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Georgetown’s just-openedRí Rá Irish Pub isn’t just trying to conjure up the feeling of an old Irish pub. Co-founders Ciaran Sheehan and David Kelly and their team have shipped as much of Ireland as they could across the Atlantic.
The restaurant, located in the former Mie N Yu space, uses many reclaimed items from Ireland to evoke a pub of the 19th and early 20th century. The paneling comes from the original Royal Bank of Ireland, which was demolished in the ’70s to make was for the current office building, and the Victorian bar once belonged to a place called Gerry Nangles Pub in Dublin. A statue of St. Patrick behind the bar was supposedly rescued from a burning building on Patrick Street in Cork on Dec. 11, 1920 during a fire that damaged 300 homes and businesses. The smoke-damaged statue remained hidden away until 2011 when it re-emerged at an estate sale in Wicklow, Ireland.
A theater area near the entrance showcases restored paneling and columns from The Theatre Royal in Dublin. The theater, where Bob Hope and Julie Garland reportedlyonce performed, closed down in 1962 and has since been replaced by office buildings.
Also imported: the whiskey. The Whiskey Room upstairs—unique to the D.C. location—has an extensive list of Irish whiskeys, including some rare bottles. The Whiskey Room offers a small plates menu, meant to pair well with the booze, that’s separate from the regular menu. The main menu features many contemporary takes on traditional dishes, including fish and chips, a Reuben with 14-day brined corned beef brisket, and mussels steamed in Guinness with bacon.
You may already be familiar with the restaurant: Rí Rá has almost a dozen locations across the country, including one in Clarendon. Another location closed in Bethesda when its lease expired in September.
Rí Rá Irish Pub, 3123-3125 M St. NW; (202) 751-2111; rira.com/georgetown.
Photo of St. Patrick statue via Rí Rá Irish Pub