Outside of the Emerald Isle itself, Boston may be one of the best places to soak in genuine Hibernian hospitality by visiting any of its friendly Irish pubs. Luckily, just about every neighborhood has a good option for those looking for a pint or two this St. Patrick's Day, or any day.
The grand dame of Boston Irish pubs remains The Black Rose (pictured), which boasts a central location adjacent to Faneuil Hall Marketplace and features live Irish live music just about every night, perfect pints of Guinness and delectable Irish fare. Speaking of Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Ned Devine’s at the historic shopping and dining center's Quincy Market building remains a favored destination for weekend revelers and sports fans alike, who can relax in front of several HD projection screens. On March 17, enjoy step dancers, food specials and live music to honor Ireland's patron saint. Another green-tinged Downtown hot spot is Mr. Dooley’s, a staple of the after-work crowd since 1991. Savor a traditional Irish boiled dinner all March long, as well as live bands on March 17 beginning at noon.
There is no lack of Irish-ness to this neighborhood—site of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which returns from its two-year hiatus on March 20—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. Celebs, sports stars, U.S. Presidents and locals alike have been gathering at the Eire Pub for more than 50 years for its storied mix of food, drink and frivolity.
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. There's also the friendly Corrib Pub, which claims to be the Brighton's oldest pub and also has an outpost in Boston's West Roxbury neighborhood.
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. For a more modern, nightclub-style vibe, head down Mass. Ave. to The Phoenix Landing. 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 as well as hosting traditional Irish and contemporary live music every day, The Burren has been a popular locus for Gaelic culture in Davis Square since 1996. Also in Davis, the classic Sligo Pub is back in action, serving plenty of brews in a no-frills environment for more than 75 years. And just a short jaunt away, Olde Magoun’s Saloon in Magoun Square offers dozens of craft beer taps and a wide array of small-batch spirits along with innovative cuisine.