A Bit of Ireland, Ri Ra Opens on M Street

Ri Ra Irish Pub opened Dec. 30 in the former space of Mie N Yu and, before that, Hamburger Hamlet — and fills the place with all things Irish that gives the old M Street building a special shine and authenticity that it probably never had before.

Meaning “the king of good times,” Ri Ra is a chain with spots in Arlington, Atlantic City and Las Vegas among other places. The Wicklow, Ireland-based company, cofounded by David Kelly and Ciaran Sheehan, prides itself in its antique furnishings and fixtures, whether from the Royal Bank of Ireland or the Royal Theatre of Dublin — as well as above-average pub fare, such as “the beetroot and Irish cheddar tart, mussels steamed in Guinness with crisp streaky bacon, cream and herbs, or the Roast Pork Roulade . . .”

One of the pub’s centerpieces is a statue of St. Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint, said to be saved from a fire in Cork, Ireland, during the 1920s. The sacred statue eventually made its way to an estate sale in 2011, whereafter it was refurbished and brought to Washington, D.C., by Ri Ra.

Among the revamped rooms are the theatrical space and the upstairs Whiskey Room with special drinks and special food pairings. The Whiskey Room with its unique stairway fixtures and specially made bulb-and-barrel chandelier is only at the Georgetown Ri Ra.

At 3125 M St., NW, Ri Ra is still in its soft opening phase, says manager Angela Grogan, who hails from County Mayo, with weekday hours, “4 p.m. until late”; weekends, it opens 10 a.m. A grand opening party is planned for Jan. 23. And, yes, you will get the feeling that you might not be far from the River Liffey or Trinity College.

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