Luck of the Irish at Auld Shabeen

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to visit Ireland, the lush, green country known for St. Patrick’s Day and Guinness, we highly recommend the restaurant and pub, Auld Shabeen.

Located in Old Town Fairfax, the authentic Irish cuisine featured on the menu is completely unique to the Annandale area. The live music offered on a weekly basis captures the spirit of the restaurant, which makes Auld Shabeen a true destination spot.
In Ireland, a Shabeen was an after-hours speakeasy where friends would gather for with good conversation, food and drinks. That spirit and camaraderie of its original purpose has been perfectly encapsulated, which is why Auld Shabeen is one of the hottest restaurants in the Northern Virginia area.

It was named one of Washingtonian Magazine’s Best Restaurants of Fairfax in 2010, and we’d have to agree with that assessment wholeheartedly.

The first good sign we encountered came when we entered: the entrance was packed with eager diners, waiting to be fed and to hear some live Irish music.

After politely elbowing our way to the front of the line to claim our reservation table, we were seated by a friendly hostess and presented with our menus. A delicious basket of freshly baked brown bread was delivered to our table to munch on while we contemplated all of the menu options.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with traditional Irish fare, there are a few standard dishes that we recommend you try. Shepard’s pie is a ground beef and vegetables covered in a thick, mashed potato crust along the top.

Essentially, this combines an entire dinner plate into one single platter, and the flavor combination works perfectly. If you are slightly less adventurous, we recommend the Reuben sandwich, which came piled high with meat and oozing, melted cheese.

Around 7 p.m. every Friday and Saturday, a traditional Irish band plays live music that has been known to cause spontaneous outbursts of jigging and dancing among diners.

As we waited for our meal, we thoroughly enjoyed the music and entertainment group who played traditional songs like “Wild Rover” and “Man of Constant Sorrow.” The lively atmosphere included people dancing along to the music, fans at the bar cheering for the local game and plenty of conversation from friendly neighbors across the restaurant.

As a multi-seating establishment they also feature a lower-level area called “The Cellar,” which can accommodate 200 guests and hosts live bands and DJ’s every weekend.

After a filling meal, we decided to try the black and white cake off the specials menu. After biting into what could only be described as a little piece of heaven, we knew exactly why it was placed on the specials menu. The cake had alternating layers of white and dark chocolate with whipped cream and a hard piece of white chocolate on the side perfectly topped off with a strawberry. After an amazing meal, great entertainment and even better service, our only regret was that we didn’t bring bigger appetites.