I seem to have found my new neighborhood hangout.

It started Sunday, when hubby and I invited a couple of friends out for end-of-the-weekend drinks, and we suggested the Irish Rover, a new Irish pub on South Broadway that just opened about three weeks ago. Seeing that our buddy Ally is Irish through-and-through, it wasn’t terribly surprising that he had already been there and knew the owner. He called it a “right proper sort of Irish pub.” Good enough for me.

Sunday was a slow night there, with a handful of folks drinking pints and listening to a Celtic folk trio in the back corner. The walls are brick with dark wood paneling, but it’s not trying too hard to seem like an Irish pub. A few signed soccer jerseys line the walls, and a mural of a few tipsy-looking old pub musicians covers the opposite wall. The booths and chairs are sturdy, no-nonsense bar chairs, and seem like they’ll age well once they lose that too-shiny newness and get a bit more worn in. And though they do allow smoking, this is the first spot of its kind that I’ve been to that doesn’t reek of smoke – maybe they have a great ventilation system or maybe it was simply not busy enough; either way, it was a pleasant surprise. The space filled up a bit as the hours ticked by, but it’s the sort of spot where no one seems to ever be in a hurry. It’s also doggie-friendly so the occassional pooch would make the rounds scouting for stray crumbs of pizza – the only thing they serve so far, though a fuller menu is in the works.

Monday nights are iffy. I happen to like karaoke, but my girlfriends found it excruciating to suffer through the bad singing. Plus, it’s a great little Irish bar, and karaoke does nothing for the atmosphere. Still, if you know which nights to go (or to avoid) it’s fun if you’re in the mood.

Not too surprisingly, I’m off to the Irish Rover again to meet up with a couple of gal pals before we hit the Mayan for a movie later. (We’re thinking March of the Penguins — I’ll have to let you know).

I’m thinking that three visits in one week is either making this my new favorite bar, or else I’m simply becoming a serious barfly. I’ll go with the new favorite hangout…