Everything to Do (and Not Do) on St. Patrick's Day in Boston

Published On 03/16/2016 Published On 03/16/2016

Boston Not only is Boston damn near synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day, but our fair burg just got named the best city in the country in which to celebrate the holiday. So when we head out to enjoy the festivities of all things praising the orange, white, and green, we have to do it right. Here’s our soda-bread-to-nuts roundup of everything to do -- and not do -- to make sure you have one epic day in honor of St. Paddy. More Stuff You Will Like


The Irish pubs worth visiting

The Burren (address and info)   Davis Square
Also known as where to get your annual dose of Irish seisiúns, The Burren is Irish music central, either for an informal afternoon jam or more formally staged root rock. Stop by on Thursday for live Irish music all day in the Front Room, with four special dinner shows happening in back throughout the afternoon and evening. And of course, corned beef and cabbage abound. (Oh, and don't worry, the place is large enough that you can forgive the outsized Tufts' student body representation.) 
​Corrib Pub (address and info)   Brighton
Before you decide to make your way, ask yourself: do you even know what Lough Corrib is? Look it up before you enter its namesake -- you owe the bar, and its expat regulars, that much. Bond over some Guinness, bangers & mash, and live music. The place will be keeping it low key on Thursday, but definitely expect corned beef to make an appearance. 
Matt Murphy's (address and info) Coolidge Corner
Perfectly poured Guinness? Check. Shepherd’s pie and fish & chips? Check. A cocktail list that favors Irish whiskey as the spirit of choice? Check and check! Add one more check for the holiday: the traditional corned beef dinner. 
River Gods (address and info)   Central Square
It doesn’t quite feel like an Irish bar, or even look like an Irish bar. But if you prefer your Guinness with a side of Gothic decor and a vegetarian entrée, you’re golden. The pub opens at 3pm for St. Paddy’s, with Irish dancing and live performances from Kingdom Ceili, The Celtic Babe, and 2 Many Gargles. 

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Flickr/Soe Lin

​The Field (address and info) Central Square
If you want a little more quiet, you head to The Field for cash-only draughts, some cramped darts action, and that glorious patio seating out back. It's not doing anything special for St. Paddy's, but it's still one hell of a place to be. (Again: the patio!)
  ​The Plough and Stars (address and info) Porter Square
Any watering hole that’s held on since 1969 has our loyalty. Add in the friendly vibe, cordial bartenders, fascinating regulars, and the better-than-average draught menu, and you might as well stay put for the entire evening. It's not certain just what this place is doing for St. Patrick's Day, but we can't imagine it not being a great place to be.
​Phoenix Landing (address and info) Central Square
“The alternative Irish pub” gives you the Guinness-fueled dance party you can’t get at any other pub in town. Kick off the day with the Liverpool game in the morning, followed by live music in the afternoon, and DJed tunes at night.
​Brendan Behan Pub (address and info) Jamaica Plain
No food and no posers, just everything you actually crave from your Irish pub experience: perfectly poured pints, darts, dark wood detailing, and brogues aplenty. Thursday nets you an added bonus: traditional Irish seisiún from 4-7pm.
J.J. Foley's (address and info) South End
This place is a century-old lion that feeds and waters every ilk of Bostonian, then keeps them lingering with a backroom dartboard and a late-night weekend bar menu. That means there’s no need to crank the proceedings up to 11 on March 17th. Instead, enjoy some extra Irish tunes, and kitchen specials like the corned beef sandwich and an Irish boiling bacon, both available starting at 11am.

Flickr/Eric Kilby

What to eat

​St. "Patty" Burger at Bukowski Tavern (address and info) Inman Square
Amateurs throw some Irish bacon on a burger and call it a day. But Brian Poe takes his themed patties seriously. This one starts with a seared side of corned beef, then goes whole hog with whiskey bacon, malted cabbage, and Irish cheddar cheese. Believe me, you'll want this after a few pints.
​Three Square Meals at The Independent (address and info) Union Square
The Indo opens at noon for the day (usually it's 3pm), which means you can ensconse yourself for basically half a day and stuff yourself silly three times over: grab a traditional Irish breakfast (two fried eggs, grilled tomato, black & white pudding, Irish sausage, Irish bacon, fried potatoes, Irish baked beans, and Irish soda bread) for brunch; a lamb sandwich (Irish cheddar, roasted garlic purée, and fries) for a late lunch; and either some bangers & mash or a corned beef dinner for sup.
​Jalapeño Spiked Corned Beef Taco at Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake (address and info) Back Bay
Ah, gastronomic amalgams. This Mexican-Irish hybrid comes topped with flash-fried cabbage, Jameson potato salsa, and parsley chimichurri. Go get it. Enough said. 
St. Patrick's Day Corned Beef Burrito at Anna’s Taqueria (address and info)   Beacon Hill/MGH (& other locations)
Beans, rice, corned beef, carrots, and cabbage? Totally works! Actually, that's why the local taqueria chain is bringing back the one-day-only special in celebration of St. Patrick.

Carolyn Rasley/Cask 'n Flagon

What to drink

​The Chocolate Irishmen at Cask ‘n Flagon (address and info)   Kenmore Square/Fenway
St. Paddy’s Day usually proves to be frustratingly cold (though maybe not this year). Either way, you can prepare yourself with a coffee cocktail spiked with Jameson and Godiva liqueur and topped with whipped cream and crème de menthe.
​The Irish Goodbye at River Bar (address and info)   Somerville 
The beverage team at River Bar will be serving up a real specialty for St. Patrick's Day: The Irish Goodbye, made up of Teeling Small Batch Irish whiskey, Bittermens Amére Nouvelle, Cherry Heering, and a housemade bitter sugar cube. As always, it'll also offer a selection of authentic Irish whiskeys like Redbreast and Yellow Spot.
​Wicklow Revival at Grafton Street Pub & Grill (address and info)   Harvard Square
This one sounds like a home cold remedy, which means it’s simple and delicious: Glendalough Double Barrel gets blended with Xante Pear (a cognac liqueur), spiced honey simple syrup, and lemon. 
​The Cardinal at Saloon (address and info) Davis Square
This speakeasy is already known for its Irish whiskey collection, but in lieu of shots, you can spring for the specialty cocktail comprised of Jameson, Cardamaro, red wine, lemon juice, and simple syrup.


What else can we do?

Start early
Why confine the festivities to a day? Spots like the Kinsale and the Asgard go all week, with corned beef specials throughout the day, nightly beer and whiskey deals, and live music.

Check out Cask ‘n Flagon South Shore
Because the Kenmore original will be packed. And because the South Shore outpost is one of the few venues acknowledging that March 17th also marks the first day of March Madness, and will be screening 16 games on its 130 HD TVs. 

Hit up the St. Patrick’s Day Parade
This is obvious. But still, get there extra early and commit to a bang-bang morning/afternoon of drinking. It’s always fun to set up the lawn chairs at the route’s starting spot (Broadway station) to see the setup, and the intersection of Broadway and Dorchester is a good vantage point. But if you fear standing for two and a half hours, consider the grassy knolls of Medal of Honor Park. But if it’s a bar with a view that you’re after: Amrheins, The Playwright Bar, Lincoln Tavern, and Loco are just a few options to consider. 

Check out the St. Patrick’s Day festivities at The Beehive
Pegged as a “sophisticated evening” -- and you don’t get many of those on March 17th -- The Beehive foregoes green-dyed anything in favor of Irish-inspired cuisine (grilled lamb with mashed potatoes, smoked fish & chips), whiskey cocktails, and a live performance from singer/songwriter (and Gaelic native) Katie McD. The celebration runs 5pm-2am.

Hike the Irish Heritage Trail
Want to get your green juices flowing? A more focused counterpart of the Freedom Trail, this one introduces you to all the state’s most famous (and infamous) Irish-Americans... mostly starting with JFK. 

Faneuil Hall Marketplace

What you should not do...

Go to any Faneuil Hall bars
Hit up The Black Rose and Hennessy’s some other time. You know exactly what it’s going to look like. 

See Dropkick Murphys at House of Blues
Hopefully this speaks for itself.

Attend the "Official" St. Paddy’s PubCrawl Boston
You’re better than this. Also, it starts at Hard Rock Cafe. You’re better than that, too.
Show up at the St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast
It's for politicians, so let's face it: you probably weren't invited anyway.

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Meaghan Agnew is, in fact, one-quarter Irish, but you still need permission before you kiss her. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @meaghandeth.

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1. The Burren 247 Elm St, Somerville, MA 02144

There are plenty of reasons to visit The Burren, and their emphasis on live music is definitely at the top of the list. You can also enjoy authentic Irish dinner dishes and a wide variety of beers to pair with your meal. Stop by The Burren if you are in need of a pint in Davis Square.

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2. The Corrib Pub and Restaurant 201 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

This solid Irish pub is a local hot spot in Brighton. Here you can enjoy live music, pints of Guinness, and some authentic bangers & mash. This is the perfect place to go out for a drink if you are looking to avoid the typical rowdiness found in Irish pubs.

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3. Matt Murphy's Pub 14 Harvard St, Brookline Village, MA 02445 (Brookline Village)

Offering the friendly vibe of Cheers without the tourists, Matt Murphy's in Brookline Village is a popular neighborhood pub with craft beer and excellent Irish-whiskey cocktails, plus fish & chips that are the real deal: wrapped in newspaper and anointed with pickled onions and malt vinegar. They're joined on the menu by other Irish pub classics like shepherd's pie and a hearty beef stew, which you'll want to top off with some sticky toffee pudding. Matt Murphy's may have a spiffier look than your standard watering hole (don't expect any TVs either), but it still has the cash-only policy.

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4. River Gods 125 River St, Boston, MA 02139 (Central Square)

Did you accidentally stumble onto the set of Alice in Wonderland 2: Winter is Coming? No -- you’ve just walked into one of the weirdest and coolest bar-staurants in Central Square. Pay homage to the river gods by slurping down an Amazon’s worth of classic cocktails, then chase it down with one of their tasty sandos, all amidst the gargoyle-bedecked walls, red-velvet seating, and Halloween-year-round decor.

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5. The Field Pub 20 Prospect St, Cambridge, MA 02139 (Central Square)

The Field crew carved into that awkward back alley space behind their bar to create one of the mightiest semi-hidden patios in Cambridge. The brew selection tilts classic/simple, and your best bet is a perfectly poured nitro such as Guinness, Murphy’s, or Belhaven. If you’re into lighter fare, Tucher and Radeberger Royal Pilsner are the way to go.

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6. The Plough and Stars 912 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139 (Porter Square)

This local hot spot has been owning the Boston bar scene since 1969, and hasn't changed over the years. Their atmosphere is friendly, their bar staff is knowledgable, and they have a pretty solid draught menu. Locals and Plough and Stars regulars love this bar, so we highly recommend stopping by if you are looking for a pint.

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7. The Phoenix Landing 512 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139 (Central Square)

TPL is a relaxed Cambridge bar, offering up loads of fried bar food during the day... but turning into a full-on nightclub at night. If you are in the mood for drinking a pint and watching a soccer game, or a Guinness- fueled dance party, Phoenix Landing is the bar for you.

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8. Brendan Behan Pub 378 Centre St, Boston, MA 02130 (Jamaica Plain)

If you are hungry, Brendan Behan Pub is no the place for you, but if you are craving a perfectly poured pint, this is exactly where you need to be. You can expect an authentic Irish experience here, which is why we consider Brendan Brehan Pub on of the best Irish pubs in Boston.

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9. J.J. Foley's Fireside Tavern 30 Hyde Park Ave, Boston, MA 02130 (Jamaica Plain)

Locals love hanging out at J. J. Foley's for many reasons. Their backroom dartboard, late-night bar menu, and great beer selections are just a few of the things we appreciate about spending time at J. J. Foley's. We highly recommend this bar to anyone looking for a fun place to drink in South End.

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10. Bukowski Tavern 50 Dalton St, Boston, MA 02115 (Back Bay)

Ditch Newbury and the bastions of distraught twenty-something foreigners asking you what happened to Armani Cafe, and hit up this bastion of barley to take down a peanut butter burger while making a sizeable dent in your Dead Author's Card, a running tally of all the beers you have to drink within six months to earn a spot in their exclusive mug club.

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11. The Independent 75 Union Sq, Somerville, MA 02143 (Somerville)

This neighborhood spot serves up gourmet American bites -- heirloom tomato salad, crab cakes, pan-roasted striped bass. Their beer menu is solid and their atmosphere is friendly, so this is a great place to stop while bar hopping through Union Square.

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12. Poe's Kitchen at the Rattlesnake 384 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116 (Back Bay)

For a while, Rattlesnake got by on being the only spot on Boylston with a rooftop deck, but eventually doing the bare minimum wasn't enough. To remedy the situation, the RS folks brought in chef Brian Poe to ensure that customers nevermore (see what we did there?) walked away complaining of the rooftops's lack of carne asada tacos. That, plus quesadillas, nachos, BLTs, a whole range of tequilas, cocktails, beers & wines, is exactly what they're now offering up. On a roof. On Boylston. It's the perfect combination at last.

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13. Anna’s Taqueria 446 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446 (Brookline)

With five other locations around Boston, Anna's does its part to spread love via choose-your-own-adventure tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and more all over the Hub. This taqueria chain is a favorite spot for Boston foodies, and we highly recommend stopping by for some Instagram-worthy eats.

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14. Cask 'n Flagon 62 Brookline Ave, Boston, MA 02215 (Fenway Kenmore)

Cask 'n Flagon is a burger bar near Fenway that is loved by sports fans and burger lovers alike. Here you can enjoy creative cocktails, a solid beer list, and some great menu options even if you don't feel like ordering a burger. Cask 'n Flagon should be at the top of your Boston bar list.

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15. River Bar 661 Assembly Row, Somerville, MA 02145 (Somerville)

A palace of wood, glass, and white marble, Somerville's River Bar dishes up Asian fusions on American classics. The sleek interior and fire-warmed back patio guarantee you'll see more than a few couples splitting a small plate of fried potatoes with miso aioli or corned beef and cabbage dumplings. If they're really comfortable with each other, them they're probably sinking their teeth right into the grass-fed burger -- a bulgogi-marination creation topped with bacon eggs rolls -- instead. That's true love (we mean for the burger).

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16. Grafton Street Pub 1230 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138 (Harvard Square)

If you are looking for an Irish-inspired pub that puts more emphasis on a delicious menu than a rowdy drinking atmosphere, you need to visit Grafton Street Pub. Their food is a far cry from pub food, instead featuring fancier dishes. Check their website for an updated food menu.

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17. Saloon 255 Elm St, Somerville, MA 02144 (Davis)

Slinging bourbon below Foundry on Elm, this ode to the under-represented pre-Prohibition era throws things back with Tiffany chandeliers and hand-carved mahogany overhangs. Stuff your face with beer-battered pickled peppers packed w/ Boursin, and maple-braised pork belly w/ baked beans, before drinking said face off thanks to 16 taps, 120+ brown-booze varieties, and a slew of "bespoke" whiskey cocktails.



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