The atmosphere, the food, the perfectly poured pint ... It all comes together for a unique experience you can't get anywhere but an Irish pub.
With St. Patrick's Day coming up, you'll be wanting a pint or two. Here are some of the best Irish pubs in NoVA that would be happy to have you!
Courtesy of The Auld Shebeen
The Auld Shebeen
LOCATION: 3971 Chain Bridge Road | Fairfax, VA
PARKING: Street parking and free city surface lot
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.
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.
The Celtic House
LOCATION: 2500 Columbia Pike | Arlington, VA
PARKING: Free street parking
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.
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 slabs of corned beef on cabbage.
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.
Fiona's Irish Pub
LOCATION: 5810 Kingstowne Center | Alexandria, VA
PARKING: Free surface lot
My favorite dish here was the Shepherd's Pie, done in the traditional manner with lamb and beef in a rich, savory sauce. We will definitely be back to have this again and again.
Owner Martin White is the type of person you can sit and talk to easily. As he told me about how his staff and what sets his pub apart from others (many have been with him for over a decade), I could see why. Fiona's Irish Pub takes pride in their food, their service, and pulling the perfect pint. They'll be opening a Crystal City location next month, so keep an eye out!
Their corned beef and cabbage is served with both mashed potatoes and a unique mashed carrots and parsnips. I'd never had this side dish before and found it absolutely delicious -- it had a fresh, verdant taste that goes so well with the fork-tender meat and delicate parsley sauce. They even have a special type of potatoes for their fish and chips -- a pub favorite with generously cut Atlantic cod and thick, hearty fries.
Courtesy of Ireland's Four Provinces
All of the pubs listed have special events for St. Patrick's Day so make sure you check out their websites!
*All photos in this article are by Sarina Petrocelly unless credited otherwise.
Do you have a favorite Irish pub in NoVA? Tell us about it in the comments below!