There are probably hundreds of places to eat in Richmond. Like New Orleans, New York, or Atlanta, you can find just about any genre of food somewhere in this big city. And while this post is a day late for Saint Patrick’s Day, let me tell you about a neat little place where you can get a little taste of Irish during your visit to Richmond.
Siné (pronounced “shin-ay”) Irish Pub is located on East Cary Street, its façade reminiscent of the classic Irish or English pubs with its red door and many front windows to allow some wonderful natural lighting into the restaurant. The place was renovated from a former warehouse along the Shockoe Slip in Richmond prior to its opening in May of 1999. The exterior is deceptive, as the inside is spacious and can accommodate a sizable crowd of diners, ideal for game night or St. Patty’s Day celebrations. The bar and dining areas harken back to the early 1900s with rustic, weather-worn barstools, and hints here and there of the iconic Celtic woven knot designs. Nearly in the center of the restaurant – and my personal favorite touch to the place – is, what looks like a wall plucked straight from an abandoned stone building in the Irish countryside. Best of all, for those who enjoy their liquor, this place has not one, not two, but THREE bars! Also, an outdoor seating area, festooned in string lights to give a festive and inviting atmosphere to all diners.
The pub continues to run with the philosophy of the Old World pubs in mind. They didn’t want to be just a place to go and have a beer, but a place where family, friends, and community can meet and have a good time. Everyone who walks through their doors is not a stranger, just a friend they haven’t met yet. Their pleasant waitstaff and lively attitudes hold up this motto stupendously.
Now, I will preface this next aspect of my review with the warning that I have a base-line standard for judging Irish food. My first culinary experience of the Emerald Isle was at McGuire’s Irish Pub in Pensacola, Florida. Perhaps because it was my first, it’s my personal favorite and I tend to compare other Irish restaurants to McGuire’s as a result. I have never been to Ireland, so I can’t say whether one place is more authentic than the other. I can’t dispute Siné’s claim that they offer the most authentic Irish food you’ll find in Virginia. I can, however, give my honest opinion.
To start off, we went a little non-traditional with the appetizers. Among the list of typical pub/bar fare like nachos, pretzels, hummus, and quesadillas, we picked the crab and shrimp dip. This blend of cheese and seafood was served in a hot cast iron skillet with chips on the side. While not Irish in nature, neither were the other items on the starter menu, but it was no less amazing and I scrapped that skillet clean, even after we ran out of chips for dipping.
My husband is a massive fan of shepherd’s pie, so there was no question about what he would get. However, it came in a form we weren’t expecting. While the traditional dish of shepherd’s pie has a thick later of seasoned mashed potatoes, Siné’s dish deviates from the norm and simply offers heaping dollops of mashed potatoes over the usual innards, all contained in a cast iron skillet like the one that came with the crab dip. The “guts” of the pie was also not what he expected. Certainly more soupy than he was used to, but definitely still packed with all the savory flavors he loves.
I went with another traditional favorite, “bangers and mash”. While I wasn’t a fan of the side of baked beans (yes, I’m a Southerner, but I would rather not eat beans for certain occasions), the rest of the dish was top-notch. The sausage links had just the right kick and the gravy was nice and thick. My other lament was that there weren’t enough mashed potatoes to balance out the gravy or to satisfy my inner child who loves potatoes way too much. However, this portion size was perfect for us, who were traveling and didn’t have the convenience of eating leftovers later.
These are not the only traditional Irish meals on the menu, as the typical corned beef and cabbage is first on the list, along with fish and chips (fries), pot roast, along with a hefty selection of sandwiches and a few burgers. They also offer a brunch menu on the weekends. Given the abundance of less-traditional Irish fare, I would say that their menu gives more of a “nod” to Irish cuisine than specializes in it. I would settle Siné as an Americanized version of an Irish pub rather than claim it as a perfect replica of the institution. That, however, doesn’t make it any less special to me or the countless others who name it as their favorite places to eat in Richmond.
Overall, I was very satisfied with our experience. I will say the atmosphere and vibes of the place was my favorite aspect of our dining excursion, with my only complaint being that they were playing pop/contemporary music as opposed to Irish folk songs (which my nerdy ass would have preferred). However, I realize some restaurants switch up their music selections, so maybe they play some Irish jigs on certain days? Either way, I’d definitely go back and experiment some of their other entrees. Just like its translated name suggests, “This is it!”
My best recommendation for how to safely get to Siné is that you park in the Public Parking garage at 100 Virginia St Richmond, VA 23219). Be prepared to pay upwards of $10 for parking. You’ll come out of the garage to the north east corner, and Siné is literally right there on Cary Street across from the Courtyard Marriot. Reservations are not needed, walk-ins welcome. Please adhere to any mask policy in place.
Monday – Friday: 12pm – 10pm
Saturday, Sunday: 11am – 10pm
Address: 1327 East Cary Street, Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: (804) 649-7767