Our first stop is a one-two punch, a two-fer, a double date, a duo if you will. Yup, The Light Horse and Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub are right next to each other so I’m gonna tell you about BOTH of them right now.
So, the Light Horse has been pouring a lot of effort and energy into updating their restaurant. You know, keeping up with the Joneses. They just recently renovated their first floor, and added a new outside patio. You will definitely notice those upgrades, but some that you might now notice are the hospital grade air filters, and UV lighting air purifiers on all of their HVAC systems.
I mentioned the renovated first floor but the upstairs isn’t too shabby either. It can be a bit loud, boisterous and rowdy, but in the absolute best ways. It’s like a neighborhood gathering place meets sports bar and skee-ball, and shuffleboard shows up and brings along a karaoke machine. Yeah, it’s like that.
Wait, but is there live music? Of course there is! Just check out their calendar. And food? Yes, there’s food. A few of my favorite menu items are the bacon wrapped dates, the scallop and lobster risotto, and honestly - their grilled cheese sandwich. I love a good grilled cheese and Light Horse has it figured out.
Beer? Obviously. The last time I checked they had almost 20 beers on tap and some amazing and creative specialty cocktails. Ever had a blackberry pecan old-fashioned? Well maybe it’s time.
How about we switch our focus over to Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub?
Murphy’s is all about authenticity. This place has been feeding hearty Irish meals to the masses since 1978. And by Irish, I’m talking Beer Battered Fish and Chips, Bangers and Mash, and Shepherd’s Pie.
Unfortunately, Murphy’s doesn’t serve any Guinness Beer. I’M JUST KIDDING! Head in there for a perfect pour of Guinness Draught. There’s also more Irish favorites like Smithwicks and Kilkenny.
Along those traditional Irish lines, Murphy’s has free, nightly live Irish music along with local alternative entertainment.
Also, keep in mind their Happy Hour starts early - 3:00 to be exact, so keep that in mind. And I know this might sound really random, but Murphy’s Irish actually has a running club. Yup. From beginners to crazies, runners gather upstairs on Wednesday nights to head out together to get in a mid-week run. I don’t see the draw here, but whatever. I’m not a runner.
You can also find all of your favorite sports teams playing on Murphy’s large screen TV’s while you wait for your crazy running friend to get back from their Wednesday night jaunt.
Ok, why don’t we go ahead and move on? Please head East on King Street and then turn right on South Royal.
Downtown Alexandria is as cute as it is fun, so enjoy the scenery as you walk along.
Our next stop is the Brut Champagne and Wine Bar. It’s on the right side of the street. Just look for the sign.
Ok, before you go into this bar, let me answer the question that might be burning in your mind. Is Brut the name of a company, a type of wine or a variety of grape? If you guessed any of those three options, you would be wrong! The short and simple answer is this - Brut is the French word for dry. So, Brut sparkling wine is basically a dry sparkling wine. Brut can also be used to describe Champagne. Champagne with a capital C, which means it is made in the French region of Champagne.
Ok, now you can go on into the Brut Champagne and Wine Bar and know a little more than you did a few minutes ago. Now get on in there and try out a few champagnes. The staff there is friendly and knowledgeable and LOVE to share their knowledge with all who enter. Oh, I almost forgot. There’s food too. Interesting food like Yellowtail tartare, truffled egg toast and hickory-cherrywood smoked duck breast.
After this stop, it’s time to walk off some of this alcohol. Please continue down South Royal Street, turn left on Prince Street and then left on South Fairfax Street. And again, enjoy the scenery.
How’s your walk going so far? Have you seen some interesting shops? There’s lots of them in Old Town Alexandria. We aren’t quite to our next stop yet so keep walking. King Street is coming up and we will be turning right as we head toward our next stop, which is also a one-two punch featuring a Pizza Restaurant and an Irish pub. These are across the street from each other on the block after Lee Street. I’ll see ya there!
Here we are. Bugsy’s Pizza Restaurant and Sports Bar is ahead on your left and O’Connell’s Restaurant and Bar is on the right. First, let’s talk pizza. Guess which restaurant was voted “Northern Virginia’s Best Pizza?” Yup! Bugsy’s Pizza Restaurant! Only the finest and freshest ingredients go into these pizzas. That’s right, just the best. Pick from over 20 different specialty pizzas, like Bugsy’s Power Play Deluxe which is piled high with pepperoni, sausage, green peppers, mushrooms, onions and mozzarella. Or, how about the Bay pizza with sauteed shrimp, ricotta, onions, cheddar, oregano and crushed red pepper. Are you feeling breakfast-y? Bugsy’s has a breakfast pizza with ham, bacon, scrambled eggs and a cheddar Monterey jack
If none of their over 20 specialty pizzas aren’t exactly what you want, you can always create your own from their huge variety of toppings.
Maybe pizza isn’t what you are craving though. No problem. Bugsy’s also has a wide range of appetizers, salads, soups, calzones, pastas and sandwiches.
So on the main floor at Bugsy’s you will find a fun, family-friendly restaurant. Upstairs you will find even more fun at their sports bar! Actually, Bugsy’s is frequently compared to the famous TV bar “Cheers!” You know, where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came.
Alrighty, now we’ve got O’Connell’s Restaurant and Pub on the other side of King Street. The first thing you need to know here is that the actual name of this place is “Daniel O’Connell’s Irish Restaurant and Bar.” Daniel O’Connell was a political leader in Dublin back in the 19th century and was known as “The Liberator.”
If you really want to feel like you are in Ireland, go on into O’Connell’s! Check out their collection of historical Irish antiques. Warm your hands at one of the blazing fires in one of their four ancient Irish Bars. Look for cozy corners, nooks, and snugs to relax in and enjoy some authentic Irish cuisine. Wait. Did I just say “snug?” Sure did. An Irish snug is a private room inside a pub where people who didn’t necessarily want to be seen drinking, could enjoy a few pints privately. Historically, a snug would have a small pass-through window so the bartenders could discreetly deliver drinks to their patrons. Anyway, O’Connell’s has four unique snugs so you can immerse yourself even deeper into this Irish experience.
Now, traditional Irish Pubs from days of old didn’t have large screen TV’s. What a shame. But O’Connell’s knows how to mix the old with the new by having 6 large screen TV’s on both floors where you can view all the football (meaning soccer) and rugby games you could ever want. However, if you are a Washington Nationals Baseball fan, you’d better believe O’Connell’s shows every single game, all season long.
Wanna talk food? Good. Me too. The O’Connell’s menu features some dynamite items like Scotch eggs, corned beef and cabbage, bangers and mash, lamb stew and a Reuben on Rye. For dessert, give their Bailey’s Irish Brown Bread Ice Cream a shot. Speaking of shots, relax after your meal with an Irish Coffee or a Nutty Irishman.
Obviously, O’Connell’s has plenty of Irish brews on tap, like Guinness Stout, Harp Lager, Magners Irish Cider and Smithwick’s Amber Ale, plus plenty of non-Irish local and import craft beers. Delicious.
Looking for a morning hangover cure? O’Connell’s brunch menu includes amazingly comforting meals like their Full Irish Breakfast, corned beef and hash, or chicken and waffles.
I’m making myself really hungry here. We may wanna move on. Continue on King Street. So, I’m gonna give you a couple of choices here. You can either turn right on Union Street and walk along the cute brick sidewalks to our next and final destination, or you can pass Union Street and turn right on Strand Street which will give you a view of the waterfront as you walk. Whatever you decide, I’ll meet you at Barca Pier and Wine Bar at 2 Pioneer Mill Way. Enjoy your stroll!
Welcome to Barca Pier and Wine Bar! There’s lots to talk about here, so pay attention! So, the Spanish word for boat is Barca, which makes sense because Barca Pier is built on a commercial shipping pier on top of a freight container which is also a bar. How cool is that? In addition, you can actually dock your boat at Robinson Landing and go grab a delicious bite to eat at Barca.
The views here on the Potomac River are spectacular, with the Nation’s Capital in the background. Barca Pier is also dog friendly so you can enjoy that beautiful panoramic view with Fido.
So how about the food? This is a small plate kinda place so you get to order a lot of different menu items and experience the different Mediterranean, Greek, Italian and Moroccan flavors. How about I list some favorites. Ok. Beef tenderloin with sour corn and fried peanuts, Spanish octopus salad, ham croquettes, roasted branzino, roasted lamb shoulder, honey glazed half duck… Have you heard enough? Wait, I didn’t even tell you about the wines! So, I started counting all the wines that Barca Pier and Wine Bar has and I stopped counting at 50. So yeah, there’s a lot and you really should do some tasting. If you are more of a cocktail fan, Barca has some very interestingly delicious choices. Their Passion Fruit Frojito has the perfect mix of don q silver rum, passion fruit juice, mint syrup and lime juice. Their La Cupula cocktail is a lovely concoction of gin, maraschino liqueur, pomegranate and pineapple juice. And let's not forget my own personal favorite, the stone fruit sangria with rose wine, cherries, peaches, and orange blossom water. Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm.
So, who’s thirsty? How about hungry? You’ve seen plenty of bars and restaurants along this tour of bars, pubs and restaurants here in old town Alexandria. Did you stop in at any of them? Do you have a favorite? Is there a place you need to head back to? Well now is the time where I turn you loose to do whatever you want. It’s your choice. I hope you had a lot of fun exploring this part of Old Town Alexandria. I had a blast showing you around. Please drink responsibly… and, remember to reach out to Batel Yona for more information about this lovely area. Have a great day!