Anyone who has been to Dublin knows that its dining scene is as modern and sophisticated as that of any city in the world, embracing the same global influences we enjoy here. We Americans are the ones who cling to the Irish culinary stereotypes -- dishes like shepherd's pie, Irish stew and, the pub classic, fish and chips. All of those dishes are wonderful grub, but the pub scene in Dallas-Fort Worth is so vibrant that we can take our pick from those dishes and a whole lot more.
Corned beef tacos at Trinity Hall
5321 E. Mockingbird Lane, Dallas, 214-887-3600
Trinity Hall in Mockingbird Station opened in 2001 with nods to both Trinity College in Dublin and the Trinity River in North Texas. It has the authentic fittings you'd find in a true Irish pub, but with a wraparound patio that's Texas all the way. The menu includes typical Irish-pub standards, but inventive excursions, too. Dublin Bay casserole has shrimp, scallops and cod sauteed with vegetables and béchamel sauce. Mulligatawny soup is a veggie version with barley and vegetables in jalapeño-sparked broth. But the dish that best sums up Trinity's straddle between Ireland and Texas is corned beef tacos -- corned beef and shredded cabbage wrapped in corn tortillas, with queso sauce and salsa.
Brisket melt at the Holy Grail Pub
8240 Preston Road, No. 150, Plano, 972-377-6633
Located on the northern edge of Plano, Holy Grail has earned a reputation for its fine food and drink since it opened in 2009. It carved out a spot early as a top local destination for craft beer, ahead of the current beer revolution, and it has the food to match. An appetizer of sliders is made with pork belly, and the meatloaf combines three meats: ground sirloin, turkey and sausage. The place makes its own salad dressings, and soups include a roasted tomato basil served with grilled-cheese bites for dipping. There are deviled eggs, soft pretzels, and hummus with olives and pita bread. Last but not least, buttermilk doughnut holes for dessert, made to order and served with rich espresso mousse.
Corned beef and cabbage at Chef Point Cafe
5901 Watauga Road, Watauga, 817-656-0080
If you're set on corned beef and cabbage, then there's no better or less predictable place to have it than at Chef Point Cafe. Chef Point is the most famous restaurant in a gas station in all of Watauga -- made even more famous by its appearance on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. But even before Guy Fieri came along, Chef Point was drawing crowds for its high-end menu -- escargot, roast duck -- served in the most unpretentious digs around. Married owners Paula Merrell and Nigerian-born chef Franson Nwaeze have turned corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day into a Chef Point tradition, with plenty of cabbage as it was done in the old days in Ireland, where beef was a luxury. A Nigerian native cooking an Irish standard in a Watauga gas station: It doesn't get any better than this.