New Irish pub brings a piece of Ireland to the United States

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Fado Irish Pub | Daily Texan Staff

Fado is Gaelic for ‘long ago,’ synonymous with ‘once upon a time,’ a name that fits the timeless nature of Ireland’s iconic pub culture. 

Fado Irish Pub is a company of 14 pubs offering sanctuary to a crowd seeking UK culture in an Irish package. The second location, opened in Austin twenty years ago, is managed by John O’Brien and Mariah Koch. 

“Every bit of this place was built in Ireland and shipped here,” Koch said. “And the same applies to every single pub.”

Fado offers both authentic and fused dishes inspired by Irish and English cuisine. Shepherd’s pie, fish ‘n chips and Irish breakfast are some of the big sellers. 

“I’ve had an Aussie and an English couple tell me (the fish and chips) is the closest thing to home that they could find,” Koch said.

Apart from food, the drink selection is largely European, featuring a lot of Irish, English, Dutch and Belgian brews. Specials like the whiskey flights allow customers to tour a selection of Ireland’s favorite firewater. But as an Irish pub, Fado’s staple is Guinness. 

“We take a lot of pride in our Guinness,” O’Brien said. “If you can’t get a good pint of Guinness then we’re in trouble, because that’s what you get in an Irish pub.”

However, the pub doesn’t close it’s door to influences outside of the normal Irish fare. The market demands diverse cultural variation, and Fado delivers. Fado boasts a number of domestic brews and chose to swap Irish cabbage and potatoes with kale and potato dumplings. Despite whiskey being Ireland’s customary hard liquor, Fado also offers cocktails.

“Things are changing, even in Ireland,” O’Brien said. “Gotta keep up with the times.”

From migrants missing home to the busy downtown hotel rotation, Fado brings in a substantial international crowd. And with the foreign clientele comes a high demand for soccer.

On a weekend match day Manchester United brings in the largest audience, with Liverpool making a close second. Barclays premiere league takes precedent, but association football cups, rugby, formula one and cricket are featured as well. Special tournaments like Seven Nations Rugby and the World Cup keep the pub packed.  

“The World Cup is huge for us,” O’Brien said. “We’ll have a line down the street. That’s every four years unfortunately.”

As a hub for soccer viewers, a Saturday morning or mid-day can easily be busier than night. The pub offers brunch specials for early risers looking to catch a match.

Bartender and Front of House Supervisor Megan McMillan said keeping up with the banter is essential during heated matches. 

“We have a lot of regulars that come here,” McMillan said. “It’s always fun to talk a little trash, especially about soccer.”

Apart from the usual pub activity several events take place on the patio: music, anniversaries, weddings, birthdays, and other special events.

“The best part about this job is working events,” McMillan said. “Those are so much fun because you get to be a part of someone’s big day.”

Fado gives the hungry a taste of Ireland, a dash of England, a pinch of Scotland and a good share of European brews to wash it all down. For travelers, it’s a home away from home, and for others, the home they
never had.

“You’re in Ireland when you walk in here,” O’Brien said. “A whole different country.”