Jukebox Skipping

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Murphy's Grand Irish Pub, Alexandria Virginia -- REVIEW

Murphy's Grand Irish Pub
713 King Street
Alexandria Virginia 22314
(703) 548-1717

The beauty of having so many meetings in the Washington DC-area, is that I get to revisit some of the places I once considered to be great dives but have not visited in a number of years.  Murphy's in Old Town Alexandria was a place I would stop by on occasion when A) I had a few extra bucks in my pocket as a poor working stiff on Capitol Hill or B) knew that there was a designated driver in the group.  It was a Sunday night so I decided to stop by to see if the place was as good as I once thought it to be, and even if it wasn't, it was only a few block walk back to my hotel.  It's a no lose situation!

First Impressions:  For a Sunday night this place is packed.  It's a lot darker than I remember it being and the place is LOUD.  Not as in music loud, but more like extremely high-volumed drunkard babbling. I grab a seat at the bar, the only one left by the way, and wait.  

The Bar:  Exactly as you would expect from an Irish-themed place, lots of dark wood, a nice fireplace, a stage where there is live music seven nights a week, and beer.  Lots of beer!  At my count there were more than 20 beers on tap including some type of hard cider as well.  There is an upstairs bar area and a ground level bar, tonight I am feeling lazy and decide not to make any more work for myself by going up a flight of narrow stairs.  As I look around the place, I remembered the time I almost got in a fight here, it suddenly dawns on me.  I'm still waiting for a beer!

The Crowd: Sadly this has a "douche-central" vibe going on tonight.  I am stuck next to many a young Washington tool wearing jeans, polos (with the collar popped) and flip flops.  Rhetorical question, do these guys still have their mothers dress them or is look all the rage at Hot Topic these days?  The only real conversation I can hear are a group of yuppies comparing how many consumer electronic devices they own.  What ever happen to bragging about how big of a schlong you have?  I will say as the night wore on, a REALLY drunk guy from Scotland showed up and pretty much made all the douches hightail it back to their Smart Cars…where was he when I got there?  Oh, and one more thing, where's is my beer!!

Service:  (Insert rimshot here).  The kindly gent behind the bar eventually saw fit to walk over to me and enquire about my drink order.  To his credit, after he finally took my order, he did make it a point to circle back from time-to-time…not often mind you.  But, in his defense, I've seen worse.  

Prices:  This is DC, I've been told to suck it up when it comes to prices, so I won't complain too much.  You're going to pay somewhere between $5-7 per beer.  Ouch!  I was drinking Smithwick's so that was setting my back $6 a pint.  

Food:  Damn, I'm hungry now too.  If a beer takes 10 minutes, how long will food take?  Realizing it's after 9:00 pm on a Sunday, and that there won't be many places open, I decide my best course of action is to order something here. So you guessed it…wings it is!  And, you guessed it again, they took forever to make.  Once they finally decided to bring me my food, it wasn't too bad.  Of course I would have eaten an old shoe at that point (Who knows the difference between Bea Arthur and an old shoe?).  My only complaint with the wings is they are mostly baked then thrown and then briefly deep fried, so they taste more like chicken from banquet hall then from a bar.  

A/V: There are a handful of TVs in the place.  All of them are pretty small and not in great areas to get a good view.  There was a football game on at the time, and it was pretty hard to watch even from my prime seat at the bar.  Can you watch a sporting event here?  Sure.  Should you watch one here? Only if you're not really interested in the game.  

Restrooms:  Small.  Cramped. But surprisingly clean.  Single seater so do what you need to do and get out. You get the picture. 

Bartender Chat:  Name, rank and serial number.  Again, the dude seemed OK once he decided to wait on me.  But, what is the point of making small-talk with a guy who royally pissed me off only a few moments ago by not waiting on me?  In fairness, he seemed like a swell guy, but he has a long way to go if he wants to star in the remake of Cocktail.

How Far Did My $20 Go:  Three beers and a bad tip.  My 20 bucks went about as far as my car would go in DC traffic on a Friday in rain…nowhere!  

Final Impressions:  Despite my complaining, I would still suggest you stop by Murphy's if you get the chance for one specific reason…the live music.  This place has had some of the best live acoustic music seven days a week for decades.  

As soon as the live music kicks in, the place feels like St. Patrick's Day 12 months a year.  Yeah, I didn't have a great experience this time, and it is a bit pricey for my taste, but if you like to throw back a few Irish beers in authentic-enough Irish pub, there are a lot worse places out there than Murphy's.  Should you HIT THIS DIVE?  Sure…why not?  Try as I might, I always seem to walk out of the place happy, even when I sit there and bitch for an hour before the music starts.




  1. Sounds like Murphy's to me -- I was first-year customer (30 years -- My God, The Celtic Folk were still there!). Do any of the drunks still try to dance on the Bar?!
    my love to anybody who remembers 'Crazy Charlie, the Unicorn Man'.

  2. I have not seen anyone try to dance on the bar in a long time, I was just in there Tuesday night and everyone seemed pretty well-behaved. I don't remember Crazy Charlie, but I have a buddy that I'm sure remembers him...I will have to ask him and see what he says.