When seeking an Irish pub in Boston, the problem is less finding one than deciding on one. Which is to say, this city has a lot.
With over 100 Irish bars scattered throughout the greater Boston area, a refined list of choices is in order. Here are 17 Irish pubs that will quench your thirst for Guinness.
Mr. Dooley’s Boston
77 Broad Street, Downtown
This Financial District pub has been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day all week, and will be open for business at 10 a.m. on the big day with corned beef and Irish breakfast items aplenty. Don’t worry, their bartenders know how to pour a perfect Guinness.
J.J. Foley’s Cafe
Both the Downtown and South End locations of this iconic Boston bar are worth checking out, but it’s the original South End location, founded in 1909, that takes the cake — or in this case, the Irish brown bread, which will be served along with the cafe’s other Irish fare starting at 11 a.m. on St Patrick’s Day.
1 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Downtown
Traditionalists might scoff at this Irish pub-turned-weekend-nightclub making the list, but if you want to go where the people go, Ned Devine’s is the spot. They’ll be serving up corned beef and blazing fast Irish folk music all day on the 17th.
The Kinsale Irish Pub & Restaurant
2 Center Plaza, Downtown
A popular watering hole for Government Center workers, the Kinsale and its Cambridge sister pub the Asgard are not taking their heritage lightly, celebrating seven full days of St. Patrick’s Day with deals and meals all week.
The Black Rose
160 State Street, Downtown
For 40 years, The Black Rose has served up traditional Irish food and music, and St. Patrick’s Day will be no different, with the restaurant opening at 8 a.m. “It’s the last stop to the airport,” owner (and Dublin native) Paul Wilson, told the Globe . “A bit of ould sod on this side of the pond. It’s a bit of home.”
GREEN AND ORANGE (LINE)
Brendan Behan Pub
378 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain
Bartender and Irish native John Casey claims that this Jamaica Plain pub is “about as similar to something back home as you’d get around Boston,” which seems to be the critical consensus about this smaller bar. A word of warning to anyone who has more than a few pints: the Behan doesn’t really do food, but does encourage patrons to order delivery or bring their own.
3484 Washington Street, Jamaica Plain
“We will serve corned beef and cabbage beginning Tuesday, the 15th, until we run out,” owner Gerry Burke told the Globe . If that isn’t enough to send you running to Doyle’s, consider that the pub, which first opened in 1882, is a free trolley ride away from the Sam Adams brewery, and has been known to get early previews of the brewery’s beer thanks to a longstanding partnership between Burke and Sam Adams owner Jim Koch.
Corrib Pub & Restaurant
396 Market Street, Brighton
Open since 1969, the Corrib Pub is named for Lough Corrib, a large Irish lake not far from where pub founder Hughie Bligh grew up. If Brighton is too far, the Corrib in West Roxbury offers a similarly friendly atmosphere.
The Green Briar
304 Washington Street, Brighton
If you’re looking for a place to witness real Irish sports fandom, this Brighton bar is showing the Gaelic Athletic Association hurling and football championships starting at 9 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day. And if you prefer groovy tunes over guttural shouts, there will be live music starting at 1:30 p.m.
SOUTHIE AND DORCHESTER
L Street Tavern
658 East 8th Street, South Boston
Tourists who flock to this Southie pub to see the bar where Good Will Hunting was filmed may be disappointed by the revamped interior. But those in Southie seeking a brief respite from the parade crowds should make the trek South for some delicious food and a Guinness.
837 Summer Street, South Boston
Murphy’s Law is without question a dive bar. Its no-frills approach may be a turnoff to some, but if you’re looking for a cheap pint on St. Patrick’s Day after the triple-decker house party you’re at gets too crowded, Murphy’s is there for you.
934 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester
This dimly lit pub in the heart of Dorchester toes the line between traditional Irish and modern sports bar quite nicely, and is the best bar in the city to catch a game of rugby or the Scottish Premier League on TV.
The Eire Pub
795 Adams Street, Dorchester Center
This Irish mainstay has played host to plenty of luminaries over the years, including Presidents Reagan, Clinton and the Irish Prime Minister back in 2008. Though longtime Irish bartender Martin Nicholson (called “the greatest bartender in the world” by Globe columnist Kevin Cullen) retired in 2010, Eire still has plenty of Irish bonafides.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RIVER
1357 Cambridge Street, Inman Square
Unlike many of the Irish pubs on this list, this tiny Inman Square spot doesn’t bother catering to the sports bar crowd, preferring to entertain patrons with traditional Irish music instead of TVs. If you want a chance at tasting their delicious Irish stew, show up early: The Druid’s is tiny, with a capacity many times smaller than other pubs on this list.
Grafton Street Pub & Grill
1230 Massachusetts Avenue, Harvard Square
Despite a name derived from the world-famous shopping street in Dublin, diners at this upscale Harvard Square eatery couldn’t be blamed for not considering its Irish heritage. But according to the Globe, Paul Barry, Grafton’s Irish bartender, will happily pour you the “perfect pint” of Guinness or a selection of high-quality Irish whiskeys to go with the traditional Irish menu this St. Paddy’s Day.
247 Elm Street, Davis Square
When rumors spread about a secret U2 concert in Somerville last summer, fans immediately swarmed this Somerville pub, packing it to capacity while others stood in the streets. Such is the Burren’s reputation, with traditional Irish pub fare and live music, often played by owners/musicians Tommy McCarthy and Louise Costello. The duo will be at it again on St. Patrick’s Day bringing patrons ballads, stories, and dancing starting at 1 p.m.
The Field Pub
20 Prospect Street, Central Square
With temperatures expected to hit the 60s for St. Patrick’s Day, this Cambridge pub’s open back patio — a rarity in the densely settled Central Square — will be the perfect place to share a pint with friends without overheating.