T he Boston area knows how to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day like nowhere else, and the ingredients for doing so are readily at hand. Grocery stores have been decked out in shamrocks and peddling hunks of corned beef and piled-up cabbages for weeks. The Guinness is poised to flow at proper pace into pint glasses all over town. For those who are as focused on green salads as green beer, there are plenty of great Irish pubs that also offer great food. Here are 10 places worth a visit this St. Patrick’s Day (or any other day, really).
From the Blarney Stone to the Eire Pub, Dorchester has no shortage of Irish pubs and restaurants. Why do we love the Banshee? For soccer fans, it is heaven, a place to settle in and watch game after game. But this is a sports bar that even people who don’t care about sports can enjoy for its quiz nights and lively neighborhood vibe. (It was an old Globe hangout when the office was located nearby.) The emphasis is on the pub side of things, but O’Malley’s Gaelic Fries (with bacon, cheddar, and ranch), burgers topped with Guinness-braised onions, and chicken curry are able accompaniments to beer, cider, and an espresso martini made with Coole Swan Irish cream liqueur.
934 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester, 617-436-9747, www.bansheeboston.com
Open in Somerville’s Davis Square since 1996, the Burren is a classic — the kind of place Tufts grads who were regulars back in the day now take their teens to commune over live music, groovy Irish pub decor, and a menu that offers all the standards among a wide array of comfort food. I think I’ve ordered the fish and chips every time I’ve ever been here; there are also bangers and mash, corned beef and cabbage, Guinness beef stew, and a shepherd’s pie that comes in meaty and vegetarian versions. Don’t miss the Irish breakfast on weekends.
247 Elm St., Davis Square, Somerville, 617-776-6896, www.burren.com
This West Roxbury standby is where you come with Nana and Papa, the grandkids and cousins, for celebratory suppers when the whole family’s in town (then return later with your siblings to gossip about everyone else over drinks). The menu serves up everything from fish and chips and shepherd’s pie to baby back ribs and baked ravioli parmigiana. Here, St. Patrick’s isn’t a day, it’s a week, and catered corned beef dinners are available to order for your workplace or gathering; fresh seafood preparations like baked scrod, stuffed shrimp, and fried scallops see customers through the Lenten season. If you’re lucky, you’ll score a spot in front of the fireplace. There’s also a Corrib in Brighton, dating back to 1969; the West Roxbury one’s the newcomer, opened in ‘88. The two share a motto: “It’s like home … but with more taps.”
2030 Centre St., West Roxbury, 617-469-4177; 396 Market St., Brighton, 617-787-0882; www.corribpub.com
Inman Square’s beloved Irish pub, with traditional Irish sessions three times a week and food to match. You’ll come for the shepherd’s pie and fish and chips, stay for the Guinness and music — but it’s the atmosphere you’ll return for. The place feels just right. (Arrive early on weekends if you want to, like, sit or something. It gets crowded.)
1357 Cambridge St., Inman Square, Cambridge, 617-497-0965, www.druidpub.com
Across from City Hall, this Boston pub opened last June in the spot that was long the Kinsale. Chef and Donegal native Aidan Mc Gee brings serious chops to the kitchen: He worked at Michelin-starred restaurants in London before relocating here. He also brings serious roasts, on Sundays only, with ridiculously good potatoes and Yorkshire pudding. On other days, it’s the fish and chips for me — one of the city’s best versions. The full Irish breakfast will bolster you for a full day of sitting, drinking, and socializing.
2 Center Plaza, Downtown, Boston, 857-317-2695, www.thedublinerboston.com
Dunn Gaherin’s Food & Spirits
If not for the American flag on the ochre, burgundy, and forest green clapboard exterior, this pub might make you think you’re actually in Ireland. It’s the kind of place with wood beams and road signs telling you how far (metaphysically) to Dublin and Dungarvan. Nope: This be Newton Upper Falls, and Dunn Gaherin’s has been here serving house-made meatloaf, turkey tips, shepherd’s pie, and burgers (try the New Irishman, topped with Irish cheddar and caramelized onions) since 1991. In addition to daily specials — steak with Guinness mushroom pan gravy and mashed potatoes, corned beef ravioli, wings in Kerry Gold garlic butter with cheddar — proprietors Robert Dunn and Seana Gaherin serve the best eggplant fries this side of the River Shannon.
344 Elliot St., Newton, 617-527-6271, www.dunngaherins.com
Some places lure you in with variety. Some places do one thing only and do it well. Irish Village in Brighton is an excellent watering hole and hangout. It is not a restaurant. However, it does serve toasties — grilled cheese sandwiches with or without ham. When it comes down to it, do you really need anything else?
224 Market St., Brighton, 617-787-5427
The James Pub & Provisions
“Men, women, children, and muddy boots welcome!” says the website of The James, an Irish pub in a former train station in Needham. The place is friendly, comfortable, and lively, with Sunday roasts and traditional Irish music each week. Don’t miss the craggy little loaves of fresh-baked soda bread served with honey butter, the short rib and ale pie, or the cider-brined pork chop with bubble and squeak. There’s a good local beer list plus Guinness, with well-constructed cocktails and plenty of Irish whiskeys to sample.
1027 Great Plain Ave., Needham, 781-455-8800, www.thejamespub.com
The Plough & Stars
Opened in 1969, the Plough may be the best Irish pub known for its Cuban sandwich. There’s also fish and chips, and brunch brings Irish breakfast, but you’re just as likely to be eating something like jerk chicken wings or gumbo with your Guinness. With a constant stream of live music and an illustrious literary history — everyone from the founders of lit mag Ploughshares to Lawrence Ferlinghetti to Seamus Heaney to Philip Roth drank here — it is a perfect Cambridge Irish pub.
912 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square, Cambridge, 617-576-0032, www.ploughandstars.com
Tavern at the End of the World
If it’s the end of the world, it had best be cozy and fun. That’s what you’ll find at this Charlestown Irish pub: live music, quiz nights, karaoke, rugby viewing, and a fireplace to boot. There’s a menu of pub fare with shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, and fries with curry alongside cranberry walnut chicken sandwiches on Iggy’s bread, Buffalo Brussels sprouts, and salt and pepper calamari. Brunch is time for Irish breakfast and plenty more.
108 Cambridge St., Charlestown, 617-241-4999, www.tavernattheendoftheworld.com