Second Helpings: Irish Pubs
BD Riley's204 E. Sixth, 494-1335
BD Riley's is a subtly elegant place with a real Irish feel. Great beer by the Imperial Pint (20 ounces). Guinness and Bass run $4.75; Harp is $4.75. Excellent pub grub, especially the Fish and Chips ($9.95). Irish music on the sound system includes everything from Van Morrison to bodhran-beats and fiddle. There always seem to be friendly folks bellied up to the bar. Call, because hours may be later during SXSW.
Dog and Duck406 W. 17th, 479-0598
The Dog and Duck is really an English pub, but its soul is Irish. Close your eyes, and you'll feel like you're in Dublin. They serve all their brews except Guinness in 16-ounce glasses ($3.95 or $4.50 for Guinness in the 20-ounce) and have a great selection. The food is just right and reasonably priced, especially the Hot Ploughman's Lunch ($7.95).
Mother Egan's Irish Pub715 W. Sixth, 478-7747
Owned by two Irishmen, Mother Egan's aims to be the "most authentic Irish spot in town." It is certainly a comfortable neighborhood bar. The more than 16 beers and ales on tap are just $4 to $4.50 for 20 ounces (make sure to try the delicious Murphy's Amber). We love the bargain-priced Shepherd's Pie. And folks are raving about the Bluegrass Gospel Brunch at noon on Sundays.
Bull McCabe's714 Red River, 478-4022
Where most of Austin's Irish immigrant population chills. It's a crusty bar with traditional Irish music playing in the background, a TV tuned to football (soccer to us), and a dartboard. No food whatsoever. The Guinness is in 20-ounce glasses for $3.75, and they have seven other lovely brews to try. The defining statement is on the back of the T-shirts offered by the bar, a quote from Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Willson (later Wilde): "Work is the curse of the drinking class."
Fadó Irish Pub214 W. Fourth, 457-0172
Daily, 11:15am-2am (unless there's an early rugby or football tournament on TV, in which case they open earlier)
Pronounced f'doe (means "long ago"). Pay no attention to the faux-Irish kitsch. Just enjoy the excellent food, drink, and service. They feature a decent selection of ales and lagers ($4.75 per 20-ounce glass) and 15 Irish whiskies. Try to get service from an Englishman named Duncan. Not only does he charm the ladies, he will skillfully guide you to the best the menu has to offer.
Opal Divine's700 W. Sixth, 477-3308
Warm and inviting with lots of nooks to hide in. A competent list of brews ($4 per 16-ounce glass, $2.75 on Tuesdays) might draw you away from their real strength -- a stunningly good selection of single-malt Scotch (classic sampler tray of six whiskies is $16, 10-year-old sampler for $17). Make sure to try the Cracked Pepper Fries ($4.25 for a mammoth plate), which vie for top honors in Austin. Amiable, pleasant staff. The best endorsement for Opal Divine's? It's where the Austin Celtic Association holds its monthly meetings.