeen

Classic Irish dishes are treated with care here. The croquettes are perfectly crisped potato balls rich with cabbage and morsels of corned beef. The full Irish breakfast was a real treat with the traditional black and white puddings, rashers, and savory pork sausages. Last but certainly not least, the corned beef and cabbage was exactly right and served with a parsley sauce on the side.

Irish breakfast, croquettes

The Celtic House

My favorite dish here was a classic Reuben, revamped with a generous helping of chopped corned beef and grilled rye bread. This is also where I got my favorite version of fish and chips—the smaller pieces of cod were tender and flaky with just the right ratio of fish to light-as-a-feather batter.

Reuben sandwich

They also served up an outstanding full Irish breakfast—crisp potato cakes tangy with Irish blue cheese, decadent corned beef mac and cheese, and a lovely thick slab of corned beef on cabbage.

Celtic House, mac and cheese, corned beef, Reuben, potato cakes, Irish breakfast

The thing that struck me about The Celtic House was how generous the portions are. That, and how co-owner Michael would greet his regulars and move from table to table, just catching up with everyone. The place was hopping on a Saturday lunch service, and I can see how this is definitely a neighborhood favorite.

Honorable Mentions

Honorable mentions go to Ireland's Four Provinces in Falls Church for their traditional Irish fare and Murphy's in Old Town Alexandria. That's where you'd go for a big, raucous night out.

If live music is your thing, then check out The Old Brogue in Great Falls. They have an extensive menu of Irish favorites and a great monthly lineup of local musicians.

corned beef and cabbage

Courtesy of Ireland's Four Provinces

*All photos in this article are by Sarina Petrocelly unless credited otherwise.

Do you have a favorite spot for traditional Irish pub fare in Northern Virginia? Tell us about it in the comments!