St. Patrick’s Day is a time to celebrate all things Irish, and the neighborhood pub is front and center. The best Irish bars aren’t the places that pour green beer or cater to crawls, but that serve as year-round gathering places for good drinks, homey fare, and live music. Here are 12 great watering holes around Washington, whether you plan to celebrate March 17 (see St. Patty’s specials below) or just need a good spot for a pint.
2003 18th St., NW
This Adams Morgan watering hole isn’t over-the-top Irish—the owners are local guys—but it embodies everything a good neighborhood pub should: plenty of beer, a loyal crowd of regulars, and tater tot “totchos” smothered in cheddar and bacon for padding the stomach before several rounds of Guinness.
Specials: $6 Irish beers and $6 Jameson shots all day long.
Four F St., NW
On any given afternoon you can sip an Irish whiskey undisturbed at this family-owned Capitol Hill institution, but St. Patty’s Day is quite the multi-day affair–you might even catch President Obama dropping in for a pint.
Specials: Doors open at 10 AM with live Irish music all day and night.
4844 Cordell Ave., Bethesda
You can nibble mini meat pies or go in for a whole platter of bacon and cabbage (more traditionally Irish than corned beef) at this warmly-hued watering hole.
Specials: The all-day lineup of live music begins at 11 and runs until close, and includes Irish dancers and bag pipers.
6119 Tulane Ave., Glen Echo
The atmospheric inn is a great place to avoid green beer-chugging crowds and celebrate with holiday with family or friends. Guests can sip a Guinness at the bar, or try special St. Patrick’s Day prix-fixe menus ($25 at lunch; $40 dinner) with classics like bangers and mash or beef stew.
Specials: Set menus for lunch and dinner (see above).
4624 Wisconsin Ave., NW
This unassuming upper Northwest pub doesn’t put on an Emerald Isle act just for the holiday. It’s one of the few places that serves a traditional Irish breakfast all day, every day: a “fry” with two eggs, rashers, sausage, black and white puddings, beans, tomato, and toast.
Specials: Head in for green jello shots and a number of other specials.
11301 Elkin St., Wheaton
Regulars can relax by the fire or go in for a game of darts at this suburban pub. While there are plenty of traditional Irish dishes on the menu, the place also caters to the meatless crowd with vegan “bangers” and chips.
Specials: Doors open at 8 AM for live music all day.
1264 Wisconsin Ave., NW
Georgetown’s historic pub marks their 82nd anniversary this year, and is still run by the Martin family who originated in Galway. Though the bar/restaurant has played host to several Presidents—the Kennedy “proposal booth” remains a fixture—the place is far from fussy, and serves solid (not necessarily Irish) throwbacks like creamed chipped beef, monte cristo sandwiches, and weekday brunch.
Specials: Food and drink specials abound, which you can enjoy on the outdoor sidewalk “patty’o”.
911 Ellsworth Dr., Silver Spring
This gathering place in downtown Silver Spring comes from Irish-born owners, and the menu boasts a few less-common finds like an Irish boxty (potato and cheddar cake), Wexford lamb stew, and colcannon (mashed potatoes with cabbage). Though St. Patty’s is a music-filled day, every Tuesday brings traditional Irish players to the pub.
Specials: Irish dancers perform from 3:30 to 5:30, while live music plays on two floors from 6 to midnight.
713 King St., Alexandria
Old Town is home to a large Irish-American community and several top-notch pubs, and this stalwart is among the best. Live music plays nightly, or you can sip a stout alongside bangers and mash with peas and gravy.
Specials: The musical lineup begins at 9 AM and goes through the day and night, as well as traditional Irish dancing.
3319 Connecticut Ave., NW
Nannys, as its known to regulars, is a no-frills Cleveland Park fixture. The Harp lager is cold, the wings hot, and there’s Irish beef stew served with a slice of soda bread for more traditional tastes.
Specials: Doors open at 10 with live music all day from Conor Malone and Johnny Grave, as well as St. Patty’s swag.
760 Walker Rd., Great Falls
St. Patty’s marks the 34th anniversary of this traditional Irish spot for all seasons, equipped with a large patio for sipping Smithwick’s in summer, and a live fireplace warming the room in winter. Comfort fare goes year-round, with plenty of sausages, savory pies, and stews.
Specials: Doors open at 10 for a day of Irish beers at three bars and live music all day (a $10 cover charge applies).
1341 H St., NE
Washington’s only Judeo-Irish bar is far from your generic pub. Half Jewish deli (and home of Bullfrog Bagels), half Irish bar, it’s the kind of place you can get your pastrami and Powers fix. They also do it up for the holidays—Mac’Griddle breakfast shooter, anyone?
Specials: Open at 8 AM with all-day specials, a house-cured corned beef and cabbage platter, and live music by Klezcentricity.