Stephen Travels

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The Dubliner, Washington, D.C.

The Dubliner Restaurant and Pub (Washington, D.C.)

The Dubliner, Washington, D.C.

Look for Celtic designs everywhere, right down to your napkin.

I spent more time in the National Postal Museum than I had planned, captivated by the history of U.S. philately presented in a variety of exhibits, including singed mail from the explosive Hindenburg and the station where I designed an original postage stamp. When I finally emerged from the museum, I was ready for lunch, but this particularly chilly, drizzly March day, with snow threatening, quashed my plan to stroll around leisurely in search of an appealing restaurant. Fortunately, I spotted The Dubliner Restaurant and Pub across the street, and I made a beeline for the stained-glass shamrocks on the doors and entered what easily could have been the portal to old Hibernia.

Named for the James Joyce novel when it opened in 1974, this authentic Irish restaurant and pub was already hopping when I walked in at half past noon. Outfitted with dark green walls, dark green barstool seats, plenty of wood, and 100 types of whiskey, the Dubliner looked like a repository of Irish memorabilia, from mead jugs to lithographs of Irish volunteers assembling on Dublin’s College Green in 1779. Celtic design elements, from the menu to the napkins, abounded, Irish music played softly in the background, and more than one waiter sported an irresistible, lilting brogue.

If you’re here for dinner, you’re more than likely to be entertained by Irish musicians performing brisk reels and jigs or mournful ballads. But if you’re here for lunch, your entertainment will be provided by the conversations of your fellow diners, everyone from guests in the upstairs Phoenix Park Hotel to members of the political machine.

Fork and KnifeTry This: Of course, you’ll want to start with a pint of Guinness. Then switch temperatures and enjoy the smooth and creamy potato soup. Go traditional Irish with a hearty shepherd’s pie with beef, lamb, onion, peas, carrots, champ potatoes, and Guinness gravy, or select that other stalwart option, corned beef, braised cabbage, boiled potatoes, carrots, and parsley sauce. Then finish everything off with a very untraditional Irish dessert: a slice of dense Oreo cheesecake.