St. Patrick’s Day this year is on Friday, March 17. You might head into D.C. or Baltimore, or dare I say it, even Northern Virginia. There are, however, Irish spots here in Southern Maryland that would be glad of your patronage. Of course there will be plenty of restaurants and bars that put on the green for that one day a year, but why not choose a place that is at least a bit more Irish at heart, and maybe keeps a shamrock close to heart 365 days a year?
But then comes the question of what it means to be an Irish restaurant and pub. Certainly it is more than just having Jameson whiskey (not whisky as the Scot’s spell it) behind the bar and Guinness in a can. Nor does festooning the place with shamrocks (three leaves only, please, not four), putting up pictures of leprechauns, and playing the soundtrack of the Broadway show “Once” or maybe a Chieftains album over the loudspeakers; or, if they’re going for something in the blue-eyed soul vein, then it might be The Commitments soundtrack (hey, don’t knock it — I was listening to Andrew Strong sing Try a Little Tenderness as I wrote this passage). If you’re in doubt, just ask yourself the following question:
Is the place really Irish…
- …if the waiter is wearing a green-plastic bowler and says “Top of the morning” to you as he sets down your plate of bacon and eggs with a side of green-colored grits (yes, they do exist)?
- …if they string little shamrock-shaped lights from the ceiling, so your white pizza takes on a zombie-like hue?
- …if they put green food-coloring in your beer and make sure the little sandwich-pick holding the shamrock-shaped pickle to the top of your BLT has a green frill on it?
- …if your waitress asks “how y’all doin’?” as she puts down your plate of three heart-shaped green waffles, arranged like a shamrock with your sausage links as the stem (yes, those exist, too)?
To which I must answer a resounding “NO!” Of course, some of those things do happen on St. Patrick’s day, but I wouldn’t wish them on you. So you may ask, what should you look for to consider a place truly Irish?
Signs of actual Irish-ness
In the bar
They should at least offer several of the following tipples:
- Guinness Stout, preferably on tap, and served with a good head of foam using The Proper Serve method
- Murphy’s Irish Stout
- Harp Lager
- Murphy’s Irish Red Beer
- Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale
- Jameson whiskey
- Bushmills whiskey
- Red Breast whiskey
- Connemara whiskey
On the menu
They should also have some of these dishes on offer:
- Shepherd’s pie (not Shepard’s!)
- Boxty (potato pancakes)
- Irish stew and colcannon potatoes (mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage)
- Soda bread
- Fish and chips
- Corned beef and cabbage
- Bangers and mash
Southern Maryland Irish spots
Our survey of the local environs found the greatest number of options to be in Anne Arundel County, where there are six places to choose from. Charles and Prince George’s Counties have only one each. St. Mary’s County at one time had DB McMillan’s, but it’s been closed for a while now. Calvert County also was found terribly wanting, with none. Below are the spots we found (if we missed any, please let us know).
Anne Arundel County
- Brian Boru Restaurant and Pub
- Castlebay Irish Pub
- Fadó Irish Pub
- Galway Bay Irish Pub
- Killarney House
- Molloy’s Irish Pub & Grill
Prince George’s County
To see these Irish places on an interactive map in our Food & Drink Business Directory, just click on the map above; you’ll see them all listed with their contact information (you’ll need to zoom-in on Annapolis to make-out the different spots, as the map pins tend to overlap in the high-level view). Remember, enjoy responsibly! ♦