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Bar Review: Kelly’s Irish Times

Submitted by on October 30, 2009 – 11:42 AMNo Comment
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Kelly’s Irish Times
14 F St. NW
Washington, DC

Hours: Sun. – Thurs.   11 AM – 1:30 AM

Fri. – Sat.         11 AM – 2:30 AM

Best time to visit: After work; to watch the big game.

On your way to Kelly’s, you’ll notice another Irish Pub next door.  This is no mistake.  Kelly’s was founded by a former employee of the Dubliner.

IrishTimesIt was not a case of resentment, or the result of a bitter feud.  Rather, it was the desire to fill a niche.  And, though both establishments can be called Irish Pubs, the atmosphere at Kelly’s makes it distinct from its next-door neighbor.

Entering Kelly’s involves waking through a small outdoor area and into a massive indoor hangar.  The walls are famously decorated with a vast array of signs and slogans and badges from various service agencies, and, depending on when you go, the rest of Kelly’s is no less busy.  It seems the workers of Capital Hill – the real workers, not the ones in suits – flock here after work, and often stay until late.

It is difficult to assess Kelly’s as an Irish Pub, because, apart from Guinness on tap and a few Irish references in the décor, it bears little resemblance – good or bad – to the bars that generally bear that title.  Best to think of it as a bar that happens to serve Guinness.  The menu includes some Irish Pub fare, but caters more to the standard bar-goer.  And the food is just fine, but it is ambience and camaraderie that pack the place.

Kelly’s could be seen as a sports bar, but it does not take that theme to excess.  One can certainly plan to come watch some football, or whatever sport is in season.  But it is more of a place to come with a crowd after work and down a few pints.  The beer selection is nothing extraordinary, but offers beer from a couple smaller breweries, and, again, the Guinness is satisfying, and properly served.

In an Irish Pub competition with the Dubliner, Kelly’s takes second place.  But as a place to have drinks with a bunch of friends, make some noise, and take in a good game, Kelly’s wins handily.

Pros: Lots of space; good space for large groups.

Cons: Service can be a little slow during busy hours; not as cheap as the ambience suggests.

Rating: 3.5 out of5