Annapolis, with its history and charm, is a great place to honor all things Ireland. All month long, locals celebrate with events from parades to parties and there's plenty to do on St. Patrick's Day itself. It's a busy time – and those activities require sustenance. Fortunately, the area is home to some of the best Irish-inspired food around. When it comes to traditional Irish fare, I have a few favorite spots. They all offer a nice pint and good conversation – and their kitchens deliver the goods, too.
Castle Bay Irish Pub
Located about halfway up Main Street in downtown Annapolis, Castle Bay is filled with warm wood and pretty bits of stained glass. The menu includes Irish dishes like bangers and mash and shepherd's pie. For my money, no visit to Castle Bay is complete without an order of the pub's thick, hand-cut fries. Served with a terrific curry sauce for dipping, they make the best match for a couple pints of Harp.
Fado Irish Pub
At Fado Irish Pub, located off West Street just west of downtown Annapolis, the atmosphere is all Irish, all the time. Regulars love the pints – and the shepherd's pie and corned beef and cabbage, two of the more popular dishes from a menu that's stacked with Irish pub favorites.
This Maryland Avenue pub and restaurant has legions of fans devoted to its cozy atmosphere, live music and general conviviality. It's a great stop for the classic corned beef and cabbage, but I also love some of their less traditional dishes that incorporate a splash of the Irish, like the Molly Malone's mussels, which are steamed and served in a Jameson Irish Whiskey-tinged garlic cream sauce.
Killarney House & Brian Boru
Owned by the same group that runs Galway Bay, Killarney House is a roomy spot in Davidsonville and Brian Boru is the company's Severna Park outpost. Both are family-friendly and fun; Killarney House, in particular, is a perfect spot for meals with big, multi-generational families (of Irish descent or otherwise). It's a place that both my 97-year old grandmother and 9-year old son enjoy.
The menus include the same traditional and spin-on-traditional dishes found at Galway Bay, including a lunchtime favorite, the Irish Reuben, which uses the restaurant's own corned beef to build an impressive sandwich.
The best news about these pubs is that they specialize in Irish meals all year long. So if you get a hankering for corned beef in the summer or want to celebrate Halfway to St. Patrick's Day in September, they're here for you. But there's something extra special about a pint and potatoes during the month of March.