There are two kinds of bars on St. Patrick’s Day: places that throw a leprechaun on the door, and real Irish pubs that celebrate with live music, dancing, and traditional food and drink. We’ll celebrate at the latter—see a full lineup below.
4 F St., NW
The Coleman family-owned institution is celebrating 48 years in business on Capitol Hill. Patrons can drop by for an all-day party with live music, Irish dancing, full lunch and dinner menus (we have our eye on the corned beef and cabbage or shepherd’s pie), and Guinness at indoor and covered outdoor bars.
Kelly’s Irish Times
14 F St., NW
This self-described “quaint, sometimes boisterous” pub near Union Station has served pints and an extensive selection of whiskeys for 40 years. St. Patrick’s Day brings thirsty crowds looking for a good time.
Kirwan’s on the Wharf and Samuel Beckett’s
749 Wharf St., SW; 2800 South Randolph St., Arlington
Owner and Tipperary native Mark Kirwan is behind these two authentically Irish gastropubs. Head to both for music, Irish dancers, and Guinness specials, plus from-scratch dishes like a stellar Shepard’s pie made with braised lamb or a creamy Dublin coddle.
Mattie and Eddie’s
1301 South Joyce St., Arlington
Dublin native Cathal Armstrong, author of My Irish Table, is the chef-owner of this Pentagon City pub. The food isn’t fussy but it’s deliciously true to the Emerald Isle–we’re fans of the all-day Irish breakfast, house-cured corned beef, and toasties. St. Patrick’s Day festivities extend through Sunday, March 30 with live music alongside food and drink specials.
Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub
713 King St., Alexandria
Old Town is home to a large Irish-American community and several pubs, and this stalwart is among the best. Listen to live music nightly, or sip a stout alongside bangers and mash. On St. Patrick’s Day, doors open at 8 AM (no cover) with live music and Irish dancing all day.
1264 Wisconsin Ave., NW
Georgetown’s historic pub has been a neighborhood fixture for 86 years and is still run by the Martin family—originally from Galway. Expect plenty of food and drink specials for St. Patrick’s Day, including potato-leek soup, lamb stew, Irish coffee (hot or iced) and a Guinness-Bailey’s ice cream float for dessert.
The Irish Inn at Glen Echo
6119 Tulane Ave., Glen Echo, MD
The atmospheric inn is a great place to avoid green beer-chugging crowds and celebrate the holiday with family and friends. Patrons can sip Guinness at the bar, try dishes like Galway seafood stew, and catch live Irish music and dancing. If you’re looking for holiday inspiration, watch this Instagram video with co-owner Christy Hughes, as he reflects on nearly 50 years of spreading Irish cheer through Washington.
Ireland’s Four Courts
2051 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
Arlington’s Irish-owned pub is a great spot for a pint by the fire in cold weather, and regularly shows European football (aka soccer) matches alongside a schedule of live music and entertainment. St. Patrick’s Day celebrations start early and end with a seven-band bang.
116 Rhode Island Ave., NW
Bloomingdale’s neighborhood pub, run by the Croke and McDonough brothers, is celebrating with fun specials from chef David Bacot—we like the idea of a holiday Wellington with house-cured corned beef, beer-braised cabbage, puff pastry, and whole-grain-mustard/cream sauce. Come for live music from 6 to 8 PM.
The Limerick Pub
11301 Elkin St., Wheaton
Regulars can relax by the fire or play darts at this suburban pub. St. Patrick’s day festivities include live music, and traditional Irish dishes like bangers and colcannon mash or corned beef and cabbage. There’s a $5 cover unless you wear a 2021 celebratory pin.
The Old Brogue
760 Walker Rd., Great Falls
The 41 year-old pub is an 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. Doors open at 10 AM on St. Patrick’s Day ($10 cover) with live music and specials all day long, including a $45 three-course seated dinner.
McGinty’s Public House
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. Patrick’s is a music-filled day, every Tuesday brings traditional Irish players to the pub.
The Celtic House
2500 Columbia Pk., Arlington
Drop by for all-day Irish breakfast at this stalwart pub, which opens at 9 AM on St. Patrick’s Day for hours of live music and dancing. The menu includes some lesser-seen Irish dishes in these parts like Kerry lamb stew.
Across the Pond
1732 Connecticut Ave., NW
Dupont Circle’s Irish sports pub is a popular destination for soccer, rugby, and football matches—plus good beers and drink-friendly dishes like battered sausages or chicken pot pie. St. Patrick’s Day brings plenty of food and drink specials, bagpipers, and more.
The Auld Shebeen
3971 Chain Bridge Rd., Fairfax
Fairfax City’s classic Irish pub is a popular gathering place for musicians—there’s often live music on the calendar—as well as fans of home-style cooking like cottage pie or bangers in mash with brown gravy. St. Patrick’s is less of day here, more of a “season,” with plenty of live music and specials scheduled through the week.
* This post has been updated from an earlier version.