If you even find yourself spending an evening or two in Wallingford, Connecticut, the first thing you’ll want to know is where you might find a decent pint. Well, actually, I guess you’re probably first going to want to know exactly where Wallingford, CT is and why in the name of Charlie Papazian’s Benevolent Beard anyone would go there.
As to its location, if you were to look it up in some sort of magically map image made up of pixels made up of electrons (like this) you’d see that Wallingford is one of those little cities between two other places that you always wonder about while expressway road tripping from Point A to Point B. More specifically, Wallingford is somewhere in Connecticut, south of Hartford and just north of New Haven. As to why you might go there, I can’t really venture a guess. It’s not exactly a Travel Destination. I had to go there a couple of times this spring on business. But for someone who’s not me, like, say, all the rest of you, the only other reason I can think to go would be the Old Dublin Pub.
I generally try not to be too fanboy-ish about a place I’ve only been once or twice. I mean, let’s be honest, even an airport bar can have a good day every now and then. But I’ve been to the Old Dublin on two separate occasions, spaced roughly a month apart, and I don’t know how else to put it: if I lived near anywhere the Old Dublin, it would be my regular, home pub.
I say that for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, the Old Dublin’s atmosphere is exactly what I’m looking for in a place to hang my hat for a bit and quaff a pint or two. It’s darkish and full of warm wood but doesn’t feel like you’re trapped underground in preparation for a role as a dwarf in next Hobbit movie. Second, the place is equally inviting to first-time customers as everyday regulars. And, oh, does the place have regulars. As I said, I’ve only been there twice and I recognized several people the second time around.
Now, I know what’s going through your head. “Puddin,” you think, “every place has some sad, lonely barflies that have exactly two friends in the world: the beer in front of them and the bartender that served it.” And, sure, the Old Dublin probably has some of those. But the regulars I saw came in mostly for a couple of pints, some friendly conversation, and maybe a round of darts. They were met like Norm from Cheers and sipped their pints while comfortably chatting about the everyday with other patrons.
Even more impressive, that goes for everyone there. I found myself drawn into several conversations in the brief time I spent there, and usually when I visit someplace alone I’m about as likely to join in a discussion with strangers as I am sing a karaoke rendition of, well, anything.
I found the tap selection impressive both times I visited, especially for a smallish local pub. As you can from the pictures, they have quite a few handles and nary a single one from the Big 3. What you probably can’t see from the pictures (well, unless you get all squinty) is the fairly even distribution of regional beers with national ones. Guinness, Bass, Newcastle, and Sierra Nevada stood next to taps from Bluepoint Brewing and Back East Brewing.
Are there better places to enjoy a beer in the world? Maybe. Are there better places in Wallingford, CT? I highly doubt it. Either way, for my money, if you’re looking for a comfortable pub to enjoy an evening of a excellent beer, tasty pub food, and even better people, I don’t know that’ll find anyplace more welcoming than the Old Dublin Pub.
Of course, whether or not you want to go to Wallingford, CT is something I’ll have to leave entirely up to you.