Conor Byrne's Irish, but Showing Its Roots

Boddington's, Rainier, and bluegrass live together in harmony.

Narrow bars, such as the Conor Byrne Pub, remind me of train cars. I love walking through the door and having the entire scene stretch out before me. The elaborate bar made of dark wood, the big brick wall, the tiny little stage in the corner, the 14-foot-high ceilings, the portrait of James Joyce on the wall. It touts itself as an Irish pub, which, in essence, it is. But in the past few years, Conor Byrne has played a pivotal role in the North End's roots scene. Goateed pickers in fleece and flannel play alongside recent new-grass converts (those who discovered bluegrass via Jerry Garcia and David Grisman). There's usually a different live act on weekend nights, but Mondays and Tuesdays are consistent, with an open Bluegrass Jam and Ol' Timey Social, respectively. Boddington's and Guinness flow from the taps, naturally, but this is a Northwest bar, after all, so Rainier is abundant and cheap ($1.75 at happy hour!). 5140 Ballard Ave. N.W., 784-3640,

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