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James Joyce Irish Pub is a wee bit of the "Old Country" set amid one of Baltimore's newest hot spots. As high rises ascend in Harbor East, the cozy pub serving Irish and American fare, which opened in 2002, is now an old timer in this neighborhood.

Its pub atmosphere and Irish dishes are by far its best attributes. Though it offers a wide array of American dishes, similar fare can be had elsewhere at, perhaps, a better price.

While the exterior loses a few ambiance points by being in the first level of a parking garage, the pub wins hearts with its authentic Irish interior imported from the Emerald Isle.

Pros
  • Well-prepared Irish fare
  • Many choices for American dishes
  • Good selection of beer and whiskey
  • Patio dining
Cons
  • Noisy
  • American entrees somewhat uninspired

Description

  • Cuisine type: Irish, American
  • James Joyce Irish Pub and Restaurant
    616 S. President Street
    Baltimore MD 21202
    410-27-5107
  • Hours: Mon. – Sun. 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.
  • Recommended for kids: Yes

Guide Review - Restaurant

An after-work crowd congregates around James Joyce's bar enjoying the ten or so beers on tap, while booths surrounded by tall partitions topped with leaded glass keep diners who've come for the menu of Irish specialties and American standards somewhat separated from the high spirits at the bar.

Much of the American cuisine on the menu is fairly typical, upscale pub fare (salads, wraps, sandwiches, wings, dips, etc.) with no pretense of being Irish, i.e. Cajun chicken Caesar wrap or blackened shrimp salad.

However, the Irish dishes are the reason to come. Big dollops of garlicky mashed potatoes and cinnamon-spiced mashed carrots come with the corned beef and cabbage ($12.95). Aside the slices of tender corned beef, which is neither greasy nor too salty as can so often be the case, is a huge wedge of cabbage. The boiled cabbage still retains a faint a crunch.

The lamb stew ($12.95) is a bit thin, more like a chunky soup -- but a tasty one nonetheless. The lamb flavor is in the broth as much as in the plentiful hunks of meat that accompany the carrots, cabbage and potatoes.

The signature dessert is combination of caramelized Irish brown bread and Bailey's over vanilla ice cream ($5.50). Though not particularly Irish, the thick-crusted apple pie ($5.50) worth a try. The Bailey's chocolate cake ($5.50), on the other hand, is not. Though it sounds Irish, it tastes like an ordinary brownie layered with chocolate mousse.

While James Joyce wouldn't win any awards for being kid friendly, the restaurant offers crayons and a kids menu. And though the children's meals are relatively pricey ($6.25) considering they don't include a drink, they are freshly prepared and tasty. Also the tall partitions between booths and the generally high noise level make a family less self-conscious in what is clearly an adult realm.

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