A boisterous St. Patrick’s Day arrival for Rí Rá, the new Irish pub in the shopwalk space known as Mandalay Place, may have effectively announced a favorite new drinking spot on the Strip. But let’s discuss the experience beyond the clichés. Rí Rá may follow in the grand tradition of “authentic” pubs, from traditional menu to imported scenery and staff, but it looks and tastes better than its predecessors.
Just like the others, this place is proud of where its furnishings come from; parts of the 19th-century bar were restored in Ireland and shipped to the Strip. That tidbit isn’t nearly as impressive as the look and feel of this space, a seemingly never-ending thread of bar counters and comfy corners perfect for chilling or drinking too much Jameson. There are actually three bars, three different dining rooms, two live music stages and a great hidden chill space with a fourth bar, ’70s-style wooden walls and super-big screen TV. Wherever you land, you should probably drink Guinness, since there’s a Guinness retail store next door.
- Rí Rá
- At Mandalay Place, 632-7771
- Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-4 a.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 a.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m.-3 a.m.
Rí Rá’s corned beef and cabbage is the single best plate of food I have tasted in any pub. The kitchen brines its own brisket, drops great, thick slabs of it on a pile of mashed potatoes and braised cabbage and douses the plate with a creamy parsley sauce. Hearty doesn’t begin to describe it. The best part is the salty, melty bits of fat lining each slice of meat.
The menu also is unique in that it offers more Americanized dishes like that one, alongside truer Irish versions, in this case traditional bacon and cabbage with boiled potatoes. There’s also shepherd’s pie, with lamb, versus cottage pie, with beef. Take your pick, both have savory sauce and a slightly crispy mashed potato crust. Fish and chips, beer battered haddock, and potato wrapped halibut with cauliflower puree and mustard sauce also are stellar. The cuisine here is heavy, yes, but so much more refined than the bars where you’ve been munching on “Irish” potato skins. Now we can all step our pub grub game up.