The Best Irish Pubs and Bars in Boston for St. Patrick's Day

With classic dishes, pints of Guinness, and live music, these are the top Irish pubs in Boston.

Boston remains home to the highest concentration of Irish-Americans in the United States. So with Irish ancestry comes the prevalence of pubs—and Boston has a lot of incredible Irish bars to choose from. While many are simply thematic copycats, most of the older bars in the area remain true to form offering up classic dishes like shepherd’s pie and beef stew, pints of Guinness, and live music.

There are few places in the country where you’ll get a traditional Irish pub experience as authentic as you can find in Boston. So from popular city center destinations to friendly neighborhood haunts, these are the best Irish pubs in Boston for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day or scoring a perfect pint all year round.

Banshee

Dorchester
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If you’re looking to watch football (soccer) or rugby among Dorchester locals, this is your spot. The Banshee promises, “If your game is being broadcast in North America, then you can rest assured that the Banshee will be showing it on one of its 10 flat-screen televisions.” A local meeting place steeped in Irish heritage with the added intrigue of being a bustling sports bar, The Banshee is an exciting spot to cheer on your favorite European teams and down a few pints of Irish suds.
How to book: Via website

The Black Rose

Downtown
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With more than four decades of slinging brews and Irish fare under its belt, The Black Rose has long been known as one of the most popular Irish pubs in Downtown Boston. While the large space remains relatively quiet during the day, its proximity to the waterfront and Faneuil Hall helps pack the place to capacity at night. Open 365 days a year with live (mostly) Irish music every night, the Black Rose is a great escape from all the rowdy tourist traps nearby. The menu serves traditional Irish cuisine coupled with New England seafood favorites—in the winter, nothing compares to spooning some Clam Chowder next to the fireplace.


 

Available for Delivery/Takeout

Brendan Behan Pub

Jamaica Plain
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Brendan Behan has long been the place to go for a quick pint in the nearby suburb of Jamaica Plain. Named after the Irish Republican poet, novelist, and playwright, this dimly lit, cozy neighborhood spot is quaint, friendly, and increasingly hip. There are no TVs and no kitchen, but you can bring your own food into the establishment. You can even bring your dog. If you’re looking for a pint amongst locals and without the multitudes of tourists, stop by the Behan. Few places are as comfortable and as welcoming.


 

The Burren

Somerville
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This Somerville destination has plenty of seats and two rooms hosting live entertainment. Irish session players congregate in the middle booth at nightfall to create a mood made for the old country, while bartenders sling perfect pints from the Emerald Isle. It’s comfort food with Irish leanings and a bar that blocks out all of the real-life stress that lies just outside those doors. Don’t be dismayed about the bar’s out-of-town location; the Red Line will take you from downtown to their doorstep in about 10-15 minutes.

The Druid

Inman Square
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With an all-Irish staff delivering back home hospitality, this Irish-owned establishment provides the consummate across-the-pond pub atmosphere. All of the bartenders here hail from County Claire with some staying for years while others eventually head back home. The cozy venue has a small bar and an even smaller kitchen, but despite its small stature, the food coming out of the kitchen has long been the toast of the town. From fish and chips and hefty burgers to chicken soup that has been known locally as remedy for curing that winter cold, the menu covers all the comfort food classics. Plus, Guinness Stew and shepherd’s pie are on the menu for those seeking Irish fare. On Sunday afternoons and Tuesday nights you can catch a local pick-up session packed in the corner booth playing traditional Irish music featuring flutes, fiddles, and accordions.

Emmet's Irish Pub

Beacon Hill
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Located on the border of Beacon Hill and the rest of Downtown, Emmets is a prime after-work spot for State House employees and other professionals who have been waiting all day to loosen their ties. But just a block from Boston Common and a quick detour from the historic Freedom Trail, you’re also sure to find plenty of out-of-towners seeking a libation to break up their walkabout the city. With traditional Irish brunch served on weekends and a live Irish band setting the scene right after, you can spend the entire day soaking in Irish culture (and a few pints of Guinness) at Emmets.


 

Available for Delivery/Takeout

If you’re looking for a cold one along Boston’s famed Freedom Trail, stop into the Green Dragon Tavern for a historic pint. Established in 1654, The Green Dragon’s original location was just blocks away on Union Street until it was demolished in 1854. Known as “The Headquarters of the Revolution,” the Boston Tea Party was planned on site and has been since documented as Paul Revere’s favorite watering hole. Reincarnated on Marshall Street, the bar is adorned in revolutionary memorabilia and memories from the old location, plus it offers a menu of traditional dishes like Guinness beef stew, cottage pie, shepherd’s pie, and a sampler that allows you to try all three.
 

Available for Delivery/Takeout

J.J. Foley's Bar & Grille

Multiple locations
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With two locations in Boston, JJ Foley’s has cemented its spot in the city’s history. The Berkley Street destination in the South End opened in 1909 and has been a go-to for politicians and newspaper reporters (Boston Herald’s headquarters was once a few blocks away) ever since. The secondary location on Kingston Street opened 50 years later and has long been a haven for Boston’s after-work and post-concert crowd. The once stellar jukebox has changed, but the old tiled floor, pub fare and local brews, and many of the bartenders remain the same.


 

Available for Delivery/Takeout

Mr. Dooley's

Downtown
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As a destination for Irish-Americans and Irish appreciators alike, Mr. Dooley’s has friendly bartenders slinging jokes, pulling the finest Irish beer, and offering up the best in Irish whiskeys. The bar is usually filled with sociable regulars who intermingle with the barkeep, creating a hospitable atmosphere and a spirited dialogue between customers. The spot is open early every day and stays open late to host traditional Irish music seven nights a week. There are no TVs here, so don’t come here expecting to watch the game; come for the comforting sounds of fiddles and accordions.

The Phoenix Landing

Cambridge
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The Phoenix is a bit of an anomaly when it comes to your traditional Irish bar, but it’s still one of the city’s go-to destinations when it comes to live televised European football and rugby matches. If there’s a game, it’s on. If it happens to be an early and important match, they’re open early and most likely busy. During the day you can expect clientele to be clad in football jerseys cursing at the bar’s nine televisions. At night, however, the venue transforms into a nightclub, making it almost unrecognizable from its daytime Irish pub vibe. Drum and bass, throwbacks, house, and hip-hop—DJs and dancing happen here seven nights a week. As far as drinks go, there are UK favorites for the football crowd, local microbrews for the nerdy Cantabrigians, and enough popular pours to satisfy partygoers.

Nolan Gawron is an arts and culture writer, award-winning photographer, and host of the weekly radio show “In With the Out Sound.” Follow his travels, trials, and errors @blurred_visionary.