McNamara’s Irish Pub
2740 Old Lebanon Road
Nashville, TN 37214
Tue – Thu: 11A – 10P
Fri – Sat: 11A – Midnight
Sun: 11A – 10P
Everyone should have a neighborhood pub. McNamara’s became our neighborhood pub when we moved to Donelson earlier this year. We had been there several times before our move from Mt. Juliet, but now it holds an even more special place in our hearts, because it’s “ours”. On this particular visit, we were celebrating the completion of our renovation and getting settled into our new 75-year old Donelson home.
We’ve known proprietors Sean and Paula McNamara for several years. Our kids go to the same school, and we go to church with them. They are incredibly nice people. And I’m not just saying that because they are friends – or because they’ll likely read this. They are genuinely kind, compassionate people. But even if that weren’t true, we would still frequent McNamara’s Irish Pub. Because it’s awesome.
Located in the heart of Donelson in an old funeral home – yes, that’s right – McNamara’s is a local treasure. With authentic Irish fare and live music nightly, McNamara’s has been named “One of the best Irish pubs in America”.
McNamara’s was founded in 2010 by Sean and Paula McNamara, along with two business partners. Sean’s great-great-grandfather emigrated to America in 1848. Sean has many years of experience working and singing in every Irish pub in Nashville. Paula was born in County Down, Northern Ireland and has a degree in Hotel, Travel, and Tourism Management. Sean and Paula met when both moved to Nashville in the mid-90’s.
Kirk Orndorff is the GM, and Francis “Magic” Gyebi is the Head Chef. Both bring a wealth of experience to the table – literally – that includes several years with other Nashville restaurants, including The Cooker and Ted’s Montana Grill.
McNamara’s offers classic Irish pub fare in a traditional Irish pub setting. They have a music room where folks gather to eat, drink, and sing along with the band. On many nights, you’ll hear Sean himself playing and singing with his band Nosey Flynn.
If you prefer a quieter setting, there are plenty of tables located in the Cottage Room away from the music room and bar. If you had rather just have a drink and perhaps throw some darts or watch football, check out Kearney’s Sports Pub, which is located upstairs.
Since we’ve been there several times, Michelle and I had a hard time deciding on an entrée. There are so many excellent choices. Given that we were reviewing an Irish pub, however, we felt it was important to order at least one traditional Irish dish. With that in mind, I ordered Sheppard’s Pie and an English Ale from Tennessee Brew Works (www.tnbrew.com).
The Sheppard’s Pie at McNamara’s is just as most Americans would expect, which is to say it’s actually Cottage Pie. Cottage pie substitutes ground beef for the lamb traditionally found in Shepherd’s Pie, and since McNamara’s is an American-Irish Pub, serving ground beef in their Sheppard’s Pie is a good call. My Scots-Irish heritage notwithstanding, I actually prefer Cottage Pie to Shepherd’s Pie. I’m not a big fan of lamb.
The ground beef is mixed with peas and carrots and topped with mashed potatoes and grated cheese. It’s then baked and served hot with a slice of soda bread. If you’ve never been to McNamara’s, and you want to order something “traditional”, you can’t go wrong with their Sheppard’s Pie. It’s Irish comfort food.
The menu at McNamara’s also features many other traditional Irish dishes, such as Bangers and Mash, Corned Beef and Cabbage, and Steak and Guinness Pie. You can also get Fish and Chips, or a Full Irish Breakfast, which is two eggs with Irish sausage, rashers, and black-and-white pudding. To see the full menu, click here.
Michelle ordered the Chicken Curry on Chips, and as she usually does, she substituted mashed potatoes for the chips. This dish is absolutely incredible. The curry is sweet and mild, and the sauce combines very well with the mashed potatoes and chicken. The Chicken Curry gets better as you continue to eat it. As you finish, it is a smooth and creamy mixture of potatoes, chicken, and sauce. In other words, it’s heavenly. It also comes with a side dish – you may choose from several, including steak fries, carrots and parsnips, cabbage, corn casserole, green beans or many others. Michelle ordered a side salad as her side dish. If you get a salad, try the peppercorn parmesan dressing. It will not disappoint.
If you’re in the mood for a libation, McNamara’s is the place for you. They have a full bar and plenty of stouts, ales, and lagers. If whiskey is your thing, they have you covered there, too. I suggest the Red Breast. On this night, however, I was in the mood for a beer. I had a pint of Extra Easy, an English Ale from Tennessee Brew Works, and Michelle had two glasses of house cabernet (okay, okay, I helped her with the second one). The Tennessee Brew Works ale is not one of their normal selections, but they were out of Bass, so I went with it. And I’m glad I did. It went perfectly with the Sheppard’s Pie. You can see the full libations menu here.
With tax and tip, our celebration dinner totaled $53.00 – a very reasonable price for excellent Irish food, drink, and music. If you live nearby – or even if you don’t – make the trip to Hip Donelson and visit McNamara’s, one of America’s best Irish Pubs. Be sure and tell Sean that Haute Flavor sent you. Slainte!