There’s no need to cross the Atlantic for an authentic Irish pub experience. The Limerick Pub in the heart of downtown Wheaton will satisfy cravings for a well-poured Guinness, a plate of bangers and mash or Shepherd’s pie, and a large selection of whiskeys that range from caramelly to fruity, oaky to nutty to satisfy the most discerning palates.
When it opened a week before St. Patrick’s Day in 2011 at the corner of Price Avenue and Elkins Street, the pub’s proprietor Tom Stanton, who lives with his family nearby, aimed to build an authentic neighborhood spot where all are welcome and comfortable.
“A pub is different than a bar,” he explained. “In Ireland—and this is true of Irish pubs in the U.S. and around the world—a pub is a place where people of all types, families with kids, people from 2 to 92, can go and feel welcome. Sure, there’s drinking going on, but there’s also a lot of chat and camaraderie—called craic. Sometimes there’s live music or even dancing in the aisles.”
By day Stanton is a lawyer who formerly worked in Marriott International’s corporate legal department. He depends on his capable staff, including Thomas Hanson, general manager, and Viviana Nunes, chef, to keep the pub running and provide both friendly service and updated pub fare, all freshly made from locally sourced ingredients.
Though he only visited Ireland once, recently, Stanton was inspired to go the Irish pub route by his wife, Monica, who has Irish ancestry. He believed it would be recession proof: “I said an Irish pub, because those are going to survive no matter what.”
For a decade The Limerick Pub has been an anchor in the Wheaton community, with its homey, dark wood bar and murals and art by area artists, and live music by local Irish, folk and acoustic bands.
“I really give my wife, Monica, credit for the atmosphere that we’ve got here,” he added, including the cozy neighborly feeling. “If you were to walk through the doors of a pub over in Dublin or Limerick, Ireland, you would feel like you were right at home. That’s what we’ve tried to recreate here.”
A mainstay of any Irish pub is its selection of beers—both draught and canned—and whiskeys. Of course, G.M. Thomas Hanson features traditional Guinness dry Irish stout and blonde lager, along with Smithwick’s Irish red ale. But the beer selections go deep into the local terroir with selections from Baltimore’s Diamondback Brewing, Rockville’s Seven Locks, Silver Spring’s Astro Lab and Laurel’s Jailbreak.
“We’ve got beers that span everything from the popular IPAs to the hazies, Pilsners and everything in between,” said Hanson.
For folks who don’t drink beer, “We offer quite a few ciders and meads. A lot of folks who don’t want the heaviness or the bitter feel of beer will switch to cider, plus it’s gluten free. It’s like drinking a sparkling wine without all the fizz.”
And then there are the whiskeys. “Irish whiskey has been on such an upward trajectory for the past decade,” Hanson said. “We’ve got about 70 different Irish whiskeys here at any given time. And, you know, the Irish were making whiskey before the Scots were.”
The difference, he explained, “Irish whiskeys, as opposed to Scotch whiskey or Japanese whiskeys, are a lot less peaty, a little less smoky, so Irish whiskey is a very easy drink. You don’t get that burnt wood mouth taste. Irish whiskeys use a different style of brewing and a different moss, a different peat that they use as well. So it’s a very easy drink.”
The pub offers whiskey flights of four 1-ounce pours, allowing customers to expand their palates with curated offerings. While choosing a favorite whiskey is like choosing a favorite child, he said: “There’s a trio of small batch whiskeys from Teeling that’s phenomenal, and there’s a four-year single malt from Sexton with a fantastic price point. Dollar for dollar, it’s on par with just about any other whiskey that we offer.”
The gustatory menu favors enhanced traditional pub fare all prepared in the kitchen from scratch using primarily locally grown and sourced ingredients. Stanton touts a few favorites from chef Nunes. “We have an absolute to-die-for Reuben sandwich. We call it the Irish Reuben. It’s beer-braised corned beef, stewed cabbage and Swiss cheese. And the fish and chips are even better. We’ve always made our own chips and our fish has always been really superb. We’ve used the same fishmonger out of D.C. since day one—ProFish. We rely on almost all small, local businesses for our food.”
Monday, he noted, is half-price burger night and Saturdays feature live music.
“While it’s been a rough two years for restaurants everywhere,” Stanton said, “knock wood, The Limerick Pub here in good old Wheaton has survived and is coming out, I hope, stronger. Until COVID, we were having a tremendous 2019, and then everything went on lockdown on March 16, 2020—the day before St. Patrick’s Day, which was not good timing for us.”
Stanton hopes that on St. Patrick’s Day 2022 people can gather safely, even if it’s outdoors under the awnings, heaters and tents on the Wheaton Streetery.
“Pub stands for public house and that’s what we’re here to do.”
The Limerick Pub
11301 Elkin St., Wheaton;