McNamara’s Pub & Restaurant – A Touch of Ireland on 23rd Street
By the Gastronomes
March is a perfect time to visit an Irish Pub and embrace all that is Irish. This month we ventured out of Old Town to check out McNamara’s, the new Irish Pub and Restaurant in Arlington/Crystal City. The restaurant anchors the west end of “Restaurant Row” on 23rd Street. It had been quite some time since we ventured to 23rd Street we sort of forgot how many varied eateries there are in that one long block. The cuisine choices are very diverse and there is virtually something for every pallet. We need to make a plan to go back. In the meantime, let’s talk about McNamara’s. Scott Dicken, our Take Photos, Leave Footprints columnist, recommended we check it out shortly after it opened a few months ago. Some of you may remember that Fiona’s Irish Pub was in that corner space for a brief time.
The building is very roomy with plenty of space to fan out and enough TV’s that one is always visible for viewing your favorite sporting event. The bar is large and done in all dark wood giving a very manly feel to the establishment. As one would expect of a good Irish bar, the taps are stocked with the requisite Irish Guinness, Harp, Smithwick’s and Magner’s Cider along with 5 other domestic brands. They have an extensive choice of cans and bottles and the wine selection is quite adequate as well. They also pour a good mixed drink (as most Irish do) and the wine pour here is generous. The bar area also has high top tables as well as barrels throughout for your drinks or pints of Guinness when there’s a crowd. There isn’t a separate dining room per se so if you are sitting at a table you can still feel like you are part of the crowd. There is a room, however, that was once outside/sidewalk dining but it is now enclosed in the winter but appears to have the option to be opened during nice weather.
The menu is quite extensive and boasts the heading “Irish Fare Done Right”! The Starters range from Wings and Chicken Quesadilla and Chicken Tenders to Onion rings, Sausage Rolls, Fried Pickles, Irish Nachos and Loaded Fries. Knowing that this restaurant serves a lot of food on the plate, we decided to split the Sausage Rolls. Rather tasty Irish sausage cooked in a pastry puff served with spicy mustard. It was hot and good and a lot of food for a starter. We did finish it but realized we may not be able finish our main courses. The Soups and Salads consist of a creamy, home-style potato and leek soup, homemade chili and a “Soup of the Day”. Salads run from House and Caesar to Cobb and the Black and Blue – blackened New York Strip served over spring lettuce with crumbled blue cheese, grape tomatoes, red onions and cucumbers. I may try this the next time I’m here.
The Irish Fare kicks off with Shepherd’s Pie, Chicken Pot Pie, Beef Stew, Fish and Chips, Corned Beef and Cabbage and a Traditional Irish Breakfast. My partner went with the stew on this trip. While they don’t bill it as “Irish” stew it is pretty close. It has a very flavorful gravy base with lots tender beef chunks, carrots, onions and celery. It is served with mashed potatoes as opposed to having potatoes as part of the stew. And….it is a big portion and served with a slice of Irish soda bread. On our first visit to McNamara’s we both had the Chicken Pot Pie and it was fantastic, we both highly recommend it.
The entrees include Pork Ribs, Pulled Pork Dinner, Salmon Dinner, Delmonico Ribeye and Rack of Lamb, and a Pork Chop the day we were there. I ordered the Pork Chop with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetable of broccoli and sliced carrots. The vegetables were very fresh and not over cooked…just right. The potatoes were nice and creamy and the oversized pork chop was covered in a very tasty fruit chutney. I finished about half of the meal (see comment about the Sausage Rolls above) so was able to enjoy the rest of it later in the week.
McNamara’s also offers a selection of sandwiches including a Classic Club, Chicken Club, Pulled Pork, Beer-Battered Cod, Blackened Salmon, Tuna Melt and a Reuben. They also offer four burgers, the All-American, Rodeo, Breakfast and Stout. They also offer eight sides to round out any meal. We didn’t even think about approaching dessert but I imagine that the chocolate cake, apple pie ala mode, cheesecake and brownie sundae are all pretty tasty.
McNamara’s also has daily specials and serves Brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10 am – 2 pm, Trivia on Monday nights, Happy Hour runs 7 days a week from 3-7 pm, Live Music Friday and Saturday and Traditional Irish Night on Sundays.
If you have a large appetite and are looking for a bit of Irish craic, McNamara’s will not disappoint. The dishes are well prepared and piled high. It is clear that McNamara’s takes pride in their dining choices.
Enjoy an adult beverage or two and meal at an Irish restaurant this March and have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day!
McNamara’s Pub and Restaurant
567 23rd Street South
Crystal City, VA
Hours of Operation:
Sat & Sun 10am-2am