Recently I visited Dublin, where I spent some (read: a lot of) time in Irish pubs. So I was skeptical of The Crafty Irishman: I’d wondered whether a little bar in downtown Dallas could capture some of that Emerald Isle magic.
My friend was already sipping a glass of whiskey when I arrived. The Crafty Irishman, nestled in the bottom floor of the Mercantile building, was packed. A group of old guys drank whiskey and watched soccer nearby, two businessmen sampled appetizers beside us, and a ladies night snagged prime seating near the window.
“This is a locals bar,” my downtown-dwelling friend explained. “Most of the people here probably live nearby.”
Aesthetically, The Crafty Irishman has everything you could want in an Irish pub: wood-paneled walls, an exhaustive list of Irish whiskeys, soccer (or “football,” I guess) on TV, and an occasional Irish folk song on the playlist. There are Guinness and Tullamore Dew signs on the walls, and an Irish flag hangs over the small patio out front. The menu also offers plenty of beer, scotches and bourbons, Irish coffee, and pub grub—from salads to traditional fare like bangers and mash.
Our waitress took our drink orders, and though she was out of the Clontarf 1014 (a whiskey named after a big bloody Irish battle), she recommended the Powers, assuring us it was an Irish staple. She also told us that the owner of the bar, a Dublin native, lives upstairs. She had an ever-so-slight accent, so we asked if she was from Ireland, too.
“I’m Russian, actually,” she told us. “When I was learning English, I picked up accents from everyone around me. Now I work at an Irish bar, so people hear Irish.”
Soccer on TV and Guinness paraphernalia go a long way in making an Irish pub fun, but what makes The Crafty Irishman feel authentic is the fact that it’s comfortable and friendly. The only thing that could make it better? Another round of Irish whiskey.