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Las Vegas: Ri Ra pub to toast 2nd anniversary on St. Paddy's Day

March 06, 2013|By Jay Jones
  • The taps at Ri Ra in Las Vegas reflect the pub's wide selection of brews, many of them Irish.
The taps at Ri Ra in Las Vegas reflect the pub's wide selection of brews,… (MGM Resorts )

An Irish pub that could rightfully claim the title of Las Vegas’ most authentic will celebrate its second anniversary on St. Patrick’s Day. Ri Ra, in the Shoppes at Mandalay Place, will mark the occasion with traditional Irish music as well as food and drink specials, the weekend of March 16 and 17.

Ri Ra’s Sin City location is the 12th, and the farthest west, in a chain founded by Dublin natives David Kelly and Ciaran Sheehan, who’ve been close friends since they were 14 years old. But it’s Sheehan -- or, more specifically, his family -- who have brought a true Irish feel to the place.

Until the mid-1980s, Sheehan’s relatives ran Foley’s Pub in Timoleague, County Cork, Ireland. The expansive wooden bar, one of the first sights guests see upon entering Ri Ra, served customers in Cork for generations before being shipped to Las Vegas. 

Although it’s actually quite large, the bar and restaurant have an intimate feel, since they are divided into small rooms, each with its own theme. The Victorian Room features a parquet floor salvaged from the engineering offices at Belfast shipbuilder Harland & Wolff. According to Kelly, the men who designed the Titanic once walked on the very same floor.

Not unlike its many Sin City cousins, the pub serves a variety of Irish brews and whiskeys. But it’s the food that truly puts this place ahead of the competition.

The fish and chips are some of the tastiest this side of the Atlantic. (I lived in Ireland for several years, so I know my fish and chips.) The dish’s faithfulness to tradition is due in large part to Ri Ra’s operations manager, who studied at the (British) Federation of Fish Friers’ training center in Yorkshire.

For the month of March, corned beef and cabbage joins the large menu. The dish features house-brined brisket, braised cabbage, mashed potatoes and Irish parsley sauce.

Ri Ra hosts live music seven nights a week. On Saturday, March 16, the bands take the stage at 2 p.m. On St. Patrick’s Day, the music begins at noon. Throughout the weekend, Irish dancers will add to the merriment.

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