Historic Woodley Park has two of Washington's biggest hotels -- the Wardman Park Marriott and the Omni Shoreham -- but, surprisingly, no decent hotel bars. Instead, tourists and neighborhood folk meet at Murphy's of D.C. Because of its central location near the hotels, several apartment buildings and the Woodley Park Metro station, crowds can vary wildly. Some nights, the Irish pub is full of local twenty-somethings from nearby apartment buildings watching football and drinking with friends. Other visits find tourists sporting laminated convention name tags and children eating chicken fingers.
An offshoot of Old Town Alexandria's venerable Murphy's Irish Pub, the Washington branch is a little plain -- white walls with framed pictures of Irish musicians, green carpet, a few televisions and some stained glass behind the long, wooden bar.
A kitchen fire closed Murphy's from February to September of this year, and it's kind of disappointing that more wasn't done with the decor. They could have made it more, you know, Irish -- but that might have alienated the families.
What remains at Murphy's, though, is what is most essential: A large, awning-covered patio, full during good weather; the huge wood-burning fireplace in the rear of the room -- an asset during cold winter months; and the neighborhood's best beer selection. Murphy's offers an Anglo-Irish lineup that features Smithwick's Irish Ale and Boddington's Cream Ale, but the stars of the show are Mooney's Stout and Ale, made in a "traditional" Irish style for the pub by the Old Dominion Brewing Company. Try stout, a dry, malty variety that isn't as dense as Guinness. Don't worry -- Murphy's has Miller Lite, too.
-- Fritz Hahn