The latest Irish pub in Orlando is due to open this spring. It’s the 549-seat McFadden’s Restaurant & Saloon opening at International Drive. But while St. Pat’s day is done, this year at least, there are many reasons why Central Florida looks more and more like Dublin.
In part because some of the growing number of local Irish pubs also have Irish music. All have good beer worthy of their namesake.
And if you are near Disney and the theme parks, you are within a pub crawl of a taste of the Irish. A sampling:
Nothing fake Disney about this place in downtown Disney. It’s the real thing, built in Ireland, then shipped to Orlando. Great ales, lovingly poured, and if you get away from Guinness, try the Hacker-Pschoor Hefeweizen. Or the house made Bloody Mary, known as “the cure,” during the weekend brunches. Dishes such as oatmeal with steel cut oaks with apple sauce and brown sugar do not do real justice to the innovative creations of chef partner Kevin Dundon, who has been praised in international publications. Downtown Disney. Raglanroad.com. 407-938-0300.
Claddagh Cottage Irish Pub
Perhaps best-described as a “little hole-in-the-wall” far from the beaten track of tourism in south Orlando. Known for having some of the most generous Guinness pours in Orlando. Dark and rightly rustic with the usual memorabilia, it’s named after a fishing village near Galway. Drinking is the lure for Irish-born and kindred spirits alike, but the food is adequate. You can’t go far wrong with the Irish stew. 4308 Curry Ford Rd, Orlando. (no Website) 407-895-1555.
Harp and Celt
Go through one door and you’re in the Harp, an Irish restaurant. Go through the other and you’re at the Celt, a pleasant pub where homemade hardwood tables make the place look like it’s been here even before the Lepruchans. Staff members at both places tend to be very friendly with hearty good greetings. Try the ultra-thick potato and leek soup. Large number of imported beers, as a good Irish pub should have, but also an excellent Irish coffee. 25 S. Magnolia Ave., Orlando. Harpandcelt.com. 407-481-2928.
Skip the Guinness and try the Mimosas and terrific Bloody Mary’s during a weekend brunch that includes a crab omelet and seafood crepes. No shortage of good beer but also offers all the classics: bangers and mash, corned beef and cabbage, and shepherd's pie. Four burger variations. You’ll find it by looking for that appropriately colored green building. 544 Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park. Fiddlersgreenorlando.com. 407-645-2050. ###