If you’ve never been to a locals-only Irish pub in New York City, let me tell you what to expect. You’ll be walking down the sidewalk, awkwardly swerving to avoid people who aren’t paying attention while car horns blare and someone’s second hand smoke burns your throat. You veer into a tucked away door and Bam! Hustle and bustle gone. The big-city static is replaced with cozy lighting, friendly faces, and the best darn homecooked aromas wafting through the air.
Looking for this experience in Charlotte? Welcome to RiRa Irish Pub. Whenever you find yourself tired of the noise and crowds of Uptown, pull up a chair at the bar in this inviting space and indulge in some of the best Irish cuisine in town.
It seems that any ol’ restaurateur can slap a Celtic knot on their logo and call their bar an Irish pub, but one bite of their “gammy” shepherd’s pie exposes the illusion. RiRa, on the other hand, is one of the oldest bars in Charlotte and has spent the last twenty years bringing a piece of The Emerald Isle right into the heart of the Queen City. Authenticity abounds from the dishes prepared to the very people serving them. RiRa even has a visa program that allows Irish citizens to work at the pub for a year, so you know when your Guinness is poured with a hearty, “Sláinte!,” it’s the real deal.
The intimate atmosphere of the bar will win you over right after entering (if the gorgeous chandelier above doesn’t do it first. Look up!) The lighting is soft and warm and the décor is true to Ireland, including intricate stonework and antique whiskey bottles. If you’re visiting with a larger party, head upstairs to another full bar with a little more space to roam.
What’s the best meal to order from RiRa’s menu? A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G. If you’re hunting traditional Irish food, try the Banger Bites—oven-baked, puff pastry wrapped Irish pork sausages served with Lusty Monk mustard from Asheville. Or try the Irish Chicken Curry—all natural chicken sautéed with bell peppers, fresh herbs, and onions, in imported McDonnell’s Irish curry sauce. And of course, nothing is quite as traditional as Fish & Chips—beer-battered Icelandic haddock fillet served with house-made tartar sauce over hand cut fries and a wedge of lemon.
If you’re looking for an American tie-in to your meal, check out the Lamb Burger—a house ground, rosemary infused VA lamb patty topped with charred red onion, arugula, goat cheese and Irish curry aioli on a locally made brioche bun.
RiRa is the perfect spot for a casual business lunch, a cozy first date, or just do what my husband and I love to do—sit at the bar, munch on bangers and fried pickles, and reminisce about making all our wedding guests dance to Gaelic Storm’s “Tell Me Ma.” Purchase a Foodie Adventures Passport for a special discount on RiRa’s incredible cuisine, and throw back a shot of Jameson for us. Sláinte!