St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner, and Boston knows how to celebrate. But even if you won't be hitting the parade route, here's where to hunker down for a pint of Guinness, some (semi) traditional Irish dinners, and good company. Irish eyes will be smiling — and forks clanging, too.
Get your Guinness on. Raise a glass of a perfect pour at any number of Boston's best pubs. Whether you're looking for Guinness, green beer, or a buzz of a different stripe, you'll find somewhere to slake your thirst. Where to start? Head here to check out our look at the Biggest Beer Lists around, like the nearly 500 variety-strong lineup at Sunset Grill & Tap. If you're looking to hit a hot new spot that also has killer grub, here's our recent review of the Hottest Beer Bars right now, like Brewer's Fork, a craft suds and wood fired pizza specialist. And head here to check out some of our other favorite beer lists worth exploring.
Explore South Boston. On Sunday, March 15, the annual St. Patrick's Day parade takes over the neighborhood, widely regarded as the epicenter of Boston's Irish-American population. Southie hasn't been widely regarded as one of the city's better dining neighborhoods, but if a lot has changed over the last few years - and now historic pubs and more modern restaurants have created a better mix of options. Check out our recent South Boston Neighborhood Guide for a breakdown of must-try spots. Even newer are Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar (pictured; check out our deep dive here) and Moonshine 152, only of the hottest recent openings.
Have a side of history. Boston is home to quite a few Irish pubs with a strong sense of history. Here are a few of our favorites.
Amrheins. Besides being a restaurant with massive portions (four words: lobster mac and cheese) and buzzing bar, the Southie spot is one of the city's most historic taverns - home to both the oldest hand carved bar in the country, and the first beer pump in Boston.
Doyle's Cafe. Tucked away in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, this pub is an old-school landmark. You'll find a frill-free taproom with above-average pub grub that attracts local politicos. Comedians too flock to this joint (and not just those who are funny after a pint): Dane Cook filmed parts of his flick My Best Friend’s Girl here.
James's Gate. Though it's not quite 20 years old, this JP pub is named for for the Irish brewery where Guinness was born. And it feels much older itself thanks to a small front bar and dining room (featuring pretty great comfort food) that feels like something out of Middle Earth, all unadorned woods with a roaring fireplace.
J.J. Foley's Cafe. Over 100 years ago, Jeremiah Foley founded J.J. Foley's Cafe, now the oldest continually family-run bar in Boston. (Jeremiah III is its the current owner.) The South End spot has long attracted plenty of local color from Boston's Irish political legacies, to nosy newspaper reporters (for years the Boston Herald office was across the street). Even the occasional celebrity interloper is spotted here, looking to get their pub grub on without being bothered. (Justin Timberlake among its more recent visitors.)
Celebrate with special menus. Plenty of restaurants are getting into the St. Patrick's Day spirit with special menu offerings. Here are a few places to find them.
Anna's Taqueria. The small local chain is celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a one-day-only cabbage & corned beef burrito (pictured): slow-roasted corned beef, steamed cabbage and carrots, topped with Anna’s beans and rice.
Bar Boulud. Star chef Daniel Boulud's Boston outpost is putting a classy spin on corned beef and cabbage. You can get it with a "French twist" for $23 from Sunday, March 15 through Tuesday, March 17 — and rather than Guinness, add a sommelier's choice wine pairing will also be available for seven bucks.
The Blue Ox. On March 17, chef-owner Matt O’Neil is honoring his Irish heritage with Guinness- and herb-braised corned beef ($25) served with grain mustard, pickled cabbage and roasted baby carrots.
The Independent. The Somerville pub recently underwent a slight culinary overall (details here). But on Tuesday, March 17 they'll unleash a more temporary slew of specials. Opening early (11 AM), The Independent will feature one-day-only plates like an Irish Breakfast ($12 for two fried eggs, grilled tomato, black and white pudding, Irish sausage, Irish bacon, fried potatoes, Irish baked beans, andIrish soda bread); bangers & mash ($13); and Guinness beef stew ($16), among others. Plus special whiskey-based cocktails like The Brotherhood (Jameson with Benedictine, Grand Marnier and lemon) and Ceangoba Toddy, apple-cinnamon infused Jameson with Benedictine, served warm.
Puritan & Company. He may be a descendent of Mayflower passengers, but chef Will Gilson will celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a three-course prix fixe boiled dinner ($40) with an option for local craft beer pairings.
South Street Diner. One of Boston's only 24-hour restaurants is celebrating St. Patrick's Day for 86 straight hours, from 8 AM on Saturday, March 14 through Tuesday, March 17. You'll find a $10 (!) corned beef and cabbage special with potatoes, carrots, homemade Irish soda bread and a pint of Guinness. Plus: a special menu of Irish breakfast with bangers, brown and white pudding, and Guinness floats. Want something lighter? They'll also offer tall boy PBR and Narragansett beers for only $2.50.
Dine with Dublin's hottest chef. On St. Patrick's Day - Tuesday, March 17 - Met Back Bay hosts "An Evening in Eire" with Oliver Dunne: the youngest Michelin-starred chef in Ireland. Straight from his Dublin restaurant Bon Appetit, Dunne (pictured at top) will prepare herb-crusted lamb, deconstructed Irish coffee, and more alongside samplings of Jameson. Score a seat ($75) here.