Luck may be on the Irish’s side this year as the easing of COVID-19 capacity restrictions for indoor dining is taking place in Massachusetts just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. This doesn’t mean that celebrating the patron saint of the Emerald Isle shouldn’t be done safely and responsibly this March. Please follow recommended CDC guidelines and call ahead for each establishment’s pandemic protocols as you visit these fine Hibernian-themed watering holes throughout the Boston area.
The grand dame of Boston Irish pubs remains The Black Rose (pictured), which enjoys a central location adjacent to Faneuil Hall Marketplace and is currently accepting reservations for March 17. Its usual live music may be on hold, yet perfect pints of Guinness as well as delectable Irish fare are all on tap. Speaking of Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Ned Devine’s at the historic shopping and dining center's Quincy Market building remains a favored destination for St. Pat’s revelers and sports fans alike, who can relax in front of several big screens at Ned’s Beer Hall in the back room. There are even heated, six-person igloos for outdoor dining. Another green-tinged Downtown hot spot is Mr. Dooley’s, a staple of the after-work crowd since 1991.
There is no lack of Irish-ness to this neighborhood—site of the annual, on-hiatus St. Patrick’s Day Parade—and no dearth of Hibernian-flavored taverns as well. Ranging from upscale restaurants like Shenannigans to classic, hole-in-the-wall dives like the L Street Tavern (renowned as a filming site for the Boston-set film Good Will Hunting) and Murphy’s Law, the pubs of Southie run the gamut.
Hidden away off the beaten path near the South End’s border with Chinatown, J.J. Foley’s Cafe has nevertheless persisted longer than just about any other Irish saloon in the city. With origins going back to 1909, Foley’s and its friendly, white-shirt-and-tie-clad staff offer authentic Irish hospitality and a glimpse into Boston’s past.
Fans of the other “football” flock to The Banshee in Boston’s largest and perhaps second-most Irish neighborhood. Catch the big-screen action as your favorite European clubs compete on the pitch while downing fish and chips along with a pint or two on one of two floors.
While the loss of the venerable Doyle’s Cafe in 2019 was a blow to this neighborhood as well as the city itself, the Brendan Behan Pub, named after the Irish writer and poet, still remains to offer visitors to this area a pint of stout and a genuine Gaelic vibe.
Brighton—a diverse, student-filled locale—has its fair share of pubs to explore. For those thinking green this March, the aptly named Irish Village—a neighborhood mainstay for decades that pours both Irish ales and local craft brews—is likely to be a prime locus for St. Patrick’s Day cheer.
Just across the Charles River from Boston, Cambridge and its many squares offer a host of Hibernian hangouts. Central Square is home to The Plough and Stars, a favored meeting place for fans of soccer and aficionados of amiable hospitality since 1969. In Inman Square, The Druid boasts traditional Irish cuisine and authentic décor along with properly poured pints of Guinness.
Cambridge’s neighbor is a haven for some of the area’s most admired Irish pubs. A revered location for downing both European and American brews and known for its diverse menu of American and Irish favorites and currently-on-hold live music, The Burren has been a popular locus for Gaelic culture in Davis Square since 1996. Dozens of craft beer taps and a wide array of spirits are highlights at Olde Magoun’s Saloon in Magoun Square.