Shooter Mcgee’s Delectables and Cure-Alls
By the Gastronomes
Shooter Mcgee’s Delectables and Cure-Alls
40 Years Young
Shooter Mcgee’s has been a neighborhood go-to restaurant and bar for forty years as of this month. Started by young former D.C. bartenders, Tom Jackson and Mike (Mango) Anderson, they brought their D.C. culture of a good, fun restaurant to the west end of Alexandria. In celebration of their 40 years, I am going to start this piece by repeating the introduction written by our restaurant reviewer from 1997, Rich McNamara. Little has changed over the years…
“With a name like McNamara, I know a fair bit about Irish bars. With both parents born and raised in Ireland and having been an Irish citizen myself until the age of thirteen, I think I could be considered a reasonably good authority on Irish culture and heritage. I have spent enough time traveling in Ireland to know that the “sing-alongs” and patriotic anthems that are so common in America’s “Irish Pubs” are rarely found in the Public Houses of the Irish countryside, except on national holidays and in the tourist traps.
Irish fare though, can be similar to American bars. They are mainly local joints where good friends gather over food and drink. Whether it’s to watch a sporting event on TV or to revel in their own athletic accomplishments, the patrons of Irish bars are just like their American counterparts in that the pubs are considered a place to share a good time and good people. In this respect, Shooter McGee’s is one of the most “Irish” I’ve found anywhere.”
Shooters is a fair distance from Old Town but it’s worth the trip. For residents of the western part of Alexandria, it is their neighborhood hangout. As you enter the restaurant, you will be facing a classic dark wood bar. With a wide variety of spirits and draft beers available, Shooter’s, the bar, is worth the visit all by itself. There are several TV’s around for you to keep up with the scores. The bartenders greet you with a smile. They are personable and friendly. In the hectic pace of today’s world, it can be difficult to find this kind of warmth and charm. It really gives you the feeling of a local pub. Like Rich said in 1997, “If Cheers had been based in Washington, D.C., Shooter’s is the kind of place where it would have been set!”
Besides a little sprucing up over the years, Shooter’s has changed little, except for the food. Their BBQ ribs have been the real deal over the years, slow cooked for eight hours, char-grilled and smothered with your choice of Shooter’s BBQ or Kansas City BBQ, served with two sides. As Rich noted, this is comfort food in a home style setting. Other entrees include Whiskey New York Strip, Lobster-Crab Cake, Grilled Salmon, Country Fried Pork Chop and Classic Creole Jambalaya. All this with a great sandwich and burger selections. All of which are made with the hearty appetite in mind. There are a choice of five salads, two soups and a bowl of beef chili. The appetizers are across the board ranging from Firecracker Shrimp and Classic Chicken Quesadilla to Steak & Cheese Egg Rolls, Mcgee’s Classic Wings and Shooters Sliders.
I let my love of southern cooking guide me to the Country Fried Pork Chop. “Country Fried” adds a realistic touch to southern cooking from times gone by. Not necessarily heart healthy, but good for the soul. This was basic meat and potatoes with Mom’s fresh green beans and everything smothered in country gravy. The pork cutlet is pounded and breaded but remained thick and very moist, no short cuts here, and the two pieces were too much for lunch, so I made it dinner the next night. I love gravy and this was on target. The creamy mashed potatoes added to that down home feel. Like my Mom’s, I thought the green beans a tad undercooked but still tasty and al dente. The next night they were perfect.
The other Gastronome sort of stepped out of the box too far with her order and selected one of the specials of the day – The Taco Bowl. She had been craving Mexican food and thought this would fit the bill since the tacos that they serve here at Shooters are spot on. Well…not so much the taco bowl. It was good but it wasn’t the normal caliber of food they serve here. That being said, she asked that I guide you toward one of the many salads on the menu. She has pretty much had them all at one point or another. August is a good month for a nice salad and the West End Cobb is her number one choice. Grilled chicken breast sliced over FRESH mixed greens (fresh being the key word) with bacon, crumbled bleu cheese, chopped hard boiled egg, avocado, tomato and cucumber served with your choice of dressing. I guess we know what she is having when we go back.
One of the many things that keeps regulars coming back to Shooter’s, in addition to some of the best French fries in the area, are the weekly specials at dinner and a select daily short menu offering for lunch – all of this in addition to their regular menu. They also serve brunch on both Saturday and Sunday. This is another area where they excel – featuring the popular eggs benedict, filet benedict, Shooters Slam, breakfast burrito, Belgian waffle, ham & eggs, French toast, French toast Slam, fried egg sandwich and create your own omelet. Let’s not forget the Bloody Mary Bar ($3.75) and the Good Morning Mimosas ($3.75)!
In addition to the full bar and draft beer collection, the restaurant offers a comprehensive wine list and a HUGE selection of domestic, imported and, of course, “craft” beers. They are so “hip” here these days they even have a couple of Shooters Cocktails – the Shooter’s Signature and the Fire Extinguisher – you should check them both out!
There is also a nice patio/deck out front for that alfresco dining moment and…there is a television outside so you won’t miss out on the big game score while you eat. This is very important to some people.
In 40 years, Shooter McGee’s has been true to their purpose…great food at a good price. Our congratulations go out to current operations manager and partner, Steven Mann, for keeping the dream alive. The landscape may change, but the basics remain the same!
5239 Duke Street