Editors' pick

Galway Bay Irish Restaurant

Irish Pub, Bar
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Editorial Review

Most of this charming Maryland Avenue building is given over to a large restaurant filled with Irish bric-a-brac, where the kitchen turns out an expansive selection of Irish dishes at a reasonable price. (Corned beef and cabbage and the piping hot shepherd's pie are highly recommended.)

Turn left as you enter, however, and you'll find yourself in a welcoming bar that does its best to encourage conversation -- there are no televisions, and Irish music plays at a low volume in the background. Grab a drink and look at the collection of historic Irish and Scottish instruments on the weathered brick walls.

The draft beer selection is small, but excellent, and includes Guinness, Beamish, Curim Wheat Beer (an award-winning beer from Carlow, Ireland), McEwans (a Scotch IPA) and Woodpecker Cider. The pub's own beers, Celtic Gold and Galway Bay Ale, are specially brewed by Old Dominion Brewing Company. The latter was created because Irish favorite Smithwick's Ale wasn't available in this country when Galway Bay opened in 1998; and while Smithwick's has since flooded the American pub scene, Galway Bay's owners prefer their own. All beers come in hefty 20-ounce Imperial pint glasses.

Galway's location means it's somewhat removed from the bustle of Main Street, so it's often easier to find seats here when other bars and packed -- even on Saturdays. Counters along the wall provide room to rest your drinks, but I prefer one of the high-backed booths near the entrance. They're perfect for drinking with a small group or grabbing something to eat from the restaurant's menu, which is available in the bar.

-- Fritz Hahn